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Another failed prototype. Yet more time wasted. Time he could've spent guiding his race to something greater.
He threw the wasted product onto the wall of his cave, though his anger had already fled the second it had left his hand. He stared at it's broken remains with nothing but contempt.
"Blast it all to Hell."
Three weeks now he'd been locked in this struggle, three weeks of self isolation within his cave. He was beginning to grow starved, and he knew his clan thought him more than a little mad, if not outright dead by now.
But he could not stop. Not now, nor until he still drew breath. His ambition was too great, and failing that, he was simply too stubborn to give up.
However, before he could back to work again, his keen hearing picked up something in the distance. Footsteps.
Automatically, his hand reached for the curved dagger he hid within his elbow straps, though he still kept his back to entrance, intending to surprise his intruder. Closer, closer, yet closer the steps came. Almost the perfect shot...
His tensed muscles sagged, and he immediately dropped his dagger to the sound of that voice. Something firm yet familiar, warming a part within his heart he had not felt in a long time.
He turned to see the single most beautiful creation he had ever laid eyes upon. Amber eyes stared into his own, framed by luscious white hair and a petite face, fit for one of the goddesses of old. A horn adorned the top of her head, while red markings traveled down her face, an announcement of her proud legacy, as a hunter.
Her body was covered in only the barest of necessities to preserve her modesty, sans several leather and gold bandages. However they hardly took away from the sight. Her symmetrical perfection was laid bare for all the world to see.
Kars did not merely love the woman because of her personality, but because of this very reason. He was not a great dealer in romance, nor was he interested in the slightest in mating and leaving offspring, but the woman reminded him of why he was doing all this.
70,000 cycles had she been walking upon the earth, and yet she looked not a day of it. Whereas other creatures withered and died, claimed in what were a few scant moments in his own species' time, they remained spry until the day they finally met their end.
Untouched by disease, injury or predation, strong beyond any other creatures on the planet, brilliant but never overindulgent. The true masters of nature. Unkillable by any element.
"Why are you here?"
"Is that how you greet your blood partner? I even brought a gift."
A half devoured deer carcass was thrown at his feet. Kars squinted.
"I do no-"
They exchanged a flurry of arguments through their gazes alone, before Kars relented, breathing a sigh.
He grabbed one of the remaining legs, breaking off the mostly bony knee and taking bites out of the meaty thigh.
"So inefficient," she wrapped her arms around his chest, resting her body on his back, her head on his shoulder. "Like a child. Learn to eat properly."
"I prefer this method."
"It is wasteful. If you must take something, take it all. Don't leave it to rot."
"You are awfully frustrated over it."
"I'm a hunter Kars. It is my job to make sure we gather what is reasonable and nothing more," she said, exasperated.
They stood in silence for some time, Kars mostly ignoring his food in favor of the intricate devices in front of him, while she merely fiddled around with his hair, or caressed him. She was certain it bothered him, disturbing his work, which was all the more incentive to do it. She also needed to mark him again.
Born and bred to hunt, scent played a major role in her life, right down to affection. She was displeased to find they'd been separated so long her scent had fizzled away from him. Though she'd also grown to miss his, so not all was bad.
Eventually however, she grew bored, and stretched out one of her arms to grasp a part of the stone instruments.
The tone made her hand recoil a little, though her gaze was steady when she met his.
"I am not going to break it."
"You always say that."
He paused, sighed, but said nothing more. She lifted the delicate-looking thing to her eye, though it's mysteries remained unsolved even to her keen sight and logical mind.
"Let it never be said that you're not reaching but...blood of the gods, you have done something really amazing here."
"Truly?" he asked, and that may be one of the few times she'd ever heard him so vulnerable.
"Or something deeply terrible," she finished with a smirk. Though it quickly faded as something else came into her mind. "I get worried about you."
"This will work," he said simply, tone not inviting any counterargument. Arrogant, ambitious and always to the point. That was what she both hated and loved about him.
"That's not what I'm worried about. You know our tribe. You know all our people. We are not the most open to change. We're creatures of habit, happy to continue as we are. What you're working on...this could mean a shift so fundamental in our species none of us can even fathom."
He grasped her hand firmly, moving from his place on the makeshift worktable, coming to face her.
"Do you trust me Aegles?" the mention of her name drove chills up her spine. But again, her eyes betrayed nothing.
"When you play with fire, you can very easily get burnt."
"I am not playing with the fire, I am stamping it out. I will conquer the Sun. I will free our race of the shackles that imprison it. And no one will stop me."
"I don't want to stop you. But I can't say the same for everyone else," she whispered, freeing her hand and caressing his face with it, while using the other to hold the back of his head, twirling his long, curly hair. "That is what worries me."
"Then stop worrying about it."
She smiled sadly.
"That's rather easy for you to say," she pressed her forehead against his own. His expression didn't soften, but his eyes did, even though by the tiniest bit. She could feel his every breath, hear his every heartbeat.
And then it was gone. They separated, with Kars returning back to his work. Sighing, she made to leave the cave, calling out from behind:
"I'll make sure to drop by so you don't starve yourself to death."
She was sure she didn't imagine the grunt afterwards.
She had been away for another three weeks. Many kills had been sent over by carriers to the tribe.
But now her trip was coming to an end, and she was carrying the rest of the meat back herself. Tens of miles were crossed expertly, all thanks to her acute mental map. At last, she arrived at the dwelling place of their tribe.
Only to find it in ruins. The smell hit her before any of the carnage became visible.
The slaughter fell from her hands, masking the whimper she released.
The pathways were all strewn in blood and bodies. Thick, viscous red flowed like tiny rivers. Gruesome displays of torn organs littered the ground. And at the center of the entire brutal display...
He looked almost serene, even covered in bodily fluids. His eyes were directed skyward, at the cracking dawn.
He snapped his head toward her, and for the first time she knew true fear. Yet her eyes, like always, betrayed nothing.
He in turn, smiled. He smiled.
"What have you done?"
"They wouldn't listen," he said, displaying a curved blade that she only now noticed was stuck to her arm. "So I killed them."
"Ho-how could you?!"
"They attacked first. What I did was culling; exterminating the weak minded fools that cannot handle the future."
"What you did is genocide. Sacrilege," she cried. Her eyes watered, but their gaze: always the same. "How many? How many did you kill? How much death have you wrought for this?"
"Only me, Eisidisi, and two babes remain," with inhuman speed, he appeared right in front of her. "And you."
She tried to step back, but stumbled and fell. Instead of the inevitable slash that would end her life however, Kars offered a helping hand, which she took hesitantly. In his other hand, the completed mask was grasped.
"Join me, Aegles. My creation is not yet perfect, but I assure you, I am closer than ever to figuring out the key: not only to never worry about the Sun again, but to become the true rulers of this world, the ultimate lifeforms."
He pulled her close, resting her lithe body on his own massive chest.
"We could be together, for all eternity."
His free hand delicately rubbed against her cheek, as the knife blade retracted.
"I know you are not like the others. Eisidisi is the same. You were the only two I could ever trust. And now, you're all I have left. Please Aegles."
He offered the mask to her, which she took hesitantly into her hands. She looked at him, then back to the mask, as she slowly inched it towards her face...
A quick flash of light caught his eye, and in less than a second a knife was dug into his throat. Aegles stood with her whole body tensed, instinct honed through thousands of years hunting all manner of beasts, backing away from him. The hand still holding the mask, having concealed the blade, now smashed it to the ground.
"You are a madman. Not even the blood of your own family is thick enough for you to not spill. What lunatic do you think me to follow you? If our entire tribe was just a throwaway sacrifice, what else could suffice to quell your ambition?" she drew in close, hissing on his face. "You can go to Hell, Kars. Once I may have followed your plan, when I wasn't aware of what a bloodthirsty megalomaniac you were. When I..."
She released a choked sound, as tears flowed from her eyes.
"When I loved you. I loved you, Kars. I LOVED YOU DAMN IT!"
Kars sighed, genuinely seeming unperturbed by the knife stuck in his throat, or the blood pooling in his mouth.
"Such a shame."
Indescribable pain shot through her side, and her vision went red for several seconds, as she smashed into the floor. When it returned, she saw Kars approaching, the blade arm extended and now truly aiming for her. He removed the knife from his throat, casually tossing it aside.
"I did love you too, Aegles. At least, what you showed in my mind: the image of an enlightened, superior race just waiting for me, a perfection greater than the one we had. But now, here we are."
Before he could take the final blow however, something strange happened. Aegles was staring directly into his eyes, not intending to let her last moments be spent in submission, when they were covered in shadow. Kars stopped dead in his tracks, attempting to wipe at his eyes, only to fail and fail again to remove the shadow.
"What the Hell is this?"
Aegles saw an opening, as she sprinted away.
"I can still hear your heartbeat."
Yet another thunderous blow struck her side, sending her careening some distance away. She attempted to get up, but found her knees weak after the last impact. Kars loomed right over her, arm blade now drawn directly above her neck.
"Whatever trick this is, it won't matter. Die, as the rest of our weakling race did."
At the final moment however, Aegles smelled burning, as Kars retreated quickly. She looked up to see the Sun having rose in the sky. Confused, she turned to see Kars hiding in the shadow of a nearby tree.
But how was she still alive?
"Curious," he mused, his eyes widened, a glint of the scientist, the explorer, the adventurer side peering through.
At that point, Aegles noticed the cloak of shadow around her, drawn from that of the nearest tree, cocooning her body in protective layer of inky black material.
She rose to her feet, and spared one last stare to Kars, who was practically trapped for the time being.
"Mark my words Kars, one of these nights, you will meet your end. Your ambition will be your ruin."
And so she ran. She had no shame in admitting it. Her tribe, her family, wiped out so easily. That last attack had been one of desperation, of rage. But she could see now that Kars was not at all facetious. She could not do anything for now. This strange ability...it'd given her a chance, and she took it, remaining near anything that could provide a shadow.
Still, she intended to keep her promise. One way or the other.
She looked up from her kill to the sky above.
A shooting star hung there, though most unusually it seemed to be going back into space rather falling down.
But that was not the strangest thing about it. This feeling, deep in her soul...
It was gone in an instant, but she had felt something. Something disturb the very nature of the Earth, now thrown outside it's boundaries. Balance had restored, and a calm aura resided in the air, as if the planet itself was breathing a sigh of relief.
She knew. She did not know how or why or who, but she knew. Kars was gone, somehow, victory stolen from him at his greatest moment of triumph, by someone or something. She smiled, and closed her eyes.
"One of these nights..."
Tonight, was her lucky night it seemed.
Author's notes: This is a story for a friend of mine, though technically I did come up with the concept for him and have now executed it. There is a bit more to this tale, but that's not really relevant as much as Fanfiction goes.
In the meantime, I hope you've enjoyed. This is definitely something else for me, though these one-shots are fun. I should do more of them.
Anyway, that's all from me. Reviews and favs are always appreciated, love y'all, Dome of Bones out.