Estimated reading time: 8 – 13 minutes
“Waiting to Break”
“You know this is going to get much worse.”
“I know.” The two words rasped with numb acceptance. Her eyes reflected their tone.
“You sure you want to go through with this? Yukio will never need to know you declined.”
She inhaled quickly. “Director H., I’m Alpha Noir for a reason. I can perform.” And you could never keep it from him. He’ll know because he knows me. He’s expecting me to fall apart and I’ll see him in hell before I let that happen.
“All right. They’re waiting for you.” He watched the young girl march forward with dignity. He didn’t have to glance at the hall to know many were scenting for blood. In an uncharacteristic display of sensitivity, he hoped she didn’t shed any.
“Would you beg for me?”
“Would you bleed for me?”
“Would you cry for me?”
“Make no mistake—you all are here to serve Nephilim. We expect you to bring honor to your lineage.” The baby soft voice matching the porcelain creature would’ve thrown most into confusion, but it only held her audience in grim fascination. “We understand the difficulty some of you will face. We will do what we can to ease this transition, but willful disobedience will not be tolerated.”
The mortal beauty of a tiny doll face sullied her closing whisper, “You are all so very precious to us. Do not make us mourn you.”
Will you cry with me, Yukio? Or have you already forgotten me?
Luminous eyes scanned the lecture hall, looking past the unnatural faces staring back with impassive interest. The room was unusual by most standards and never failed to inspire awe within her, something she badly needed. Unfortunately, comfort fled to make way for despair in the specters of a before-cherished memory.
“I want to make love to you.”
“Here? Now? No way!”
“Because it’s the Hall. It’s as close to sacrilege as you can get around here, Yukio. No.”
“I’m going to make love to you. Here. Now.”
She lowered her gaze in a resolute attempt to focus on the audience. She studied the mahogany seats, knowing intimately how soft the crimson velvet cushions were against tired limbs. She appreciated the beautiful contrast a hundred and twenty rows of dark wood had against white marble walls. She felt the presence of the massive dome overhead and allowed a spark of wonder. Even now, history played out above them and told the fantastic story of how each Nephilim bloodline had been conceived thousands of years prior. It happened simultaneously, proving Time was indeed very liquid.
She let her attention flit along two walls. Six enormous niches flanked each side of the hall. Each held a stone representation of the original Nephilim families.
And you all exist here in this room, bastardized as you are with your precious pure blood. Even you, Yukio…
She smiled gently, refusing to crumble under the grief tattooed on her heart. “From this point forward, you will train only within your respective groups except during examination. For our new brothers and sisters—the collars on each of you denote your standing.”
She studied the neat rows comprising of yellow, green, red, white, and black.
“You will not remove them under any circumstances unless, of course, for promotion. We hope to see you all wear this.” She touched the ebony fabric at her neck with adoring fingertips. “And you can. However, the journey is not without certain sacrifice.”
“I’ve always served you, Yukio. I love you.”
“Then love me enough to let me go.”
“You are renowned for your family bloodlines. Each of you carry an incomprehensible amount of power. You’re mythic.” Her pink mouth glistened in a beatific smile. “But the world isn’t what it once was. You are not what you once were.”
She considered the exquisitely unnatural faces, both male and female, staring back with the same level of assessment. “Obviously, the veterans understand this, but for our new brothers and sisters—you’ve been stripped of all power in this place. Until you reach Noir, you will live like humans while you’re here.”
Not without surprise, her affected audience didn’t betray their reaction. After all, they were perfectly trained from the womb to bury weakness.
She had learned their lesson by proxy.
“You each have a partner, a human partner, who has been chosen specifically for you. They are easily identifiable as yours by the family crest on their collars.” She nodded to several of her genetic brethren. “Your partner will become your other half in this place. You will find yourself completely dependent on him or her. They will also be superior to you for much of your training.”
Her sharp gaze sought the room’s discomfort. “We know this will be foreign to you. We expect many to hate it. We also expect you to turn your hatred to your partners. Don’t.”
“Yukio, don’t blame me for this!”
“Who else than you? You treat me like a dog!”
“Then prove it to me.”
“The more you hate them the longer it will take for you to become Noir.” She tapped her collar once in emphasis. “Please don’t expect this arrangement to be a lesson in humiliation. It isn’t. Your partner will have a measure of power over you through their own special abilities, but Nephilim exists through balance. You will learn that balance.”
She waited for her words to carve their way past instinctive facades.
“We hope you develop bonds with your partner. Sexual is the preference, but we understand that may become quite impossible for some of you.” She caught the revulsion on more than a few, eloquently proving her point. She ignored the ache it inspired. “Whatever method you both can find—find it. This will only work with your commitment. Likewise, it will only fail without it.”
She kept her tone steady, her gaze even more so as she addressed the first two rows. They remained immobile, reminding her of frozen canaries.
“Amber Cell, you are the newest recruits. As such, you will have the opportunity to become further acquainted with your partner during Orientation. However, allow us to briefly explain exactly the who and why of your current arrangement. Each human here, including myself, is immune to our partner’s particular powers.”
She correctly deciphered the surprise in a few of the newest recruits.
“We are a genetic anomaly in regards to your noble bloodlines. What this means is this—vampires have been assigned partners who not only can resist all telepathic persuasion, but cannot be fed upon. Their blood is poisonous to you.
“Warlocks and witches—you have been assigned partners who are resistant to your abilities to alter their physical space. No magic can be performed against them or around them. You cannot cast even the simplest spells in their presence.
“Werewolves—your partners have the ability to prevent your wolven blood from coming forth. Your aggressiveness is also capped off in their presence. You too cannot count on telepathic persuasion. It doesn’t work.
“Shapeshifters—your partners also prevent transformations. You cannot use the environment or the mental plane to twist their perception.
“Fey—you cannot use music or song to enchant your partners. You also cannot use nature to manipulate them. Any food from you will not keep them captive to your desires.
“Deities—yours are immune to your particular wills. They cannot be coerced to follow your command. Nor can they be harmed by your powers.
“You may be wondering what your partners will gain from being by your side.” She curled her lips in a darling gesture. “Each of these humans will be training just like you. They have their own obstacles to overcome, their own prejudices to master. Eventually, they will graduate, with your assistance, as Purifiers.”
She gave the recruits several moments to digest the enormity of their new circumstances. This declaration always manifested in varying degrees of resentment. Many Purebloods believed they were betraying their own by helping humans learn to hunt and incapacitate them.
It didn’t matter that Purifiers only sought Rogues who had broken Nephilim mandates. The Purebloods always initially hated giving any assistance, forced or otherwise.
“Nephilim exists through balance. Do not think this is an unfair exchange. You will learn how to strengthen your already formidable power and you will learn how to adapt it to the human world. You will keep your lineage strong and you will be able to better protect it from harm and extinction.”
She suppressed the shiver forming deep within her core. Without turning her attention away from the audience, she knew Yukio had just joined her onstage.
“You are beginning to lose your immunity to me.”
“I don’t mind, Yukio. It only means we’re that much closer to Noir.”
“I don’t care about Noir. What I do care about is that I have to be more careful when I touch you. I don’t want to freeze such pretty skin. Especially down here…”
“Now that you better understand your current role, please take the following with extreme care—your joint success depends entirely on you both.”
She remained rooted in place when he reached her. Her lips lost their color while the arm closest to him became icy.
“As your Alpha Noir I am here to assist you in any way possible. I have been where you are. I understand the confusion and frustration that will follow you for many months to come. I will lend you my support and I will do everything in my power to help you adjust to this new life.”
“You may address me as Yukio.”
“You’re quite the charming little snow god, aren’t you?”
“Watch your tone with me, girl.”
“Or you’ll what? Freeze me to death? But how can you? You can’t even conjure up the tiniest, little snowflake.”
“You will regret these words. I promise you.”
“And you will regret threatening me, Y-u-k-i-o.”
“Now I will be turning over the floor to Alpha Noir Yukio. As you’ve probably surmised, he is my partner and has been since our stay here. We are Alpha Noir due to teamwork and dedication.”
She noted the shadow movements in the white and black rows.
They’re waiting for me to break. They want to see me falter next to him. I hate you, Yukio, for putting me on display like this. I hope you rot in your happiness.
She smiled brilliantly, despite the numbness consuming her core.
“Thank you for your attention. My name is Alice and welcome to Genesis.”
Image Credit: ba1969 @ Stock.Xchng