Despite the cold, or perhaps because of it, Clara had no interest in playing shadow games. The cold wore her down, poisoning her normally good mood. She wondered how long it would take, for a woman in all her glory, to get the right type of attention in this town.
After about twenty minutes of wandering around the back alleys and desolate streets, she heard a dull, and repetitive thumping. In her time, that would have meant a live band playing at some clip joint, but judging by the odours of stale urine and beer, that prospect seemed unlikely.
“Oh just ducky,” Clara said while approaching.
In the distance, she spotted some cheap neon signs that spasmed in and out of existence. As Clara walked out of the shadows, she immediately got the attention of everyone standing near the back door. A group of men who were busy enjoying some rather foul smelling cigarettes. Momentarily, the group questioned the apparition, as though their deepest, and most perverted dreams had come true.
“Dude that bitch naked,” a random man from the peanut gallery said.
As the rest of drunks chuckled, Clara said, “Strike one,” under her breath.
Finally a lone male came forward and said, “Come on guys.”
This was a tall, and muscular man. Although, his face was not acquainted with a straight razor. Dressed in leather, and covered in tattoos, this one looked mean, and pegged him as the alpha of the group. While his words had a sobering effect on the rabble, Clara knew from his shit-eating grin, that he was about to excrete some smart-assed comment from that orifice he called a mouth.
“I’m sure we can all share,” the alpha added.
“Strike two,” Clara muttered. To give him a chance to diffuse the situation, she said “Banks closed boys.”
The alpha burst out laughing at a euphemism that went out of favour with his great-grandmother. While they all joined in, Clara failed to see the humour, instead she cocked her brow, tilted her head, and smirked. She embraced her cockiness, certain of her position, even amongst a numerically superior group of assailants.
“I doubt any of you louts could keep it up long enough to get me warmed up,” Clara said with crossed arms.
One of the men from the peanut gallery managed a cough, but the others were afraid to speak out of turn. One did not need a soothsayer to figure out that she just declared war on a half-dozen bikers. Some were likely armed, but Clara’s patience was running thin. Besides, she was in the mood for a bit of fun.
“Did you hear that boys,” the head biker said. “This whore thinks she has a say in the matter.”
“Are you man enough to try?” Clara taunted.
For some reason, challenging a man’s ego, never failed to get a rise. The alpha covered the distance between them in seconds. Clearly he had no reservations about hitting a girl, since the punch connected and hard. Clara absorbed the impact as though she were a heavyweight boxer.
Clara looked up at the man who was at least a good foot taller than her. She moved her jaw from side to side, then cracked her neck to feel all of vertebrae pop.
“It’s great to be back,” Clara said.
Her entire body felt alive, something she missed dearly in Heaven. Life was more than pleasure, doses of pain were needed to truly appreciate its fruit. Gabriel had mentioned that her powers would be limited, but did not specify how. Her decision to engage this group was a gamble, but there was a need to get an idea on where she stood.
“Strike three,” Clara said as the world slowed down to a crawl.
The alpha’s eyes went wide, while his jaw dropped an inch before going slack. This man could not fathom how anyone her size, let alone a woman, was still standing.
In the background, she observed a cigarette hanging precariously from a burly man’s lips. The cigarette teetered momentarily and eventually fell to the ground. Once that cigarette became suspended in mid-air, Clara made her move.
Clara backed away until her tush touched the brick wall of a neighbouring building. She then sprinted towards the alpha, and aligned her body so her shoulder would make contact first. When she ran into his chest, she used a combination of momentum, and strength to launch him into the air.
The effect was spectacular in normal time. Before that cigarette reached the floor, the alpha had crashed into the wall hard enough to crack the cinder blocks. Meanwhile the interloper stood there nude, her eyes so full of fury, that no sane man would dare approach. At least, that was the theory, one she had yet to put to the test.
By this point, Clara’s reaction times were back to normal. Those who had been brought into the fold could not remain accelerated. She was thankful, unable to imagine the torture of having a conversation with someone with a thick Southern drawl. From her point of view, it would take hours to say howdy, and that concept made her cringe.
Even at normal speed, she had no problem seeing the alpha shake off the impact. That in itself was as a bit of a surprise, or at least for a human. Alas, the reason soon became apparent once he grew in size considerably. It all began when joints detached from the host to allow for rapid growth before reconnecting. His torn clothes fell off, while clumps of human flesh puddled around him, and that made her skin crawl. No one else was surprised by this change, which was telling.
All of Clara’s training pointed out how this type of encounter was not possible. Their kind were social outcasts, pariahs who preferred to stay as far away from civilisation as possible. As far as she knew, they were not capable of transformation outside of a full moon…
“Unless they are ancient,” Clara whispered while silvery fur dominated the colour of its pelt.
When the werewolf turned to face her; a psychotic towering mass of muscle, claws, and fangs Clara giggled. She then pointed a finger at his midsection, and teared up.
“Looks like I got the runt of the litter!” Clara blurted out.
Clara had not been sure if their kind could emote in this form, but found out there and then. The eyes gave it away, the shock of having its status as an alpha questioned was as plain as its snout.
“Of all the times to wish for a camera,” Clara whispered.
Clara was not a fool, she knew there were risks infuriating a werewolf, and yet with risks came the promise of rewards. No creature was capable of thinking clearly when blinded by rage, so that would give her a chance to outwit that thing.
Still she knew this creature was deadly beyond comprehension. That jab across her jaw was a tender lover’s nibble compared to what it could inflict now. As predicted, its eyes narrowed and began to pant, while the alpha adapted to this new physiology.
“I wonder why that wasn’t mentioned in class,” Clara wondered.
While the alpha flexed its muscles, poised for a strike, Clara was also getting ready. Within the dim lighting of this alley her wings unfurled, the low light concealed most of the movement. It was fortunate that no one else was paying attention to that particular detail, although Clara really did not care.
“This is going to be fun,” Clara said with a grin.
The creature roared before it propelled itself straight into a dead run. This beast was so large, that each step sent vibrations straight up through her toes.
“Ole!” Clara exclaimed and effortlessly evaded this attack.
The alpha ran head first into the opposing building, and she watched as steel and concrete deformed. He seemed unaware of the impact, and that worried her, but she was warm for the first time this evening. A bit of physical activity went a long way to warm the cockles of her heart. For good measure, it circled back around by collapsing another series of walls. Despite a piece of rebar protruding from its forearm, this creature was no worse for wear.
With more sea room, it barreled down on her like a freight train. So Clara tensed up, and when the time was right, launched herself into the air. Her wings provided that additional lift which brought her safely above his reach.
Clara looked over the scene. The alpha was entirely surprised that a woman in the nude could jump that high. Evidently, tonight was full of surprises for the both of them.
“How do you like the view?” Clara taunted.
Nearer to the entrance the peanut gallery watched in astonishment. A quick scan of the area revealed that this group was well-armed, which would have little or no effect on her if prepared. On the other side, near the mouth of the alley there was a row of motorcycles. Big engines, chrome, and leather, so no different than motorcycles of her time.
“Now I just need—,” Clara thought.
While werewolves were not blessed with feline grace, they were still capable of surprising her. That alpha landed on both his feet, and used the spring of its legs to leap backwards. One of the back paws struck Clara right in the chest, which drove her into the second story wall of the opposing building.
While the impact had been expected, it was the rapid deceleration that knocked the wind out of her. Now embedded into the concrete, her mind momentarily struggled to regain control over her faculties.
“That’s going to bruise,” Clara whined as a way lessen her blunder.
The alpha howled in celebration, which would simply not do. Clara needed the alpha to remain enraged, to keep it on the offensive.
“Is that really all you got?” Clara shouted loud enough to be heard over its howl. “I’ve been hit harder by an eight year old girl!”
Sure that eight year old had been a centuries old vampire. One who was easily triggered by anyone who called her adorable, but Clara did not need to share that little tidbit.
“Here we go!” Clara thought.
The alpha scrapped one foot along the pavement, while fog blew out of its snout, a scene reminiscent of a bull charging a matador. This bull headed straight for the bullfighter, and thanked God that her prayers were answered.
As it approached, Clara centred her thoughts, and watched the alpha’s charge slowed with every step until it was nearly frozen time. Her muscles tensed up, and lunged at him with assistance from her wings. As she neared him, she positioned her arm to provide cover for her face, and absorb some of the shock.
The end effect was spectacular, the impact sent them flying in opposing directions. Prepared, Clara landed on her feet, while the alpha did not fare so well. While the point of impact had been the head, that did nothing to slow him down.
Clara did not hesitate, she made her mad dash towards the bikes. It was only a matter of time before his natural speed would overtake her, but all she needed was a bit of a head start. Once it regained a solid footing, the alpha spotted her and began another bull run. Clara kept her focus on one bike in particular. While this was going to be a close one, Clara believed that she had the upper hand.
Moments before Clara reached the bike, the alpha began ploughing through the machines. Bikes, parts and gear exploded, flying through the air like shrapnel, but Clara paid it no heed.
Her arm reached out and grabbed double-barrelled shotgun. The weapon fell naturally into a proper grip, she then twirled around to face the alpha while continuing on her perpendicular trajectory. Clara had no appetite to get caught in its destructive path.
The alpha did not fully appreciate the gravity of her latest play, so when it opened its jaw wide to take a bite out of her. Clara rammed the barrel down its throat, and pulled both triggers.
The weapon roared to life and changed her flight path. It was fortunate that she managed to fall into a controlled roll. Meanwhile she hoped that her landing was far enough away to get out from the eye of the storm. It was, although barely.
When she regained her footing, she saw the gaping hole torn out of alpha’s neck. Werewolves were a lot like Cape buffalo, armoured skin, and were blessed with two layers of ribs to protect the internal organs. Despite how tough their hides were, they had weak spots, especially if the trauma originated from within.
Before Clara could make a witty remark, a member of the pack pulled out his pistol and fired off a clip. She never even looked in his direction, instead the wings reacted by instinct to provide an invisible barrier.
While the death of the alpha had been devastating to the pack’s morale, they were not above the equivalent of a sucker punch. Fortunately, this failed attempt sent them into a wild retreat. Without their bikes, they had no choice but to escape on foot.
Clara considered hunting down this filth to finish them off. That would have been a pleasant diversion, but one nonetheless, and she felt compelled to move on. Since there was a mission to complete, Clara decided that a change of clothes was in order, something better suited outside of the boudoir.
A pack member sounded the alarm for those inside to withdraw, so Clara approached the exit and slowed time just a bit. She watched the wild eyed stares of the drunken patrons while they poured out in a panic.
“Too tall… too big… to small… not my style,” Clara rhymed off as women ran out. “Just right!”
When Clara spotted a patron who roughly matched her dimensions, she followed through with a pile driver. The impact sent the leather clad gal to the ground, and it was lights out for her.
Disclaimer: This chapter is currently in development. There are likely typos, errors, omissions, inconsistencies and so forth. Please do not treat this as a polished and completed work!