Friday, November 5, 2010

Viral n - Before the Hunt

The two guards stiffened when they saw the five Condors walking towards them. The Street Vultures were vicious and cruel, the guards in particular had to be really rotten to watch over the King Vultures Roost. But no one in the Cloud dared to ever provoke one of the Condors.

Condors were a small roost of the Street Vultures that consisted of the most elite. The tests included finding and marking of egg-layers, feathering younglings, and defeating a King Vulture. But their final test was the toughest of all, at least for the Street Vultures, they had to fly.

Flying consisted of making it to the top a large building chosen by the King Vultures. This task could take over a month to complete, especially if the building was still online. They sent in the top Condors to evaluate the number of a certain object and the candidate would have to acquire every single one. After showing their fearlessness to fly they were allowed into the Condor’s Roost. There was only one rule to being a Condor, the women could not be an egg layer.

The Guard on the right slammed a giant fist, covered with a bent sheet of steel, into the door. It slid up slowly, when it was high enough he slammed a metal rod into place to keep it open. The five of them were greeted in the lobby of the Squatter Apartment, known as the King Vulture Roost, by a mangled female. The lead Condor, known as Ash followed closely by her twin brother Blood, handed her signal over to the girl. She was so dead inside from the horrendous tortures that she didn’t flinch at their site. She shuffled off to hand the Kings the emblem to announce their arrival.

Moments later the girl came back, returning Ashes signal and stepping out of the way. This showed they were clear to enter. Blood took his place beside Ash and they lead the group into what use to be a meeting room. They stood side by side facing each of the five Death Kings.

Death King Vultures were in charge of the Condors. They were previous Condors that succeeded every mission during their younger days.They relayed all Condor missions and punishments, if needed.

Death King Veridan spoke “One of the Egg-layers escaped with an unfeathered. Go to the Nesting Roost and find out all the info you can to bring them back.” He looked over at Condor Shield, making it very clear “You are NOT to feather the child.” Shield had a twinge of disappointment on his face.

Condor Shield’s training showed just how dubious this Cloud was. He was a member of the Night Shield Cloud that was sent to infiltrate the Street Vultures. It wasn’t too long before he was discovered, but instead of killing him they made him go through the Condor training. His talents far exceeded their expectations. He didn’t hesitate the marking, he easily beat the King Vulture, and his flight almost beat the record time. The one test he refused was the one that turned him, feathering. At first they bound and forced the children on him for a week. It twisted his soul and he started to enjoy it. Now it was all he wanted, but he was kept on a very tight leash.

They left without another word. Waiting just outside, the guard removed the metal pole and let the door slam down. Ash and Blood led the way, followed by Shield and Sword. The newest member of their team, Record, was probably the brightest person in all the Street Vultures. But he was no less twisted.

Over an hour later they reached the Nesting Roost. As they stepped up to the guard the dying cry of a young boy snapped Shield out of his depressed shuffle. He started to turn for the Feathering House but was stopped cold by Swords stair. The guard tried his best not to look at them as he took his plated fist and smashed it against the door.

They stepped inside and were greeted by the Matron Cow. Most of the Roosts had a slave that would announce the arrival of guests to the master. The Matron Cow was known for killing her slaves and finally gave up on trying to train new ones. Without a word the Condors followed her to the conference room.

A long table with at least twenty seats decorated the center of the room. Four windows, all on one side of the room, fed them light. Almost every building that the Street Vultures had were the same. Squatter Apartments littered the lower parts of almost every state. Used mostly, in the old days, by those who could not afford apartments or those that travelled a lot.

Record stepped to the front of the group and began his questioning. “We’ve been sent to get retrieve your escaped Egg-layer. What is her name and how many marks does she have?”

The Matron knew every detail of every Egg-layer and she answered without hesitation “Her name is Amaya and she was only marked once. The unfeathered she escaped with was her own daughter.”

Record interrupted her “We’ll get to that in a minute. Who marked Amaya?”

Matron, again, did not hesitate “Vulture Raze was her mate.” She expected some twinge of surprise in his face, but it did not change. Though it did cause Ash and Blood to glance for an expression also.

Record replied “Missing left ear, clean cut?”

The Matron just nodded.

His voice held no emotion “Father never changes.” He was silent for a moment, possibly trying to remember if his father ever spoke of her. “Wasn’t she a captured about six years back during a flight?”

The Matron wasn’t shocked by his memory, he was just like his father “Yes, Condor Aethelthryth found her. I believe it was her home before.”

Record needed no more info, he remembered what building and room she was found in. There was little in his life that he didn’t recall. He turned to Ash “Ready to head to the Feathering House”

Shield perked up again at those words, Sword did not dissuade him this time. But he was smart enough to know that she wouldn’t allow him any fun.

The Feathering House was one of the only places in all of the Street Vultures territory that most of the Cloud avoided. From a young age they are taught to be cruel and vicious, but such a place can be too much, even for some of the King Vultures.

They stepped into the guarded building just as a group of unfeathered ran by, a three year old girl ran into Sword, falling backwards. Sword unsheathed her homemade dagger and stabbed the child in the foot. She promptly pulled the blade out, wiped the blood off on the child’s shirt, and sheathed the dagger. The others ignored the horrid squealing from the child as they continued following the servant to the conference room. Shield delighted in the scream the whole way, only wishing he could have been the cause.

The Master of the unfeathered was staring out the window as the Condors came through the door. He was one of the oldest in the Cloud, long gray hair and a tattered old suit. Ash could see that his attention was fixed on two small boys fighting over a ball.

The old man felt her watching too and turned. Instead of catching her eye, he looked at Blood “Your son shows promise even at this age.” His crooked smile pleased to see the smirk on Blood’s face.

Blood spoke “Don’t act too shocked, he’ll be a Condor too.” With that Record stepped to the front and began asking about the missing child.

It took less that ten minutes for them to gather the info. It took another four hours to reach the Western edge of Street Vulture territory. They would start their hunt in the morning and it would not end until they had their prey.