What if I told you that humanity is not the dominant species on this insignificant blue dirtball of ours?
Sure, you can laugh at me now, but in the time it took you to read that statement and make the decision in your tiny neural circuits to open your mouth and laugh, someone somewhere in the world just got killed by our natural predators.
Let that sink for a minute. Done? Ok.
Well let me start from the top then. Hi, I’m Vergil. Vergil Redgrave. Not exactly the prettiest name in the world, but it works when you’re on the run from a past life. I’m 22, pretty average looking guy living and working in the nowheresville of Raven City, California off the Atlantic coast of the great ‘Murica. And I used to be one of them.
See, the thing is, while we humans like to pat ourselves on the back every so often for rising above the grime and grind of evolution, we’re not actually the finished product. That medal unfortunately belongs to two species called the Oni and the Angelus. We call them demons and angels, but they like to think of themselves as lightbreakers and lightkeepers respectively.
Yup, they’re real alright, and unlike what the pious would have you believe, they’re totally different from what you’ve heard.
They’ve been around for quite some time. Millions of years, in fact. Engaged in a never-ending battle for supremacy, they used to be the top dogs of the pound until a bunch of monkeys fell out of trees and learnt how to make fire. Thanks to Homo sapiens, what had once been a straight up fight club became a three-way brawl as we quickly outgrew and outfought the competition. The Oni saw us as meatbags, and tried to eat us all. The Angelus saw us as puppets to entertain, amuse and work for them, so they tried to screw us all by “converting” us. We were just running around making lots of babies, cutting and burning down forests, melting down rocks and crafting weapons. The battle dragged on over the ages, and ended up getting recorded in the history books of the religious. There were heavy casualties on all sides, but the fighting kept on, with the only changes being the setting and the stakes.
Then, sometime in the distant past…roughly two millennia ago, give or take, the war stopped.
That’s not to say that there was no fighting. Of course there was fighting, but where there had been open conflict, the battle shifted to the dark alley ways and abandoned buildings in the dead of the night. Like I said before, there were heavy casualties but the ones who took it hard were the former kings of the jungle. The Oni especially had it worse off, what with their crappy reproduction rate and generally low IQ. So, while the Angelus decided to hide behind masks and prayers to continue their side of the fight, the Oni continued to struggle against all oncomers.
That is, until the day one of them found out that by giving their blood to humans, they could produce offspring that could fall under their direct control and still have enough brains and bite to pick a fight with their foes.
And thus, we come to the part where I step in this shitty war.
I’ll save you the sob story; five years ago, an unknown yet powerful drug hit the streets of the States’ eastern seaboard. If you thought meth and cocaine was bad, you should have seen this fella. It was called Onichi, or as we knew it back then, Demon Blood. In addition to making you feel good, it made people smarter, faster, and stronger than before. And best of all, you could snort it in its powdery form or dilute it with water and pretend it was a soft drink while having the effects last longer. It was all the rage back then. No one knew where it came from or who made it, and no one gave a shit anyway. I’d bet ten bucks that if people had known what they were really taking in, they’d have been horrified. And probably puke for like a week for good measure.
But like every drug, it had side effects and boy when the high wore off, you’d be a nervous pasty-faced wreck for the rest of the day. Or until you got your next fix. Whichever came first. And if Krokodil was bad enough, Demon Blood was just outright nasty. See, if you take so much as one little whiff of the magic stuff, you’re hooked. For life. And deciding to call it quits after your first taste meant you’d grow weaker and weaker every day. Your bones grow dry and brittle, your eyes and ears start to fail and your body begins to eat itself from the inside out. Give it a week or two, and if you don’t get another fix, you just turn up as a dessicated, empty corpse.
Oh, and don’t think you’re lucky if you can get a steady supply. It starts off slow at first but the craving will eventually begin to increase, which in turn will cause a spike in dosage. As you consume more and more to stay high, the more the negative aspects of your personality show up and swamp over you, controlling you. Then the changes begin. A sudden appearance of a reptilian scale on the cheek while looking in the mirror one day, perhaps. Maybe a surprising outgrowth of bone on your shoulder or a comment from your date about your longer than usual canines. Little changes, yeah, but they quickly pile up and don’t go away no matter how many times you visit the doc. Eventually they consume you and in helpless horror, you finally understand that it’s the Blood that has done this to you. But by then it’s already too late, and you can only watch as some monstrous caricature of you takes over everything you had.
It happened to a friend of mine once. It almost happened to a troubled, five years younger me. I killed a good friend because of it and got others six foot under too.
The Oni call us borderwalkers; we’re not entirely human anymore but we’re not exactly them too. Angelus just call us the lightless; an abomination by any other name, I suppose. Sure do love their nameplay, those Angelus.They work very hard to kill us at the first opportunity they get, and I don’t blame them really, considering how much more powerful we are than them. Heck if I had the power to go through time, I would go back and put a stake through me back then too, time paradox or no.
I’m pretty sure that irony gods get a good laugh every time I say this though but…if it wasn’t for the Angelus, I wouldn’t be here telling you all this.
Her name was Sara Oaken. Like the rest of them, she was well versed in the masquerade and pretended to be the adopted daughter of an old priest, but was in fact the guardian of our happy little corner of the globe. She was also one of my friends, and at the cost of her life, she stopped the darkness from taking over me by offering her inhuman blood. Somehow, that stopped my metamorphosis and quelled the craving, but could not free me of the taint. My luck, huh? Right.
Long story short; I tracked down the supplier of the Blood in our town to an ancient Oni going by the name Andrei Rasputin. There was a lot of battles, but I emerged the bloody victor and got to burn all of the Onichi he had stocked. I made more enemies that way, but I took them all down. Angelus and Oni alike…and sometimes even humans, much to my regret. I had to lay low for a while, move out of town…change my name even. The urban legend of the “Angelkiller”, the borderwalker who had slain the mighty Rasputin and an Angelian became something of a conversation starter.
But after year or two of hiding, I figured that I had no reason to be scared of them. I could use the rumors and half-truths to my advantage. I couldn’t cure myself of the Blood, but I could use my “taint” to stop others from becoming like me. I didn’t have an army, and I couldn’t fight off all the few remaining Oni on my own or count on the Angelus for support, thanks to my past record. But I could play both sides against each other the way they’ve been doing to us for thousands of years and pick off the pieces that fall out. And who knows? In the process, I could occasionally take down a Blood supplier.
Yeah, not exactly the greatest plan in the world, I know. But there is one thing that every plan should do; work. And this fucked-up plan certainly works for Vergil Redgrave, the Angelkiller. And that’s all I care about, really.