From rooftop to rooftop, it was imperative for a junior vampire to know exactly how to navigate the desecrated city of New Culiacan like the back of their hand. Every tile, every crack, every nook and cranny was to be memorized. Anyone or anything could be hiding anywhere, in the shadow of an alley, in the millimeter of space between a sign and a wall. Overall, paranoia sat heavy like a rock in the stomachs of humanity, the moon always watching above like a giant eye, promising the worst with every beam of light that reflected the Undeadening onto Earth’s once-fresh soils. The moon is never alone in following you, it will follow you through the streets, through cracks and crevices, through pipes, all the way home- there is no rest for beings that are hardly more than cattle to the far superior Immortal races. Little by little, the darkness takes hold of the soul, and hope drains away, as with resistance and strength.
Those who would not submit to the vampires were few and far in between. With fire in their eyes, passion in their hearts, and a will with greater strength than the sun, a blessing in disguise would arrive every so often. To master the Solar Gun was a difficult feat, but not impossible. It had been done before, and it was often done by those who were willing to risk everything to save the planet. Humanoids and canids gathering together in squares, hands around a spark of flame. Children running and hiding, young woman living in such fear of being kidnapped that they were forced to arm themselves on wedding days and birthdays- such terrible things, such cruel things, enough so that any person brave enough could not bear to let it happen any longer.
“This cannot be allowed to pass. We cannot allow this to pass.” Standing up on a table in the middle of a bar, a young man had voiced his thoughts, his disapproval, his distaste for the vampires. Promptly, he was seized, bitten, and left there as an example. A young woman who sat in a corner booth could not bear to look any longer.
It kept happening. So terrible, so cruel. Ellen would be damned if she didn’t at least try to help.
Hands gripping the handle of a motorcycle tightly, a teenage boy- hardly more than thirteen- looks up at the sun, slipping above the clouds, warm and comforting. Something beautiful. In an instant, Sartana knows that he wants to fight for this glory. The Solar Gunslingers lie ahead, base standing tall, though cracked and war-torn with age and time. An orphan like him hardly had something to dedicate his life to. This would be it.
“It’s pretty beautiful.”
“Aw shucks, El’, but I know. I’m beautiful, aren’t I?” Breaking out into laughter, Sartana leans back on the rooftop, putting two hands up to defend his face as Ellen reaches out with a fist. Of course, she’d never hit him out of malice, but she could probably break his nose without even trying. Still snickering, he caught her wrist, though the other one still tugged on his cheek, causing him to whine in pain. “Hey, hey! It was only a joke!”
“Don’t ruin the mood, loverboy.” By the way Ellen smiles, Sartana can tell she’s kidding- thank Sol, he’d rather not make her angry tonight. Promptly, she lays down next to him, arms behind her head to act as a cushion. Ceiling tiles didn’t make for a very comfortable resting place, but the view was enough for them to stay. The moon was high in the sky, but they paid no concern to that. In a rare event, a tiny strip of sun was peeking over the horizon in the dusk, just barely visible. With the stars sparkling above, such a sight was easily hypnotizing to the two. As much as he joked about it, Sartana was just as susceptible to its beauty as Ellen was.
“Don’t worry, I won’t.”
The silence was apparent, though not uncomfortable. If anything, it was rather relaxing. Bugs quietly chirped in the night air, and the atmosphere would’ve been eerie and uncomfortable had it not been for the sound of both of them breathing, finding comfort only in the warmth they found in each other. Dropping one of his hands to the side, Sartana gently combed through a lock of Ellen’s hair, dark and glossy, splayed out on the ceiling in rays like the sun. He looked at her like she was the sun, the moon, and all of the stars- an angel, a work of art, a splendid warrior that he’d give his life for in an instant. (How in love he was. How silly he must look.) By the way his companion grins when she looks at him, he likely does.
“Hey, hey, Sartana.” After a quick hum of response, Ellen pointed upwards a bit more aggressively, mapping a shape with her fingers, delicately and carefully. While Sartana could hardly tell what she was trying to do, he simply watched with fascination. “Look. These stars right here look like...a cat!”
“A cat?” he snickered, inching a bit closer to see from her point of view. “It’s more like...a lion, maybe. Or a big dog.”
“No way. It’s a cat. See, there’s the ears, and a paw, and the face! With a big, dumb, cat smile. Just like you.”
After a short laughing spell, they fell silent once more, and Sartana shifted to rest his head on Ellen’s shoulder. With a satisfied sigh, she ran a hand through his hair, fiddling with the goggles on top of his head and idly running her finger along the crest of his jacket collar. Gently, she pecks him on the top of his head, and he laughs, reaching out to link their palms together. The more his breathing slowed, the more Ellen was sure that he might just be falling asleep on her. Outside.
“Hey, Sartana.” She repeated it a couple times, softly at first, but then slowly louder until he stirred.
Sleepily, he lifted his head in response, rubbing his eyes. Clearly, he wasn’t all too happy to have been disturbed from his comfortable resting spot. “Mm?”
“Can you promise me that we’ll be together until the sun comes up? Next, we’re going after the Earl. And, if-” she paused, closing her eyes- “if...no, nothing will happen to me. Just promise me, Sartana. I don’t want to lose you.”
He pushed himself up by the elbows, expression sad, visibly conflicted. Sartana hardly knew how to answer- slowly, their vampire targets were growing stronger. Last time, he had nearly drowned, and before that, Ellen had almost been taken away. The idea of it made him nervous, and he knew in his heart that nothing could ever happen to her, but… (I don’t want to lose you either.) Perhaps, he might’ve said such if he had the heart to.
Smiling wide, Sartana put a hand on Ellen’s cheek. Someone who knew him as well as Ellen did could easily tell that his eyes weren’t nearly as sunny as they usually were when he smiled, but it was close enough. “Don’t talk like that. I promise, but only because I love you.” He laid his forehead against hers, exhaling softly. “I’ll never leave you. Never, ever. I’ll never let anything happen to you. Not in a million years.”
On their walk home, a figure in the shadows stood to observe the pair, eyes mostly set on the young lady of the two.
The following morning, Sartana would find Ellen’s bed empty.