A/N: This is a love story between our two favorite characters, set on a different planet and a different time. 6/30/08: Revised Chapter One.
A/N: 6/30/08 Okay so I am revising all of these chapters before I finish up the story because I don't like some of the language that I used. Once I am done revising it I'll start the new chapters, hopefully by the end of this week.
Disclaimer: I don't own SM.
She ran, her blonde hair trailing behind her in waves, her feet bloody and bare, moving over the branches and leaves that were scattered over the forest floor. The sun was at its highest in the afternoon sky and as she ran faster and deeper into the wooded area, the sweat began to pour from her brow like torrents of rain from an angry sky. Faster she ran, despite the pain in her chest, despite the burning of her lungs, she pushed herself through forest, knowing that if she ceased, they would find her and the watchful eye of the sullen sky would see this soil as her burial place.
The blonde grabbed the painful stitch in her side as she breathed heavily. Despite her distance from the city, she could hear the footsteps of its angry inhabitants pounding against the forest floor and once again, she quickened her pace toward the rocky hillside where the nearest prison was kept. She knew being in this area was by no means safe, but she also knew that she was probably safer in the presence of murderers and thieves, than with the righteous that currently pursued her through the foliage. She ran behind a ragged building, watching the bright sky as a huge ship landed softly on a bare strip of land. The prison doors opened and she stared as men and women, shackled and chained, were ushered into the voluminous vehicle. The young woman knew that this was her only chance to escape this place. She hesitated when the prison doors slammed shut, the loud echo of metal against metal reverberating in her delicate ears. The blonde stumbled as she made her way past the doors of the closing ship. She had no idea where this transport was headed and prayed to the gods that it was somewhere better than Earth.
She caught the landing bridge just as it began to ascend into the mouth of the vessel and concentrated all her energy onto pulling herself inside. She fell onto the floor with a painfully loud bang, the cold steel of the ships floor colliding with her back, leaving her gasping and heaving on the ground below. The prisoners on the ship stared at the girl strangely, wondering where she came from and why she willingly boarded this ship, allowing herself to be condemned as they were.
She stood up slowly, her legs giving way beneath her before she regained her composure. Her eyes searched the cabin of the ship and she noticed that there had to be at least one hundred people crammed into these tight walls, if not more. She distinctly heard whispers around her before limping to the back and crouching against the wall. The girl clutched her chest, willing her heartbeat to slow down.
"You must be crazy!" whispered a stranger her. Serena looked up to see a woman quite her senior staring at her with such confusion, her gray watery eyes looking warily around the cabin.
"Why?" she asked, still out of breath.
"This is a prisoner's ship! We're leaving Earth."
"I know," she replied grimly, rubbing her wrists that were raw from being shackled for so long. "Where are we going?"
"Moriari," whispered the woman, her eyes wide with fear at saying the name. The older lady immediately let her head fall to her chest, gray pieces of oily strands falling onto the woman's skeletal thighs.
The young girl looked strangely at the woman. "What's there?"
Her elder remained quiet for quite some time before surveying the small blonde, despite her gaunt features there was kindness and pity shining within the dim pupils of her yellowing eyes. She made no attempt to respond to the girl's question, but her silence spoke the message that her words could not. She was terrified of this place called Moriari; she needed no words to convey that.
The blonde waited silently as the ship buzzed through space. Every so often she was tossed from her makeshift seat as the carrier hurtled through the stars, passing fiery planets and colorful balls of ice as they made their way deeper into the unknown. She might have enjoyed the view around her, for it was the first time she had been sheltered amongst the stars. However the suffocating sentiments of panic and uneasiness easily permeated the otherwise silent atmosphere of the vessel and she found the adrenaline that had delivered her safely into the metal womb of this ship had been quickly replaced by remorse and sudden bouts of trepidation.
"What your name?" The woman she had momentarily befriended was staring at her, waiting dutifully for a response.
"Serena," she said quietly, scratching the back of her head, grimacing when she found her fingers wet with blood.
"I'm Adelaine," she said, tossing her graying hair behind her back and smiling sweetly at Serena. Her teeth were brown and rotten.
"Nice to meet you," she said absentmindedly. The girl named Serena sat in silence as she thought about the destination of the ship. Moriari. She knew she had heard that name before, but had no clue which quadrant of the galaxy it was in. She didn't even know if it was in her star system.
"If you don't mind me asking, what are you running from?" asked the woman, her sallow eyes sparkling with interest.
"Everything," she replied dully. Adelaine grimaced at her response. The old lady waited silently for the girl to offer more of a story and took on the look of defeat when she did not.
"What did you do?" asked Serena to the woman. If this woman named Adelaine was going to pry into her life, then Serena had every right to do the same.
"Do?" asked the woman.
"To get into Baldur, I mean, you've got to do something pretty bad to be sent there." True, Baldur's prison was in the middle of nowhere and was known for the atrocities that its patrons suffered. The prisoners weren't even allowed an execution and burial on Earth, they were forced into the Intergalactic Slave System, which led to a fate much worse than torture and immediate execution.
Adelaine laughed grimly before turning her attention to Serena. "My husband and I were both Heretics, or at least supporters of them. We never possessed the gifts ourselves, but we thought they were special and would finally bring peace to our world using their abilities. We housed, clothed and protected them while they were hiding from the Order. One day, someone in the village told our secret and men came to our home to question us. My husband, bless his soul, tried to protect me and our child, but he was killed in the struggle. My daughter Mina and I were separated. I haven't seen her in two years," she said tearfully, closing her eyes and resting her head against the metal innards of the ship.
Serena hated the Order and everything it stood for. This is what progress brought, death and the destruction families. They were the reason her family was dead, that Adelaine's family had been broken apart. The Order and its search for perfection led to the decimation of people's lives, including her own.
Serena sighed as she stared out the window. Her life on Earth had been nothing short of impossible and once again she was running. Always running and hiding, traveling from one town to the next to find sanctuary and a home, and she was tired of it. She was tired of living. If this Moriari brought death, then so be it. It was better than always fighting for nothing.
The ship landed with a thud against what seemed to be a rocky surface. The rumbling of the ship beneath her woke Serena from her light slumber and she felt herself jolting forward as the ship struggled to settle against the rocky surface. The prisoners began to whisper among themselves, some of them crying, many of them gnawing at their chains to escape. She peeked out the window and saw nothing but a blazing red and black sky that traveled for miles. The surface consisted of jagged stones and what Serena assumed to be…lava. She had never actually seen this molten liquid and was startled at how looming every element of this planet seemed to be.
The landing pad descended on to the surface and Serena was immediately struck by how hot the planet was. The scorching air blew into the ship with such force that it almost pushed Serena from her chair. The air was moist and thick, and she could feel beads of sweat begin to form on her upper brow. Thunder crackled in the silence, the deep sky illuminating momentarily before being covered in gloomy darkness. Serena turned her eyes to the door as a tall man along with smaller men walked into the ship.
"Welcome to Moriari," he said with a glare, his voice was low and deep and despite the initial scowl on his face, the blonde haired man was quite attractive. The atmosphere of the ship was filled with tension and sorrow and for the first time since her arrival on the transport, Serena's senses were going into overload. Everyone's anxiety, everyone's thoughts and fears seemed to be pouring into her head. She gripped the sides of her face and plunged her head in between her thighs to block out the sounds and feelings she was receiving to little avail.
The man that had spoken continued to drabble on, but Serena, lost in a sea of sounds, floating between consciousness and bleakness, didn't hear a word he said. A pressure erupted in her throat and she felt as though her voice was caught there; she was a prisoner in her own mind. Her breathing became erratic and despite her attempts to shield herself from the emotions wafting from the sentient beings surrounding her, she found herself falling faster and faster into the deep void of paralyzed solace. Eventually the sounds died out and she felt herself feeling cold and alone. The universe had become quiet again and she slowly regained control of her own body when suddenly anger and rage began emanating from a presence that seemed to be nearing her. She raised her head, her tear stained eyes meeting the face of the blonde haired man who had been speaking to the inhabitants of the ship earlier.
He surveyed her quietly before bending over until she was looking directly into his icy blue eyes. "Were you ignoring me?"
"N-no," she whispered, her head throbbing.
Serena jerked back forcefully as his hand swept across her face, his palm aligning painfully with her cheek, causing her head to lunge backwards and slam into the back wall of the ship. With shaky hands she reached up and touched the spot where he had struck her. She had been beaten before, but the strength behind his blow was something she had never felt. Her vision blurred before returning to normal. She looked up at the man who was staring at her with an odd expression on his face. Usually his blows to the face were enough to kill a human, and yet it only seemed to remotely stun the girl.
"What's your name?" he asked.
"Serena," she said, the blood in her mouth prohibiting her from speaking clearly.
"What happened to your shackles?"
"They…they fell off when I boarded the ship," she lied, bowing to him and hoping that he believed her.
"Fine. Get up and follow the others," he barked and she immediately got to her feet.
She swayed just as she felt strong arms grab her by the waist and steady her. Her blow to the face seemed to have knocked something loose in her skull and she began to see black spots. Her stomach churned and her legs seemed to weigh more than she did. As her eyelids got heavier she saw the impending rising of two suns, just as the man scooped her into his arms and began to run for shelter.
Serena awoke to the face of a dying woman, the traces of a hard life etched into the skin of her sagging cheeks. The woman smiled as Serena sat up shakily in bed.
"Thanks," said Serena.
"No problem," said Adelaine as she sat down next to Serena. "What happened to you?"
"The man…the one from the ship, he hit me."
"Oh, I figured that," she said knowingly. "What happened to you on the ship? You turned white and hunched over before you started screaming. He ushered everyone out and went to speak to you."
"He asked me some questions," Serena said groggily, clutching her head as her mind began sensing Adelaine's emotions. She could sense curiosity, adoration and…suspicion.
"You seem fine now," said the woman before getting up and brushing off her prison robes.
"Where are we?"
"Oh," she said. "So we're going to be used for combat?"
The woman laughed bitterly. "No, I wish that were the case."
Serena grimaced. She still had no idea what the people of Moriari were like and why the hell they were in soldier's barracks. "They don't have an army. They don't need one."
"Right," replied Serena sarcastically. "Our galaxies are built on warfare; even the smallest planets and star federations have armies."
"They don't need an army," Adelaine repeated.
"Well why not?"
"Because no one would challenge the Moriari, ever."
"Fine, but why are we here? I mean if we're slaves, shouldn't we be working?"
Again the woman laughed loudly before staring at Serena with dark eyes. "We're not slaves Serena nor are we soldiers. We're food."
Fear immediately settled itself in Serena's gut and she choked. "They're cannibals?" she questioned, more to herself than her companion.
"Something like that," she said.
From the distance Serena heard footsteps approaching their quarters. "They're coming," she said.
Serena closed her eyes and listened, reaching into the earth with her mind, listening to the trees, the wind, the ground. "Strong people, with great power… they're coming this way."
"So it begins," said the woman cryptically, her eyes glassing over with sadness.
"What?" asked Serena.
Serena cried out in protest as strong arms seized her. Men and women in cloaks dragged her and Adelaine apart, taking them in different directions. Serena wondered if she would ever see the woman again. Along with the other prisoners, she was ushered through a labyrinth that seemed to be underground. She practically ran through the cramped corridors as several of the cloaked, pallid strangers berated them to quicken their pace.
When all of them had gathered into a room, several guards walked in and began to strip down all of the prisoners. Serena fought as a dark haired woman, with icy blue eyes stripped the dress from her body before thrusting her to the ground. Embarrassed, Serena covered herself as the screams and cries of others rung in her ears. She shrieked as a mountain of cold water showered her skin and washed the dirt away, leaving her pale flesh clean and soft. The men and women were divided and were given different clothes to wear. Her fingers trembling wildly, she struggled to put on the dress but did so quickly to shield her nakedness from dark spectators that ushered them to dress quickly in the murky, wet resting place of the underground tomb. She looked down at herself and realized she was in a long pale pink dress that seemed to be far too beautiful for prisoner's clothes. Again, she was pulled from the room and ushered through several more passage ways before she found herself, along with at least one hundred thousand others blinded by bright lights and the sound of cheering.
Shielding her eyes, Serena found herself in the middle of what looked like a huge coliseum. All around her were men, women, and children cloaked in dark robes of the finest silk and velvet staring down at her hungrily. The black night sky was bright from the surrounding lights of the arena and Serena cringed.
She crouched onto the ground just as she felt realization dawn upon the people around her, and her feeling of fear was amplified. Again her mind was brutalized by the sound of their heartbeats and their thoughts pained her ears so much, that she thought the sounds would draw blood. She grimaced, trying to block out the noise just as she heard the stadium fall silent. In the back of her head she heard the silky voice of a man speaking before the prisoners around her began screaming loudly. She looked up into the stands to see the audience descend into the pitch like bats flying through the night. Madness surrounded her as the flying creatures landed on their screaming victims. The crowd broke into a frenzy, fingers tearing at flesh, the sound of cracking bone, all in an attempt to escape the monsters that soared through the sky like birds. Serena felt warm blood splatter against her face as a dark haired woman bit into the neck of a screaming man, his body becoming limp and pale against the bright lights of the dome.
Brushing off the fear that was overtaking her person, Serena ran. Immediately she caught up with the fleeing prisoners, her speed and stamina surpassing them all. She clawed her way to the front and poured out of the open gates as people behind her were being caught up by the flying monsters and taken up into the air to later be dropped onto the ground with hollow eyes and a still heart. Her speed increased as trees and rocks blazed by, and she found herself in familiar territory in the forest of this strange and deadly planet. Her bare feet padded gently against the cold grass.
By now she was alone in the woods, having passed all of her counterparts a ways back. Although she felt that the danger was gone, she ran and kept running, until her heart protested against her. She collapsed onto the floor and sobbed quietly into the night, the grass providing her with some comfort. Her senses were overwhelmed with dread. Serena looked for the nearest tree and ascended it with the ease. Her movements up the trunk were smooth and graceful as if the tree bended to her will. She reached a steady, wide branch and rested against it, her feet curling comfortably against the soft moss. She stroked the broad trunk as a branch folded in and covered her with leaves, shielding her in a ball of natural warmth. All around her, the sound of bending branches could be heard, the tree and its elements sealing her in a cocoon of heat and protection. Closing her eyes, she slept to the sound of those around her dying; her fellow prisoners succumbing to the darkness of the night.
Sunlight poured through the tree as she awakened. She found a small bug crawling on her chest and laughed as it climbed onto her nose and rested there.
"Good morning to you, too," she said, before the insect buzzed off. She rested her fingers against the trunk, asking it to release her from its protection. Slowly the tree bent to her whim and returned to its original state. Gracefully, Serena jumped down from the tree, the grass beneath her making a soft hump for her to land on before receding into the ground.
She strolled slowly through the forest as the events of last night replayed in her mind. In stories from Earth and consequently in her dreams, Serena had learned about creatures of the night that preyed on human blood, but never in her wildest dreams had she believed them to be true. But now, here she was, on a planet light years from Earth that was inhabited by a race of the immortal. She sighed sadly, wondering how many people had perished last night before stopping in front of a tree and staring at it. She reached out and stroked the trunk as she watched the tree immediately produce scores of fruit that she picked and rapidly began to consume. With her appetite satiated, Serena touched the tree and restored its fruits before continuing on. Being a Heretic did have its strong points, but it was also the reason that she was in this current predicament.
She strolled through the forest casually hoping that the entire legend of the undead was true and that they couldn't exist in sunlight. She looked to the sky, which now was an aquamarine color, the light of the two suns bright and hot against her eyes. Contemplatively, she deemed it strange for a planet that was cultivated by creatures of the night, to be gifted with the light of two suns looming brightly in the high heavens.
Throughout the day, she continued to walk, instinctively heading towards the opposite direction of the arena. Dusk began to settle and her heartbeat rose, knowing that soon enough the people would awaken and they would eventually find her. She shuddered at the thought. Her eyes were focused on the ground and she was shocked when her body hit solid rock. She felt her mouth drop at what she saw. Before her was a huge fortress; an onyx castle bedecked with marble splendor. The windows seemed to be sprinkled with jade and she could see the scarlet rubies that adorned the large iron entrance to the palace. The apex of the castle, which was a winged beast, seemed to glisten, amassed by the light of the sinking sun. As the sky darkened, Serena reasoned that she had a better chance in there with fewer beasts than staying here and being surrounded by them outside. With fluid movements she climbed the peaks before reaching the top and slipping inside the large castle window just as the sun completely set. All around her Serena could hear screeching as the night beasts stretched their wings and took flight.
Serena wondered how long she could hide in the broom closet. She had wandered around the castle for half an hour before she heard footsteps and quickly stepped inside this small room and waited on the dusty ground. What she needed to do was find a shipyard so that she could get home. Of course she didn't know how to fly a space vessel and knew that she would have to get someone to do that for her. Coaxing humans to do her will would be normally no problem, but she wasn't sure how powerful immortals minds were and wasn't sure if she would be able to control them.
The sound of footsteps immediately broke her from her thoughts and she froze as the door of the broom cupboard open. She reached out to cover herself with something, but found herself exposed to light as the doors swung open. The surprised eyes of a plump woman in an apron and polka-dot dress met hers. Serena's instincts took over and she sprinted out of the cupboard and down the hall just as the woman began to shriek. She heard the footsteps of people chasing after her and she began trying to enter rooms where she could hide. All the rooms however, seemed to be locked. Serena spotted the final door at the end of the corridor and almost cried out in relief when she realized it was open. Slowly she backed inside, her body facing the door as she closed it, letting it shut with a gentle click and pressing her face into the smooth wood.
She would have sighed in relief if the hairs hadn't stood up on the back of her neck. The room was brightly lit and she could feel the eyes of at least a dozen people boring into the back of her head. She turned around slowly, finding herself staring into the eyes of several men and women, cloaked in fine white and black silk. She found herself frozen as a man with white hair raised his head from the bloody neck of a victim before dropping the body to the ground.
"I saw her first," growled the blonde haired man who Serena instantly recognized as the man who had struck her back on the ship. He immediately stood up from the table and walked toward her. Serena tried to back away toward the door, but found herself immobile.
"No you don't Dante, she's mine," cried a man with brown hair. "She looks ripe and delicious."
Serena screamed loudly as the men neared her, however when they were both in arms reach, they began to physically attack each other, fighting over their prey. A beautiful raven haired girl began protesting.
"Dante, Nicolae, stop it this instant!" she screamed with no response from the males. The dark haired girl scowled at the wrestling men. "Darien, if you don't mind."
In the middle of the room, Serena watched as a handsome chair swiveled around to face them. She was stunned by the seated male. He was tall, his broad chest and muscular arms bursting out of the plain white collared shirt he was wearing. His eyes were deep blue and intense and his black, tousled hair fell haphazardly around his face, further lending to his look of well captured perfection. He stood up and raised his hands.
"Enough," he said, his voice relaxed. The two men immediately stopped and returned to their seats.
"We are not allowed a hunt tonight, gentlemen," said the dark haired girl.
"My sister is right, unless the young…human, wants to willingly give herself to us," said Darien staring at Serena. "What's your name?"
Serena stood quietly, watching as the men who had been fighting over her salivated. Darien repeated the question but Serena remained quiet. Her mouth was agape and her breathing was coming in short gasps as she surveyed the inhabitants of the room. Their pride led them to believe that her fear kept her mute, but Serena was trying to figure out the best way to get out of the castle. She could run out of the door and hope to make it into the night. There were also four windows in the room and she quickly wondered if she could survive a fall from this height.
Suddenly, Dante grabbed a knife from the holster in his thigh and threw it at the girl. Surely Darien could not berate them for devouring her if she were already dead.
Immediately sensing danger Serena jumped back, one hand in front of her and her mind concentrating on the knife as it stopped in mid air, inches from her face, the sharp tip of the metal glaring pointedly at the bridge of her nose at it sat idly before her. Instantly, the dark haired women stood and looked wide-eyed at Serena and then to Darien who had a surprised look on his face.
Serena felt extremely threatened, and the fear within her erupted as the knife dropped to the ground with a loud clank. Darien, with extreme quickness rushed toward Serena just as she ran toward the window, her body still facing her opposition. Darien reached out to grab her but felt as though he were being pushed away by an aura of energy that seemed to surround her. She had put up some sort of mental energy barrier which Darien was struggling to penetrate. Serena shook with effort as she tried to maintain her telekinetic shield. Her nose began to bleed and her head spun, and without further thought she leaned backwards out of the window, destroying the shield and bracing herself for injury or death as she plunged toward the ground.
Surprised, she felt a strong hand lock around her wrist and pull her effortlessly back into the castle. She landed on the stone floor with a painful thud before crouching into a corner, the dark haired man hovering over her, his glare menacing.
"She's a Heretic," cried Raye. "I thought their kind were all but extinct!"
"They are," said Nicolae sternly, watching the girl with avid interest.
"What's your name?" Darien barked at her.
"S-Serena," cried the girl, shaking as she felt her mind go numb. She had put forth so much effort to create that shield that she could barely stay conscious.
Darien surveyed her quietly as the others whispered behind her. She was dirty, emaciated, starved and tired, but nonetheless there were still huge amounts of power resting within her. His natural instincts could read her thoughts and emotions and he could feel her anger, fear and…defiance. Darien smirked. She would rather kill herself than stay here with them.
Darien turned to look at the others. "What should we do now?" the dark haired girl asked hopefully. She could be the answer to all our problems, Darien.
I know, Darien replied mentally to his sister. "Dante, Nicolae, you are not to touch her, understood?" he yelled to his subordinates. They nodded in acquiescence. "Raye, watch the two of them, I feel that their lust for more blood will lead them to disobey me." The woman nodded in understanding.
Sharply, Darien reached out toward Serena as she cowered on the floor. She knew that there was no way that she would be able to create another shield against him. "Come," said Darien calmly. "I won't hurt you."
For some reason, there was sincerity in his voice and although she did not trust him, she had no other choice than to obey. Hesitantly she grabbed for his hand before he helped her up slowly. She staggered onto her feet, but he held her, leading her to a chair and sitting her down. "Michael, fetch a maid, bring her food and drink, she's weak," Darien said, running a hand over her head and sensing her needs.
"Are you from Earth?" he asked, sitting on the table across from her.
"Yes," she replied, slouching in the chair and clutching her throbbing skull.
"How did you come here?"
"I…um…." She sputtered looking around the room. She was frightened at what they would do to her if they found out that she was a stowaway.
"It's alright, tell me," he said gently, sending out a mental wave of gentleness knowing that she could sense it. Getting her to trust him was the most important of tasks at the moment. If he could win the girls trust and cooperation, he could use her gifts to save the lives of his people.
"I ran away," she whispered, thinking only he could hear her. However all in room possessed excellent hearing, and all present heard her admission.
"What did you run away from?"
"They…I was going to be executed," she said, shivering, the memories of her impending death by fire running through her mind. Darien could sense her fear.
"For what?" he asked calmly.
"Heresy," she mumbled her body tensing.
"I see," said Darien, looking at Raye knowingly. "Well, don't worry, you are safe here."
Serena's eyes widened and she looked up at him. In her eyes he saw a strong fire and raw strength, something he had never seen in a human. "Aren't you…aren't you going to eat me?"
Darien laughed; a deep chuckle full of mirth. "Not unless you would like us to," he said, smiling at her.
She looked around the room to find everyone watching her. Nicolae licked his lips. Serena turned when she heard the door swing open. The plump woman who found her in the broom closet entered with a tray full of chicken and vegetables. She sat it meekly in front of Serena, her eyes widening. Darien noticed the woman's reaction.
"What is it Mary?"
"I…she was the one hiding in the castle," cried the woman.
"So you're the one that sent the guards and the staff into a riot," he said, amused.
"I didn't mean to scare you," Serena said to Mary. The woman did not reply.
"Eat Serena," said Darien, moving to sit by Raye. "Mary will take you to your quarters and there you will rest." His voice was commanding. "We have many things to discuss."