Ronnie and Olina passed through the final portal and were in the world he originated from.They were planning on having kids soon and this was the last thing he wanted to do with her before they started that chapter of their lives. He would love to bring his kids one day aswell but he wanted to first experience it with the love of his life, showing her everything he had adored about this place. He just knew his lioness was going to love this place “wow, the air smells so much fresher here. I love it” He chuckled “yeah, sometimes I forget how polluted your world is, especially compared to mine. We try very hard here to harm our planet as little as possible”
Olina knelt down and felt the grass “Oh my goodness, how is it so soft. It feels like a blanket” He knelt, loving how she noticed small details like that. His beautiful, smart, observant Olina. He followed her around as she took in the world with absolute amazement. He didn’t stop letting her lead until she grew hungry. “want to try and eat with an old friend of mine? I’d like to see if he still lives here”
They walked hand in hand at a slow pace, Ronnie giving her time to take everything in. She stopped him every time she saw something interesting and he would just smile and explain an insect or plant, enjoying her curiosity. She was really the most beautiful creature he had ever laid eyes on. Her smile gave him butterflies and her joyous laughter made his heart stutter.
He let out a happy sigh. “I love you, Olina.”
“I love you too.”
When they arrived at his old friends house a look of confusion washed over Ronnie’s face and he stopped in his track, not coming a step closer to Nollaig’s home “what’s wrong baby?”
“This is a peaceful world yet I feel strong protective magic on his home.”
“Will we get hurt if we move closer then?”
“Maybe” he let her hand go “wait right here, don’t come closer even if I’m hurt”
“Ronnie” she said it oddly, half concerned have reprimanding. “I have to test it”
“try calling his name. Maybe he’ll be able to hear you”
“Okay, I’ll try that first”
“Nollaig!” Nothing so he tried again “Nollaig!” he yelled it louder this time and still nothing. Ronnie approached and it was then the door flung open. “Run inside, now!” Ronnie and Olina ran in and he slammed the door behind them “what’s wrong?” Ronnie asked urgently. “sorry it took me so long. I should have just answered you. I was changing the magic to let you and her pass. Your mate right? It feels like it, you too have a strong connection”
“Yes, should I have not brought her here? Your house shouldn’t need protection”
“Things have gone bad in your absence dear friend” He sighed before continueing “I hate her first impression of this world will be so bad. It really is…well…was a wonderful place. New people arrived in our world, we welcomed them, celebrated their decision to stay but we have learned much too late they weren’t coming as friends. They were scientists of the worst kind. They came to develop disease to cripple worlds. We were their Guinea pigs Ronnie. They released something that is turning us all into monsters. It starts out as you feeling intensely ill, ill like you might die and then you lose all your morals, everyone runs around on all fours, hissing, screeching and carrying on like they’ve forgotten their language. I don’t know why I’m not sick, especially because I have not seen a single other soul thats okay. I’m too scared to leave my home unless I have to. You should take her home while you can. I would come but I’m terrified I’m carrying it at this point. I couldn’t do this to another world”
“If you were sick, I’m sure you would already be showing symptoms.” Ronnie said. “I should get Olina out of here.”
“I’m not leaving you.” Olina replied worriedly.
“You have to, you could get hurt.” He stroked her cheek. “If I lost you, it would kill me baby.”
“It’s better if she stay inside. Some of them might kill her and I don’t know where those scientists are.” He rubbed his temples. “I’m so sorry, I wish I could have kept you away.”
“This isn’t your fault.”
“Ronnie, we have to help him, help these people.”
“How? I haven’t seen those bastards and going too far is dangerous.” Nollaig replied.
“Every good scientist develops a vaccine right? I mean what if they accidentally ingested the disease or something.”
“where would we even begin to look?” Nollaig asked, seemingly feeling absolutely defeated. “I don’t know but I’m not a hide type of woman. My parents raised me to fight people like this. They’ve told me so many stories of their lives before me and I’ve seen them do impressive, heroic things. I will live up to my parents legacy with you two by my side. Help me help your world Nollaig. You’re more help than Ronnie. He’s been living in mine a really long time. Have you even left?”
“See, I need you to be brave with me.” Nollaig looked at Ronnie “you always did know how to pick women”
“I’ve never been more proud of a mate”
“Alright, I just can’t at all think of what we should do first”
“You don’t know at all where they even might be”
“I know where they were given to live. We can start there I suppose. I’m sorry but I really don’t know much on what we should do”
“We’ll find them, we have to.”
“I’m going to keep my home safeguarded just in case.” He replied.
Nollaig double checked the safeguards, making sure they would allow all three of them in if they had to run. “Alright, everything’s ready.” They exited his home slowly, all of them keeping alert. “If anything happens to me, if I go crazy, please run back here and lock the door.”
“You’ll be fine.” Olina said. “And if not, then we’ll just tie you up and pitch you in the closet.”
“You’re quite stubborn.”
“It’s on of the many reasons I love her.” Ronnie said as he took Olina’s hand.
“I’ll be less jittery if we talk. How long have you two been mates Olina?”
“almost eleven years”
“Jesus Ronnie, why did you wait so long to bring her?”
“There’s no reason in particular. I mean, I suppose it’s because she works so much, on her own and with her parents. Olina is as smart as she is beautiful. She would have come if I asked but I never felt like pulling her away from her passions. I finally brought her now because we want to start a family. I wanted her to experience this place before we’d have to chase kids around it.”
“It breaks my heart you’re getting this sort of impression Olina” Nollaig said and she said “I’ll get to enjoy it when we fix things” They walked a bit further and Nollaig asked “so you weren’t always a vampire right Olina?”
“No, I was mugged and one of our friends did this to save me.”
“So originally human, that’s what I thought”
“My parents were changed too so I wouldn’t have to ever lose them”
“And they do this sort of thing for a living?”
“Sort of. They investigate anything weird. Their first job together was catching some guy trying to sacrifice a virgin. Mom said it was pretty exciting, dad said he nearly had a heart attack.”
“Why is that?”
“Mom got stabbed.” He gave her a questioning look. “It wasn’t bad, she’s pretty tough. The guy who did it was a nut case, but my mom wasn’t about to let him hurt some innocent girl. My dad says I’m a lot like her.”
“Which is the highest of compliments.” Ronnie added. “Maybe after we’ve resolved all of this we can bring them here as well.”
Nollaig wished he could be as confident as them in the fact everything was going to turn out okay. Nobody in their world had been able to stop these people and as far as he knew he was the only one here when the plague hit that was still normal. Ronnie did seem to have a hint of worry but Olina, it was like the problem was no more significant than a stubborn jar lid you just have to try a bit harder to work off. She was something, obviously a good match for Ronnie. Olina continued talking about her parents and the work she has done for different museums until both Ronnie and Nollaig quickly and protectively drew closer to her. She could hear it, the inhuman sounds coming their way though she had no doubt it wasn’t an animal heading their way.
The man who came walking out looked crazed. He was covered in dirt and even had a few bloodstains on what was left of his clothes. His hair was a mess and he had his teeth bared. Olina could see that he had healing cuts on his right arm from what she guessed were claws. He suddenly came to a stop, sniffing the air. “Don’t move.” Nollaig said under his breath.
They both nodded and watched the man as he moved around then walked off. They all let out a sigh of relief as they continued on, going slow, listening and watching for more people. When they arrived at the house where the scientists had been staying, Ronnie tried the door. It was locked and he took a look around then slammed his shoulder against it, breaking it open.
It didn’t look like they lived there anymore but honestly, why would they. Anybody left sane would look for them here. Anybody still sane would of course be intensely angry at them. They looked around, hoping to find notes or anything that would help but these people were smart and not a one of the three of them found anything particularly helpful. “damn it”
“It’s okay Ronnie”
“Do you have any other ideas Nollaig?’ Nollaig ran a hand through his hair, obviously stressed and frustrated. “what better place to hide than Knope Valley” Ronnie nodded “lets head that way then”
“I don’t mean to sound like I’m taking things lightly, but why is it called that?”
“It was actually named after the guy who discovered it, though it did turn out to be a bit ironic. It’s beautiful down there, but during the spring it’s used as a mating ground for some of the wildlife and can be very dangerous.”
“So make sure you don’t wander off love.” Ronnie said as he held onto her hand.
“I promise to stick to you. My parents would kill me if I took risks.”
“I think they are well aware at this point they got the curse of their children being just like them.” Olina laughed “Yeah, but they wouldn’t have me any other way” As they walked on Nollaig said “I wonder why there are so few roaming at this point…do you think they’ve been killing eachother Ronnie?” It was a hard question to ask or even think about. These people, they were close to nearly all of them. “I hope not, maybe they were rounded up for some reason. I mean, I mean, we’ve seen some blood covered areas but for enough killing to have occurred to make things so empty I’d expect more blood. It only rains twice a year here. Has it even rained?”
“Not since we all went mad”
“not we all, you’re fine Nollaig”
“You don’t know that”
“I know, you’re fine” Ronnie said seriously.
When they made it to the valley, they all hid to observe the area before descending down into it. “It’s too quiet.” Ronnie said as his eyes drifted over the valley.
“No birds, no bees, just silence.” Nollaig agreed.
“There’s someone out there.” Olina said.
She pointed. “I can see them moving.”
Both Ronnie and Nollaig focused where she pointed and they could see movement, but there was something off about it. “It’s almost like the impression of someone.” Nollaig said.
“They must be using some sort of cloaking spell or device. They probably don’t want the crazed ones to find them.”
Nollaig felt excitement surge through him though moments later that turned into terror. “Nollaig, what’s wrong?” He stood motionless, his facde unreadable. “Nollaig?” Olina asked?” Ronnie moved so he was between her and his old friend “Ronnie” she reprimanded as a popping sound stopped her in her tracks. It sounded as if his bones were cracking but could they really be? Nollaig started making strange sounds as if he was trying to breath in while talking. “Olina, back up”
“Ronnie, he’s your friend.”
“Nollaig, listen to me, you have to listen to me.” Ronnie said.
Nollaig let out a pained screamed as he dropped to the ground, his fingers gripping the grass. A tail sprouted from his lower back and his face started to contort, his teeth bared. His nails grew into claws and his hair grew out and down his back. “What’s happening?” Olina asked.
“It’s a partial shift.” Nollaig roared and sprung at Ronnie, hitting him hard and taking him to the ground. Ronnie managed to kick him off, sending him rolling. “Nollaig stop, fight it. I don’t want to hurt you my friend.”
Olina felt the same. She knew how to fight, her parents and Ronnie had made sure of that after her attack, but she really didn’t want to have to harm Nollaig. He was a good man, she could see that. He ran at Ronnie again and she looked around for anything she could use as a weapon. There were plenty of large stones and she quickly picked one up, running at him as he took Ronnie to the ground again. The first blow didn’t immediately take him down and he swiped at her, slashing her shirt open and scratching her abdomen. The second made him sway and then slump forward unconscious.
“Is he…did I…”
Ronnie pushed Nollaig off of him and checked his pulse. “He’s alive, just knocked out.” He got up. “Are you alright?”
“Fine, just can’t believe that happened.” She dropped the rock.
“You should have let me handle it, he hurt you.”
“It wasn’t his fault and they’re not deep. Why would someone do this to him and the others?”
“I don’t know, but I’m going to find out after we lock him up somewhere safe. I don’t want one of the others coming along and hurting him when he can’t defend himself.”
“Okay, but why do you think it took him this long to change?”
“well we havent asked him yet precisely how long this has been going on. Maybe they’ve released something else, maybe something stronger or maybe his magic was protecting him. He’s incredibly powerful. I really want you to stay away from him until we’re sure he’s normal” Ronnie still knew his world like the back of his hand and took him to a sort of near place that he had worked at as a teenager. Ronnie locked him in the back room “Nobody with enough sane thought to unlock the door should be able to get to him”
“what if something tries to break in”
“There’s a lot fo what ifs Olina. We just need to hurry and hope nothing happens. He’s an extremely important friend to me. I would be devastated to lose him, especially when I chose for so long not to come back and see him”
“Do you think his head will be okay?”
“The most he’ll have is a headache and probably a thank you. Things could have gone much worse. I really didn’t want to have to kill him.”
Ronnie poked his head out the front door, listening and sniffing, his eyes examining every shadow for anyone who might be waiting there. He took Olina’s hand and pulled her out, gesturing for her to stay as low as possible. “We should try following whoever was in the valley.” She whispered.
“I agree, just stay alert at all times and if you even get the hint that some chemical has been used then get out of there and head back to where we stashed Nollaig.”
“And if anything should happen to me, if by chance the poison or drug or whatever it is is extremely fast acting, you run from me and don’t look back.”
“I mean it, please, for me. I’d carry guilt my entire life if I hurt you, even if my mental state was altered at the time” Olina sighed, deciding this was one of those times that she shouldn’t be stubborn “Okay Ronnie but I’ll only run if you leave me no other choice” Relief washed over Ronnies face as he gently stroked her cheek “thank you”
“Well we can talk about choices later. Right now the people you care about need us and we’re one person down” They returned to the valley and wasted no time rushing toward what they thought might be a vail to hide either the still normal people or the crazed ones or maybe both somehow. All Ronnie knew was that this world was far too densely populated to be as empty as it seemed. They suddenly felt like they had slammed into a birck wall. Ronnies heart leapt with fear as he checked Olina “I’m okay baby”
“fuck these people” she let her fingers run through his hair “Shhh, you almost never cuss. Calm down”
“This was supposed to be fun and romantic. You were supposed to meet my friends and family…you…I hate this. I hate them and I mostly hate you’ve been hurt so much today”
“I’ve already healed from Nollaig”
“That doesn’t matter”
“It does Ronnie. Don’t let them make you angry. Keep that amazing mind clear so we can take them down”
“I just want this over and done with, I want them brought to justice and I want whatever chemical the released reversed now.”
“Ronnie, take a breath baby, please. We’ll fix this, just breathe for me.”
He sighed and hugged her, brushing a kiss over the read spot on her forehead and nose. “Sorry, this is just so frustrating.”
“I know, but we’re on the right track.” She moved out of his arms and held out a hand, letting it touch the invisible wall. “I think it was a trap of some sort that we triggered when we came down here.”
“Is it the same thing you saw from the top of the hill?”
“I don’t think so. I mean the thing I saw was moving away from us. I think this was just to stall us.”
“so we’ve got their attention I suppose” she sighed and looked into his eyes “I know magic was never something you used a lot of. At least the magic you use intentionally. You can get us through this wall, I know it” He nodded, he would do it using all the need stirring in him to punish these people for coming to his land just to hurt it. It was their custom to always welcome guests. He knew the lavish party they were thrown, he knew everyone had been nothing but kind and welcoming. They hadn’t deserved this and these people would come to regret taking advantage of his brothers and sisters. Olina watched silently, feeling something powerful stir in the air. It made the hair on her arms stand on end and moments later Ronnie roared, letting that lion in him release its war cry as the wall came down and they could proceed.
“I can smell someone.” Ronnie said as they moved quickly across the valley. “Male.”
Olina shot him a glance, seeing that his pupils were dilated, almost completely covering the iris. The lion was hunting and the scientist was its prey. Olina looked ahead, seeing that blur of movement again. It was definitely a person. “Ronnie.”
“I see it.”
He sprinted, another roar filling the silence and startling the person ahead of them. He pounced, hitting whoever it was in the back and sending them rolling. Olina heard a crackling sound like electricity and watched as the person shimmered into view, their device malfunctioning after being hit so hard.
Ronnie kept him pinned “where is the rest of you?” his lion roared again and the man shook, giving away his team right away like the spineless lowlife he was. In case they needed more information from him Ronnie knocked him out and handed him to Olina so he’d be free to attack anyone he needed to. She was more than strong enough as a vampire and passed out he couldn’t hurt her. “he was telling the truth” Ronnie said as they arrived at a building Ronnie had never seen before which made it fairly new since Ronnie had known every inch of his world. “yeah, theres quite a few people here”
“Just the scientists” Ronnie said with frustration “we’ll find the others Ronnie” He worried they might not be alive or still here in this world to find.
Ronnie grabbed the man from Olina and slapped him so he groaned and slowly opened his eyes. He opened his mouth to scream and Ronnie grabbed his throat. “If you want to live, you’ll keep your mouth shut.” He snapped his mouth shut. “Good, now how do we get in there?” He pointed at the building and the scientist slowly turned his head.
“Spit it out.”
The scientist whimpered and reached into his pocket, pulling out an I.D. card. “Sc…scan at the front door.”
“You’ll be coming in with us, just in case.”
Ronnie handed him back to Olina. “Stay close.”
They were soon inside and spotted near immedietly by a young man who looked like he was probably in his early twenties. Ronnie silenced him before he could so much as yelp and they hurried on. It was odd for Olina to see Ronnie this way, so filled with hate and anger. She didn’t blame him but he was always so gentle and sweet. This was like looking at a whole different person. She put herself in his shoes though. These were people he cared about, people he loved. If somebody hurt her family like this her blood would boil just as violently.
“Which way?” He asked their captive.
“The cure and whatever asshole is in charge.”
He pointed and Ronnie turned right, letting his senses flare out as far as they could go. The security guards they came across were so startled by Ronnie that they didn’t even have time to call out before they too were incapacitated. The room he was looking for had a large observation window and inside a few people in white protective gear working with chemicals. The door was locked and he could see a card reader next to it. His eyes moved back to their escort and he flinched. “My card, my card.”
“You’ve been most helpful.” He knocked him out and Olina lowered him to the ground then he slid the card through the reader and it beeped as it unlocked.
Olina followed Ronnie in, letting him lead but staying close to help him fight if she needed to. “what’re you doing in here?” A man just a bit taller than Ronnie asked. He had that look about him that told Ronnie he was in charge ‘The question is what are YOU doing here. This is my home, these are my brethren that you’ve done this to. They welcome you with open arms and endless generosity and this is what you do” Olina grew concerned about what Ronnie might do when the man dared to liughtly chuckle “You world has been asking for it for centuries. We didn’t have the money or much of the means to develop our weapons. Fortune shown upon us when we heard of this place. That any newcomers were welcomed and seen that they were taken care of here. They are why we were able to do this. They made sure we had food, saw to any need if we asked for help. We couldn’t have asked for a better place to work, a better place to test”
Ronnie clenched his fists and bared his teeth. “You bastards, how dare you take advantage of my people.” He took a step forward and the scientist picked up a syringe.
“Come on then, you can be our control subjects.”
Ronnie lunged at him, causing the other scientists to flee. They wanted no part of the beast in their midst. Olina wanted to make sure Ronnie didn’t go to far, but she could let the scientists escape. They needed to face justice. She had to trust that her mate wouldn’t kill without having too.
When Ronnie rushed at him the scientist tried to inject the Pixiu but it was cast away, falling hard to the ground and rolling. Olina gave the people she was blocking inside a death glare, hoping they realized she’d break their hands if they so much as looked like they were going to pick it up and try to help who Ronnie was fighting with. Olina felt relief when the scientist was finally pinned down and weakened beyond any hope of forcing his way back up “I want the antidote right now or my wife will start filling your scientists one by one” He wouldn’t really make Olina do that but he was hoping he might care enough about at least one of them to comply. One of the women near Olina squeaked then said “it’s in the cieling. Three rows of tiles from the door at the far left end”
She didn’t want to die and what had been regretting what they had done for a few weeks now. Olina knew Ronnie shouldn’t let go of the now furious looking man underneath him so she chanced them not being frozen in fear to run over. It was precisely where the woman said it was “how does it work?” Olina asked the woman. I…I can show you”
Olina looked back at Ronnie “Keep him down or knock him out so you can watch the rest of the people. I’m going to let her show me” Ronnie was scared to let her follow this woman anywhere but he knew he had to trust Olina.
Olina could see that the woman was terrified, her entire body shaking as they headed up to the roof of the building. She didn’t blame her. “So it’s air based.” The woman said when they were finally standing outside again. She sat the canister on the ground then pushed a button on the side and stepped back. “It’s fast acting so…so you can tell that guy with you he doesn’t have to kill us.”
“He’s not killing anyone unless he has to.” The canister popped open and a hissing sound could be heard as the invisible gas was let lose. “This won’t harm me or Ronnie right?”
“No, it’s safe.”
“How could you people do this?”
“I…I just thought we were doing research, but…but once we got here, we started experimenting on the population. I felt terrible, but you saw our boss, he’s not exactly a good guy.”
“Where did the other Pixiu go? Did you take them?”
“We had to contain them. There’s this cave that we built cells into, they’re all there.”
“Ronnie is a good guy. He’d never kill anybody if he wasn’t forced into it.”
“He our boss he’d have you start killing us”
“He didn’t mean that. He was bluffing”
“You know that?”
“yes, especially because he said I’d do it. He wouldn’t put something like that on me. I’ve never killed before and I’m not ready to do it for my first time. I hope I never have to” They both stayed up there until it was all released and Olina followed the woman back to where they were. Ronnie was sitting in the center of the room, everyone knocked unconscious “things got out of hand. He doesn’t know when to stop. Nobody is dead though” Ron explained.
“she told me where the Pixiu are. She can guide us. She regrets what’s been done, we don’t have to worry about her” Ronnie stood “guide us then but you will not walk beside Olina. I’ll be in the center” He said practically glaring at her. The woman moved so she’d be at his side and they all walked out.
“Thank you for not killing anyone.” Olina said softly as she ran her hand soothingly up and down his back.
“I wanted to, but I couldn’t greet you with blood on my hands.” He glanced at the woman on the other side of him. “What’s your name?”
“What was your angle here Robin?”
She looked at her feet. “There wasn’t supposed to be an angle. I…I thought we were coming here to research. That’s what he said, it was for research. We were going to take samples, study the people, that’s it, but…but he lied.”
“You couldn’t fight back?”
“I wanted too, but he would have killed me or injected me with something. He’s messed up like that, I just didn’t know it until we had settled in.”
“How long until everyone is normal?”
“It has to spread through the air, but once it hits them it’ll be almost instantaneous.”
They got to a safe place near enough for her to use a remote to open it and waited as they all slowly went back to their true selves. Ronnie grabbed his wifes hand and hurried to them, eager to see how they were feeling and let them know they were safe now. Another one of his old friends saw Ronnie and ran to hug him “what’re you doing here? Did someone send for help?”
“No, this woman here is my wife. We want to start a family and I wanted her to see and experience where I’m from before we would have to do this with kids to chase”
“It;s nice to meet you..”
“Olina, I’m Todd” Once Ronnie had gotten everyones attention and brought them up to speed they started talking about what to do with the scientists. “we could imprison them in the same cave they shoved us in?” was a suggestion that everyone seemed to be able to agree on. “but for how long?” a woman asked and they decided a year for every month they had done this to them. They would also find a way to destroy what had been created with Robins help. She didn’t know how but she would figure out a way. She knew they deserved at least that much from her. Doing that earned her being spared the punishment the others would receive.
They moved everyone in the cave and had it sealed again before the scientists were even awake then set Robin up in the same lab with a few people that would watch her to make sure she was doing what she said she was. Next on Ronnie’s agenda was finding his friend and letting him out.
Nollaig was conscious when they got there and let out a groan as soon as he was untied and able to set up. He grabbed his head, feeling a slight lump there. “Sorry.” Olina said. “I had to hit you.”
“It’s alright, I told you two I might pose a threat. I didn’t even know I was infected, I mean I suspected, but I didn’t know for sure.”
“Apparently it was an airborne toxin.”
“I’m surprised it didn’t effect Ronnie.”
“He hadn’t been breathing it in as long I guess.”
Ronnie helped him to his feet. “The point is everyone’s okay. We found the others and rescued them and those scientists will be serving time.”
“With the exception of Robin.”
“One of the scientists. She’s actually not a bad person.” Olina said. “So maybe don’t be too mad.”
I trust your judgement. Lets just get everything in order again so you can do what you came here to do with your wife” Ronnie nodded and in a few days everyone was going about their regular lives and Ronnie was taking Olina to see all his friends and family. He enjoyed showing her off and seeing how well she got along with everyone. Nearly every Pixiu they talked to about kids was excited for them to come back with their children. Olina loved it there, she enjoyed it so much it took them almost a full month to go home. Her parents may have worried but they had warned them they were going to another world before they left. Upon arriving home the two started trying to conceive right away. Both were eager for children and to return to Ronnie’s world with grandchildren for his parents.
~ The End