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Lale Felicias was in bad shape.

As far as she could tell, her total list of injuries consisted of a long cut on her upper right arm, a stillbleeding cut above her eye, several cement burns from slamming into the ground and sliding along it, numerous smaller cuts and bruises, and a massive headache from where it had smashed her across the face. Twice. Maybe more, actually. She was completely drained, covered in dirt, grime, and blood, and she wanted nothing more to just get back to her dorm and collapse in her bed. Limping from what she was pretty sure was a twisted ankle, she started the long and arduous process of climbing the two flights of stairs to her dorm room. Each step just emphasized her weariness, and if she had anything left for her bones to creak on, she was pretty sure they would. Her ankle twinged painfully each time it hit the pavement, her vision starting to run a bit red again. Reaching up to brush some of her hair away, she came back with more blood smeared across the back of her gloves. Oh, great. That's gonna be a bitch to get out. Wincing as she took another step up, her foot caught on the bottom of the next step, and before her mind could go well shit now what she was face down on the staircase, her bruised body colliding painfully with the unforgiving concrete slabs, sending a fresh wave of pain through her. She nearly cried out , but at four-ish in the morning no one who would respond would be happy to help. Chances are they would also question why she was wearing a black, mostly leather, and very ripped and torn outfit. Also, the half dozen knives that lay in easy reach would undoubtedly raise some eyebrows, and likely sirens. It was true that costumed superheroes were things of comic book fantasy. Movies and books like Kick Ass and Watchmen had taken the idea of some normal human going out to fight crime and wrung it dry before tossing it to the ground. Then again, those people also didn't dress for the occasion, at least sensibly. A green diving suit? Please. An owl outfit? Okay, it had some cool gadgets, but this wasn't some science fiction story. This was reality, with vampires, werewolves, and zombies that needed to go back to whatever pit of hell they spawned from. Any good costume needed protection and toughness, and while leather was good against fists, feet, and the ground, it did jack against knives and sharp claws. Go figure that most of Lale's opponents had one or both. As Lale lay there, with her face getting more and more acquainted with the concrete steps by the second, she took a few deep breaths as the dull roar of her aching body quieted to slight whispers. With a near Herculean effort, and ignoring the protestations of her bruised flesh and tired bones, she pushed herself up to her knees, then her feet. Looking up at the other flight of stairs, she pondered if she could just lie here and wait for someone to find her. The benefits of being picked up by the cops outweighed the cons for them, and her father would be called in, and she would have to answer some very uncomfortable questions, like why she had numerous pointy objects on her person. Plus, leather? She'd never live it down. She'd be Lale, the Weird Kinky Girl, for the rest of her life. Unless one of the monsters got to her first, natch. Oh, and the jail time. Let's not forget the jail time.

they're really pissed. and Lale was lucky that she'd gotten good enough at lying so she could convince the hospital staff it was all from bar fights and kitchen accidents. and by relief. She couldn't have been more happy to see that stupidly colorful throw rug. even if by a small modicum. with the quality of her mattress being approximately that of the Nevada desert. things turn for the worse. She lay there for a few moments as the door closed behind her. usually. A small beep followed. After that. telling her arms and legs over and over again to get up and move. soft embrace of sleep and being able to lie down on something that wasn't made of very small rocks. Who could be easier than a young girl. and they normally went better than this. she meant a nice warm shower and then collapsing into bed and preferably not waking up the next morning until after they had finished the inevitable criminal investigation about a exsanguinated corpse on campus. The really bad nights were when she had to go up against some hotshot young vampire looking for an easy mark. she slowly trudged . Reaching down into her rear pocket. then her knees. she pulled out her wallet and wearily placed it by the scanner. when said girl turns and lights you on fire by breathing it onto you. oh. and so she hurried up the steps with all the speed and grace of a very. One step at a time.With the image of being stuck in a small cell a most unappealing thought. she turned the handle and practically fell inside as the metal barrier swung in to grant her entrance. Pissed and on fire. not when she was so close to sweet. Then again. and they'd just do something or other with the body. she was facing more decayed rots who were only dimly aware of the world around them and didn't think before acting. as happy as she could possibly be at this moment. Lale finally emerged onto the landing at the top of the stairs. Leaning now on the door. She loved Saturdays. Burn wounds suck. all alone in the park at night? Well. Groaning as she pushed herself onto her arms. she glanced at the clock as she passed by the small kitchen. No one really questioned those things in a college town. very drunk man who was wearing sunglasses and had been beaten rather painfully by a walking corpse with some bad intentions. probably turn it over to the government or something. and Lale suspected that maybe she wasn't the only one who'd gotten roughed up by the bloodsuckers and had to lie their way out of some serious questioning. The bright red numbers read 5:17 on the oven clock. rocks may be preferred. Then again. Just ten more feet and then she could collapse. Fridays were hunting days. She wouldn't give up so easily. it was better than concrete. and then finally onto her feet. and Lale heard the lock disengage. The usual cultist explanation or whatever would follow. Today was really her day for getting to personally know all of the things she normally walked on. leaning on the railing for support. just a bit more before this hellish night was over and she could sleep in today. most of the time. and she showed her appreciation by falling face first onto it. Still. She pushed herself up the second flight. focusing on nothing more than the appealing. and that's before she throws a flaming knife into your chest. a good two months already. Lale gritted her teeth and started to climb once more. Damn. almost as much as she loved Fridays. leading to more than just a few minor scrapes. it was later than she thought. sweet relief. Still leaning onto the wall for support. The real fun part was when they realized that this guy had been dead for.

and admittedly rather sparse of decorations. A bed sat across from her on the opposite wall. removing the knives from the holders along the thighs and pulling her cell phone from a pocket. Just a bit more. and she almost didn't recognize the girl staring back. and the rest of her face wasn't much better. Her short-ish black hair was matted and sweaty. Some textbooks were inside. then pulled off her gloves and tossed them aside. Her jacket and hooded shirt came next. hunting the monsters that ran amok on this campus instead of going out to bars? Getting hammered with fists instead of shots? She barely recognized herself. Was all this really taking so much of a toll on her? Was she doomed to spend her nights like this from now on. They were the same sea-foam green they always of her and her parents in an obviously posed setting. but dark red streaks ran down the side of her face all the way to her chin. It was then that she got a good look at herself in the mirror. At least she didn't have a black eye. No posters decorated the walls. She knew when she started this that she was signing up for life. but so were some more interesting books . she pulled off the thick-yet-baggy pants. she leaned against it and took a few deep breaths. Her room was small. Her eyes were wild. not yet. meaning she wouldn't have to explain more when someone asked. not that she had much of a choice. The cut above her thin. Throwing those back into her room. rather than about 10 feet behind her in her warm bed.her way to her room. The rest of her face was covered in dirt and other blood smears. moving slowly and gingerly as she pulled it from around the cut on her arm. flicking on her desk lamp. flowing down the drain with the water and dirt. with a small bookshelf next to it that served as her bedside table. Not yet¸ she told herself. She took one more long. curved left eyebrow had finally stopped bleeding. The green tips were the only really bright part about it. Dried blood flaked off into the sink. but at the same time. a rare occurrence. and one of her and her father squaring off across a poker table. her legs slowly moving towards the point where they would just collapse. Fortunately. hanging down in spikes. starting with her combat boots. she staggered over to the bathroom and pulled back her hood. She flicked the water from her hands and got to work taking off the rest of her outfit. Running her hands under the water made her feel just a tiny bit better. they completely betrayed the exhaustion she felt from tonight. and even one called Surviving The Night by a bestselling horror author named Wahrheit. Stepping inside her cramped space and closing the door behind her. and she brushed it out of her eyes to get a better look. A large bruise was already forming near the back of her right cheek where the damned rotter had clocked her good. She looked like she felt. last look at herself. all of it being her own. but they lacked something now. but if this is what it was going to do to her… She sighed and flicked on the cold water. chips piled high beside them. Her normally soft features now seemed sharp. and it wasn't just her eyes that were wild. Pulling her eyes away from that. the cut and bruise look liked the only visible marks. almost disbelieving. and there were only two pictures . from her semi-pointed chin to her small nose. Apparently no one had ever met him in person. It was messy and unkempt even by her normal standards. When she finally . but Lale found his advice on how to deal with the monsters more than just coincidentally accurate. and splashing it onto her face gave her enough of a jolt to keep her mind settled here.mysteries in law or medicine.

and the metaphorical moment vanished as quickly as it had sprung up. deep breath as her worries and fatigue died a bit with the pain.the still present painful ache was a clear indicator of that. almost completely drained of the will to stay away from her welcoming mattress. that didn't make the annoyance she felt any less. she slowly removed the rest of her clothes and turned on the shower. and the dull aching of her bones and body faded away from the gentle massage of the warm water. Turning away from her reflection. she took another deep breath before daring to look at the rest of herself in the mirror. especially now.a fresh cleaning. She usually wore nonrevealing clothing. letting go of as much stress as she could with the exhale. She took a long. in a small state of relieved the whole outfit off. she did enough to wash the crud out of her hair. and she took another deep breath. She hadn't even thought once about losing her edge since the day she'd learned about the truth of the world. The on-edge feelings and apprehension simmered down. and when she emerged from the shower a few moments later. and it was that edge which saved her life more than once against the monsters. She was gone to a dreamless sleep before her head hit the pillow. and she remained careful as she cleaned around her eyes. and she began to wash herself. and torso. flowing off her with the water and blood. She was thin. ----- . The rest of her body was worse than her face. She winced and stood back up straight. After drying off and nearly stumbling out of the bathroom. One big one on her ribcage was particularly ugly. She stepped in after a moment. but decided against it. but this would hamper those rare occurrences when she wanted to show off. once again aching all over. She felt her muscles unknot. Bruises decorated her arms. legs. breathing it out. sending a fresh twinge of pain through her as her bruised shoulders pressed against the slick tile. and she reflected for a brief moment on the rather metaphorical nature of all of this . She hadn't really felt like giving it up for college. the warm water doing wonders for her attitude. She was sore enough. certainly. making it plenty warm. Then she unconsciously leaned back against the wall. and though she knew they would vanish with time. Still. but the atmosphere was just too competitive and serious business for her to really enjoy it. She looked less like a healthy girl and more like some kind of abuse victim. with a nasty puss-yellow color outside of the black and blue. not wanting to add some stinging to her current laundry list of aches. Fit and toned. she had enough presence of mind to throw on a shirt and some sleep pants before falling onto her bed. What dirt and blood was left flowed off with the soapy water. she didn't need more reminders of how many times she'd hit the ground or been smacked around . Washed-off blood and grime swirled down the drain. At least she'd managed to find a good gym around here to keep up the training regime. She nearly touched it out of a simple morbid curiosity. after all those years of high school sports. and she just stayed under the stream for a few moments. or a small rebirth from her night job as a monster hunter. she was feeling much better mentally than about 15 minutes ago.

you know I wouldn't to you. No. she'd have gone insane weeks ago. wishing for all the world that she could get up and get some goddamn breakfast. she discovered she surprisingly wasn't actually in much pain. I don't know how many more. I promise…just a little roughed up. He couldn't think like her. I'm gonna put some code up around campus tonight. no one else saw me. Dad Shit. She grabbed it. If she asks. Someone has to fight them. I love you too. "I know…I know. She was asleep when I got in. and no one else knows. fried chicken sounds amazing." She smiled slightly. I'm not lying. Whatever. closing her eyes once more. and if it wasn't for him. . I promise. and her entire body protested by letting her know that the pain of getting beat down doesn't go away after a single night and a warm shower. no broken or cracked bones. "Okay. Doing some small rolling. A look at the clock showed it to be around 3 PM. and she was going to keep him safe as long as possible. but I can't just sit here and let it happen. "No. flipped it open and read the newly arrived message: I pray you're just sleeping. ----Lale finally stirred from her dreams. move like her. Dad. throwing the last remnants of sleep from her eyes. Her cell phone buzzed from the table where she'd left it last night. I think. Lunch. A quick glance revealed a text message from Dad. I swear. Call me when you get this. but Lale didn't notice and kept on sleeping. Shit. and I know you worry. I'll just tell her it was another bar fight. "Hey. It was her responsibility. and letting her phone slip from her hand onto the bed. Then she sat up. No. It's nothing serious. putting the phone to her ear after connecting the call. I'm fine. no training. Dad. Love. It was another rotter this time. I'm okay. maybe I'll get lucky and find someone else on this campus like us. I'll take it easy today. get around to some homework. wincing as she hit yet another bruise. Dad. Okay. you know how bad they can be. then that's what it would be. She just didn't want him to know just how bad it all was fighting these things. I'll come by for dinner." She sighed and rubbed her forehead. or do things she could do to give her an edge. She knew he cared." She paused for a second.Dawn broke with all of the subtlety of the Chernobyl reactor melting down. mumbling something incoherent as sleep left her and the real world came back into focus. Maybe in a few moments. along with six missed calls. She might even be able to walk around today normally. She pulled up her contacts and found up Thomas' number." She lay her arm down beside her. It didn't even finish one ring before he picked up. all from him. She gingerly lay back down under her soft comforter. and she shook her head slightly. If that meant keeping him uninvolved. You saw them too.

I can't make any moves. I know I'm already marked on their lists as under watch. "Dad. coordinated assault on them. but you don't always have the be on the front lines. Blinking. His strong face and sharp features contrasted with her own softer ones. looking over various implements of death and destruction that were cleverly disguised as power tools. Can't you find someone else to help you hunt. "I know. but I don't think a fully automatic AK-47 is going to do much against a vampire. "You know me. sweetheart. Dad." She indicated the familiar rifle racked inside the safe. I doubt you'd do much. but he had the air and grace of someone who's innocent looks and composure hid a dangerously sharp and quick mind. How goes the fight up in the offices?" Thomas sighed and examined the knife. and she was pretty sure that some of them weren't actually legal to own. she turned and glanced at the opposite wall. and frankly. I can't do anything more than help you. that's fine. I have a permit for every one that can have a permit. "I still don't like you doing that. ----As Lale was sitting with her dad in the storage shed. He was taller than her by a few good inches. "Unless you could somehow give them holy fire. running one of her throwing knives across a blade sharpener." He grinned at his reflection in the knife and set it to the grinding stone. running her finger very gently along the edge and flipping it casually around. "Dad…" He grinned semi-sheepishly and examined the knife before putting it back to the grinding stone. "Well. I'm surprised I'm still alive. He shrugged. I appreciate the thought. then chuckled." "Well. though. and until I can marshal enough support on Hunter Net to get a full-scale. do you have the permits for these?" The man rose from where he was over his workbench. With a quick flick of her wrist. but they both shared jet black hair. though. but I have to do it. but I can't do anything about it without risking my neck. and neither can I." She sighed slightly herself. she spoke up. and she hoped she wouldn't ever have to."She picked up one of the knives and looked at it closely. She wasn't really sure how her father had acquired all of these. at the open safe that contained implements and death and destruction that actually looked threatening. Lale. if you must hunt? Can't you stay home one night?" He met her eyes. checking the weight." She sighed and gently smacked her face with her palm. the knife went sailing across the room and hit the bulls-eye of a target that was pinned onto the wall. setting it down and picking up the next one. I'm too old for this fighting shit. a . not once. "Well. "I know who is and isn't. I can't just sit here and…watch. He thought for a moment.She had never lied to him. "I know. I like to be prepared. what if I filled the bullets with holy water or carved crosses into them?" "Hmm…" She pondered for a brief moment.

The irony in that old adage about being careful what you wish had not slipped her. watching the world turn and the monsters use it like their plaything." Lale was silent for a moment. "That'll give your dear old dad a little bit of peace of mind. ma petite fleur. looking into her. and that she shouldn't have to fight this fight. but finding nothing. I know that I worry you. oppressed. and picked up the last one. but the world won't get better unless I help it. find someone else to go with you. "You know what I mean.sit back with the knowledge of what is real burning inside me. being bullied. Someone else on campus has to have gone through what you did and knows what you know. whatever happens. satisfied with the job. "Maybe. She could deny destiny.I can't ." She sighed and looked back to him. Lale. wondering just what could get her normally calm father this worked up. There's the chance that I'll get hurt too badly. Maybe he was being overly concerned. sliding the knife into the sheath on her belt next to the other newly sharpened one. and who was he to argue? He sighed. She could be a bystander. Sheep for the slaughter. if nothing else. and try as he might. but he doubted that he was among a large group of parents who had these worries. She nearly was burning inside from her desire to keep the world safe. and you're just one girl in all the world. abide by it at all times. What is it?" ." When she finished speaking.cursed with the knowledge of how the world was. dad. though . and I need to make sure that you will. at least not without denying what she knew and pretending that night at the casino long ago had never happened." He set down the knife. letting it all pass her by. There can't be just you. studying his face. I know it's true." Lale smiled slightly. I won't . The world won't change unless we work to change it. All she'd ever wanted was to be someone special in an ordinary world. but blessed with the power to fight back. apparently. And whatever you do." He chuckled himself. She smiled slightly as she moved over and pulled the knife from the target. and even changed into them. knowing that he was right. "I know. I worry every night you go out that one day they’re going to find a corpse in the park that hasn't been dead for a while already and I'm going to get the phone call I fear the most. shaking his head. promise me one thing. that I'll get discovered. "Then…please. Humanity has sat around for long enough. Destiny said so. We're animals to them. trying to find some way to break this conviction. She didn't have a choice in the matter. that I'll die. he would never be able to truly keep her safe. "I know you're right. "It's dangerous out there. without question. then slid it into the sheath on her belt. He met her eyes.slight frown on his face. but this thing is deadly serious. I'll make them burn. "I stay home every other night of the week. With it. dad. Thomas handed the finished knife to her. It doesn't matter what takes place later." He shut off the grinding stone and pulled off his goggles. dad. She was chosen.

these bloodsuckers were fast . It was marked and discolored from being inside of a fire it lit once.very fast. Speaking into her ear. At least. she didn't know for sure. she looked just like some lonely. This lighter reminded her just who she was fighting for. For two. A young man. If they were the drain on the world. and then feeding like parasites. Taking a deep breath. probably around 20 or so. her lucky lighter. but she didn't dare get a new one. drunker than the entire population of Europe at once. The sound of quickly approaching footsteps behind her cause her to glance to her rear. Fortunately. For all intents and purposes. aside from his almost freakishly fast walking speed. the man stuck out like a half dozen sore thumbs . Two. was walking towards her quickly. but he looked wrong and unnatural. "Don't tell your mother. One. stern look about him. completely human. It made her enemies overconfident. putting their charms onto everyone they find attractive. voice barely loud enough to be audible even at that distance. glancing around to ensure they were alone. they're also usually really stupid. Vampires were always worse than rots. that made Lale and others like her the . she knew that they really hated fire. Naturally. They shrugged off bullets like rain sometimes. dangerous as they are. Immediately. and in the other. It probably wasn't that lucky." ----It was about a week later that Lale was making her usual rounds in the nearby park. the fresh new ones are. What he was. He didn't belong. as they had the strength to go with their incredible swiftness. heading home from the bars at three in the morning. Lale had two things going for her that would usually give her victory. getting the lonely girls (and sometimes boys) alone. he whispered. He looked a little pale in the moonlight. Thomas leaned in close to her. and getting into a pure fistfight with one was absolute suicide.With a serious. but it looked like she was gonna have a hell of a fight on her hands.a standard metal Zippo marked with a comical yellow angry face.he wasn't human. but otherwise. In one hand was a flask filled with whiskey. dressed in the black outfit and with her belt full of razor sharp knives. For one. or special . this façade was something she wanted to keep up as much as possible. That old adage about the big ones being the slow ones never proved true. They strut around like they own the place. Lale centered herself and activated her other sight. weak girl. rots could rarely think enough to make it a challenge. making them weaker.

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