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Paranormal Collaboration Part Five (by Steve Strodder)

Beau

I unlock the door to my apartment and walk inside, Asher and Shayla in tow. The lounge screams single male. Instead of being ashamed of it I decide to pretend it doesn’t bother me. “Sit,” I suggest to Shayla. I walk to the kitchen and Asher follows me without me asking him to.
“Thanks Beau, I didn’t know who else I could turn to-” Asher begins.
I cut him off with a practiced piercing look. “No you listen to me. You bring a rogue Fey into my home without even really asking me if I’m ok with that, and what’s more is she’s seething in aetheric energy, more than I’ve ever seen on someone who has taught themselves.” I am much to tired for this; I haven’t slept for two days.
“She is just like you Beau. Banished by the Elders; a kindred spirit. The least you can do is help her out.” His voice is dripping with reasonability, but I can see right through it. Ten years ago his mind tricks might have worked on me, but not now.
“Cut the shit Ash, why bring her to me? I’m one of the least safe people in the city. It’s an occupational hazard.” I cross my arms. I’m not budging.
“I want you to train her to be a hunter.” His bluntness is startling.
“Why would you want that of her? She is beautifully feminine. That’ll be long gone by the time the trainings done. Most of her personality too. Dealing in dark things changes people.” I’m not trying to make him back off. Hell, an apprentice would help me. I might actually be able to get more then sixteen hours sleep a week.
“I accept that, but I can’t protect her during the day. You can until she learns how to.” He looks at me. Asher is the only decent vampire I’ve ever met, and I feel like I owe it to him. The fact he is two hundred and fifty years old also makes him quite… agreeable.
“Fine,” I sigh. “You have a deal. I’ll teach her to take care of herself, but I won’t be taken responsible if anything happens to her.” I instantly wish I hadn’t said the last part. Even though he has to look up at me, being a few inches shorter, he’s deeply imposing when his aura flares up. I suddenly find myself wondering if I could reach my boot knife in time to sink it into him or if he’d be able to kill me before I got it out of the sheath.
“You will take full responsibility, do you understand?” I nod once; I tell myself that I could probably take him if I wasn’t backed up against a kitchen counter.
We walk out into the lounge and I see Shayla touching the feather sword I keep hanging on my wall. Made of pure moon silver, it’s lethal to anything but the Fey, who gain power from it. It’s one sided and at the end on the non-sharp side is a lump of lead, for some extra swing behind it.
After realising I’ve been staring at her for the better part of five minutes, she jerks away, staring at me with wide blue eyes.
“You like that honey?” I ask her. There’s nothing sexual about it; it’s just how I talk to people. She turns and yells something inaudible at me. Next second, she pulls her hand back and an aether bolt forms in it. I flare my aura and put up a deflective shield. If she throws that at me her own aether’ll incinerate her.
Asher walks over to her and eases the spike from her hand. They talk for a moment while I absentmindedly attempt to clean the sitting room. When I turn around Asher turns to me and whispers in my ear.
“If you hurt her… I’ll kill you.” the threat is empty. We’d probably both die in a fight between us. I just nod and shake his hand, leading him to the door. After he leaves I turn to Shayla.
“Look, I’ve been on my feet for almost forty eight hours. I need some sleep. You look like you could use some too. Help yourself to anything in the kitchen, and we’ll start your training tonight when the sun goes down.” She nods, not saying anything and looking defiantly straight into my eyes. I decide to soften my tone.
“Look, I’m sorry for hunting you and your mother. You two are the reason I abandoned the council. You need my help and I need yours, okay? So let’s put it behind us and move on.” She stays silent. “I didn’t kill your mother, Shayla. A man named Jasper Carthright did. He’s dead by my hand. Now I’ll get you a pillow and a blanket.” I walk to the linen press and pull out the warmest blanket and the newest pillow I can find. Handing both to her, I turn and start to walk to my bedroom.
“Goodnight, Beau,” she says quietly behind me. I smile. Maybe the ice queen isn’t as heartless and callous as she makes herself out to be.
“Goodnight, Shayla. If you have nightmares I’m right down the hall,” I say, half mockingly but also half implying that if anything bursts through the wall she should wake me up straight away so I can deal with it.
I walk to my room and nestle down into the nest of blankets and pillows. I close my eyes and fall asleep instantly.

I wake up to darkness and the smell of strong coffee. Yeah, that would be good right now, along with pancakes. I smell the air but there is no sign of cooking. I can cook them then, I think to myself. I pull on a pair of black jeans and a plain tight white shirt. When I walk into the kitchen, Shayla is standing over the coffee plunger I check the clock; it’s seven and the sun has set well and truly.
“Sleep well?” I ask, pouring a cup of coffee for myself. I sip without adding anything; damn that is good.
“Well enough,” she says. “Where and when do we start training?” She gets straight to the point, nicely done.
“After I’ve eaten and had at least one more cup of coffee. And we’re training in my warehouse.” She nods as if it’s perfectly normal for everyone to own a warehouse. I start breakfast, cooking double what I usually do.

I unlock the huge doors of the warehouse and give Shayla the thumbs up. She drives the car into the building and I lock the door behind us. I walk into the middle of a large concrete bowl in the floor; it’s about twenty meters in diameter and continues out to the far wall. I pull four practice knives from their hangings on the wall. They’re exactly the same as a normal knife except the blade is rounded and so blunt it wouldn’t cut butter.
I throw two to Shayla and, to her credit, she catches them. And holds them both in a standard grip with the tips of the blade pointing to the roof. I walk over to her and grab the knife in her right hand.
“Rule one; never hold both of the knives the same way. Always reverse the grip on one of them. I suggest your strongest hand.” She nods and reverses the grip until the point of her right-hand knife is pointing at the ground. “Knife fighting all comes from the hips. A stab, thrust slice or jab won’t cut anything unless you move your body with it.” I walk to a dummy I have set up and just slash at it. The dummy rocks on its pole.
“That looked like a good hit anyway,” she tells me.
I smile an impish smile and slash the dummy again, following through with my body weight. Despite the blunted knife a huge gash opens in the front of the dummy. Sand spills all over the floor. She nods.
We practice on the dummies for two hours, slashing, stabbing and thrusting. Finally I decide she might be ready for hand-to-hand combat and start to walk to the bowl.
“Come at me. Use your aura too if you can, do whatever you can to hurt me. I’ll only play defensive.”
She comes at me and her aura flares. Mine flares to mach hers, my dark spikes in vivid contrast to her gold light. Her aura starts to spin and I spin mine in the opposite direction. As she collides with me, I feel my aura ripping and being ripped. I parry blow after blow after blow. Jesus, she is fast. Some newborn vampires can’t move like this. I lock one of her knives between my two and send it spinning across the floor, closely followed by another. A single bead of sweat falls from my eyebrow into my eye.
“Good work.” I say gruffly. “Tomorrow morning we work on hands and feet. You learn fast, you’ll be hunting within a year.”
I walk to the bathroom and splash cold water over my face. I’m going to have my work cut out for me.

Continues in Part Six

Paranormal Collaboration Part Five (by Steve Strodder)

Kaika

Forresters Beach, Australia

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Artist's Description

Part five of my collab with Steve Strodder. This part is written by Steve. Next part is by me. Enjoy!

Artwork Comments

  • Matthew Dalton
  • Kaika
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