Deserts are a harsh environment, and the Mexican wasteland is no different. The sand burns hot in the day, sears cold in the night. It's either the bite of the sun or frost, there is no amiable in between, not for the humans anyway.
Crouching low atop one of the more stable stone houses, Jasper Whitlock stares out across the dark stretch of a future battleground, the infinite galaxy of stars lighting the landscape.
It won't be long until Maria has him march the latest batch of Newborns across this place, has him conqueror more territory in her name.
It's been thirty years now, thirty years since he woke up with this parched throat, this unquenchable urge to tear through flesh for the sweet nectar beneath. Thirty years since he became this godless monster.
Thirty long years, and nothing has changed.
The towns evolve around him, slowly but surely the human continue to change.
He remains forever stuck in this state, trapped in eternity, the constant loop of battle. It's only going to end with his violent dismemberment and swift burning. It's all the same thing, the same fate, and Jasper can only keep fighting to survive for as long as he can. The lifespan of his willpower is uncertain; how long until he falls to his nature, becomes the still stone, ossified?
He is not irreplaceable, no matter what Maria believes. There would be another to fill his shoes; perhaps not as gifted, perhaps lacking the innate understanding, but there would be another.
For now, something within him will just not permit surrender as a valid option. Every time he tries, when his limbs still and a Newborn approaches with snarling fangs and waves upon waves of bloodlust… he just cannot abnegate this half-life he has.
Even with its lust for blood, untouched by the light of day, it is still the only life he has, so Jasper clings to it.
On the eastern horizon the sky is pinking, the final call of night. The sun will drive him into hiding once again; Jasper steps back into the shade in preparation.
It is only the soldier, the major in him that notes the discrepancy.
There's a woman stood upon the dirt path, her clothing painfully out of place in the Mexican desert. The vampiric beauty he's long since grown used to these past thirty years drapes across her features; but her appearance is wrong.
Not her features, but her clothing, her posture, her stance.
An oddity. Blood splatters across sand, louder than the sun in the sky. A bold shade of blue, deeper than the midday sky, the dress flows down the body, so unlike the corset. So unlike the style Jasper sees so very often upon the women of Mexico.
This woman is not local. This woman is a vampire.
This woman does not sparkle in the sun; this woman is not physically here.
Her emotions, though present, are numbed. As if Jasper senses them through a layering of film. A cloud shielding the sky. Undeniably present, but sheltered.
Crimson eyes flick up to stare when Jasper purposefully scuffs his boot, his body tense and ready for action. She's clearly gifted, has to be to remain unnoticed by the steadily waking humans and she's unknown. Another looking for territory, for hunting grounds?
But no, those eyes gaze upon him and there's a fleeting touch of recognition, a whisper of familiarity. Confusion, thick and rolling beneath the wind.
Then she's gone, what must have been some form of projected image winking out of existence.
The mirage in the desert.
Lucy Dosett is born August 16th 1864, to Mr and Mrs Dosett, a middle-class couple living in central London. Eventually one of eleven children, Lucy is the seventh oldest, not the first, not the middle, not the last.
She is, however, one of the six to survive past childhood, infant mortality rate running rampant.
She's an odd child, the nanny bemoans, refusing to drink anything but cool water, only after it's been boiled in a tin (not lead, it cannot be lead, the girl insists) pan. So many odd little quirks, and yet, she's the healthiest child the family had produced.
Sometimes the nanny looked upon her and wondered.
It isn't just her health though, Lucy Dosett proves to be smart, smarter than her entire family, though Mr Dosett insists otherwise. She picks up the Queen's English unnervingly quickly, proving just as affluent with mathematics upon its introduction.
Lucy Dosett is born 1864, and it is unquestionable fact that she is a bright, if strange girl.
She naps during the day, claiming fatigue. She refuses to dine upon anything cooked within a lead pan, citing poison. Barely out of her toddling years, a scarf wrapped tight around her face and wearing four pairs of gloves, Lucy tears down the brilliant green wallpaper of the family room.
Perhaps it was no coincidence that Mr and Mrs Dosett had been discussing the 'arsenic scare' the doctors were advocating just a day prior. With the removal of the paper (and a harsh beating to little Lucy who bore the canning stoically), the family's health improved, though the nanny does not believe any other than herself even noticed.
Regardless, the arsenic wallpaper never returns, Mrs Dosett claiming trends change and they should just wait for the next instead of pander to the now.
Dismissed as a nanny when the Dosetts' final child turns five, little Lucy is just short of turning ten at this point, and as the nanny leaves, she never forgets that wicked gleam of intelligence to her eyes.
It is unnatural, and the nanny never quite realise just how close to home she came with that feeling.
For known only to herself, Lucy Dosett is also born with a lifetime of memories stuffed inside her head.
Memories from a lifetime more than a century in the future.
Just like that, she doesn't fit it.
What is commonly accepted as normal within her head is ostracised here, in the passé world she's found herself in. It's all wrong; the way people behave, the way they ignore or actively encourage things that would kill them, the whole time period is wrong.
She doesn't belong here.
This golden-brown hair isn't hers, these cornflower blue eyes do not belong in her skull, those freckles should not decorate her face. It should be a heart-shape, not an oval, the skin should be tan, not this sunless pale. But that is the fashion; the poor are tan for they work in the fields, toil away beneath the sun. Those with money are like snow; never leaving the shade and never melting away.
Sometimes it does feel like Lucy will melt away, under these burning gazes that protest everything she does. She becomes ice, projections upon a surface, allowing them to see only what they wish, what they expect as they gaze upon her. Her core remains still though, unchanged.
As her teenage years come she naps in the day because night becomes an escape.
When the family sleeps, Lucy pulls on the britches stolen from her brother and flees from the window.
Slowly, she becomes skilled in parkour. The rooftops of London become her escape, her freedom. Every so often someone will catch sight of her, but with her hair tightly braided to her skull, her boyish clothes, they assume she's a boy and a poor boy at that. If they don't believe themselves capable of catching her (and few bother to try when they see how she moves) then the graciously ignore her existence.
So, despite the harsh rules, despite how she feels like a stranger in this body, Lucy adapts.
Then she learns the father of this body (he is not her father, for a father would never discipline a child like that man does) is searching for a husband, for a man to push her off onto.
For despite her strangeness, she is healthy, the healthiest middle-class girl in their neighbourhood. Not surprising, given that she doesn't openly invite substances upon herself that could kill.
That opens up her prospects, her father had said to her eldest brother. Lucy's elder sister, the one that survived childhood, is already married with two children.
It is not a life Lucy wants for herself, shackled to another's whims.
That night she runs faster, jumps higher, and cares a little less about how she'll land. It doesn't matter though, because by now it is engrained in her body to lessen the impact, to come up rolling.
This continues for a fortnight as more and more men, some young some not so young, arrive for meetings in her father's study.
Her sixteenth night of nonstop fleeing, of escaping between dusk and dawn, is when she finds the way out, even if the cost is steep.
"I believed it was one of our kind at first. A stupid one, but one of us."
Lucy stills upon the rooftop, the shingles shivering beneath her feet, still nailed in place but nowhere near as secure as they had once been. Cautiously, hands balled into fists despite a distinct lack of any kind of fighting experience, Lucy throws a glance over her shoulder, and her breath catches in her throat at the mere sight of him.
Dark hair falls around his face in soft coils, the black of coals that spark with embers, darkness with only the slightest tinge of red. He is one of those sights that steals away the very breath of your lungs, not that Lucy has witnessed such a sight in this life.
There are no natural wonders in London now, only pollution and industrialisation, grey and grey, smog and smoke.
This is the first thing she has looked upon and thought 'beautiful'.
Within the setting of 1882's London, he doesn't belong. Just like her.
Perhaps she is broken, but looking upon those crimson eyes, meeting the gaze of the predator, she feels no fear. Why would she? Lucy has died once before and it is not as if she has anything significant to cling to in this life.
That is not to say she wishes to die; she has just… not yet lived. Trapped in some terrible in between state.
"Why do you fly across the rooftops, Oiselle?"
Frowning, Lucy hunches her shoulders slightly, taking a step back towards the drop she'd been intending to take. Something within her stomach declares she will not be able to flee though, that she won't get away. Even if she runs, her fate would not change. Something will either happen today, or it won't.
"I'm running, I guess. Though I always end up going back to that house; there's nowhere else to go in this place." Spreading her arms wide in a gesture towards the grey expanse of London, Lucy takes one more look at her unnatural company before she sits herself down upon the tiles of the roof.
The chill of February, early February, is contained with the slate. It penetrates the thin material of her stole trousers with ease and it won't be long until the heat she's generated from her run leaves her defenceless before the winter elements. She huddles deeper into the jumper she wears, her attention fully upon the male as he sits beside her, one hand presented in her direction.
"Lucy Dosett. What brings you to my little escape, Mr Rodrigue?"
"As I said, I was under the impression you were… different. You are, just not the kind I was expecting."
Sucking in her lower lip, Lucy stares at those red eyes again, memories from a previous life nagging at her.
A demon? Werewolf? Vampire? Selkie? Does it even matter? What evidence was there to say this world is the same as the one she lived in? Just because she's in the past and so much aligns; that crimson gaze tears at that thought. Not her world, not unless she was just lucky, never had contact with the clearly supernatural underbelly.
"Different… They've tried stamping it out of me. I just got better at hiding," Lucy muses, looking up at the sky. They talk some more, though nothing of any real substance is shared.
Rodrigue is French; when asked his age, he proclaims himself young in body and old in soul. She silently crosses werewolf from the list. Not unless they come with an extended lifespan too.
They talk and they talk and then the sky threatens to birth the sun once more. Lucy must take her leave, if she wants to keep the illusion going a bit longer.
"There is a way out, from under those stamping feet."
"I'll think about it."
Lucy gets home, and for three nights, she does not run, does not fly.
Then the father of this body calls her into his study, introduces a gentleman with a name she pays no attention to and an age exceeding her own. She performs the expected notions, ignores how his eyes linger on her figure (a small waist with a swell of birthing hips, the lithe muscles parkour brings hidden beneath swathes and swathes of fabric) and she gets through the day.
As the moon hangs high in the sky, a thin nick of white in the darkness, Lucy packs. She takes the jewellery, what she likes and what she doesn't.
Then she steals into the night.
She finds that same rooftop, sedimenting by the stretch of chimney that protrudes. She's not sure what she'll be giving up, not sure what kinds of burdens she will be taking on. But she knows what she gains (freedom; no more stamping feet, no more possessive eyes, no more objectifying) and that makes it worth the risk.
Rodrigue finds her just before dawn, the soot of a nearby factory peppered through her hair, her hands tucked into the fleeing heat of her armpits, her body shivering. He makes a promise as he carries her away.
"You will fly, Oiselle."
The first few months are a blur, stained with blood, burned with the never-ending ache that lingers in the back of her throat.
Rodrigue is there, but only fleeting. She's not sure where he has set her up, but there's always a human when that thirst hits hard.
It isn't until the fifth month she starts to come back to herself.
Her clothes are a mess, still the very same fabrics she stole (she took them to fly, though she doesn't remember whom they were taken from) back in the before. Though the before is a general term.
What is before? Isn't time a human concept, created by humans?
There's just the now; important things that have already passed remain in her head, while the rest just… slips.
She knows she is Lucy Dosett, she knows she was half way into her seventeenth year when she met Rodrigue and he did… Something. She remembers she asked for it too. Remembers fleeing, flying.
The rest is coming back in trickles, but she thinks nothing more of it.
Rodrigue tells her they must stay out of the sun, they must be careful as they hunt, otherwise greater powers will seek to stamp them out.
Lucy has escaped from the tread of one foot; she had no desire to end up beneath another. So she follows his rules, listens to his tales. She learns.
Then the day comes a handful of years later when Rodrigue decides he will be moving on. This sector of Paris, it is territory in which a Newborn can be deposited to learn; the seedier side where no one questions sloppy disappearances.
Only, Lucy has learnt quickly, has come back to herself faster than the other two Rodrigue has turned in his lifetime; he only stayed so long to ensure she wasn't just pretending, to make sure there'd be no relapse into that feral state. He says she will be okay, that she is now safe to move out of the designated Newborn sector and try her hand at Paris.
The collective body of French vampires meet only twice every century, and it has been near half a millennium since they decided Paris was a good a place as any for the newest of their kind to learn.
They are carefully cultivated, taught slowly and precisely by their sire. France is careful of its vampire population, if one wishes to turn a human, they must make sure there's a sector open within Paris to accommodate them.
It was during this time that Lucy learned of the Volturi, how Rodrigue had come looking for what he believed to be a fledgling flaunting the laws about drawing human attention.
As one of the few vampires in England, he'd had no desire to attract their attention, to bring their wrath down upon himself, even if the fledgling that she wasn't had been his fault.
He turned her because, like the two that came before her, she was different.
Rodrigue waves goodbye to her on the sixteenth of March 1887 and for the first time since she acquired her name, Lucy is alone.
The first month is just that; the first.
She's walking on needles that don't prick, careful though with no real consequences if she trips. It's playing with fire that won't burn, the thrill of testing something without a real fall behind it.
Lucy finds her own limitations, figures out she can go four days before the thirst starts to take over, until it burns and screams at the back of her throat. Perhaps this will increase in time, perhaps she will be able to last longer, perhaps it will never change. She is what she is.
She is Lucy Dosett, runaway of Victorian England, a vampire just leaving her Newborn status behind. She is permanently thirst, eternally young. She is free.
There is nothing she wanted more than that.
To taste freedom, to welcome it with open arms and hug it close to her bosom. While she may carry the ball and chain of bloodlust, it is a light weight, lighter than the shackles that'd once been closing around her ankles, ready to leash her in place. Owned, property to a stranger of a man that society dictated would be her husband.
Well no thank you.
Lucy will never regret her choice. Giving up the idea of a family, of children had been hard, but the desire for freedom exceeded that of children. Giving up her potential offspring was an acceptable price, she doesn't need children to feel complete. There is no chance for children in this life; Rodrigue had been explicitly clear on that.
She has been warned of the Volturi.
The crisp winter air doesn't burn her lungs anymore. She tests her resolve, tests her control by begging an elderly seamstress to teach her.
Soon enough Lucy is learning how to make clothes, how to make them the correct way. In the little attic of the empty building she has managed to claim as her own, Lucy learns how to make clothes the way she wishes. She experiments, slowly incorporating styles that just feel right in the fabrics.
The corset is the first thing to go, restrict instrument of torture that it is. The length of the dress is what she alters next, though it would only be wearable during the warmer seasons. She'd attract too much attention from the humans wearing this in the cold season.
Walking through the streets in her own clothes has never felt so freeing; the weighty stares just slipping right from her form; she just doesn't care for the opinions of those that watch her. Right now, the only person that has any form of influence on her actions is Rodrigue, the man who supported her differences right from their first conversation.
She wouldn't change, even for him though. Lucy is happy how she is; the rest of the world will change, sometimes it will agree with her, sometimes it won't. As an unmoving object, the environment changing isn't exactly going to impact upon her, not massively anyway.
She is a buoy in the ocean; cresting over the waves but never transformed by them.
Her feet work over the cobbled streets, bonnet tied loosely atop her skull.
For the first time since her turning, Lucy walks the streets in the day, though only when the cloud cover is unquestionably still. There will be no exposure by the sun for it will not surface on this day.
She passes beneath the massive Arc de Triomphe, the structure familiar in the same way Big Ben had been. The life before this, before the human life of Lucy must have seen this monument.
Perhaps that is why the construction of the 'Eifel Tower' looks so strange to her eyes; what she expects to be there is absent.
It does set her mind going though; what is the rest of the world like? What would seem out of place, incomplete? What would give her a sense of ease, what would feel right?
She sits in her little attic, wondering, wishing that she could see the world out there as it is now.
Then, suddenly she is there.
It takes her weeks to figure out what's going on.
It's almost like entering a dream, a world where she can walk through the streets, through the jungles and the rivers. But there's never any physical interactions. It is as if her spirit is leaving her body to explore, only that's not quite the case.
Because she's still aware.
She could walk down a street in Paris and be back in England at the same time. Some kind of spiritual projection, and she can choose who sees her. If the humans can see her, if the vampires can see her.
The projection of her appearance, of her scent, of her voice; the only limitation is that she cannot be physically present.
She visits Rodrigue two years later, when she has figured out that focusing on a person can bring her to their side.
She sees the world, all from that little attic in Paris.
She sees the bright tropics of the pacific islands, the clear waters of the Mediterranean, the snow-capped tops of the Himalayas. She can seem the perfume of the flowers, the salt of the ocean, the clean chill of winter air.
But as her explorations continue, it proves insufficient.
She wants to feel the wax of the leaves, the slosh of the waves, the ice of the mountains.
Wanderlust burns through her and Lucy finds herself with the world at her fingertips, unsure of just where to begin.
So she casts herself around, throws herself blindly into the abyss in search of something she cannot quite describe.
The African savannah where the heat of the sun cannot touch her, cannot send her skin into blinding sparkles.
The deserts of the Middle East, watching the sun burn up the horizon until it becomes unbearable to gaze upon.
The stretch of arctic wasteland, snow in every direction as polar bears lumber across the landscape.
She casts and casts and casts, but the first place that hooks her interest is the deep south of North America.
There are vampire wars happening here.
It is so very different to the cultured civilisation that calls Paris home that Lucy can do nothing other than stare, cannot help but to watch one of the battles, unnoticed by all those present.
It is brutally, vicious and horrific; she's under no impressions that she'd manage to live were she to take up the cause. Whatever the cause is.
The former English woman isn't quite sure, doesn't understand why this is all happening. Only that it is.
She walks through the towns for weeks, invisible to all. Why this is all happening though; why this conflict rages to the point that she witnesses a second battle not a month later (an incredibly short amount of time for ones of their lifespan), isn't something she's able to uncover by just observation alone.
And she wants to know, Lucy wants to understand why this is all happening, even as something nags gently at the back of her mind.
How could it seem familiar though; this is not her original world, Lucy is relatively sure of that now. So why does this scrap at the very edges of her brain, like walking over the shells of peanuts that hide at the corner of the road, leftovers from the circus that rolled out of town months ago? It's irritating.
Never one to shy away, Lucy makes her projected-self visible to the other vampires in the area.
The first one that spots her almost puts her off; a Newborn that leaps right at her, fangs gleaming with venom.
Lucy slams back into her physical body, one arm up to defend her throat, the other clenched into a fist to punch the Newborn that is thousands of miles away. Had she a pulse, it'd be racing. Venom pools in her mouth, ready to defend herself, to tear and rip into the enemy that isn't there.
The only way to calm her jittering nerves is to hunt, so hunt she does.
It takes her a week to drum up the courage to go back. She's not really in any danger, she's not physically there. It's hard to remember that when something is coming at you with fangs and claw like fingers.
This time, she sits and observes, picks out the Newborns from the older vampires. They're twitchier than their experienced counterparts; had she also been like that too? Is she still like that now? Surely not, it's been eleven years. Eleven years spent in Paris, learning the language, learning the skills she'll need to pass unnoticed among the humans.
She figures out the vampires with the scars are her safest bet, the survivors; she just needs to figure out a way to approach them.
That's how she finds him.
What Lucy didn't expect was the tingle of familiarity that struck her. The more she uses this gift (a woman who has never felt truly at home in her body, had felt disconnected; it's not that big of a surprise that she can leave it partially behind) the more things don't begin to make sense.
This should not be familiar; she should not look upon the scarred blond and feel such unease.
It doesn't change that she does though.
I have a lot of love for the world of Twilight, not so much for the plot of the books. Jasper in particular holds a fair amount of my teenage-self's admiration; even as a little 13 year old I would have preferred a novel about him than Edward and Bella's love story.
I suppose it was only a matter of time until this happened, given how big of an SI kick I'm on right now,
Speaking of which, I'm on a break right now, I'm giving it a week before I go back to writing because I feel a bit burned out right now, so no update for Marines this week. The only reason I'm posting this is because I finished writing the chapter before my week break started,