Deep Red, Chapter Three

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April 2, 1702: I arrived in the East, and my companion is still with me. It is alarming to note the lack of Otherworld children in this new place. Not a single interspecies couple has bred since arriving in this reality. The Counsel–the new government that Margaret, Jack and Victoria have devised–has nightly discussions regarding a solution … April 15, 1702: The East is much different than I imagined. The primitive nature of this world is often astonishing, but the new powers developed by the volemics is equally impressive. In the Otherworld, their strength and speed matched that of most changelings, but now they have excelled and have gained magical prowess. Their magic is different from the kindred, and the volemics’ souls are still encased in their bodies, but they can use their blood to manipulate the physical world. I suspect that these changes in our physical nature since the crossing are the primary reason for interspecies infertility … November 9, 1702: New laws, on which I voted nay and was outnumbered 4:1, are being placed on us, and I have been forced to take a wolf to wife. My Resident companion will remain with me as a servant. There are other women and men in this place that look like her, and many are slaves. I would not dare to keep this one as a slave, even if I was inclined to do so … December 21, 1702: Many of my former companions, mostly those who were torn from their former lovers and spouses by the laws, have chosen to travel across the sea to a place called Europe. Again, they will wait for the cold to abate … April 5, 1703: I have seen my brothers and sisters off in a merchant ship. I know that, as they travel, they will be followed by shadows, or–worse–more shadows will be created to follow them … April 21, 1703: The Counsel has decided, unanimously, to remain in the Americas and establish lives for ourselves and our future generations … May 20, 1703: I pity my friend, as she has now become to me. None except I speak her language or share any history with her. I know she feels very alone. She seems only to tolerate my friendship. No kindred will share secrets with her, not like Blacksoul did … November 8, 1703: We, the Counsel, are placing even more laws on our kind, especially as the shadows begin to wage war, spurred on by their primordial creators. I have stopped speaking my mind at the meetings, so Victoria believes we all continue to share Margaret’s plans for this reality. Rain says the other primordials have uncovered a prophesy that declares one of our kind will unravel their creations. Victoria seems fairly unsurprised by this news, and alarmingly serene. This could have something to do with the protective boundary she created around our little town, but I doubt it … December 13, 1703: We cannot stay here forever. The winter will end eventually, as will the strength of Victoria’s containment field. The world changes around us, and the shadows beg to come in….

excerpts from The Diary of Walker Shinab, 1702-1703, trans. by Jonah Shinab, 1849

snowy highwayChapter Three

Blood Protector

Earlier that night, when Jack saw Marlo leave the bar, he followed her and the human back to Fort Carson. Over the years, many humans took Marlo back to their homes or barracks. This time was different. Where he would normally experience some of her lust or climax, he felt fear, hatred, and hunger. They didn’t belong to him, and he couldn’t believe they belonged to her, so he ignored them.

When Marlo emerged wearing a man’s clothing and poorly concealed panic, he realized his mistake. He would pay for his negligence, and he hated to think what They would do to Marlo if this meant what he thought it did.

After subduing her, Jack laid Marlo in the backseat of his car and covered her with his coat. He realized that, in all these years, he had never watched her sleep. He hoped she would stay unconscious until they reached Haven.

After he pulled onto Highway 24, he called Victoria. “I’m bringing her in,” he said.

“What happened?”

“I don’t know.”

“How can you not know?”

“I can’t explain right now.”

“Where are you?”

“On the highway.” Jack looked at the radio clock. “We should be there before everyone wakes up.”

Victoria paused. For a second he thought he lost the signal. “Is she okay?”

“I don’t know,” he said, “but you should send someone out to Fort Carson. Barracks Bravo, near the back.”

“I’ll send Rayne. She’s the closest, and she’ll be able to see what happened.”

“I can smell blood. Not hers.”

Victoria sighed. “At least she’s all right.”

“I didn’t say that.”

“Just get her here,” Victoria said before hanging up.

Jack threw the phone into the passenger seat. Being volemic in this reality had its challenges. Here, volemics aged at a tenth of the rate of humans and kindred, so he had several lifetimes of loyalties, debts, and enemies. Victoria was one of the former, but could quickly become one of the latter.

Back in the Otherworld, he had no responsibilities. He did what he could to get by. That is, until he met Margaret. She believed in curiosity and spectrum, and convinced him to believe as well. Marlo was part of her line, her plan, and, therefore, part of his obligation.

His life had been simpler before the Crossing, before Margaret’s curiosity killed his small, conformist view of reality. In the Otherworld, several warring factions ran everything, and each had absolute certainty in their specific beliefs. Jack stayed out of the chaos by having faith in only one thing: his uncomplicated daily life. When Margaret chose him as her mate, and found the portal to this world, everything changed.

People who wanted freedom or peace began to mobilize behind Margaret’s banner. Volemics, kindred and changelings alike made one united journey. Kindred and changelings had gone through the portal over the years, but Margaret’s Crossing was different. With her came great numbers, resulting in the mirrors: this world’s reaction to the presence of such a large amount of foreign creatures.

Vampires sprung up from the humans, and the number of witches and werewolves swelled. The vampires’ sudden evolution and cravings made them savage, though their single-minded purpose of ridding the world of Otherworlders had kept the humans safe for the last couple hundred years. The Mirrors were part of what Jack had been protecting Marlo from.

Jack adjusted his rearview mirror. I should have been protecting her from herself, he thought. Power, responsibility, and intuition. Margaret prized these qualities above all, and he failed her, even with all the gifts this reality gave him.

This world contained more magical principles than the other, which accounted for the volemics’s longer lifespan. Volemics were known in the other world for their strength, speed, and intelligence, but here each had a different gift of blood magic. Jack possessed a sort of two-way radio between himself and those who ingested his blood. It’s how he knew what Marlo was feeling.

He could also prevent those who he marked with his blood from manifesting their powers, which was useful in his current line of work. He had a feeling that the package in his back seat had more gifts than he would be able to suppress on his own, whether she knew what she could do or not.

He looked back at Marlo again. If they had stayed in the Otherworld, he could have been with Margaret for the length of their short, uneventful lives. Marlo would have been part of their line, far into the future. Jack wished he could push back against his past, that he could make up for all his mistakes, but all he could do was drive.

Chapter Four→