Authors: Nicola Claire
Tags: #Vampires, #Romance, #Fantasy, #Adult
I felt the power shift slightly around me, like a heatwave, shimmering in front of my eyes. Through the haze of power I saw Rick change; swift, smooth, nothing like they have you believe on TV. It's almost magical, something to marvel at, not be afraid of. But I knew I needed to be afraid, because as soon as they changed, they'd find me. In their Taniwha forms their sense of smell is so much greater and I'd been lying here for a while, sweating, crying, snivelling any number of smells they'd instantly home in on. I was a perfect prey to the predator awakening.
One by one the Hapū followed suit, like a set of dominoes, unable to stop the force that topples the next. Just going with the flow from that first dominant push, from their now new Alpha, they began to change. Scales and claws, jaws full of serrated teeth, greys and whites flashed throughout the clearing before me. Although all basically the same shape and colour combination, each one looking distinctly different in their Taniwha skin. No two humans are ever the same, likewise no two Taniwhas.
When the final member of the Hapū had changed I felt the power lift and I could move. The magic that had made them what they now were, dissipating into the night. I took a deep breath in, the first in over half an hour and I carefully sat myself up.
That shift of my body was enough. Heads swivelled to where I had been lying hidden, noses sniffed the air, muzzles drew back exposing impossibly long Taniwha fangs and a low growl came from the closest of the Hapū, flowing out towards the rest until it reached Rick. His eyes bore into me, even though I knew he couldn't really see me through the thick foliage I was behind, but he knew it was me.
I had a second to comprehend this. And then I ran.
I'm faster than Taniwhas, since I joined with my kindred vampire and matured at the age of 25, I have come into some nifty powers, speed being one of them. But, this was rough terrain and I didn't know it. I'd only ever driven right up to the clearing where the houses are at, along a dirt road, I had never gone for walkies in their woods. All of it was unfamiliar, but to them, it was their home, they knew it blind.
I fell over fallen logs, I scraped my knees on barely hidden rocks and smashed into low branches, scraping my cheeks, nearly piercing my eyes and still I could feel them on my heels. Their snapping and snarling and growling and baying to the moon. The hunt was on and I was the prey. My heart was in my throat, my breathing ragged, I'd been in tight situations before, some may even say I thrive on them, but having a Hapū of angry, hungry Taniwhas chasing you over rough and uneven, unfamiliar ground on the night of the
is not my idea of a cup of tea.
I thought I was heading in the right direction, back to the car on the other side of the fence, where I had cut a very small gap in the chain-link there. If I was wrong, things were going to get bad. I only had a silver knife on me, my stakes were still in the car, but a knife against one Taniwha could be useful, they don't do silver well, but against fifty, maybe more? I wasn't hopeful.
I could tell they were flanking me, I could hear them fanning out around me, moving ahead and circling round. If they made a complete circle before I reached the fence, I was in trouble. I can't fly like a vampire, I can jump pretty high given the right circumstances, but not a 10 foot chain-link fence topped with barbed wire. Even I can't do that.
So, I just ran faster.
Faster meant more branches, more scratches, but strangely enough less tripping, less falling, somehow making me skim the undergrowth and hidden hazards, almost flying across the terrain. If I wasn't shit scared right now, I'd be revelling in this new found freedom. Speed, but more speed than I had ever used before in my life. I have had to run fast since joining and Bonding with Michel, but I'd never managed this type of speed before.
I made it to the fence before the Taniwhas, but not quite at the right spot. I recognised the area, so it wasn't far away. I had to scan quickly, slowing my speed a fraction, but I spotted the gap and made for it, closer to the Taniwhas coming from the right than I wanted, but I knew now, I could make it. I knew I could get there before them.
I slid to the ground, feet first towards the gap. Don't ask me why, I think most people would have thrown their arms forward and let their bodies follow, but I have skidded through tighter spots feet first before, so I knew it was a move I could pull off. My feet slid through the gap, followed by my body, then my head. I landed crouched down on the grass on the other side of the fence and turned my head in time to see a claw slice through the gap towards me.
One of the most nifty new things to happen when I joined with my kindred, was an increase in reflex action. I thanked my luck stars tonight for that.
I rolled back from where I had been crouched, doing a complete reverse somersault away from that claw; head over back, feet flicking out behind and over, just managing to stay out of its reach. I landed with a thud against the Land Rover Discovery I'd driven tonight. One of Michel's pool vehicles, but mine to use when I needed it. At least I could be grateful it wasn't the BMW Series 1 Convertible Michel had presented me with. I gave that one back. This was our compromise. I
the Discovery when I needed a car. That way Michel knew I was driving something suitably safe and I didn't feel like a kept woman. The Discovery never came home with me, it stayed at Michel's. I was adamant about that.
I sat there stunned, trying to catch my breath and make myself move, but unable to pull my gaze away from the muddy brown Taniwha eyes that watched me. I knew those eyes, even in Taniwha form, I still recognised them.
“Congratulations.” My voice was even, if just a little breathless. “On your promotion in the Hapū.”
He just growled, low and long.
We stared at each other for a moment. Him unable to get through the small gap, me catching my breath, then I stood and opened the door to the Land Rover, slid in and turned the key.
I guess, at least, I knew where I stood.
Rick was Alpha of the Westside Hapū. And I was at the top of his shit list too.
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