WARNING: Some portions of the following work of fiction contain explicit sex. If you are under 18 (or whatever age is appropriate for your location), HIT YOUR BACK BROWSER BUTTON NOW. If you find explicit sex offensive, please don't offend yourself by reading further. The full disclaimer for this work of Vampire Hunter D fanfiction is at the beginning of Chapter 1. ============================================================================= Feathers on the Wind Chapter 4 Hunted The air was sweet with the smell of flowers. What they were, she couldn't say. She opened her eyes to see the sunlight dancing through the branches of the huge tree she lay under. The wind blew flower petals down from the tree and fluttered around her. She turned slightly and saw D sitting a few feet away gliding a grindstone down the length of his long sword. "You're awake," he said, seeing her move, but not looking at her. "When did we stop?" she asked, sitting up. "When you almost fell off my horse," he said, still sharpening. "There are some rations in the saddlebag next to you. We'll go after you eat." "Is this the only tree around here?" "No." "Excuse me." He was glad he could control his bodily functions. Sometimes, being half vampire had its advantages. About ten minutes later she returned and picked out a small peace of dried shark meat. Sharks may have terrified her, but she did find they tasted good. "Sorry about last night." D said nothing. "Are we set back far?" "We'll reach Magar Rocks this evening," He sheathed his sword and swung it onto his back. He then picked up the saddlebags and slid them behind his saddle. "There's a stream a few hundred yards away, we can get some water there." "And carry it in what?" "Nightmare has water storage spaces. He just drinks it in." "I won't ask how you get it out." "You ready?" She wiped her hands on a towel offered by D, then leapt to her feet. They mounted up and continued on their way. Magar Rocks was actually some old city ruins. Decrepit concrete tilted and cracked with vines, trees and other vegetation growing out the various window openings. Odd little creatures lived in this new forest of death and life, but it was nothing she recognized. D felt her tighten her grip to his cloak as they past the ruins. "You all right?" he asked finally. "Did they learn?" she said. "That wars should be fought by the idiots who start them in the first place." "It ended, that's the main thing." "Yeah. Too bad the whole world had to suffer because of it." She had tears streaming her cheeks, and was glad D couldn't see her cry. "Why did you say that? About the people who start wars? Where did you come up with that?" She inhaled deeply, burying the cries that threatened to undo her once more. "A few years before they grabbed me, a movie was produced. Called THE POSTMAN. It was about people surviving after a war, and how one man inadvertently started to reunite the US, just by delivering letters to small towns that had isolated themselves. There was one group who dominated, and the postman rose up and fought them. But rather than so many people fighting and dieing, the postman challenged the leader of the other group. It was from his line that I wished to god people would listen and take to heart. A direct quote, my tall friend. Remember it. You may never know when you will need it. To make sense out of senselessness." "Choose your words carefully, Kale," he said, handing her a handkerchief. Surprised, she accepted it. "What may have been commonly said in your time, could make someone suspicious now." "Just say I'm from over seas," she said, wiping her nose. "There. No one says 'overseas' anymore. Its either the Western World, the Far Shore, or the Eastern Frontier when referring to land masses." "Are the oceans still named?" "No, they are just the Great Crossings." He stopped the horse at another river and allowed it to drink. "Expressions such as fair winds and calm seas are still around, but only in the seaman's speech." "How did that develop?" "Not sure. Its formal name is Glouster..." "Glouster fishermen, long liners, Bangor, Main and up the eastern seaboard. I've heard of them. Craziest bunch of seamen if ever there lived any. But strong? Man. Say what was the name of the ship we were on anyway?" "Why?" "Come on..." "I think the captain called it Titanic. It's the largest boat he's captained so far." "Well, I hope he changes the name." "Why?" He turned as she laughed slightly. "Titanic was the name of the largest ship ever built in the White Star line. Said to be unsinkable. It sank after hitting an iceberg off the coast of Newfoundland, on its maiden voyage. It sank with close to 1600 passengers and crew still on board." "That's not funny." "I know." "Then why are you laughing?" "Because I don't want to cry anymore. Would you rather I cried?" "I'd prefer silence." He said, moving the horse forward after it finished drinking, its water reserves full once more. "Would you mind if I asked you something?" "What is it?" "Why do you prefer to ride behind me?" Kale blushed a bit, thinking over her answer. "Well...do you want the whole brutal truth, or just a respectful part of it?" "If you can't tell me the whole truth, than say nothing." For a moment she was silent, her hands sweating as she rolled the fabric of D's cloak back and forth in her hands. "It's partly because I can't..." she cleared her throat. "I get nervous...having you close like that...It really gets to me." She slid down as the horse still walked on and continued beside him on foot. "That and the pommel of your saddle digs in too much. In places I'd rather not disclose." D said nothing. "Can I ask you something, really personal?" "You'll forgive me if I choose not to answer." "Fair enough," she paused, trying to think of a way to ask without it sounding insulting. 'To hell with it. There's no easy way to put it anyway.' "Are you gay?" D pulled the horse to a stop. Shock couldn't begin to describe his reaction. He'd been asked many things, many things, but never this. "What gives you that idea?" "Well, a lot of things really, but nothing that I can really pin down. Besides, in my time, the really cute ones always turned out to be either married, or gay." "Well rest assured, I am not either of those." 'Oh,' she nodded. 'Doubly, dangerously tempting. God please give me strength.' D suddenly reached down and lifted her to his saddle settling her astride the horse in front of him, shifting his position back to give her more room. "No, D, please." She asked trying to have him release her, but his grip around her waist was firm. "There's a storm coming. I want to be at the village inn before it arrives." He spurred the horse to a gallop and headed around the ruins and onto a roadway. It was about three hours, before D pulled his horse down to a walk, by then they had reached the village limits. Soft claps of thunder rolled overhead, and every few minutes the clouds flashed with the lightning straining to spring free. D stopped his horse in front of the tavern and dismounted; taking the saddlebags off and taking the reins he looked to Kale. "There's a stable next door." Kale slid from the saddle slowly. "Oh, that's gona leave a mark." She followed D to the stable trying to work the pain out of her legs. D stabled the horse then led Kale into the tavern. It wasn't that different than the one in the west, accept it didn't smell bad, and the room was a mix of western and eastern traditional décor. And the call girls were dressed more respectfully, and not just in their under garments. The men were about the same though, long leering looks to any female who passed them. Kale tightened her grip on her cloak and duffle bag. She used to carry a purse that she'd stuff with weighted wallets and timekeeper books. If anyone accosted her, the purse made an excellent weapon of defense. But all she had now was a duffel bag. Not very big, and not very heavy, but she could swing it nonetheless. D directed her to a hall that led to some rooms for rent. He unlocked one of the doors and ushered her in. 'Two beds? Thank you God,' she thought, and let herself drop onto the bed nearest the window. D set his saddlebags on the next bed and surveyed the rest of the room. The lav was complete with a shower, this was good. A shelf of fresh towels, even better. In the main room, there were the two beds, a night stand on either side, with a writing desk between n the beds. A double chest of drawers, and decorations, flowers, ornaments, four oil lamps spread around the room, and the air in the room was heavy with incense. "It will do." He said quietly. "Kale here." He handed her one of his daggers. "Put it on. No one should be without a weapon of some kind." She looked the blade and sheath over, then tucked it into the outside of her right boot. "I need to stretch." She said. "So?" "Not with you standing there. I'd die of embarrassment." Without a word he stepped into the hall, and closed the room door. "I told you," whispered the sym. "She's got it bad for you." "Be quiet. Someone will hear." "You mean 'She' will hear. You know some women like it when two..." the symbiot was cut off by Kale's scream. D threw the door open, sword half drawn, fully expecting to find some person or creature accosting her. Only she was sitting on the floor, a frightened look in her eyes. She pointed under the bed. D looked. A body. A young man, of about 25, lay dead. "Keeper!" he shouted dragging the bed aside. The innkeeper stepped in and shrugged. "I was wondering what happened to him." He bent down, grabbed the dead man's shirt collar, and pulled him out into full view, dropping the man to the floor right in front of Kale. "I think I'm gona be sick." She said, covering her mouth. "Be easy slut," said the keeper. "He's been dead a while. Looks like one of his buddies last night took a knife to his back. Kept him face down so the blood wouldn't stain the floor. That was nice of them." D grabbed his bags and Kale's, then pulled her to her feet. "I refuse to stay in a place that keeps the dead in their rooms. And where the keepers insult my companion." He pushed Kale out the door and then out of the tavern all together. "Follow me." "This is the only inn in town." "We'll stay in the stable." D disappeared into the barn's darkness. "In the barn? No way, not me." A clap of thunder over her head chased her inside. "Up here." He shone a light from the loft and aimed it's beam onto the ladder to her left. She climbed up and made her way to D, who had laid out their blankets over the hay. The rain danced on the roof as the storm let go. "Get some sleep. We'll eat tomorrow." "Sleep here? In the loft? I don't think so." "What now?" "Things happen in lofts...and I won't be part of it." "What things?" Just then they heard the passionate cries of a woman on the opposite end of the loft. They could hear the muffled groans of the man she was with. D turned to Kale, in the dim light, he could see her blush. "Go to sleep. Please. They won't bother us." 'Its not them I'm worried about,' she thought, securing her cloak around her and laying down next to D. D respectfully laid his hat over his face and drew his cloak around himself. She laid awake listening, or trying not to listen, to the couple across the loft. What would D do? Would he be excited himself, knowing there were others doing that? She tensed; ready to strike out if D touched her. But then again, would she want him not to touch her? 'I'm getting a head ache,' she thought and eventually relaxed. D never moved the whole night. D slept very little; if you could call it sleep where two people were writhing in passionate sex not more than 50 feet away. But things were quiet now. Kale had finally dropped off to sleep some time before, the horses, a few real ones, were settled. All he heard were the night creatures, and...a rustling, and it was coming closer. He drew his long dagger and quickly extended his arm, catching the intruder under his chin. "Go back to your woman," he said, realizing it was the man from across the loft. His scent reeked of sex. "I apologize for waking you," said the man quietly, "I dropped something when we first came up last night. I was just looking...Ah, there it is." The man reached through the hay and picked up something shinny, the light from the coming dawn highlighting it from the windows above the doors. "I'll go now." A moment later he could hear the muffled laughs and snickering of the two love makers. Then suddenly, something small and light landed on his chest, tossed over the pile of hay. "In case you need it for your girl," said the man, and the woman gave a loud cry as their pleasures resumed. Kale woke suddenly and tried to bury her ears in her duffle bag. "Don't they know when to quit?" she sighed. "No. Come on. The tavern will be opening soon. We'll take a look at the list of horses for sale at the livery down the street, then we'll eat." "What's this?" she asked, catching the plastic thing in the air as it flew off of D's cloak when he stood. "A gift from me," moaned the other man as he made the woman scream louder. "Lets get out of here." She tucked the tiny condom packet into her bag and quickly followed D down the ladder. After securing the bags, D mounted up and followed Kale to the open doors. "I can walk," she said, as he extended his hand. He picked her up and sat her in front of him. Then she realized why, as they rode out to the street. The ground was covered in about 2 to 3 inches of mud. Frustrated that he'd said nothing, she kicked his foot out of the stirrup and used it to swing behind him. This riding with someone else was going to take some getting use to. "The livery stable will be opening soon to tend their horses." "D, how come you don't like me riding behind you?" "I don't like anything behind me. I have a long sword, and I could hurt you if I had to draw it quickly." "Well if you do, do that, just push me off the horse." "Max," she said, admiring her new horse. It was the same as D's horse, a DL4, only hers was shinier and had an almost silver mane and tail. D had examined all six of the horses for sale, and only this one was suitable. The others all having thin hoof coverings, bad joints & gears, being an older model, or some other problem. But 'Max' had only been purchased by the seller the day before, and had not yet been viewed. D bartered over the price to include tack and saddlebags, paid and then handed Kale the reins. "Why Max?" he asked. "Steel to the Max, that's the name I gave a dapple gray percheron long ago. He was beautiful. I liked it and hoped one day I could buy him for myself, but that day never came." "Well, that nylon bag of yours isn't going to last. Repack it into her saddlebags. We'll be on our way after breakfast." "To where?" D didn't say. They returned to the tavern and ordered a small breakfast, or at least that's what they had ordered. The tavern owner had shamed himself for insulting a girl who had not chosen a vocation common to tavern girls. To apologize, he set before the two a feast fit for kings. There were breads of all flavors, rolls, roast meat sliced for sandwiches, eggs cooked in all fashions, fruit both dried and fresh, he set pots of tea on a side table with decanters of wine and fine crystal. In all, the food extended across three tables. D leaned over to Kale and whispered. "He's begging us to forgive him for disgracing you last night." "What do I do?" she asked. "I don't forgive people for calling me a slut, I usually break their jaw, or try to anyway." "It's up to you. But he won't stop bringing food until you forgive him." She regarded the tavern owner as he set a tray of hors d'oeuvres on the side table. She grabbed his arm firmly. "You swear to me, you'll never assume anything about anyone without proof..." "I swear..." the man said dropping to his knees. "...I swear. I did not mean to shame you." 'I could get use to this,' she thought, then let him go, the outline of her fingers still bright on his skin. "Then I forgive you for the insult, but not the body." "Six months," he said. "Six months of searching this stinking desert, and for what!!!?" he swung his fist at one of his followers, who quickly ducked. "What happened?!" "Lava tube opened up sir," said another. "The entire facility was completely destroyed." "Which one was it? Can anyone find the marker?!" "Sir!" shouted a man galloping up on his cyber horse. "Sir, you have to come see this." The leader was led to a group of four men, two were his followers in their black uniforms, the other two were older, nearing their 60's. One had no hair on the top of his head; the other had very thin hair. "This is Doctor Richmond, from the shore town, this is Quibb, he runs a buy and sell. Quibb had these in his shop." The man handed his leader a couple of finely crafted rings, one diamond, the other sapphire. "Says he bought them from an East Worlder and his woman. The doctor had this." The man then handed the leader a large book out of his saddlebag. "You've done very well," said the leader, looking through the book. "Tell the men to pack up." "Yes sir." The leader knelt down and faced the elderly men sitting on the ground in front of him. His appearance no longer blocked by his eclipsing the sun. His eyes were green, and reflected a kind of cold madness. His face was oval and peach colored, a scar extending over his cheek from his right ear, almost reaching his nose. A nose that was steep and straight, his lips were thin as he spoke. "So Doctor, you had the revival manual for this ark. Why?" "What are you going to do with us? What do you want?" The man struck the doctor with his fist across his jaw. "I hate having questions answered with questions!" he pulled the doctor upright by his nostrils. "My question will not be repeated." The doctor spat blood as he spoke. "About six months ago, a man, hunter I think, rode into town with a girl. She was very sick. Said he found her in an Ark." "Why is he carting the cell around?" the leader asked. "What is he sick or something?" "He asked me to treat her." "Where'd you bury it?" "What?" "The body! God in heaven, the girl, jerk face. When you found her to be dead, where'd you burry her?" "She's not dead. She survived. She needed some antibiotics, and some immunizations, some rest and food. But she's alive." "Impossible." "I swear its true." "Someone screwed up." "Sir?" asked a guard. "Someone from the past forgot to neutralize her brain. We've got a live cell running around out there." He then turned to Quibb. "How did you get a hold of these jewels?" "They were sold to me, along with a lot of other jewels. I told them if anyone came looking..." "I could care less about these trinkets. I want the Cell; the Girl!" "I know where they went!" said Quibb. "I'm listening." "He needed money, to take her to the Far Shore. That was over three months ago. They're probably there by now, if they didn't go down at sea." "No, if the body died and the unit still intact, it would put out a distress signal heard around the world, to only those with the equipment to hear it. This man, what's his name, what does he look like?" The leader pushed the barrel of his handgun up the end of Quibb's nose. "D!" he shouted. "When I saw your guys talking about the jewels, I looked up his receipt. His name is D. He's a Vampire Hunter from the Eastern Frontier. He said that if you find him, you find her." "This bitch remember her name?" he asked handing the large book to one of the guards. "Kale," said the doctor. "D said her name was Kale. That's all he said." "Good. Very good. Kill them." "NO!!!!" Two shots rang out in the open desert, and two men were dead. "We leave for the Eastern Frontier," said the leader, tossing the rigs away. "Mount Up!! We return to base!!" "Commander Raseeda. I noticed that this cook contains a name list of all the cell hosts. Kale's last name is Barrett, and look at the name of the cell she carries." The leader looked into the book, then snatched the book from the guard. "We've got to get that bitch back in the tank." "Yes Sir." The ride was long, and boring. Kale had tried to liven things up a bit by singing, only to have her batteries die again. So rather than dip into her limited supply of replacements, she tried to get D to race Nightmare against Max. No good. D just looked at her dismissively. They stopped for a short time under a huge tree near a grass and flower filled valley. D wanted to get a little rest so that they could make the next town by morning, by riding all night. But Kale couldn't sleep. "How can you sleep all day?" she asked D, his long frame leaning against the base of the tree, his hat pulled down over his face. "Get some rest." He said, crossing his arms over his long sword he'd tucked under his cloak. She lay there for a while, and once sure sleep had taken D, she quietly got up and took Max's reins. "I can't understand him Max," she said, leading the horse to the middle of the field. "Maybe traveling with him wasn't such a good idea after all." The horse shook its head as though to agree. "Thanks, you're a big help. Still, what he's done, no one else would have. Even 10,000 years ago. At least he isn't gay or married for that matter. But he's so boring. He's not like he was on the crossing. We talked, mostly about me, my past, and what to feed everybody." She held the tiny cross in her fingers and then let it fall back to her chest. "Hey Max, what say, you and I get to know one another." She mounted up and started walking the horse in a large circle. "I could use some practice anyway." When D opened his eyes he looked first to the sky. Nearly evening, good. He turned to where Kale had lain down earlier, only to find her bedroll empty. "Kale?" he called. "Easy D, she took her horse to the valley several hours ago. They've been there ever sense," said the sym. "Doing what?" "Riding, if my hearing is correct." D looked over the valley and sure enough there she was. He said nothing as he watched her. She made serpentines up the valley at the canter gait and back down at the trot. She then cantered the horse diagonally up her circle and dismounted on the fly. The horse circled around at her direction, then, when she snapped her fingers, it headed back to her at the gallop. The horse looked about to run her down, when she reached for the saddle horn and used the horse's momentum to climb back into the saddle. "Impressive." D muttered. "Yes. The maneuver wasn't that bad either," said the sym. D continued to watch as she rode around. She had left her cloak with her bedroll, so her figure was unhidden. D had not seen anyone use the English style of riding in many millennia. It was how he had first learned to ride. Her legs were firm against the horse's sides, right along the girth, except for when she asked for a gait or lead change, when she'd use her lower leg to signal. She didn't bounce in the saddle as much as many people did. Instead, she rolled her hips along with the rhythm of the horse's stride. Her back was straight, as any rider's should be, and her hands held the reins between her last two fingers with the excess held in her palms and her thumbs pointing up. The only thing she didn't have was a hard riding hat, which had been common to all English riders. This left her hair to flow behind her and wave with each beat of hooves on the ground, the only covering, was a cloth bandana to keep stray strands from getting in her eyes. "You're awake!" D snapped himself back to see her riding up to him. She pulled sharp on the bit and the horse made a beautiful sliding stop just two feet in front of him. "You've been practicing," he said, picking up her cloak and bedroll, trying to shake the feeling of awe as he'd watched her. "Well, I had to do something. You haven't been much fun since we left the ship." He shook the grass out of the blanket and proceeded to fold it. She was right. He had been pushing her away lately, but he couldn't afford to get close to her. On ship, he protected her from dozens of men in close quarters with one woman on board. "I'm sorry about that." "Don't worry about it. I should be used to it by now. Did I say or do something to upset you?" "No." "Then what is it? Oh, and please, don't' use the 'it's not you, it's me' line, cause then I'll know its me." He handed her her cloak and she secured it around her shoulders, while he tied her bedroll to her saddle. "I'm not use to traveling with someone." She pulled her bandana off her head and flipped her hair over her cloak. He couldn't help but watch. At that moment, the setting sun cast a light from behind her that lit the brown in her hair to an almost radiant gold. The strands danced brightly on the light breeze and cascaded around her face. 'Like feathers,' he thought, unable to look away. "Are you all right?" she asked. D visibly shook himself from her image. He'd never seen her look more beautiful at than very that moment. "Fine." He said, taking Nightmare's reins. "There's two towns we can make it to by tomorrow." He mounted his horse. "Edo and Ransylva." "What's in Ransylva?" D looked at her. "You said it as though you dread going back there." Images of a dark blond girl danced through his memory. The vampire he'd killed to save her, the night he'd spent in her arms. "A promise." He said. "I have to tell you a few things anyway. So I hope you listen as well as you ride." Next Back to the Fanfic Archive.