Also Comes in Strange
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Title: Awakening to the Dark
Author: Tania
Rating: PG-13
Summary: There's a reason Darla craved the view.

She'd awoken on a boat. The ground beneath her was slick with the remnants of fish innards and the fisherman who had caught them. She recoiled at the smell, unable to make out any sort of bearings as they floated across the night sea. She had no concept of time, she could have been dead for days or weeks. Nothing made sense, yet everything did. The thoughts of mortality and hatred that had filled her final days now gave way to hunger and something else, an unnamed power growing within her body. Superiority.

Darla climbed the galley stairs in a slow steady motion. She knew her legs were rising beneath her, lifting her, but the motion felt much more fluid than ever before. She no longer walked; she glided. There was no word in her vocabulary for the need that drove her, but she knew she must rise to the small boat's deck. A distant sound mixing with the splashing waves guided her from the dark below to the dark above. Scent soon joined the sounds that pulled her to the boat's starboard, the faintest tinge of blood, more human than the fish at her feet, but less human than the blood that splattered the loose weave of her gown.

The chill air of the open deck felt heavenly against her skin. Instinct told her she should clutch to her shawl, finding an open fire for warmth, but almost as soon as she began the motion she realized she felt none of the cold. She continued to walk towards the sounds and scents pulling her, trying to cull her prey from the corpses piled three high around her. After a moment's searching, she found a man, terrified mutterings filled her ears as she neared, and suddenly she was aware of another body beside her.

"Darla," the man said. She looked upon him harder, squinting to make out his features in the dark, recognizing him as the priest who had promised her the chance to outwit the god of her patrons.

"Is that my name?" she asked, returning her stare to the man crawling across the deck, crying as he tried to lift himself to the side and cast himself into the ocean's roiling waves.

"It is now, a name that will be remembered by many a human over the centuries."

She nodded as though a name were of no consequence and turned her full attention to the fleeing man, ignoring the monster at her side for the moment. Stalking towards him, she crouched to the ground, running a hand over his cheek. "You need not fear."

The man looked up at her, his eyes showing her something she had never seen in a man…pure revulsion. There was none of the lewd gleam men had made in her presence for as long as she could remember, and suddenly she felt a passion well in her that she had never experienced. She bolted upright, grabbing the man by the neck, choking off his scream and pulling him to standing and then some, raising him until his legs dangled beneath him.

"You know what to do," the demon said from somewhere behind her, closer than his otherworldly voice would have suggested.

She turned her head briefly, staring at his teeth as they glistened in the moonlight. "I've never needed anyone to show me what to do with a man," she said with a smile. With that, she lowered the man until his neck was close enough that she could feel the subtle vibration of his pulse tremble over her lips. Biting deeply, she sliced across his throat until nothing came from him but the burbling sound of blood foam rising to meet her tongue just as the waves rose to meet the sides of the boat, spraying the trio as they acted out their macabre scene.

Once the man had nothing left to offer her she chucked him over the side of the boat, an unceremonious splash the last sound his body made on earth. She looked over the expanse of sea, waves shining their tips like fangs under the evening's final moon rays.

"You feel guilt," the demon said, coming to lay a hand on her shoulder.

"Guilt," she said, rolling the word on her tongue as she wondered if that was the emotion welling inside her. "No, nothing of the sort," she decided.

"Then what do you search for?"

"A sight that shines as brightly in the night as much as day," she said before making her way back to the stairs and descending into the galley below.

"A view?" The master asked himself incredulously, looking to the empty deck for someone who found the idea as absurd as he did. Finding no-one, he took to the helm, steering them towards the northern coasts, laughing at how very much his dear one still had to learn.


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