Thursday 21 October 2021

The War of Vengeance - Chapter 1

To prove it is on the way. Here is the first chapter of  "The War of Vengeance"


The engines vibrated and the wind rattled the fuselage. My twitching muscles kept in tune while I held myself steady and tightened up the seatbelt.

We had boarded the plane a few hours earlier and stored our gear in the green webbing along the inside of the plane. We took our seats against the sides and under the storage. The shutters on all the windows were closed to stop the dim light inside from escaping.

Fingers squeezed my knee, and I twisted around to meet Rubys light green eyes. She smiled and tucked her red hair back under her helmet.

“Don’t worry, Jon. You have practised this many times,” she said, shouting above the din of the engines.

“I am not worried.”

“I may not have your psychic skills, but I have seen that look on people’s faces before.”

“Maybe, just a little,” I admitted.

“Stand up and let me check through your gear. It will help reassure you,” she said, her face tinted red from the glow of the jump lights. I unbuckled my seat belt and stood up. She did the same with the top of her helmet level to my chin.

She knelt and checked my boots were fastened up and wingsuit trousers in the correct position. She tugged on the gun holster strapped to my thigh and checked the clip in place over the pistol. She grabbed the parachute straps around my groin and across my chest and yanked them tight.

‘Oh please, she is doing that on purpose. I checked your gear before we left,’ Thorn’s psychic thoughts jumped into my head.


I looked across the dark plane, illuminated only by the red of the jump traffic-lights, to where Thorn sat on the side bench with her human training buddy, Dunk.


‘Thorn, she is just checking my equipment as I am a bit nervous. It is her job. She is supposed to train me and learn from me.’


‘Ha, I am your mentor. Don’t you ever forget that.’


‘Different type of mentor. You know this. You have Dunk to teach you squad tactics and Special Forces techniques and for you to teach him how to fight vampires.’


‘But Ruby is obviously there to annoy me. The red hair and the code name is supposed to remind you of Scarlett. To remind you of being partly human.’


Ruby patted my chest. “Turn around and let me check your parachute and rifle are on properly.”

I turned around and continued to talk to Thorn psychically.


‘This again. You are jealous of her working so close with me.’


‘Not of her, but of what she represents. MI5 are continually trying to get you to join them.’


‘They haven’t asked me to join them.’


‘The actions they have taken infer it, refusing to let you use the formula while on their base, offering you the reversing formula that could start to make you human again. Naming your training buddy Ruby and dying her hair red. All of it is to keep you human and remind you of your past.’


‘Maybe. Do you think I would fall for it and try to seduce her?’


‘No. I don’t. You’re not Ruby’s type. I am.’


‘I know. I don’t think Mary’s MI5 team knows that.’


Ruby patted my back and I spun back around. She checked the helmet strap and stood on tiptoes to pull the goggles off my helmet onto my eyes. She held a thumbs up and I responded with the okay sign. I sat back down and buckled in, and Ruby sat next to me. Directly across the plane, Rip sat with his training buddy, Bradders.

Rip nodded. ‘Is Thorn still in a state about Ruby?’


‘Every day.’


‘Don’t worry. The training is nearly over. This is our first proper mission altogether. Hopefully, this will get us the information we need to take the war to the Turned and Hunters.’


‘I hope so. It has been a long six months training with these guys.’


‘They will need to pass on what they have learnt from us if they are to set up a new Hunters organisation. And we need to focus on practising the control of magic and putting this military training into action,’ Rip said.


‘I agree.’



Six months ago, following our fight with the Turned and the revealing of Cyrus to be South, the Dragan leader of the Turned army, we spent a few days recovering and enjoying the relative peace and quiet. Then a couple of nights later, a private jet flew us to England from the Spanish Air Force base. We landed at a military airfield and then were escorted straight into an army transport helicopter. We flew over the speckled lights of towns and cities, linked by a network of half-lit roads and surrounding areas shrouded in the dark of night.

After a while, a patchwork of dark green fields, forests and mountains replaced the urban sprawl underneath. The helicopter descended into a valley towards half a dozen brick buildings, and through the trees, four houses lined down either side of a fake street.

The pilot radioed through. Floodlights focused into the centre of the camp, and out of the buildings, a flurry of figures appeared, steam rising off their bodies as they hit the frosty night air. The group of soldiers formed a circle, with guns held at their waists but ready to fire. We landed in the middle of the welcoming committee.

The blades kicked up dust and dirt, buffeting the surrounding soldiers, who stood their ground and covered their eyes. To the side of the helicopter, Mary stood next to a line of four soldiers clothed in green combat gear, who stood to attention. Mary had also dressed in military green combat clothes, but her top button was undone and sleeves rolled up, and  she wore earrings and rings.

The engine turned off, and the blades slowed down. The pilot gave us the thumbs up, and we unstrapped and stepped out. We had dressed ready for training in urban grey combat gear borrowed from the Spanish military.

Thorn pulled me to one side. “Be on your guard. Sooner or later, these people will betray us,” Thorn said, smiled over to Mary, and held out her hand. Mary walked over and shook it.

“Flight okay?”

“Fine, not so sure about our welcoming committee,” Thorn said, looking around at the armed soldiers.

Mary shook her head. “They insisted. It is standard practice when soldiers from another country arrive. It’s a reminder of who is in charge.”

“Well, that is pleasant.”

“Please, don’t take it personally. They are scared of your group. This show of strength is to make themselves feel more comfortable.”

“I will try my best. But don’t get any silly ideas about who is in charge. This is an alliance. We agreed on a set of rules. We train you and you train us, and we find a way to work together to defeat the Turned and build a new Hunter’s organisation. The command is fifty-fifty between you and me. We both need to agree on any joint actions.”

“No worries. I understand the agreement,” Mary said and escorted us over to the four soldiers lined up. “Let me introduce you to your training buddies. During the course of your stay, your training buddy will personally look after you here. They will train you in special forces tactics and weapons. In return, you will teach them close combat against vampires and brief them of the Turned history and behaviours.”


“First in our line-up is Captain Ruby. Ruby is not her real name. She was one of the first female entrants in the SAS and has distinguished herself in the field of combat. She is a specialist in combat tactics and strategies. She is the leader of your training buddies and reports directly to me.”

Thorn smiled and stepped forward and held out her hand. But Ruby saluted her instead. “Ma’am.”

“Ruby will be Jon’s buddy,” Mary said.

Thorn glared at Mary. “Are you joking? Ruby with the red hair is Jon’s buddy.”

“No joke. I have matched the buddies to each of you based on psychological profiling. Jon responds well to older and more experienced women, as he has issues with authority father figures.”

“What do you mean, father figure issues?” I said.

They both just raised their eyebrows, and Mary pushed onto the next soldier in the line-up.

The next person was a man, about Thorn’s height, with broad shoulders to a tapered waist.

“This is Dunk. He is an unarmed combat specialist. He is your training buddy, Thorn.”

Thorn nodded and Dunk saluted. “Pleasure to work with you, ma’am.”

“Good. I will look forward to getting close and uncomfortable with you,” Thorn replied and moved on to the next person, another man, shorter with a lean frame and shaven head.

“The next buddy is for Rip. His name is Bradders. He is a specialist sniper,” Mary said.

Rip stepped up to the man and sniffed him. “Garlic doesn’t work.”

He grabbed the man’s crucifix necklace. “Nor do crosses or holy water. Not on us. But on vampires like the Turned, they might.”

Bradders smirked. “Sorry, sir, but aren’t you a vampire?”

“That is enough, Bradders,” Ruby shouted. “Sorry for Bradders. We briefed him before your visit. He thinks he is funny.”

“Ah. The class clown. This is why I have him as my buddy. You think we are the same?”

“No. We were hoping you could wipe the smirk off his face,” Ruby answered, and Bradders straightened up and frowned.

“Lastly, we have Smash. He is a specialist in comms, first aid and explosives.”

Cassius stepped forward, eye to eye with the other man, both at the same height and size. Cassius had to be paired with someone he could respect, as per his profile.

“This little man is for me?” Cassius said.

“Little!” the man replied; his big beard bristled.

“You are at least one centimetre shorter than me,” Cassius said and roared with laughter.

“Or maybe you are wearing your mommy’s high heels,” Smash replied.

Cassius stopped laughing and his eyes turned red. Smash eyeballed him without flinching. Cassius pushed through his fangs and contorted his facial muscles. Smashed stared ahead, unblinking.

Bradders held up his hand. “Miss, can I un-volunteer, please?”

“You didn’t volunteer, remember. You signed a contract,” Mary responded.

Cassius stopped and stared at Smash, then laughed again and patted his hand on Smash’s shoulder. “I like you. We are going to get along just fine.”

“Good. Introductions over, now let me tell you the ground rules. Number one, we don’t want Jon to be using the vampire formula while on the base.”

“What! He needs to complete his transformation,” Thorn yelled.

“We disagree. He is a human, and we would like him to re-think his current path. We are working on a formula that would reverse the transformation. When it is completed, it is on offer for him to try,” Mary said.

“No way. You can’t force him not to take it or use this reversing formula. How are you going to stop us?”

“Thorn, it is okay. I have more than enough power when using Rip’s training. When we leave, I can finish taking it. There are only two injections left. Let’s not turn this into a big issue,” I said.

Thorn growled under her breath. “Fine. We will let you have that one.”

Mary smiled. “Thank you, Jon, for humouring an old friend. Rule number two, everyone is to stop in the one barrack room.”

“No way. We have private rooms,” Thorn said.

“Private rooms,” I repeated, along with Cassius and Rip.

“It would be better for team bonding,” Mary said.

“It is a definite no,” I said, “I let you have the no formula taking.”

“Okay,” Mary replied, and Ruby’s breath streamed out in a sigh of relief.

“Number three, no feeding on any of the humans at the base. We will bring you in blood.”

“Oh please, have some respect for us. I would not treat my hosts with such disrespect. Of course, we will not feed on anyone here unless they ask us to,” Thorn said, and crossed her arms and grinned.

“I don’t care if anyone asks. No feeding on us.”

Rip put up his hand. “Not even if it is part of the training?”

“How is that training for us?”

“Who said it was for you?” Rip said. Cassius laughed again, and I clamped my hand over my mouth to stop myself.

“Yes, Rip. We definitely paired you with the right person. Just to be clear, no feeding. If you want to train us in detecting a vampire hunting for a meal, then please do so, but without the actual biting and blood-sucking part.”

“Are we done with the rules now?” Thorn asked.


“Okay. My turn. Rule four, we train at night, so kiss the daylight goodbye. Rule five, none of these lights better have UV bulbs hidden in the background. Rule six, anyone attacks us, and it will be a full on massacre. Rule seven, don’t call us vampires,” Thorn said and glared at Bradders, who stared straight ahead to avoid her gaze. “Rule eight, we want the wi-fi password with unlimited data.”

Mary nodded along. “I agree to all the above. But the internet access is monitored but feel free to use it. The password is vampires_suck. Oh, I forgot one, rule nine, no seduction or psychic control over the personnel at the base. Remember, we are your allies, not your playthings. We are working on countermeasures to block out psychic interference.”


“Good. Let me show you to your rooms and get you settled in before we start the training.”

Rip coughed. “Excuse me, have you brought the training equipment I requested?”

Mary looked at the helicopter where two soldiers were carrying off crates. “They are unloading it now.”

“You got the good stuff?”

“Yes, we got the vintages and years you were asking for. I hope this isn’t a joke. Thorn has assured me that red wine is essential for your training.”

“Of course, I would not lie to you. But this is Dragan training only. Unless your team would like to learn how to taste test red wine, then I can spare some time.”

Mary headed off to a long, one level brick building. “This way.”

We followed her in and she showed us to a set of private rooms. Thorn’s and my room had a double bed, table, wardrobe, fridge and TV mounted on the wall. A basic army bunk room. Nothing fancy and all painted a dull military grey. The rooms were already prepared for us, and they knew we would refuse to stop altogether in a barrack room. It was just a negotiation tactic. The others all had similar rooms down the same grey soulless corridor.

We didn’t have much night time left, so Rip broke open the crate of red wine and started training Thorn and Cassius on controlling their magic. I assisted Rip by demonstrating how to withhold the natural course of magic to heal my body. Firstly, I cut my arm and prevented the healing and then burnt off the alcohol. It took a few attempts and glasses of red wine before Thorn and Cassius started to prevent the healing. They didn’t adapt to it as quickly as I did.

Rip explained he was the same. Hundreds of years of letting magic find its own way made it difficult to break their natural instincts. In contrast, I only had a few months of bad habits to break. I enjoyed training Thorn for a change and being better than her at something.

The following night, an alarm woke us and our training buddies appeared at our doors.

“Get dressed and meet in the courtyard in ten minutes,” Ruby shouted.

We pulled on our combat clothing and hurried outside. Rip sauntered out five minutes later while lighting a cigarette. Our training buddies were already lined up, and they waved us to stand next to them. At the front, a man stood on a box, flanked by another two men all dressed in black clothes. Once we were all lined up, the man on the box scanned up and down the line.

“Rip, take that cigarette out of your mouth. This is a training camp, not a holiday park.”

Rip took a long drag and slowly blew it out, and then flicked the cigarette onto the wet, muddy ground.

The man continued. “I am your instructor. I will be running your first night’s training program. Tonight, you will pair up with your buddy and compete against the other pairs through a set of physical challenges. Firstly, let’s get your blood pumping.”

 The instructor yelled out exercises and tried to beast us. He soon realised he wasn’t tiring us out. Next, we buddied up and went off in intervals for a run in the forest. Along the route, we went through an assault course, climbed over walls, crawled under wire fences, swam under obstacles, carried each other, and then carried a massive log between us. At the end of the course, they handed us a rifle and we had ten shots at a range of targets. They added the scores up and converted it into time off our run. Rip and Bradders won, mostly down to the shooting at the end.

The next night, Ruby led us in squad formations to perform house clearances down the fake street next to the base. The other Dragans and I watched our human buddies perform it on CCTV, breaking into the houses, covering the entrances and exits, clearing out each room. We then completed a walk through with them.

Thorn asked them to run through it again and if during it, they would allow us to link to them psychically. We could be in the moment and learn a lot faster. After some discussion, they agreed, and we sat down and closed our eyes while our buddies ran through the exercise a few more times. We lived each thought and movement as the squad worked together. After a few runs, we had developed a level of psychic muscle and memory. Next, we ran physically through the exercise close to perfection.

The psychic linkage set the tone for the rest of the training. Whatever they showed us, we were able to live the moment and then repeat. We did the same for them. We showed them how to fight a Turned; we linked them into our thoughts and movements, so they could feel and react the same way.

We accelerated through the training programs and covered everything from weapons training, explosives, comms, high altitude parachute jumps, wingsuits, scuba diving, and hand to hand.

In return, we taught them how to fight vampires, how to detect vampires, the behaviours of a vampire and how to resist a vampire’s powers. Towards the end of the training, we worked out joint battle strategies; how could Dragans and humans fight together.

We also fitted in some Dragan only magic training. Rip continued with his basic drinking training until Thorn pushed him into something more practical. We used it to re-run the assault course, accelerate our healing, block our recovery, and power up our combat skills.

It had been six months of intense training with our buddies, when a call had come in that MI5 had located a target, The Original. He was the first-ever Turned created by Cyrus, the General of his army, and the leader of the Turned Revolution until overthrown by Bramel.

We geared up straight away and soon found ourselves flying over Argentina, wearing wingsuits, parachutes and weapons.


In the plane, the human buddies checked over their Dragan counterparts, who then returned the favour. I stood up to do the same with Ruby.

“No need. I am fine,” she said.

“Come on. You are making me look bad.”

She stood up, and I performed the same checks on her wingsuit, parachute and weapon straps, and then her helmet and goggles.

I sat back down when the jump lights turned from red to amber. Bradders lept out of his seat and hit a button at the back of the plane. The end of the aircraft unfolded down to a ramp, with the wind whistling through the plane, tugging us towards the exit. We all unbuckled and lined up, tensing our muscles to stop the pull to the rear of the aircraft. I put my goggles on and checked the GPS on my wrist.

“Comms links on,” Ruby shouted. I flicked the button on the wire leading to my earpiece.

“Thumbs up if you can hear me,” Ruby said. We all responded.

The jump light turned green, and Bradders turned to us and pumped the air with his fists. “This is when the fun begins.” He spun back and ran out the back, shouting as he lept off the ramp into the night.

“Idiot,” Rip said and walked down the ramp and dropped off the edge.

Smash and Cassius nodded at each other and ran down the ramp and jumped off.

Thorn slapped Dunk on the shoulder. “You first.”

Dunk jogged down and jumped off. Thorn walked backwards to the end of the ramp, smiling the entire time.


‘See you down there.’


On her last step, she crouched down, back flipped into the air and flew away, looking back as the darkness engulfed her.

“Your next,” Ruby said, “as the captain, I always go last to make sure the plane is clear.”

I walked down to the end and leaned forward into a handstand on the edge of the ramp. I held it for a second, lowered down, and then thrust up and out, letting the wind snatch me away from the plane and into the dark expanse.

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