Chapter One

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And with our greed, a great sin was born unto this world

and like Eve to the apple

that sin shall consume us.”

- Caius 8:22

2 P.R. (Post Resurrection)






Humans are losing.

Those aren't exactly the words anyone wants to hear, and thinking them doesn't feel any better. In some ways, saying we're on the brink of destruction is a good thing; it means we aren't gone yet; we're still fighting back. The demons we created three years ago haven't swallowed us whole. But they're trying. And they're winning. And we Hunters the only ones holding them back.

The lakeside town swept out below me, a twisted mass of empty streets and shadowed buildings, all stretching out like a map from my perch atop the old high-rise apartments. Everything was grey, from the roiling sky above to the rain-slicked sidewalks; even the wind was tinted with the metallic mist curling off the lake. The pouring rain had soaked through my clothes ages ago, but I'd stopped paying it any mind. A dark smudge blurred against the horizon, the barest glimpse of towers and walls: the newest and nearest Colony. The very word made my stomach turn. I forced the images it conjured out of my mind, but even after shaking my head, I could still hear the screams. We weren't just losing. We were fueling the army that destroyed us.

I leaned over the edge of the high-rise, stared down at the lake-edged road hundreds of feet below; my heart leaped into my chest as vertigo snaked its way up my throat. I could jump. The words drifted through my thoughts like fog, obscuring everything just for a second. I could imagine it, could almost feel it: the momentary weightlessness at the height of my leap, the sudden connection with gravity. I could see the beauty of my blood diffusing into the puddles, slowly seeping out into the surf...

I shook my head and leaned back. My pulse calmed down just a little bit. I was supposed to be on the lookout, not losing myself to some sick fantasy. Suicide wasn't an option, even if it was much less messy than the other ways I'd most likely die in the next 24 hours. Guys like me didn't really have a life-expectancy.

Closing my eyes, I visualized the Spheres just like I'd been taught ages ago. They pulsed along my spine, five points of whirling energy we used to call Chakras, before we learned how to tap them. My first instinct was to reach for Water—the first Sphere I'd been Attuned to—but that was dangerous. Water was the Sphere of healing, but also of emotions, of regret. And that's a loaded gun when you're sitting on the edge of a high-rise apartment.

I reached deeper, past Water to the Sphere of Earth. It curled in the pit of my pelvis, green and brown and growing. The moment I reached for it, it reached back, twining and blossoming through my body. It rooted me down, down through the steel girders and concrete and asbestos of this twelve-story complex, down into the feral soil far below, grounding me like a root. In that instant, I could feel everything within a mile of the building, was connected to the dust on the decaying sofas below and the rust on the cars piled up just off the interstate. I could feel it all, was a part of it all. My skin hummed with the melody of Earth. It felt like peace.

But there was another, more pressing reason to use Earth. Like I said, I was on the lookout. Earth would let me feel the footsteps of the vampyre army lurking somewhere out there. In theory, at least. Nothing was moving. Nothing save the rest of my troop a few blocks away.

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