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The Blighted [Urban fantasy series] 1
Bloody Epilogue/Screaming Prologue
Bloody Epilogue/Screaming Prologue
Pennsylvania Route 210
March 12 2010
It was setting up to be a beautiful sunset, but Jasmine, viewing it from the passenger seat of the teams lead suv, couldn't enjoy it. To her the brilliant, yellows, purples and oranges, blurring over the dull green of the forest, was just a reminder. The shadows lengthening every second, deepening with every beat of her heart, a warning...That time was short.
There would be enough, but they had arrived just in time. She watched the rustic motel masquerading as a bed and breakfast fifty yards away slightly around a bend in the road.
It was four stories sparsely painted in dark greens and yellows but mostly wood brown it blended into the forest. Warm firelight illuminated a cheaply furnished, superbly decorated, country-esque setting room, threw a large window that ran much of the length of the ground floor.
Jasmine chewed her lip, inpatients, not anxiety. She’d been involved in some of the bloodiest battles in the war of late. At 29 she was already a legend in hunter lore. A fact she found no comfort in.
It wasn't false modesty, she knew she was good, proud to say she was one of the best. No, her fame had just come at too high of a price.
She'd seen too many horrible things, too many good friends die in too many ghastly ways. It had cost her first and only love, her family, childhood and any hope of a regular life.
Well there was always hope, there had been more a few years ago when her husband Ah-ba discovered a way to end the war, to end the blights. To once and for all free humanity from the silent plague of magic, and the hunters from the nightmares that had become their lives. But because of mistakes made by those in charge, the trail went cold before the Intel he died to retrieve could be acted on.
Still there was hope now, because now there was a way to end it. One day Pandora’s box would be found. Until then, they hunted. Each praying that somehow they would live to see the end of this war. That one day they would have what they had thought lost to them forever. Their lives.
Jasmine didn’t care about that. She wanted to live, she wanted to see the end, but not to go back to anything. She didn’t have anything to go back to, she hadn’t come from anywhere. The war started for her when she was 8. Hunting was all she knew, as a child it was all she dreamed of doing.
PJ, her adopted father had warned her, done everything he could to keep her out of the field. He wanted her to stay safe at the sanctuary, to use her abilities as a medic or trainer.
Why didn’t I listen?
Well she knew why. Revenge.
Jasmine’s mother tried to kill her after being turned by vampires. Both of them had been being systematically drugged by a cult of psychics running a college research center in an effort to recruit people with psy potential for their organization.
The local vampire clan found out, and wanting some psychics of their own they went about turning all those on the researcher’s lists.
Jasmine was too young to be of use to the bloodsuckers, but they turned her mother. She was saved by Pierre Jacques. Since her psy powers were already beginning to manifest she couldn’t be mind wiped and adopted out. So PJ, took her in.
In that loving if not healthy environment she grew, and her anger grew with her. The stories told by wounded or insane hunters brought to sanctuary only added fuel to the fire. She couldn’t wait to come of age and take revenge on the bloodsuckers.
She no longer cared about that either. She was too tired, had seen too much death, killed more vampires, psys, spell casters and assorted monsters then she cared to count. Finding out far too late, that the hollow rewards of vengeance just weren’t worth it.
Her rage long ago being spent, and replaced with a sorrow that had threatened to swallow her whole after Ah-bas death.
He had died for a reason though. The reason she now fought. To see it all end. Not for her, but to insure his sacrifice hadn’t been in vain, that all of their sacrifices would amount to something. She fought, so other little girls might have what had been denied to her. A regular blight free life, with a home, family, kids, a loving husband and some kind of peace.
Jasmine's current targets were vampires. The team she now led belonged to her godfather Donavan. They’d already decimated this group in skirmishes over the last couple weeks. Two of the four vampires hibernating in the motel were Unified Clan Council members, ancient and powerful creatures.
She could likely handle them alone. But it wouldn’t come to that because; at the moment they were ancient powerful and asleep. She had every intention of catching them like that.
There was a high possibility of mystic alarms, or summand guardians. If so things would get messy, but the team was excellent the outcome would be the same.
They were actually too heavy for this operation. She should have left the team with Donavan but he wouldn’t have it. Although he had his odd moments he was rarely over protective of her. Most likely he didn’t want the team underfoot why’ll he stalked the vampire general that had parted ways with this bunch in Harrisburg. So they’d left him there a few hours ago.
Jasmine wasn’t happy about it, but she hadn’t been able to talk him out of it. He was obsessed with that one. She couldn’t blame him she would be too.
Donavan had been right of course. The vamps move hadn’t made since. So somebody had to stay and find out what Giovanni was up to.
Donavan was an accomplished solo hunter, she was just worried Giovanni had something up his sleeve. She knew the creature had a hard on for her godfather too, but that man had been a legend before she even entertained the idea of b**** smakin her first vamp.
Still something was bugging her, something she couldn’t put her finger on. She pushed the thought to the side. As a chi psy, if there was any real threat either her Clairvoyance or her best friend Amber’s would have picked it up.
Her godfathers latest team was better then most she’d worked with in sometime.
There were nine of them now. Three of which were newbies who’d thrown in with the cause after the battle in Philadelphia.
When time permitted they would be taken back to sanctuary, trained, and checked for psy aptitude. If any were found to have it, they would be given stimulant M. A drug developed during WWII by a government agency that went AWOL to join the fledgling Organization.
The drug could boost the psy abilities of those who showed proficiency to amazing levels. It worked on those with out natural aptitude also. Unfortunately it drove 28% of them crazy. So the Organization only gave it to those with the genetic gift or those with medical knowledge who wanted to be psy healers.
It had always surprised Jasmine growing up, how many men and women of medicine would risk insanity for the ability to heal with their minds. They all thought they could beat the odds, too many didn’t.
Because of the numerous incantations that protected sanctuary, she couldn’t speak on any details of her childhood home. If she even tried any memories of the place would vanish. It really irked her. She couldn’t even speak of her mother or Atlantean friends why’ll in this world.
Delivering meals in the sanitarium had been one of her chores. To her they seemed maybe the saddest, definitely the most selfless casualties of the war. Those driven mad by the drug.
Another SUV, a van and a station wagon sat behind her on the shoulder of the road containing the rest of her main force. Save for the newbie’s they were all professionals with at least 2 years of experience almost exclusively in hunting bloodsuckers.
Vampires being the most well organized if not numerous of their many foes, warranted teams dedicated entirely to them.
Jasmine wasn’t a vampire hunter, she had started her career as one but ended up partnering with her husband; a Demon slayer. After his death she received his weapon and his job, and the freedom that came with it.
Things had been slow of late and she had been able to choose her own assignment. She’d decided to hunt vamps with her godfather. They both shared a particular loathing for the creatures. A bond that PJ nor Ah-ba could ever really understand.
In her line of work survival dictated that you surround yourself with competent people. PJ had the indestructibles a far better team in general, but when it came to vampires Donavan’s was the best.
She guessed this group could handle five or six times their number with out her help, and had just proven recently even to her surprise that they could handle three times their strength in vampire soldiers. Including the Giovanni’s top Special Forces security team.
He was the Unified Clan's Chief of Security in North America, basically the general of the vampire army for the continent.
These creatures are well trained in both the use of their natural abilities and military tactics, and extremely well equipped.
It had been a nasty fight, but nowhere near as nasty as she thought it would be after the ambush had been sprung.
Donavan had lost 5 of his team everybody had been wounded. The team medic and psy healer had remedied that quickly enough. They wiped out Giovanni’s spec ops squad, and badly mangled the other two.
Unfortunately they lost their healer two days later in a skirmish with a vampire security team that caught them as they tried to sneak out of state and get back on the tail of Giovanni and the Council members.
So the team was now short a psy healer, which was a problem.
Jasmine wasn’t too concerned, One of her abilities was to heal herself, but only of minor injuries.
They had Amber who could heal others but she didn’t have the skill to heal life-threatening injuries of others either. They’d put in for another but there was no telling when they would get the replacement.
It could be days and it could be weeks. They had medical supplies and Beverly an x-nurse. That would have to do, because the war wouldn’t wait.
As far as replacing the others, that was mostly up to them. Almost all the recruits into the blight war were survivors of being caught in the wrong place at the worst possible time. Very few who survived such encounters and tried to return to their lives succeed. The blights with their talons dug deep in the world governments could not afford to let their secret get out.
Most blights are mindless beasts, but the Unified Clans and various magic, psychic cabals need secrecy to keep their control over mankind.
So as they warred with each other over power and the spoils of men’s souls, and flesh. They worked together, jealously to guard the secret of their existence. Cleaning up meticulously not only after themselves, but after those of their ilk too mindless to care about such things.
Anyone unfortunate enough to bare witness is mind wiped, killed... or worst. Along with anyone they could have possibly told.
When confronted with this fact. The smart few, still able to think reasonably about what they had just experienced, the strong few, able to swallow it without going insane, joined up. If for no other reason then to spare their friends and families.
Of course their families weren’t completely spared. True, the one concession the Blight governments seem to extend was to allow the families of those that join the hunters to live. As long as they remain ignorant. Relatives make the most useful puppets.
They still have to live with their missing relatives being drug through the mud. Because the new recruits were generally blamed for the deaths of any other civilians killed in the crossfire. If there were non then they made some up.
An old school Cadillac approached from the opposite direction pulling up in front of the motel, refocusing Jasmine on the here and now.
It was the scout team. "Everybody ready?" her throat mike carrying the question to the team.
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