Copyright 2010 Marcus Twyman
The Nebu Khet's Cry
This is a rough, unedited portion of the story. This is to allow you to understand the world of the Nebu Khet and get a sense for the world that the story's protagonist lives in.
I know my limits have been reached tonight. As I stare at the angry, pale face snarling at me from the room’s shadowed walls; I can feel the last of my strength dwindling down to nothing. My body keeps bleeding out its life’s blood and I can feel it gathering in pools around the spread fingers of my bruised and battered hands where I am crouching on the concrete floor. I feel the weight of the humid air increase as my assailant hunches down into position for one last lunge, and my gut tells me that this cold, dark, cellar may become my eternal resting place. In this moment there is an overwhelming sense that my life has become forfeit.
The rules have always been the same, stretching back to the beginning of my people’s known history, “Khet and Sapes can not mix.”
Unfortunately for me, I was never good at following rules, nor had I experienced what I can only label as Love. That’s the one thing that really did me in.
In this dreary place, where all odds are against me, I envision her face one last time. Lifting my head slowly from the floor, I stare through the blood soaked strands of my hair at my opponent. His face is contorted into a mask of rage. His teeth glisten in the darkness, and there is no mistaking the bloodlust in those ancient glowing, yellow eyes.
I go back to picturing her face again—the image is so vivid I can practically reach out and touch her. I remember her sweet scent, and the sound of her voice. I can feel her soft skin as I reach up to place a hand on her cheek.
I can not die here, I can not leave her to fend for herself against my kind. I have to survive this. I focus on my body and begin to concentrate on channeling my energies so that I can make the change. The inky darkness of my surroundings starts to spasm with bright bursts, the color of magma, as my reformation takes place. I feel the moment that my hazel eyes slide into the fiery colors of orange and red.
If I can just maintain my energy levels then I may just have a chance to win this battle.
The moment that he decides to attack, I know it. As if in slow motion, his muscles begin to flex beneath the skin of his forearms and shoulders. He rocks forward onto the balls of his feet like a cobra ready for the strike.
For a moment all I can register is the sound of my own heart beating, and that’s when he launches himself from his side of the room towards me. In response, I propel myself forward with my own teeth bared and my claws fully extended. A low vibration rocks through my chest and explodes from my mouth. The awesome power of the roar is like no other on this planet. It’s the sound of a Nebu Khet's cry, and it always means death.
I know I’m asleep, but that doesn’t stop the panic that’s flowing through me. I’m dreaming again, and lately my dreams have taken a nasty turn. Sometimes my dreams are so pleasant I want to stay asleep forever, just so that I can escape the cruelties that surround my life. At other times, I pray to God for deliverance from my trance so that the voices of the dead will leave me be.
Right now is one of those times. I can see the many faces of my deceased family all crying out to me with tongueless mouths. Some are missing their eyes and stare blankly ahead with empty, dark sockets. Yet, even in their blindness, I still know that they are looking at me.
Those dusty corpses that still maintain true vision, are peering at me through Nebu Khet eyes. Their irises are no longer the plain browns, greens, and grays of normal humans (Sapes), but are the dazzling shades of silver, gold, and emerald that appear when our energies are at their peak. I am backing into a corner of my old childhood home while at least thirty family members move towards me with outstretched hands. My mother is leading the pack and when she is no more than four feet from where I cower, I hear her voice. Even though her vocal cords have become nothing more than food for the worms and other critters that crawl through the cold ground, she still manages to speak—her voice carrying the sound of love and strength that I remember from child hood.
“Hey baby, don’t be afraid. It’s just me…mom. You remember me, I know you do. You look just like you did when you were still just my little boy.” You can hear a note of joy in her words.
Hearing her long dead voice brings tears to my eyes, but I don’t believe it’s truly her. She reaches out to me and I cower back from the touch of her long elegant fingers. “Oh, hun.” Her eyebrows pinch together in sadness. “You know I would never hurt you—hell I can’t hurt you. Sweetie...I’m dead, you know that—and actually, that’s why I’m here.”
Her hands clasp together as she kneels down to peer at me from a few feet away. “Kalin, you remember how we all died.”, she said gesturing to the shambling crowd behind her. “You were there...I know you were young, but you were there—hiding in the debris.”
I did remember…
My family had been genetically stronger than any other Nebu Khet, aka “Khet”, clan for the last couple of thousand years. That pretty much meant we were considered royalty by default. The strongest always ruled, and those that wanted to overthrow the ruling party, well—they'd better hope they had the manpower to pull it off.
See, Khet Politics are quite different from Sape Politics. There are none of those boring elections, or legislative guidelines, and so on. Nope, the Khet are ahead of the game. See, when we think a new power is needed to keep our best interests in mind, we politely ask the ruling family for our desired changes. If this fails, which it usually does, we begin a search for the strongest families within our communities and then…we kill the royal bloodlines—at least that's the goal. Works like a charm.
I guess you can pretty much guess where this is going.
My family was the ruling party fourteen years ago. For the most part, the American clans were content. Everyone was treated fairly. My family always tried to work in the best interests of our people, but there was one major event that had ripped through the foundation of our society ten years before what would become the most pivotal point in my life.
A Nebu Khet female had fallen for a Homo Sapien. This isn’t to say that something like this never happened before. The difference with this scenario was that the khet girl was pregnant. Not only was she pregnant, but she was in her third trimester. See, usually when a khet female gets pregnant by a sape, she miscarries sometime within the first month. The same thing happens if a khet male gets a sape female pregnant. The chromosomes just don't match up, and the fetus can't survive...it isn't viable.
This time it was different, everything was going just as it should through the pregnancy. BIG PROBLEM.
The Sapes out number us 6,000 to 1. You should also take into account that in the past, sapes burned us at stakes and called us witches—they even slaughtered large numbers of their own in reaction to their mass hysteria and prejudices. They are notorious for fearing what they don’t understand. Obviously we had the upper hand in these battles—using our abilities. But, the sapes had their sheer numbers.
They caused our population to plummet significantly. Many people within the court saw this pregnancy as a stab in the back and as a “means to an end” for our species. Many saw this unborn hybrid as a weakening of our bloodlines. My family, the Moshires, saw it as a way to merge our world with that of the sapes and unite our two subspecies.
With our family trees tied together by a common relative we would ensure that the prejudices of the past never happened to either the sapes or the khet again. We would ensure that our two branches of humanity eventually merged back into one. As one race, there would be no need to fear one another.
A few clans across the U.S. decided that our vision made perfect sense, however, some thought of our ideas as heresy. However, eventually the turmoil that had grasped our communities faded and died off… at least that’s what my relatives thought.
At the time of all this confusion I was only eight months old. By the time the hybrid child was born into this world, I had reached my first year of life. My mother was adamant about ensuring that this frail half-breed child survived into adulthood. She truly looked upon his tiny little form with utmost consideration, she saw him as a way to mend the gap between the world’s majority and minority populations.
The child was named Shane, by his ever-adoring mother. With large eyes always wide and wondering, he would constantly stare at the world around him as if he expected it to show him something entertaining at any second. Shane and I were like opposites—He, with his pale complexion, dark hair and light eyes, me with my blood-red hair, olive complexion and hazel eyes. Yet from my earliest memories I always thought of him as my sibling.
My family moved the infant and his mother into our home and guarded them. They were pulled into the warm fold of my family's protection and love. Shane and I were always with one another, and we always defended each other whether in school or around our people. We had grown as close as any brothers could. We always had each other's back and we always stuck by each other's side. It was uncommon to spot either of us without the other somewhere in tow.
Around, our eighth and ninth years we found out why my mother had taken so many precautions with Shane and his mom. Like I said, we thought the fires surrounding Shane's existence had been doused...we were so wrong.
It was a beautiful, warm, summer night and my mother had just walked me up to the third floor of our house to lay me down to sleep. Our home was a beautiful, three story, colonial inspired, piece of art. A huge mansion. This was the safe-house of our clan. With over 20 bedrooms throughout, anyone who was in need of a safe-haven was welcome. Windows were present on every side of our home and the stretched from the floor all the way up to the ceiling. The summer breeze would filter through their open panes to cool us in our sleep and carry the sound of the singing cicadas to our listening ears.
I still remember the way I had curled up in my bed under my sheets, all the while listening contentedly while my mother hummed some indecipherable tune.
I remember staring at her face, seeing the way her eyes reflected the light of my bedside lamp, with their odd shades of green and gold tones. Her hair was a mane of gold, orange and red tones that hung past her waist. She smelled of freesia, and happiness radiated from her. As she leaned down to kiss me goodnight I felt the air around me grow heavy with power.
Her eyes instantly morphed into liquid fire—red swirling with orange and yellow. She reached down and grabbed me by the arm and then lifted me as if I weighed nothing, letting the sheets fall back to the bed from around my small form. She placed me on the ground beside her and ordered me to run down stairs and hide. I froze, unable to make my limbs respond to my thoughts—I was still stunned at the abrupt change in her behavior.
“Run Kalin!”, she yelled. With no warning, she was flung from my side and slammed into a wall ten feet from where she had been.
“Mom!” I screamed for her and tried to run to her, that’s when I myself became airborne. My world had suddenly become a blur as I spun through the air and hit the side of my bed. I tried to cry out but the air had been knocked from my lungs. As I inhaled between ragged coughs I started to crawl to where my mother lay on the floor. Burning tears blurred my vision, and blood ran from a shallow cut on my scalp. Before I could reach her I felt an iron grip tighten around my neck and lift me from the ground. Kicking and swinging blindly at my assailant, I never landed a blow. The massive arm swung me around to its owner’s face and I froze.
I knew that face, it's image was burned into my retinas. Everyone in my family knew who this man was. The face belonged to Michael Twymkowski, another powerful Nebu Khet leader.
The Twymkowskis originally descended from Eastern Europe and had married Nebu Khet from African and Arab decent. Their family had a well known hunger for power. Twice, my family had fought them and failed their attempts at claiming the throne, but my family hated violence and had refused to follow standard customs which called for the death of the challengers. Apparently the Twymkowskis held grudges.
He smiled as if he was the nicest man in the world. “Hello little one. You’ve gotten so big since the last time I saw you.”
He reached up with his other hand and wiped some of the blood from where it was trickling onto my forehead.
I felt the beginnings of anger form under the thick layer of fear that was nestled securely against my spine. He had hurt my mother, he was trying to hurt me and my family.
“It is unbelievable how one family has become so well bred—just as it is unimaginable how that same family with its strong genes, and ultimate authority would be content to allow mongrels to fill ranks within our society.
“Young one, you carry some powerful genes in your little body. You could have been great...you could have been a true ruler. But, your mother has sealed your fate as well as the rest of your family's.” He smiled at me, and then quickly replaced the smile with a frown.
“I apologize little Kalin...but I must finish this.” My breath caught at his words, leaving me with my heart pounding so hard I could feel it pushing against my chest.
A sound came from behind me, and I knew it had to be my mother. Hearing her, he took a step toward where she lay motionless. I'd never made the change before—most khet children didn’t phase until their eleventh or twelfth year, but on rare occasions some make the change before they reach puberty. Apparently I was one of those rare occasions.
I caught Michael off guard. One moment I was staring at my “would be killer” with fear, the next moment I was filled with a rage like no other I had known before. How dare he threaten my mother! The thought left me fuming.
A small warm spot began to grow in the core of my body and spread to my limbs. My vision became so clear that it was like nothing that could be explained. The shapes and colors took on such a detailed aspect that I felt as if I was looking at everything from beneath a microscope. My body prickled as if static electricity had gathered all around me. I was suddenly aware of every living thing within the vicinity. I could see in my mind’s eye all of the people that were on the property. I could feel the power levels of every individual. Some were incredibly strong. In my mind they glowed bright like stars.
All of these changes happened in a fraction of a second. Michael spun around to look at me with a kind of horror. It was as if he was playing hot potato and got caught with the potato sizzling into his hand. With the hand that was holding me he reached back as if he was throwing a football and prepared to hurl me into the closest wall.
Instinctively, I reached out with my own hands toward his face and grasped each side with more strength than I should have had. I then did a damn good impression of a cat on a scratching post and dug into the soft tissue of his face—feeling the bones start to give under the pressure I was exerting.
He roared with rage and anguish and tried desperately to pull me off, but I was enraged and the power riding through my body gave me a kind of high, one that I didn't know I'd been craving until I'd felt it.
Suddenly his eyes started to brighten in color and I knew from experience that this meant he was beginning his own phase.
I pulled my feet up and placed them against his chest, then pushed off as hard as I could, launching myself backwards away from his rising power. I landed in a debris pile next to my mother’s prone body. I was terrified, all of the anger that had filled me with molten fire sizzled away to an icy spear of fear as I felt his phase take over.
“Apparently, I was wrong—your pedigree has made you powerful...even now, at a much earlier age than usual. You cut me up pretty badly little one.”
He let out a low menacing chuckle, using the front of his shirt to wipe the oozing blood from several deep lacerations that showed the gleaming white of his facial bones. “To think, you and your mother are some of the strongest blood I have ever beheld...what a waste of potential.”
He walked slowly towards me shaking his head from side to side as if in disappointment, razor sharp claws were slowly extending from his hands, turning them into murder weapons.
In my small voice I yelled at him, “Leave us alone! Don't touch her.” Tears flowed over and started running down my face again. The sobbing, shook my small body and I pulled my knees up to my chest, wrapping my arms around them.
When he was only three feet from my spot on the floor he flexed his fingers wide apart and said, “Sleep now child.”
Quicker than I could follow, his talons were whistling towards my face, but they never met their target. For a moment he stood shocked, unable to process what had stopped his strike, then he took notice of the slender hand that had his arm in a powerful grip. My mother was still laying on her stomach but was holding the front of her body off of the ground with her right arm in a sort of one armed push up, while holding Michael’s wrist in her left hand. Her eyes were the color of the pits of hell and her energies made the air smell like ozone.
“Next time you intend to kill someone, make sure that your deathblow has done its job Michael.”
Without moving any other part of her body she flung him by his arm to the left side of the room like he was nothing more than a rag doll. No sooner than he hit the floor was he back up on his feet—but so was my mother.
She let loose a guttural growl that made the air vibrate with angry energy. She moved towards Michael with malicious intent. Her movements reminded me of those of a leopard—her walk was like water rippling over rocks in a stream.
He lunged himself at her aiming his deadly claws at her throat. She easily caught his hands before they were close enough to do any damage, and with a powerful tug yanked his arms down to his sides. It was odd seeing my mom’s willowy frame effortlessly keeping Michael’s bulky body from moving beneath her hold, almost like restraining a child throwing a tantrum. He snarled at her and jutted his face towards hers with his teeth bared trying to use them as a weapon. With a loud snap his jaws closed just fractions from her nose. She laughed like she was enjoying a good joke, the sound was eerily cheerful considering the circumstances, and then she cocked her head to the side, staring at Michael with a pitying expression. It was like a painting of a Greek Goddess restraining Hercules.
“You know—”, her voice had a sharp edge to it, “I wanted to ensure that our people could be guaranteed a future in this ever-changing world. I tried to help us adapt to the modern times, but you and your clan have never understood the importance of the sapes, your family acts like Homo Sapiens are less than yourselves—then again so does a vast majority of our kind.
“Yet, all advances in our own sciences have proven that both the sapes and the khet stemmed from a common ancestor. Now, when the inevitable has finally happened, instead of understanding the importance of the child’s birth you try to snuff it out. I can’t let you do that Michael.”
She said this last part with narrowed eyes that held nothing but promises of pain if he dared to contradict her on her wishes.
“And you know I can’t let you live Shara.” Hearing him use my mother’s name sent a cold chill down my spine.
“For too long you have done nothing but try to ensure the extinction of the pure blooded Nebu Khet.”
“And I suppose that your European clans have tried to ensure the vitality of our species by forcing your subjects to inbreed and produce generation after generation of weak, short lived children.” The disgust she felt was written all over her face. A sneer pulled her upper lip up, making her look feral.
Her anger oozed out, lacing her words with power, “Almost every nation under your control has a life expectancy of merely one hundred years of age, while here our clans still live to be five to seven hundred years old! It’s not uncommon for a Sape to reach the age of one hundred now Michael, and they don’t have a third of the immunities and healing abilities that we do. What kind of hypocrite are you to say that my family is weakening the gene pool, when in reality you've already done a bang up job of that on your own?”
The hatred that rolled off of Michael was thick enough to take your breath away. He started to shake with anger and slowly I began to feel power wash through the air.
“What do you think you’re doing Michael?”
He hissed his words at her, “Ending your reign, your majesty”
All of a sudden my bed lifted off of the ground and flung itself in my direction. Before I knew I'd done it, a scream ripped from my body and I ducked my head waiting for the impact that never came. I opened my eyes to see my mother holding the bed up off of the ground, her fingers creating indents in the heavy wooden frame. She looked over to where Michael was half submerged into the drywall of one of the room’s walls—she must have thrown him at the same time that she came to my aide. She hurled the bed at Michael, but before it could connect, he'd moved with the speed of the Nebu Khet.
Faster than I could follow, she was across the room grappling with him accompanied by a lot of growling and yelling. They moved so fast that you could barely keep track of their positions in the room. They became blurs of motion that left red stains on the walls and floor where ever they went.
My mother was notorious for being one of the most powerful of all known Nebu Khet. Every time the blur that was Michael would back away, you would see a red puddle left in the spot he'd been in. He was bleeding really bad and not healing—that meant his energies were being used up too fast and there wasn't enough left to heal the damage his body was taking.
After a couple more well planted strikes from my mother, Michael fell to the floor, panting and oozing crimson on to every inch of floor within a two foot radius of where he was kneeling. He looked up at my mother with alarmed eyes, almost like he couldn’t believe she had wounded him so bad.
“You know I will hunt you down and kill you Shara! I will cut you open from belly to sternum while you’re alive, and I’ll choke you to death with your own intestines! You bitch!” Spittle flew from his mouth to hang from his chin in frothy blood stained strands.
“You are weak”, he continued, “if not physically then mentally. You won’t take my life, you’ve had similar chances in the past and you’ve always failed when it came to the deed. I will get you, you bitch! I will get you, and make you watch as I tear your sweet little boy limb from limb!”
She approached him, a teeth baring sneer etched onto the cold, angry canvas of her face, and squatted down in front of him with a grace that I’d only seen in our race.
“You know what’s sad, Mikey boy? You're so arrogant that you don’t even know when to admit you’ve lost. Babes...you’re not leaving this room alive.” She turned her sneer into a smile that would have scared the devil himself.
Michael tensed to lunge but before he could even get an arm up to attack, my mother back handed him into the wall. Mother glided over to him and smashed his face several times into the hard floor where he'd fallen. Then standing while lifting him up by his shirt, she held him out at arm’s length and looked at him with her lava filled, swirling eyes.
His head lolled from side to side as he tried to get his bearings. His face was a mess of red tissue and pale flesh. Teeth were missing from the front of his mouth, leaving dark little windows that dark blood flowed through.
She tossed him slightly into the air and before he had time to react, she side kicked him back across the room where he ended up landing in the same debris pile that she had crawled out of earlier.
“Life is precious to me Michael, that's the only reason I let you live for all of these years. You tried to rally against me, you tried to kill me, but you had never attacked my child…that was your biggest mistake. I am old...older than you by far. I've walked this earth for over 700 years, and I have only had one child. I am well past the normal life expectancy for most Nebu Khet, and honestly, I didn’t take too much offense to you and your family’s petty tantrums, but what you did tonight—” She shook with anger and held her arms down to her sides where her hands were balled into fists, a miasma of swirling, deadly, blue power swirled around them like tiny serpents. “This is not excusable.”
She clenched her fist and you could hear every knuckle crack like a branch breaking in a storm. She walked towards him slowly, one foot in front of the other, like a stalking lioness. Slowly, large claws started sliding out of her finger tips replacing her nails. “You attacked a child Michael. You tried to slaughter an innocent child...my innocent child.”
You could literally feel the energy ripple across your skin as she slowly approached the bleeding khet. The colors in her eyes were swirling with malevolence, and every muscle on her arms and bare shoulders rippled taught beneath her pale skin. Her hair started to stir in an invisible wind created by eddies within the energy emanating from her being. She was as gorgeous as she was horrific. An angel of death if ever there was.
Michael moved to make the first strike, a large dresser flew towards my mother, she didn't even move. Once the dresser got within the range of her aura of power it simply shattered into millions of splinters.
“I've often times found myself wondering if you have a heart Michael...I guess now is as good a time as any to find out.”
Quicker than the strike of any snake she moved to where he was standing and plunged her hand into Michael's chest. All you could hear was the cracking of bones as her arm slid into the cavity up to her elbow. Without removing her arm she leaned in towards Michael's shocked face until their foreheads touched. Any other time and you would have mistaken this seemingly intimate display as kind and loving. She smiled the most vicious smile I'd ever seen her wear.
Suddenly she retracted her arm as quick as she had plunged it in. She leaned back and sat in a one knee kneel in front of where he had fallen. She brought the still beating heart up right in front of his face. He stared, gawking as the light in his eyes slowly began to dim.
“Who would of thought...there was a heart in there. Maybe you should have made better use of it while you still had the chance.”
Standing, she tossed the now still hunk of muscle into the dead man's lap and wiped her hands against her torn and filthy t-shirt. She looked around the room seeking me out amongst the debris and blood. Carefully making her way over to where I cowered in a corner she slowly knelt down to my level, all hardness and anger that had sculpted her face instantly melted away into the kind, loving expression I was accustomed to.
“Honey, we have to go, right now. Do you understand?”
I nodded my head once while looking her in the eye.
“There are more people here who want to hurt us baby. We have to go find Shane and his momma and get to safety, OK?”
Another nod from me. “OK, momma.”
I'm not sure why I didn't cry. I would like to say that it was because of my knowledge that it wouldn't help with the situation, but in reality it was most likely because of shock. I let my mother gently pull me to my feet, and lead me out into the main corridor of the upper levels of our home. Shane and his Mother's quarters were located on the mid-level of the mansion.
We slowly and quietly slipped down the corridor towards the massive staircase that joined all three floors. What we couldn't hear while mother had been battling with Michael, we now heard in crystal clear clarity. Screaming. It was coming from the second level—the only other female in this house was Shane's mother, Dalia.
Inching closer to the stair's huge polished oak banister, I started to notice a strong scent...blood. As we reached the banister and looked down the black marble steps, we saw where the scent was coming from.
On the steps and landing were four bodies. They were my cousins. Four of my cousins, all around my age, lay dead against the cold, dark marble of the steps. My mother let out a sound so heart wrenching, you could barely tell it was human. As I stared at the pale hand of the cousin who lay closest to me I finally let the tears fall free.
It looked like the hand was reaching out and waiting for someone to take it. It looked as if in my cousin’s dying moment he had reached out for help. That hand was the one that once used to hold mine while we ran through the fields out back. What once held warmth now held the iciness of death.
It took me a couple seconds to realize I was shaking uncontrollably. As I cried in silence, my mother slid to the ground and crawled carefully over to the first step and slowly slid down the steps in a sitting position. When she reached the first body she rolled it over and pulled the still child into her arms. She used one badly shaking hand to smooth the hair back from the child's forehead, and gingerly planted a kiss on his brow. She repeated this display with the other three children as well. Lovingly, she arranged all of the bodies in a row on the landing. They looked peaceful now that she'd lined them up as if they slept rather than leaving them in the contorted poses they had been in when they'd fallen dead to the ground.
For what felt like a long while she just kneeled next to the bodies tears sliding one by one from her still human-looking eyes.
Down on the second level you could still hear the crash of furniture being broken and the screams that ripped forth from Dalia. Every now and then you could even hear a roar come from outside of the house. Apparently, the fight wasn't only taking place inside. We probably had only been on the landing for no more than four minutes since leaving my room behind, but it felt like an eternity.
I was so scared I didn't know how to react. I slowly made my way down the steps to where my mother was and slid down next to her. I reached over and clung to the arm nearest me. That's when we heard a different scream, not the scream of a fighting woman, but the scream of a terrified child. That is what finally broke my mother's trance.
Her breath came out urgently, “Shane.”
As quick as a cheetah, she stood and jumped the remaining steps from the landing to the second level. I raced after her as fast as I could, terrified to be left alone. She was a blur ahead of me, nothing but a flash of Sunset hair letting me know that she had ducked into the room that belonged to Shane and his mom.
The screams raised in volume and more crashing was coming from ahead of me. Running as fast as I could down the long corridor, with tears blurring my vision and sobs making it hard to breathe, I finally reached Shane's room and turned to enter. What I saw stopped me dead in my tracks.
The first thing I saw was Shane sitting curled up in a corner, much as I had been about fifteen minutes earlier during my mother's battle. The next thing I saw was Dalia shimmering with energy and bleeding from several deep gashes. Her khet eyes were the color of emeralds. Her hair was a shade of black as dark as night. She was much more petite than my mother, and she was as pale as the moon. She was holding her left arm close to her body, where it swung at an odd angle, as if it were boneless. She was half growling, half sobbing and trying in vain to keep the two khet men facing her away from the corner where Shane was pressed against the wall crying.
The next thing I noticed was my mother. Once again she was locked in battle but this time with a male and female Nebu Khet pair. I recognized the female instantly. It was Michael's wife, Shondra Twymkowski.
Her dark brown hair was braided into hundreds of tiny braids. Her skin was the color of honey and her eyes were a shade of hazel just one step below gold. She was gorgeous...and deadly.
The male I didn't know. He was the opposite of Shondra. His hair was a mass of blond, chin length curls. His eyes were the color of arctic ice. His face was set in hard lines and angles, that made you think that he may have come from a Nordic race of people. He was absolutely huge. Power rolled off of him in electrifying waves.
Neither of them would have stood a chance against Mother if they had been alone, but together they amounted to what could be a deadly opponent.
Mother had Shondra by the throat. She'd managed to cut a long, deep gash that stretched from Shondra's left shoulder all the way down to her forearm and blood poured from the wound like a faucet had been turned on. As mother cocked her right arm back in a fist aimed for Shondra's face, the pale man struck her with a blast of energy.
Her grip slipped from Shondra's throat and she was cart-wheeled through the air and slammed into a wall. Before she could pull herself up from the ground the blond warrior focused another crippling wave of energy into a compact projectile and levitated it in front of his massive torso, it appeared as a whitish-blue spear head, with swirling eddies within its tight form. There was so much power within the small space in front of him that the air started discharging static electricity off of everything in the room. Small blue sparks danced across my skin causing the hair on my head to stand on end.
Mother glared at him through a curtain of hair the color of flames and raised her own power levels in response. Slowly she got up from the ground balancing herself against the wall. The Nordic frowned causing a deep crease to form between his eyebrows. Apparently he wasn’t as well versed in the strength of our family as the Twymkowskis were. The frown became a sly grin as he took in the image of my mother.
“Your are a strong woman… and beautiful, very beautiful. Why waste your beauty and potential on such a petty thing as this half-breed and his bitch mother?”, indicating the battle taking place behind him.
Shane’s mother, Dalia, was down and almost out. She'd gotten lucky and caught hold of one of her assailants. There was a long jagged, gaping wound from where the man’s throat used to be all the way down to his groin—like a pig ready to be roasted. His insides lay in long shiny coils along the ground, along with a mix of blood and something darker with a stringent odor. His eyes were vacant of life, staring blindly towards the ceiling.
Unfortunately, there was still one bad guy alive and he wasn’t fazed by the absence of his comrade. He lunged for Dalia, in that same instant she tried to backpedal out of his way, but she was too slow. He connected with her, his shoulder hitting the center of her chest. Quicker than a snake he struck out at her neck with his teeth. Dalia had her arm up in front of her throat just in time to block the blow.
Instead of the soft, vulnerable tissue of her throat he ended up with her forearm in his mouth. It was the same arm that she had already injured before. Not a second after he'd latched onto her arm, a sickening crack echoed through the room and her arm bent into a ninety degree angle. Her scream was ear piercing.
Instinct took over as I phased once again. My vision took on the same eerie clarity that it did earlier. I felt my strength accumulate in my limbs, like a coil wound tight to the breaking point. Before thinking, I lunged at Dalia’s assailant. He must have seen me out of the corner of his eye because he moved just before I reached him. One moment he was holding Dalia’s arm in his teeth, the next he was standing ten feet away by a window with a smear of red covering his chin like some sort of tribal paint. Dalia wasted no time in getting back to her feet. She cradled her mangled arm to her and went to stand in front of Shane.
Mother was once more in the midst of battle with Shondra and The Nordic. My opponent looked like he was debating the reality of such a young, fully phased Nebu Khet existing. The bloodlust built up in me so quickly that I wasn’t even aware of the growl emanating from my throat. The man started to grin and moved a step closer to where I was still crouched on the ground. Apparently I wasn’t very high up on his danger list. His mistake.
On his second step he made his move… so did I. He came at me like a bullet. The second before he could grab me I moved, spinning like a miniature tornado. He went right past me I took the opportunity to latch onto his passing shoulder. I clamped onto his back and started tearing into him with my teeth. I used my fingers like blunt claws. I pressed them through his skin, into the spaces between his ribs. He screamed in agony—inside my head I was screaming with joy. I was the hunter, and this was my first prey. I pulled on the ribs like handlebars, and heard the audible snaps, like tree branches breaking under the weight of snow. Once the ribs were out of the way I dug deeper into his body cavity. Soft warm things slid against my hands and arms like slippery water balloons. I punctured everything that I came in contact with. The man kept spinning and twisting, trying unsuccessfully to throw me off of his back. After a couple more seconds, he collapsed to his knees, then fell to his face. I still didn’t stop tearing at his unmoving form.
All I could see was a blurry landscape, it took me a second to realize that I was crying and that my tears were disrupting my vision. The bloodlust I had felt a second ago ebbed and was replaced with anger and sorrow. I stopped mutilating the body beneath me and just sobbed, letting my gore covered arms hang limply at my sides while kneeling on the back of the dead khet.
Dalia moved up beside me and pulled me into the corner where Shane was staring at me with a kind of awed expression. Her arm had already mended itself, but she was still favoring it. “Stay here boys. I need to help your mother, Kalin. Please keep Shane here with you.” She leaned forward and kissed each of us gently on top of our heads.
She phased so quick that I didn’t notice when her eyes slid into the color of sparkling emeralds from their normal blue shade. She flung herself into the air, flying towards the seemingly unsuspecting back of The Nordic, but in mid-flight a piece of wooden debris few straight up into the air to meet her. It slid straight into her abdomen and part of it exited through her back. She just went limp, like a marionette puppet that had been cut loose, and instead of landing gracefully on the ground, she hit it hard and slid into a wall.
Mother cried out, “No, Dalia!”
Shane screamed, “Momma!”
Mother rushed The Nordic at full speed, but he was waiting for her. He side-stepped her and planted his knee into her stomach. All I could hear was the “whoosh” as the air escaped her lungs. She fell to her knees, and before she could react, Shondra stepped up behind her and grabbed a handful of my mother’s hair. She used it for leverage, pulling Mother's head back, revealing her throat.
“You always thought you were the baddest bitch on the block, didn’t you Shara? Well say hello to the new queen bitch.” She arrogantly looked down into my mother's face.
Shondra still had a grip on Mother’s hair but something crucial had changed. The Nordic who had been standing directly in front of Mother glowed with an eerie blue wave of energy and fell down, splayed across the floor. Shondra had a look of pure terror in her eyes and was staring at Mother with a look that reminded me of seeing a mouse holding a cat by the tail and realizing how absurd the idea was just a little too late.
Mother yanked her head forward so fast is was like seeing one of those photos of something in motion; you just saw a blurred line that indicated the path her head had moved in. Shondra had forgotten to let go in her terror and was yanked over Mother’s shoulders. She landed on her back with a hard flop blue energy danced along her body, holding her struggling form to the ground.
I thought of moving towards Mother but one look at her face stopped me dead in my tracks. She looked like the predator she was, and for a moment I wasn’t sure if she would recognize me as her own child.
Her eyes were blazing, and the bones of her face stood out from beneath her skin like the sharp peaks of a mountain. Every muscle was tight and appeared as tough they were whip cords sliding beneath her flesh. The air thickened with her power as she slowly climbed to her feet. She didn’t say a word, she just stared at Shondra with more malice than one person should have been able to harbor within their being.
She turned her attention from Shondra, to the now unconscious Nordic. He slowly began to levitate, the blue energy forming around his body, moving like a transparent phantom around his bulk. His head, arms and legs dangled towards the ground. As if being summoned awake he snapped his eyes open and instantly tried to right himself. That’s when he realized he was floating about 12 feet above the floor. He lifted his head to look at mother and instantly adopted the same expression that Shondra still wore. One of pure terror.
Every time he would try to use his own energy to break free I could feel it. It was like getting shocked. He was getting frantic and tried desperately to escape, but he'd lost too much energy from whatever my mother had done to knock him out. I had never seen one Nebu Khet hold another with such ease. Only the strongest could do it, and even then they struggled.
Mother slowly raised her left arm up to stretch out directly in front of her; her palm facing The Nordic instead of the floor. As quick as lightning she swept her arm across the floor in front of her in a half circle flooding the room with power of the sorts I had never felt before.
One moment The Nordic was twisting and kicking trying to break invisible shackles that were keeping him suspended in the air, the next he was screaming as his muscles and flesh was cleanly torn away from his body, leaving what looked like a skeleton wearing the torn and shredded remains of its body like a ripped shroud. The scream lasted no more than a second before it died along with its maker.
The mutilated body hit the floor with a sound equivalent to that of dropping a load of sticks onto concrete. The Nordics intestines and other organs slid out of the gaps between his ribs and the hollow where the stomach muscles should have been. Then everything burst into flames. These were not natural flames, these flames were a deep blue in color and were the creation of my mother’s rage.
She turned her attention back to the cowering Shondra, and said, “Looks like this bitch has reclaimed her throne.”
With that, the same blue-white flames engulfed Shondra and she began screaming in agony. She rolled on the floor, spasming as the unnatural fire burned her to a crisp.
Mother came over to me and Shane, still looking as frightening as ever. She reached her hand out to me and I actually hesitated before taking it, unsure of the creature who stood before me. She felt like stone, her body was like a living statue that was warm with life. She took my hand in an iron grip and then looked at Shane.
“Shane, I need you to take Kalin’s hand. We have to get you two to safety hun.”
If her appearance wasn’t reassuring, her voice still was. He slowly reached up and wound his fingers together with mine. My senses instantly picked up the frantic heartbeat coming from within his frightened body. I helped him stand, and once he regained his legs, my mother quickly led us from the room. We went down the rest of the stairs, down to the main level.
There were more bodies spread throughout the desecrated house. Nothing slowed Mother, she just kicked the dead and the remains of furniture from our path and sent them tumbling through the air to land yards away. She went straight for the front doors and used power to blast the mighty, 12 foot tall, solid wood giants outward to shower across the expanse of the front yard in six inch long splinters.
The scent of power rolled along the night air, raising the hair on our arms. Around us stood what remained of The Twymkowski’s army. The front yard was filled with what looked like tiny, glowing orbs. In reality they were the flaring eyes of our enemies. I felt every muscle in my body knot, and my stomach started doing flips. There didn't seem to be a way for us to escape this siege. Mother could probably take on up to 8 on her own, maybe ten, she was, after all, one of the most powerful of us. I just couldn’t see her taking on the crowd of what had to be thirty or forty. Somewhere in the recesses of my young soul I knew this was the night we would die.
Without a word an iridescent film materialized in front of my eyes and caused me to let out a squeak of fright. My eyes followed the shimmering colors up into the sky for about twenty feet. I realized that it wasn’t a wall of color but more like a giant soap bubble that had us on the inside. The iridescent, oil-like patterns slowly glided along the sphere’s surface like they had a mind of their own.
“Come boys, walk behind me.”
We followed her, pressed so tightly to one another that me and Shane almost tripped over each other's feet several times. Mother walked ahead like there was no army standing before us ready to cut us down. As the barrier surrounding us made contact with a lunging khet, it emitted a flash of bright blue-white light that incinerated him on impact. I watched in horror and fascination as his ashes sifted through the night sky, drifting off on the winds.
“When I tell you to run, you must do as I say and not look back. The barrier will move with you both but it will disperse soon after you leave my side. I need to know that you will both run as fast as you can. Do I have your word boys?”
With fear constricting my throat, I croaked out, “What about you mom? If it moves with us, what about you? I don’t want to go, I’m scared.” Tears fell as I looked into her burning red eyes and pleaded. “Mommy please! I don’t want to…”
“Enough! You need to listen to me! Shane needs you—and I need you both to be safe.” Softening, she said in an urgent voice, “Baby, you must do this for me. I know it’s asking a lot hun, but you are my everything—”, looking at Shane she continued, “both of you are—and I have to do what I can to keep you safe. If I try to get away I will be sentencing us all to death sweetheart, and I can’t do that to you. I don’t have the energy needed to run and fight. I must fight them here to keep them from following you. Now, promise me, you will run and you won’t look back. Promise me!” Her voice broke into a sob as she said the last.
The tears sliding down my cheeks, were a match to my mother’s own. Her sorrow swelled around us on tidal waves of emotion.
“I love you hun, and I love you too Shane. You both are the future of our people, you both are the answer to all of the pain that the sapes and ourselves have inflicted on each other throughout the ages. That’s why I'm doing this, that’s what all of this is about, remember that boys. This can be just another painful moment in time, or it can be the beginning of the end of all the pain.”
She leaned forward and wrapped her arms around both of our shaking, sobbing forms and planted a kiss on each of our foreheads.
“Please remember that I love you...”, and with a subtle smile she said, “now run.”
We took off through the lawn, me pulling Shane along behind me. The barrier followed us as my mother said it would.
Behind us came the sound of more screaming and blood being spilled...