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    C. Henderson
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Sacrum - 12. Chapter 12

They came during the night—vampire night, which was human daytime. Even though we had Block D, all thanks to Vinicius of course, and could be out in the sunlight for a couple hours without any issues, the hot rays were still an unpleasant sensation and most of us chose to be inside during the hours of the day.

It was the heavy boot steps echoing along the corridor outside that brought me out of my daydream and into reality. I was tucked away in bed at my dorm room, flipping through a comic book, when it happened. The door suddenly flew open and three vampires, all dressed in black and armed, barged in.

“What the hell,” I yelled out in a state of shock, dropping the comic book to the floor.

“Daniele Marchesi?” The one in the front barked out at me.

“Who are you?” I asked.

“Sergeant Denali,” he replied, but his name rang no bell. He continued in a cold tone, “Your mentor, Vinicius Valentini, is dead. We’re here to transport you to a different location for your protection,” he said.

“What?” I asked in disbelief.

“We have to move, now,” he commended, but I didn’t budge. Nothing he said made any sense in my head. Vinicius was an invincible figure in my head. A permanent fixture in the world. He was a vampire—one of the most accomplished vampires to ever exist. How could he possibly be dead—aside from not having a heartbeat of course—how could he be gone? I had just seen him not more than a day ago. He was perfectly fine.

“What do you mean he’s dead?”

“Everything will be explained to you once we place you in a secure location. Your safety is compromised here. We have to go now.” Once he saw that I still wasn’t moving, he approached me and grabbed my arm rather harshly. I tried to break free and run past him, but the two men at the door stopped me.

“I have to see him!” I yelled out, but they didn’t listen. They quickly and forcefully escorted me into a pitch-black Escalade parked in the school’s underground garage.

“Where are you taking me?” I asked panicked.

“A safehouse, for the time being,” Denali replied, not even bothering to look at me.

“Please, I have to see Vinicius. At least let me say goodbye to him,” I pleaded hysterically now. Suddenly there was heavy rain outside. Denali looked at the other men with some apprehension, then turned his eyes to me.

“I’m sorry, but there’s nothing to see. There’s nothing left of him, kid. Just a pile of ashes on the floor,” he replied, finally looking at me. I bent over in pain and heard the strike of thunder outside. The rain sounded so heavy that it felt like we were about to drown in a river.

“Drive faster,” Denali barked at the driver.

“What happened?” I asked through dry sobs and heaves.

“I guess he had enough of this life, I don’t know. They’ll tell you more at the safehouse.”

“That’s not…no, no,” I kept repeating, but Denali had already turned his back on me. We drove for about 20 minutes, then parked in another underground garage of a tall building. Denali quickly hopped out then escorted me into the elevator and pressed the penthouse button. I kept hoping that maybe it was some type of test—some form of Special training. Surely Vinicius would be waiting for me on the other side of that door, his calm and loving smile lighting up the room. But when the elevator door opened, there was only a woman.

A human woman.

She looked like she had been crying for some time, her eyes red and tired.

“Oh!” she exclaimed, upon seeing us. Denali regarded her for a moment, he seemed as confused as me. Even though we lived peacefully with humans nowadays, it was still fairly uncommon for vampire students to have much interaction with humans for the most part.

“Are you the proxy?” he inquired.

“I am,” she replied proudly, and I could sense that she took offense to the question. She was middle aged and had kind blue eyes. “Melinda Moretti,” she introduced herself. Her name told me nothing.

“Right, of course,” Denali stumbled with his words. “Well, he’s to stay with you until someone from the State makes contact. Which shouldn’t take long,” he barked out.

“He can stay as long as he likes,” she said, looking at me and smiling kindly.

“Right,” Denali replied, seemingly lost for words. “Good luck,” he told me, then gently shoved me out of the elevator. I watched him slowly disappear behind the metal doors.

I turned back to face the human.

“Daniele, I am so sorry about what happened,” she said, adding, “You must be so confused.” I nodded, slowly taking in the place. The heavy window curtains were drawn shut, I presumed for my sake. But there was a warm glow of many lamps lighting up the penthouse.

“They just came out of nowhere. They said you’ll be able to tell me more,” I said looking back at her hopefully. Maybe she would burst out laughing and tell me it’s all a big joke. But she didn’t. She held her breath for a moment, trying not to cry.

“I’m sorry, come on in, sit down,” she said, and I followed her to the spacious modern living room. Whoever she was, she had plenty of money. The penthouse was stunning, with expensive artwork adorning the walls. I carefully sat down on the large cream sofa in the middle of the room, and she sat not too far from me. I could smell the delicate perfume on her neck. “I don’t know much more than you, unfortunately,” she started. “I got the phone call probably at the same time as they went and got you. All they told me was that he’s gone,” she said, breaking into a small cry. What was this human’s relationship to Vinicius, I wondered? And why in the world was I here right now?

“I’m sorry if this is a stupid question, but what exactly is a proxy?” I asked. She wiped her tears and chuckled lightly.

“It’s not a stupid question. We all hoped that no Special would ever need to actually know any of us. See, each Special has a proxy, a person assigned to care for them in the event that something happens to their mentor. Vinicius chose me to be yours,” she said, the mention of his name sending her into another fit of hollow cries. I could feel the genuine sadness in her energy.

“I see,” I replied. “Well, I really appreciate that,” I said, trying to be kind and hoping she would stop crying. “They said…that he killed himself,” I mentioned, seeing if she had more information on the subject, but that only seemed to upset her more.

“I don’t believe it. I don’t,” she cried. I walked over to the side table and grabbed the box of tissues. There was a small picture on there as well. It was a black and white photo featuring two men. They must have been her family relatives, I presumed. I went back and handed her the tissues. “Thank you, dear,” she replied weakly.

“What’s going to happen to me now?” I asked. The severity of my situation was slowly dawning on me. Vinicius and the small private school known as the Valentini Academy were my only constants. I had barely ever traveled anywhere outside of the school. I was raised there, and spent my days studying with Vinicius, helping in his garden, and having fun with the other students. I figured that once I turned 18, I would still be somewhere by his side.

“Well, I really want you to stay here with me, my dear, but I don’t think your government will allow that. I’ve tried asking them, but the lady on the phone was very short with me. She said it was a temporary relocation. That I was just a safehouse. I think they are going to ship you off to work with another mentor until you turn 18. We will just have to wait and see,” she said, looking at me with her sad blue eyes. Never in a million years did I anticipate something like that happening.

That was in July. Shortly after our conversation, someone from the State did in fact get in touch, and I was escorted to Baritone High School the very next day. They told me the bare minimum. Vinicius had killed himself, and I was going to get a new mentor at a new school and finish off my last year of high school before officially joining the State as their fulltime employee.

Now, back at the old hunting lodge, things were starting to shift into place at last. Murdered. I kept repeating the word to myself, trying to make sense of it.

It fit better. The theory that Vinicius killed himself was absurd.

Eric Van Sant kept pacing around the room, making me more nervous than necessary.

“Who?” I finally asked, realizing that Eric must have been right. I should have known all along, Vinicius would have never left me like that. The scientist shrugged.

“’Who’ isn’t the right question, Dani. It’s the ‘why’ that matters.”

“Why, then? Everyone loved him. He was the greatest vampire. Why would anyone want to kill him?” I asked, racking my brain for the possibilities.

“Dani, everyone holding any amount of power in this world has enemies. Especially someone who hasn’t been corrupted by it, like Vinicius. He wasn’t someone you could buy off or bribe. That means he stood in a lot of powerful people’s way.”

“But…I still don’t understand.”

“Listen, there’s not a lot of time right now. I have to get back into the city and sort some personal things out. How are you doing with your gift?” He asked, looking at me intently.

“Not great,” I replied. I wanted to ask him a million questions, I didn’t want to confess that I was a complete failure at the one thing I should have been good at by now.

“Work harder! It’s imperative that you get a grasp on it because something is just around the corner. I can feel it,” he said, looking out the window once again.

“What does that mean?”

“Things haven’t been right without Vinicius. They haven’t been right, Dani. Something is stirring out there, something fucking evil,” he said, coming back towards me. “Are you able to transform all energy at-will?” I stared at him for a moment.

“Not really, no.” He raised his eyebrows. “Most?”

“I…I’m not able to transform any energy at-will, it’s all random,” I confessed, and his face fell. He grabbed me by the arms.

“Dani, what have you been doing?”

“Maratoni won’t teach me anything! And it’s not like there’s a book with steps to follow. How does anyone expect me to figure this out on my own?” I shouted in frustration. He looked somewhat sorry. He rubbed his temples for a moment.

“Maratoni, of course, I forgot. Dani, listen to me very carefully. There’s no time to waste, and you cannot rely on Sebastiano Maratoni’s help. Not with Vinicius out of the picture and nobody to reel him in. You can’t trust him,” he warned me, and I wasn’t sure why everything seemed all the more terrifying with that one confirmation—despite the fact that I had known Maratoni wasn’t up to any good from the second that I met him. Up until now, it was just pure speculation.But with Eric Van Sant agreeing that my theory was correct, and I could not trust my mentor, I was now completely on my own. He continued, “I can’t even be sure that you have until the end of school year. You need to practice every single day so that you’re prepared for whatever is coming. Because trust me, something is coming.”

“Something like what?”

“That’s not important. Listen, here’s how you practice on a small scale by yourself. You focus on an object, and then think about what it is you want to happen to that object. Do you want it to move, light up in flames, float, shatter? Focus your mind, and most importantly the energy from your body on that very thing until you get it right.”

“Isn’t that just psychokinesis? And don’t I need another person as an energy source?” I asked puzzled.

“Oh Dani,” he said, gently shaking me again in frustration, “It’s Vinicius we’re talking about. The gift he gave you, it covers pretty much all the other Specials and more. Transforming energy gives you the power of psychokinesis, incineration, causing pain, and probably healing as well. It encompasses everything, because everything is made out of energy. Me, you, this hut, the grass outside—it’s all energy. You can transform your own energy, you don’t need another person. But you have to start practicing. Promise me?” He pleaded, and I nodded my head.

“I promise,” I replied.

“I have to go, but I’ll be back before the Summit,” he said, and I had to stop myself from begging him not to leave. I didn’t want to be all alone again.

“When?”

“I’ll figure out a way to tell you. Until then, practice,” he said with utmost seriousness. He grabbed me for another tight hug. “It’s going to be okay,” he said patting my back, and in a blink of an eye, he was out the door.

I sat there, reeling with all the new information. My mentor, the closest thing I had to a father or any family, was killed. Somebody murdered him. But who? I didn’t even have a list of potential suspects. Vinicius had kept me in a protective bubble my whole life. The news was devastating, but I could feel something being born out of the pain. A new conviction within me. I wasn’t a lost puppy anymore with some distant mission of potentially saving humanity. No, my personal mission had narrowed down to one thing: find out who killed Vinicius and bring them to justice. I would practice every day, like I promised Eric Van Sant. I would take control of this gift Vinicius had bestowed on me. I would avenge his death.

I left the lodge and walked through the woods and back to school before my absence raised any suspicion. But apparently, it was too late.

“There you are!” Boeriella Trusting shrieked in a panic upon seeing me walk to my room.

“Hi,” I replied, confused. Then I noticed the source of her panic. A few steps behind her stood a woman with short black hair that matched her dark, almost black, eyes.

It was Arani Deadnus.

“We were looking for you,” Trusting said, adding, “Come, follow me to my office please.” I trailed behind them remembering how paranoid Eric Van Sant had been in the lodge. Did Deadnus manage to catch him? Would he get in trouble? Trusting opened the large door to her office.

“Now Dani, let me introduce you to a very special person,” she said smiling, but I could tell she was nervous. I was too. There was something cold about Arani Deadnus’s presence that would have made anyone nervous.

“Hello Daniele,” Deadnus said, her tone cutting and icy.

“It’s Dani,” I replied stiffly. I was tired of being pleasant to everyone. She ignored me.

“I’m Arani Deadnus, Commander of the American Protection League.” She said it like it was supposed to impress me. It didn’t.

“I know who you are, ma’am,” I replied. She flinched at the last word.

“Call me Commander,” she insisted, and I nodded. Trusting looked on nervously. “I was told you met with a certain old friend today, am I right?” Van Sant was correct yet again, they were watching us in the cafeteria.

“Are you referring to Eric?” I asked.

“I’m referring to Dr. Van Sant, yes,” she said briskly.

“Yes, I saw him today.”

“And what exactly did you two discuss?” She inquired.

“What do you mean?” I asked.

“I mean just what I said. What did the two of you talk about?” Her voice sounded frustrated.

“Am I not entitled to any form of privacy?” She looked at Boeriella Trusting with incredulity, as if she couldn’t believe what she was hearing. For the first time ever, Trusting was speechless.

“Privacy? You’re a Special. Do you know what that means? You’re a government worker. A human weapon. Privacy isn’t a word in your vocabulary. You’re here to protect the State.” I could feel the anger slowly rise within me. “What did you discuss with Eric Van Sant?” She repeated, her tone reproachful, as if I were a badly behaved child.

“I asked him to mentor me. Professor Maratoni hasn’t been the nicest since I got here,” I replied. I hated being in her presence. I could feel the wrath that ruled her soul, and it made me sick to my core.

“Just because Professor Maratoni wasn’t a fan of your old mentor does not mean you get to disrespect him, especially when he’s graciously taken you under his wing,” she replied. Her eyes were still searching mine, looking for things I didn’t tell her.

“Yes ma’am,” I replied quietly.

“Commander,” she answered immediately. I nodded. “And what did Dr. Van Sant tell you about your request?”

“That I should listen to Professor Maratoni.” She seemed pleased with that answer.

“And where were you just now?” She asked. Being around her for so long had made every cell in my body feel a slow simmering type of anger, and with each question I felt myself drift further away from reality. The waves of anger taking over my body.

“I went for a walk,” I replied, trying to calm myself down.

“A walk?”

“Yes, I like to take walks sometimes. It helps me clear my head,” I lied.

“I see,” she replied. I could sense she didn’t believe me, but she made no further comment. “Well then, I will see you at the Specials Summit. I cannot wait to see what you have in store for us,” she said, then without so much as a goodbye to Trusting she walked out. The second she left, I felt the darkness lift.

“Are you okay Dani?” Trusting asked. I must have looked ill.

“I’m fine, I haven’t had my blood cocktail yet,” I lied. She nodded.

“Do you want me to take you to the cafeteria?”

“No, I’ll go on my own. Thank you,” I replied and walked towards the door.

“Dani,” she called out after me.

“Yes?” I asked. She seemed to contemplate something.

“Be careful please,” was all she said, and I wondered if she knew where I had really been. If she did, she didn’t tell Deadnus, which I was certainly grateful for. Maybe I did have an ally at Baritone High School after all.

Copyright © 2021 C. Henderson; All Rights Reserved.
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This story is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, organizations, places, events and incidents either are the product of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.

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Chapter Comments

My suspicion was correct about Dani's power. He is the most powerful of all the Specials. It makes me curious why Vinicus never told him or explained how to practice his gift. He has a lot of make up work to do, but plenty of motivation. I don't believe Vinicus would have gone along with this idea of treating Dani like property, so we already have one suspect in his death, the State itself.

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10 minutes ago, drpaladin said:

It makes me curious why Vinicus never told him or explained how to practice his gift.

Yep, you were right about his power. And good question! 🤔 

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I suspect that Dani does not actually require training per se unlike the other specials; he appears to need a motivation to realize his potential. Avenging the death of Vinicius will be his motivation. Vengeance can be precise or sloppy - collateral damage is likely. 
 

Similarly, Vinicius may have provided him with “training” as it appears that Dani has the ability to revisit previous encounters and can see albeit limited at this time into the future. His “trainings” were likely meant to ground him as beings or entities that are extremely powerful can be corrupted by the powers themselves. As Vinicius was neutral himself, he likely intended the same for Dani to maintain order.
 

 

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2 hours ago, J.El said:

Similarly, Vinicius may have provided him with “training” as it appears that Dani has the ability to revisit previous encounters and can see albeit limited at this time into the future. His “trainings” were likely meant to ground him as beings or entities that are extremely powerful can be corrupted by the powers themselves. As Vinicius was neutral himself, he likely intended the same for Dani to maintain order.

That is a beautiful theory, thank you for sharing 🙏🏼  

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I was getting further behind with this story, so I went back to chapter one and binged through this chapter in one sitting, except for a lunch break. I had forgotten how much I liked Dani and his story! Reading several chapters at once was exciting! Your writing just flowed, and I got drawn in more with each chapter! I have a bunch of questions, but I'll just say I am no longer certain who are the bad guys. I can't wait for the next chapter! Maybe Dani will totally lose his calm and flatten everyone... Thanks for sharing this wonderful story! (Think hypnotic whispers, "More. Quickly. More. Quickly.")

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38 minutes ago, JeffreyL said:

I was getting further behind with this story, so I went back to chapter one and binged through this chapter in one sitting, except for a lunch break. I had forgotten how much I liked Dani and his story! Reading several chapters at once was exciting! Your writing just flowed, and I got drawn in more with each chapter! I have a bunch of questions, but I'll just say I am no longer certain who are the bad guys. I can't wait for the next chapter! Maybe Dani will totally lose his calm and flatten everyone... Thanks for sharing this wonderful story! (Think hypnotic whispers, "More. Quickly. More. Quickly.")

Haha thank you so much, that means a lot! Glad you went back and did all that reading 😊  Time is the most valuable resource, so I certainly appreciate you giving me so much of yours. I expect that, barring unforeseen circumstances, next chapter will be out this weekend 🙌🏼

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Yeah. It was pretty obvious that Dani is the overpowered special. The ability to manipulate energy directly in a general sense? Is basically reality alteration at a basic level. Especially if matter/energy conversion is occurring, which appears to be the case. In any event, I actually don't care that much about Dani's powers. I'm much more interested in his relationships, and when he's going to realize that he has all the power.

They need him, not the other way around. If he started throwing his weight around rather than letting people shit on him? There wouldn't really be anything anyone could do. The only leverage people have over him is leverage he lets them have.

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5 hours ago, Nightlit said:

They need him, not the other way around. If he started throwing his weight around rather than letting people shit on him? There wouldn't really be anything anyone could do

Hahah that's very true! Let's see if he ever comes to realize that. 

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