Chapter 5

Somewhere in Iceland, December 30th, 4:03 p.m.

Azrael crawled very carefully to the edge of the hilltop so as not to startle the horse he was chasing. It had moved away from the others and would be its prey. Breathing silently, he watched the animal's every move. They weren't particularly difficult to catch, but carelessness had only cost him his meal last night. But it was like that in the life he was living now.

The horse's ears twitched slightly and it looked up attentively. Azrael dared not breathe. Now it couldn't fail. After what felt like an eternity it returned its attention to the rough grass and nibbled devotedly on a dense clump. That was the moment he had been waiting for several hours. In a flash he formed a bow out of his COMPANION and pulled the string through so that an arrow appeared. He breathed in and out slowly, aiming very carefully. At that moment the wind turned and carried its scent to the horse. It lifted its head and tensed its muscles to flee when it smelled its hunter. But he stayed calm and let go of the arrow. He shot off and did not hit the animal exactly in the heart as planned, but the wind drove him away and he only pierced the lungs.

The horse screeched in agony and charged headless. After a few meters it began to sway and finally collapsed, gasping for air. He immediately jumped up and rushed to his prey. He knelt beside the dying animal and put a hand on the horse's strong neck. He felt the blood rush through his veins under his hands. Somehow he managed to look dignified as he released the animal from its suffering and broke its neck. Hungry, he bit his carotid artery and warm blood flooded his mouth. He had always found the taste of horse blood very interesting. It was of a completely different quality than that of humans, especially that of wild animals.

He soon felt full, but the source of blood was not yet dry. It was just too much for him. But he had taken precautions. With his right hand he closed the wound so that not a single drop was wasted and with the other he reached for the bottle on his back. He had tied her with a rope so that he could carry her on his back. He had to fumble a bit, but finally got open and caught as much blood as the bottle could hold.

Strengthened, he got up and put his supply back on. He was sorry to leave so much unused meat here, but he just couldn't stand meat, it gave him very painful stomach cramps and diarrhea. He was just a blood eater. Or was it not a much better fit for blood drinkers? At home he had eaten solid foods like any of his people, but here on earth he found what his body wanted only in the blood of mammals. From the beginning he had wondered what it could be, but since he was not a scientist, this question had to go unanswered. In the end it didn't matter, the main thing was that he had a source of food.

With a few vigorous flaps of his wings, he made his way back to his home. The life he was leading now was very similar to the one he had started a long, long time ago on earth and now continued so many years later.

He made a gentle right turn to avoid an air hole in front of him. In the distance, rugged mountains appeared - his present home. Here was the most sparsely populated region of Iceland. The perfect hiding place for him. Hardly anything survived here that could not fly or at least climb very well. In addition, there were so many shady corners and valleys where there was never disgusting sunlight. The icy cold didn't bother him - he was always ambient temperature anyway.

It flew for quite a while before it landed with a slight rumble on a narrow ledge from which one could see almost the entire mountain range. This was his favorite place. Thoughtfully he looked into the distance while his hand stroked the rough rock next to him. A strange feeling of longing and sadness for something precious and lost flooded him. It had been so long since he had lived like this, so many centuries had passed ...

Azrael emerged from his memories, still strangely sad. It was almost always night so far north and he could still do a lot, but he felt unusually tired. Sighing, he got up and swung himself back into the air. A fresh wind had come and he had to work hard to beat him. His long, braided braid whipped in the wind.

At last his cave appeared before him. An unpredictable cross wind made him spin and he had to concentrate very hard to avoid being thrown against the steep rock walls. Broken bones were the last thing he could use now, even if they would heal quickly. With a hard jerk he got hold of the rock opening of his cave and pulled himself into it. Gasping loudly, he stayed there until he had recharged enough strength. Such a flight against the wind was one of the most exhausting things he knew. On his knees he slid a little further and was then able to sit up completely.

It was pleasantly cool in the cave and - very important - always dark. The low entrance prevented the light and warmth from entering, but unfortunately it was always humid due to the lack of air circulation. To Azrael's right was a flat surface that served as a bed. During his stay here he had upholstered it with skins from captured animals. The smell didn't bother him - he didn't notice any anyway. He had never noticed any before. On the left he stored his lost property.

He lived in a very remote place here - a person almost never got lost near him - but there were small villages and towns some distance away. Azrael had observed her for several days not so long ago: basically, they lived as before in family groups or as couples. Rarely alone, although it seemed to him that it had become more. They went to work and raised children as always. But still everything was different. The houses looked different, the clothes, the hairstyles and above all the behavior were different. He didn't speak Icelandic, but he had noticed how much more relaxed everything had become. Men and women publicly expressed their affection (which had irritated him in the beginning and admittedly still did) and everything was not as rigid and orderly as before his absence.

In Reykjavik, the largest city on the island, he had seen a great number of tourists, many languages ​​from Spanish to French, German and even Japanese could be heard. They had often spoken to each other in English, so that he suspected it was something of an official world language at the moment. And the funny thing was: everyone was so familiar with each other, as if the whole world knew and understood each other. In the past, intercultural relationships were the exception rather than the rule. But how could that be? How should people from one end of the world have such close contact with one at the other end? Had this "telephone" revolutionized communication? What was now possible that he had thought unthinkable?

Again he cursed his long absence from world events. He was always on the ball, was familiar with the latest machines and inventions, and had a say in politics. But now? Now he felt like a sheep among wolves. How should he catch up with this extreme advancement in human culture? Was that even possible? And above all: would it be worth it? Azrael didn't know.

He lay down on his bed and his tired thoughts slipped back to a time when the world was still all right. A time when he was the wolf and people the stupid sheep. The way it should be.

Somewhere in Iceland, January 4th, 1:45 p.m.

He didn't know what had woken him up, but he immediately felt the tension in the air. Wide awake he jumped up and peered carefully out of his cave, careful not to expose himself in any way to the sunlight. But he felt it only very vaguely through the apparently thick cloud cover. Lucky for him. His blood-red eyes wandered over the landscape in front of him. Everything looked exactly like yesterday, the day before yesterday and all the days before. But then he noticed what had woken him: it was deathly quiet. No sound could be heard except for the constant blowing wind. Azrael felt a queasy stomach. If he had learned something, it was that such a silence never bode well. With a worried furrowed brow, he continues to search the landscape.

He saw the machine from afar, but he didn't hear it until it was very close. It had to be incredibly quiet, how was that possible? She floated in the air (which he had already thought impossible in itself) and came relentlessly closer. His stomach tightened. That was not good. What were man made things doing here? Or even worse: were there people on board?

The airship stopped not too far from its hiding place. It floated vertically down to the valley floor and touched down barely audibly. Azrael forced himself to take a closer look at the thing. In terms of its basic shape, it resembled a triangle with rounded corners. It was covered on the outside with a smooth material that extended seamlessly over the entire surface. He couldn't find any welds or machining marks anywhere. But he was too far away, too, but he didn't intend to change that.

A ramp went out of one side of the machine and as soon as it was down some people streamed out. They spread out around the thing at regular intervals and seemed to have the task of securing and guarding it. But of what? In front of him? How should they know about him? Did you want to stay here longer? Azrael narrowed her eyes suspiciously and waited to see what happened next. But nothing happened.

Somewhere in Iceland, January 4th, 6:18 pm

A loud hissing hiss awakened Azrael. Damn it, he fell asleep! He had made up his mind to stay awake and keep an eye on the strangers. How long had he been gone? Too long anyway. He blinked a few times to get the weariness out of his head and crawled sullenly to the cave entrance. He looked out tensely. Was the danger over? At that very moment, something large and dark rushed through his field of vision and caused Azrael to tip over backwards in shock. His bottom painfully got to know the hard cave floor.

"What was that ?!" he mumbled softly as he worked his way up to the edge of the rock, rubbing his buttocks.

More cautious this time, he peeked out from his home. The thing was still there, just as he remembered it. Several people were also guarding it. He was about to turn away when something black above the aircraft caught his attention.

He took a closer look curiously. Just like the machine, it seemed to float in the air, but the shape reminded him of something else. It was roughly human-shaped, but had wings attached to its arms. He cocked his head thoughtfully. Suddenly it occurred to him: it reminded him strongly of old depictions of the Egyptian goddess Isis. But how on earth did they manage to attach wings to human bodies? What kind of being was that?

Still amazed, he watched the human-bird-thing lean to one side and move away from the flying machine. It flapped its wing lightly, but that couldn't possibly be enough to achieve such a speed and trajectory. So it had to have another drive, because Azrael had to flap its wings with force when it was flying. But how was that possible?

It made a great arc in the air and glided over the rocky landscape. It almost seemed to him that he was looking for something. He felt queasy. Hopefully not him? How should you know? He had done everything in his power to remain inconspicuous and to draw attention away from himself. Had he failed?

He gnawed his lip restlessly while his eyes rested on the huge flying machine in front of him. No, he wouldn't allow him to be captured again. It couldn't happen. Nothing had ever been important to him, just his freedom. The freedom to go wherever he wanted, the freedom to do what came into his mind, the freedom to be himself without fear of being abused.

His heart started racing (by his standards) and he clenched his teeth hard to control his feelings. His hands clawed into the rock and it crumbled in some places. But he hardly noticed Azrael, he was too preoccupied with himself. A panic attack was the last thing he needed now.

Shivering, he turned away from the entrance to the cave and pressed his back to the cool rock. He had to calm down. Apparently the imprisonment had done more to him than he wanted to admit. He breathed in and out deeply, forcing his emotions under his control. Not only physical damage remained from such borderline experiences, also mental ones. He could have known - no should. He had seen it himself often enough how men returned home and were outwardly completely unharmed. Only their eyes were different, their eyes ghostly empty and far away from the here and now.

His gaze wandered aimlessly back and forth and he had the feeling everything was happening in slow motion. He had to pull himself together. Now. Immediately. Nervously he breathed in and out, in and out, in and out. It could be that they weren't looking for him at all, but were after something completely different. Everything would be cleared up, he just had to be on the darkness of the night, on his time, he calmed down. But the persistent voice in the back of his mind whispering to him that everything was not going to be all right just wouldn't stop.

Somewhere in Iceland, January 16, 12:55 a.m.

Hunger held Azrael mercilessly in its claws. Hardly anything else dominated his thinking, only the primitive instinct for survival. So far he had been able to keep the animal in check, soothe it and put it off until a later point in time, because under no circumstances could he act rashly and be seen by people. Her flying machine was still in place and hadn't even moved the whole time. Guards with huge weapons patrolled it day and night so that Azrael was not even tempted to take a closer look. The Vogel-people didn't seem tired either. At any time of the day or night they crisscrossed the air. He was literally trapped in his cave.

But now he couldn't. He had to eat something. The last remnants of sanity made him wait until the hourly patrol had flown by. Trembling with weakness, he crawled very close to the edge of his home. For a moment a feeling of final goodbye welled up in him. But then the connection between his mind and his body was broken and they were separated. It was finally too late to repent now.

Only guided by the urge to eat, he jumped off and let himself fall. The coolness of the downwind kept surprising him. The rock walls grew higher and higher around him. Azrael's mind, encapsulated from the body, closed its (imaginary) eyes and enjoyed the deeply free feeling of falling. At the last possible moment his body flapped its wings and braked hard. Gently and silently, he reached the bottom of the ravine. In a careful position he scanned his surroundings and felt out whether a larger mammal was anywhere near him. But he couldn't find anything useful, everything around him was far too small.

A growl of frustration escaped his throat and a tremor ran over him. Slowly his body turned his head and stared up at the guards and the flying machine without blinking. Azrael's mind turned pale. That was an extremely bad idea, one of the worst he had ever had. With all his strength Azrael tugged at his body and tried desperately to get back into him to save what could be saved. But it was in vain. He had to watch in horror as his body skilfully ran along the gorge, camouflaging itself in the shadow of the rock wall.

He followed him helplessly on his invisible leash, which chained him to this useless something. He ran into his own ruin, he sensed it clearly. Soon he could feel people's heartbeats. They sounded so promising that the movements of his body became more and more impatient and shaky. Groaning quietly, he shimmy back up the rock face. Soon only a few meters separated him from his goal. He pulled himself up silently and carefully peered over the edge.

Only up close did the sheer size of the flying machine become apparent. It was probably more than two hundred meters long and some of it was very wide. The outer skin was extremely smooth and only rarely pierced by gate slots. All of this was only noticed by Azrael's encapsulated spirit, because the attention of his body was fully directed towards the soldiers. They were within sight and hearing distance of each other and made an attentive impression. It wouldn’t be easy to take prey here. And there were the big, heavy weapons in their hands too.

With narrowed eyes they both watched her for a while, but they were far too far away to see any more details. Azrael was relieved to watch his body slide back behind the edge of the rock. But in the next moment his body dashed all hopes of a mild outcome by beginning to move along the edge of the rock. With a pounding heart he watched him move slowly behind the airship. What was he doing? The machine was very close to the edge of the rock, there were no guards here ?! So what was he doing here? Azrael continued to watch what was happening, confused and very worried.

Silently, his body pushed itself over the edge and merged with the shadow of the flying machine. Without making any noise, he crept through the deep darkness until he was as close as possible to the guards. What now? You would see him! In a panic, Azrael tore at his body and tried with all his might to convince him to turn back. But in vain. He didn't even show a reaction, but rather concentrated his concentration and felt into the night ahead. His special sense collided with a halfless pile of rubble at the far end of the rock platform, hidden from human eyes in the blackness of the night. And he hit him with full force.

Infinitely loud in the stillness of the night, the stones clattered down the rocky wall and people reacted immediately. A tall, beefy one - probably something like their leader - meant two soldiers and a petite soldier to stay. The rest of them followed him into the darkness. Ah. So that was the plan. His body didn't even bother with any further bells and whistles, but shot out of its hiding place and smashed the larynx of the first soldier with a targeted blow with the edge of his hand. The human man collapsed when hit and clenched his throat with a gasp. But the other two reacted faster than their comrade.

The woman drew her weapon in a flash, but could not fire because Azrael tore it from her hands with his gift and hurled it far away. An expression of sheer horror ran over her face as Azrael's body easily wrested the weapon from her remaining comrade (where did they get their training? Azrael's ghost thought with a sad shake of the head.) And knocked him out hard with his head. Almost too fast for the human woman's eyes, he turned to her and grabbed her neck with one hand. Fidgeting she hung in his hand and tried to kick him, but he didn't let up, but pulled her very close to him. She bit his hand, but he hardly noticed. All that mattered to him at the moment was the red juice of life that flowed under her thin skin.

Hungry, he bit the one in the throat just above his hand. She shrieked, but the hand on her throat prevented any sound from getting out. Hot and full-bodied and as sweet as honey it poured into his mouth and a relieved moan came over his lips. But all too soon the flow of delicious water dried up. And he just dropped the half-dead woman. Slowly his senses cleared again and his mind regained control over his body.

A good two dozen rifle barrels were aimed at him. Damn it. What now? What had his body got him into? The crowd parted and an athletic woman with a chin-length bob walked up to him. What should that be now? He felt a drop of blood run down his full lips and leave a distinctive mark on his face. She stopped about two man's lengths from him and eyed him in silence. Somehow she made him feel like a lamb on the slaughterhouse. But he didn’t show anything, but looked at her with an impenetrable face.

The woman's gaze wandered to the dead woman at his feet and her two unconscious comrades. She raised an eyebrow with interest and just looked at Azrael. What did she want? What came next She turned around with a jerk.

"Arrest," she said militarily tersely to the head of the guards. He just nodded and she disappeared between the soldiers. Several weapons clicked as they were armed.

No. No NO! It pounded in his head to the rhythm of his heartbeat. He wouldn't let that happen, he couldn't let that happen. Never again. Azrael lowered her eyelids and looked toward the sky. Complete calm and clarity flowed over him like a wave over the sand on the beach. Something dark, hidden deep within him, crept out of its hiding place and washed down his mind. Every feeling disappeared from his body and all that he still felt was an ancient cold that slowly spread over himself. Then there was only bright white.

His body felt a bullet shoot at him. With a flowing movement of his right hand, he distracted her. A loud scream came from behind him on the right. Met. Azrael bowed his head, opened his eyes, looked at the leader - his eyes glowed like frozen blood. In a flash he made throwing knives out of HIM and struck down the first three soldiers with targeted throws in the throat or head. He whirled gracefully around his own axis and incidentally deflected the bullets flying towards him. It all looked so incredibly light and elegant, Azrael looked more like a dancer than the cold-blooded murderer that he was.

An infinitely sharp sword emerged in his hand and he split the man next to him so that two parts of him hit the ground one after the other with a disgusting splash. But he didn't hear it. Immediately he turned to the right and slit open the abdominal wall of a soldier who came running towards him with her weapon in her hands. Iridescent purple bowels spilled onto the floor and she cried out in agony. But Azrael ignored them at first, but thrust his sword into the leader in front of him in the mouth, which was open to the attack. Total calm permeated him and he smiled peacefully.

The weapon slid through the skull and brain as if through butter and emerged on the other side. With a sharp jerk to the left Azrael pulled his sword out of the person again and before this corpse had fallen to the ground, he had already killed the next one by simply smashing his temple with a targeted blow. With a sharp movement of his head, he steered with his gift the bullet that came flying towards him. Little by little he thinned out the troop of soldiers. The latter threw away their weapons because they realized they were pointless. He killed them quickly and without unnecessary pain.

Without looking back, he strode across the blood-soaked ground until he was standing on the edge of the rock. He let himself fall with his arms outstretched. If he had looked back, he would have seen the woman with the bob, her eyes wide with horror, standing between the corpses, aiming a trembling pistol at him, and yet unable to bring herself to shoot. He would have seen the fanatical twinkle in those eyes as he flew over the rocky barren landscape with gentle flaps of his wings, away from the people as he thought. He would have been warned.

Somewhere in the Swiss Alps, March 31, 02:46 a.m.

His muscles stretched and contracted to the rhythm of his wings. He gently pulled a curve and got hold of a warm updraft that carried him higher and higher towards the sky. The steep snow-capped mountain peaks slowly receded and before him a view of ancient beauty opened up. Rugged mountain tops as far as the eye could see, broken up by thick coniferous forests and lovely meadows. Below him a mighty waterfall tumbled under a deafening thunder.

A fine smile crossed Azrael's face. He was happy for the first time in many years. Wasn't it strange how little could make you happy? Others needed money, power, or sex. Being alone made him happy. Just him and the wilderness. As once. No people. No destruction. No misfortune. He didn't have to pretend he was one of them, he could just be himself.

But why did he not get rid of the feeling that this happiness would not last? That all would be ruined? Damn it, couldn't that annoying inner voice just once, really just once, be quiet and let him enjoy the beauty of the moment? He became like people. Azrael unconsciously screwed up his face as if he had bitten into something sour. What a disgusting idea.

At that moment he felt something fly towards him from the left, something big. But even before he could react somehow, this pushed something violently into the side and he began to tumble down a tumble. The pain was unbelievable, the entire half of his body seemed to melt in an invisible fire. Near the edge of unconsciousness, Azrael felt his entire body aflame. Like acid, the pure pain went on and on in circles through his body. What was that ?!

Groaning, he tried to regain control of his body in order to at least slow down the inevitable impact on earth a little. Where was his body? Wasn't his arm there just now? He looked around, irritated. Yes, he was still there, exactly where he should be. But why couldn't he reach him then? Fog fell around his field of vision and everything seemed to get slower and darker. What…? he thought, but could barely finish the thought. It was packed like a thousand layers of cotton wool. No, he had to ... he had to ... he ... what? ... what did he have to do? ...

In his almost complete derangement, he only noticed at the very edge that something was approaching him again and barely saved him from the impact. How so…? What was…? Under the half-closed eyelids he watched what was happening. Something metallic came into view. It was so smooth, so angular, impossibly natural. But what ... was ... it ... then? He struggled to remain conscious.

“Object taken into custody. I'm coming to you now, ”a voice broken by static noise came softly to his ear.

So was he an "object" again? But where to ...? But the thought slipped from his fingers as soon as it even began to surface in his mind. No. He. Had to. Stay there.

He gritted his teeth firmly and grabbed his dissolving consciousness. Slowly, so slowly the fog cleared around his head. His heart was pounding hard in his chest. Accompanied by the steady rhythm of a humming engine, the cool wind gently brushed his face. He flew? But not himself, right? He would have heard that, he replied sarcastically.

What was the matter with him? Where was he taken? Definitely to the people. Of course, to the people who had been chasing him since he fled. It was so clear. Why couldn't they just let it be? Now he had to kill some of her again. What a shame, really, he sneered inwardly, but a crushing pain in his side quickly brought him back to reality. Now was no time for jokes.

He strained to open his eyes, but his eyelids refused to obey him. Then it's not possible. Immediately he turned his mind around - and lo and behold, he was lucky. At least something that still worked on him.

Azrael was laid down quite roughly on the stony ground. Damn shit it hurt. Sullenly, he concentrated on his immediate surroundings. Right in front of him he saw three pairs of legs, behind them a huge, smooth surface rose gloomily. Which looked very familiar to him. Damn. The flying machine. How did they find him ?! Well, he didn't even know exactly how he had escaped. The only thing Azrael knew for sure was that he had slipped . And that wasn't good.

Because who knew what he was capable of in this state? He definitely doesn't. And there was never anyone left who could have answered his questions. Apparently it was different this time and someone knew the horror of what lived under his skin. It would certainly be interesting and very instructive to talk to someone about it, but his freedom was worth more to him than any knowledge ... Or?

Silence fell over the scene. The wind gently carried the constant rustling of the waterfall to his ear. It was almost as if he could feel the fine water droplets on his cheek. But the only thing he felt for sure was the throbbing pain people inflicted on him with the ... thing they had trapped him with. And what now?

"Now what, madam?" Asked a rough woman's voice into the silence.

No answer followed, but someone came up to him with determined steps. But they weren't man's steps. No, they were women's steps. Was it…? No, definitely not ... she ? Quiet breaths sounded close to him and a presence approached his face. But. It was her . Inwardly he groaned at his own stupidity. How could he not have recognized her the previous time? The woman who tried to catch him from the start? The one from France ?!

"That's how you see each other again," she whispered to him so softly that only Azrael could perceive it. What was that supposed to mean? He was the one playing, not her! But times seem to have changed.

He was very tempted to grind his teeth, but he forced himself to control himself. She thought he was defenseless. It would be her fault. The woman turned her head away from him to the other two. Now he had to try. The longer they held him, the less chance they had of a successful escape. Slowly he got feeling in his limbs again, only this annoying tingling sensation like from a thousand ants just didn't want to go away.

“Bring it into the room. I'll take care of the rest. And as I said - be careful, we know less about it than we thought we knew ”, the woman ordered her subordinates and stumbling steps retreated. Not correct. They didn't know anything about him. Not a thing.

There were only three of them now. Why were there no guards? Did you think he was passed out? Thought wrong. A younger man approached him. Damn he had to get out of here. His pulse shot up and all his muscles tensed, ready to flee. The human almost touched him. Now!

With a single fluid movement he jumped up and grabbed the human by the throat. Only a startled sound came from his lips and before anyone could react he tossed him in a high arc through the air. His mouth formed a perfect small O as it crashed against the metal skin of the flying machine. As sweet as music, the sound of breaking bones reached Azrael's ear.

But he didn’t dwell on it, but hurled a knife into (or rather through the hand) the last person standing - a slightly more corpulent woman - who was about to move into her pocket. Suddenly Azrael understood: somehow people had managed to develop small portable devices with which they could stay in contact even over long distances. He had to prevent that.

The woman uttered a high, girlish scream and stared in horror at her hand, which was dripping with blood. He was already shaping the next dagger for the fatal shot when a much better idea occurred to him. In a flash he was with her and grabbed her hard by the throat. Fidgeting, she tried to escape his iron grip, but he held her relentlessly.

"Come on," he said coldly and pulled her behind him.

"NO! Let them go! ”A young man's voice croaked after him. But he didn't even turn around, but hit the woman on the temple with the edge of his hand.

Immediately she slumped unconscious in his arms. It was heavy, he thought through clenched teeth as he swung himself into the air with his prey. Why did he have to take her with him and not the skinny boy? Now it was too late, first he had to escape. There was a commotion behind him and he hurried away.

Somewhere in the Swiss Alps, March 31, 6:04 a.m.

Azrael studied the slightly wrinkled face of the woman he had kidnapped. Wrinkles somehow fascinated him. The character of a person could be judged so well by them, because longstanding unconscious facial expressions irrevocably shape facial features. At a certain point, you couldn't hide them anymore. There were so many different types and shapes. He would never get any. Somehow he would be curious what kind of thing he would have had. Crow's feet from many smiles? He made a face, probably not. Frown lines? Probably sooner.

He rubbed his eyes wearily. When did she finally wake up? He had important things to talk about with her. He got up indignantly and stepped close to the human woman. Hard but careful not to break anything (at least not for the time being) he kicked her in the stomach. A dull moan answered him and she rolled over on her back.

"What ...?" She uttered and finally opened her eyes. Her gaze wandered briefly, disoriented, over the stone ceiling of Azrael's cave.

"Where ...?" She continued to babble.

Azrael briefly considered kicking her again, but decided against it. She would get pain soon enough. But he didn't have all the time in the world either. They were sure to be looking for him and his hostage. He crouched down next to her and just watched her try to pull herself together. After a while, her eyes met his blood red. It's a shame Azrael couldn't see the color of her eyes. They were an unusually intense green, as alien in their own way as his.

He watched with interest as they filled with fear and yet also curiosity was there. A fine, barely noticeable smile crossed his face. Somehow he was amused by the thought that the human woman, although she knew exactly in what danger of death, she was capable of something like curiosity. He briefly considered asking her for her name, but immediately dismissed the idea. It would just create too much personal bond. They stared at each other for a long time without either breaking the tense silence.

"OK. The best thing to do now is to get this over with as quickly and in a civilized manner as possible. Agreed? ”Azrael said slowly in his best English and cocked his head like a bird of prey eyeing its prey. The woman just stared at him, speechless. He frowned.

"Is something wrong?" He asked the staring girl. Her mouth opened and closed, but no sound came out. She started several times, but no sound escaped her lips. Azrael was getting frustrated, but he took a deep breath in and out to bring himself back down. He was broken and had to flee. And he had no more time.

"Okay, I will now politely ask again, because otherwise we will unfortunately have to switch to more unpleasant methods: I ask you a question, you answered me. Roger that?"

She looked at him trembling and nodded. Azrael raised his eyebrows questioningly and his features hardened. Then she finally understood the seriousness of the situation.

"Yes," she breathed.

"Well, not dumb," he said mockingly, "Why are they chasing me, why are they here?" His eyes were fixed on the woman's fearful face.

"I ... we ...", she started stuttering, but broke off to take a deep breath, "You are a threat to humanity."

"Oh? Really? How do you want to know? ”He asked back sarcastically.

"There are old video recordings that ... show what they can", answered the human woman, trembling and crawling away from him, trembling. It was only now that she noticed how close they were to each other.

Merde, he should have burned down his old prison. He had already toyed with the idea, but then events had rolled over and he had simply forgotten about it. Now his lack of concentration was taking its toll. What other mistakes had he made? He wondered gloomily. Azrael turned his attention back to the woman and crouched in front of her so their faces were very close.

"Who are you?" Now it was really scared to death in her eyes.

"I'm not allowed to say that," she choked out.

“Oh yes, they will tell me. In the end, whether voluntary or not never really matters, ”Azrael contradicted gently and put a hand on the woman's cheek.

"No, please don't ... I mustn't ... I ..." she began to sob and warm tears ran down his cold hand. Panicked, she tried to keep crawling away.

"I can hurt you a lot, you probably know that?" He asked in a calm voice. She just nodded, tearful. Gently he took her right hand in his and caressed it like a mother that of her child.

"Shhhh. It will be alright. I promise you that. You are now safe with me. "

The crack echoed loudly in the silence as he broke her little finger. She shrieked and stared in disbelief at her finger sticking out at an unhealthy angle. If you looked closely, you could even see the bone sticking out of the bleeding wound. The annoying screeching slowly turned into a low whimper.

"So again: who are you?" Azrael asked the woman. She just shook her head violently:

"No no no no…"

"Yes," he contradicted coldly and broke another finger. This time the screeching was even louder than the first time. Like crazy she tried to get away from him, but he held on tightly.

"Who are you?" He repeated his question. He was getting impatient.

"I don't know, I ..." the sobbing pile of misery in front of him broke out. Azrael sighed softly, and picked up her next finger.

"NO!", She screamed loudly, "I'll say what I know too, just not again, no, no, no ..."

"Then speak," he asked her.

“I was hired. I should help investigate a new form of life. I didn't know exactly what it was about. You only told me the bare minimum, "she gushed out.

"Who are you ?" He raked.

"The Federation of European Sciences," she choked out. Her broken breathing echoed loudly in the grave silence of the rocks.

"Where can I find your head?"

"I don't know, I ... ahhhhhhhh!", She tried to convince herself, but the rest of her babbling was drowned in a deafening scream when it broke two fingers at once.

"Not lies, I notice that immediately," he scolded her like a naughty child, "So again: where can I find your leader?"

“My informant was in Strasbourg. Mrs. Jönsson. It was somewhere in or near the European Parliament. I don't know any more, I wasn't told anything more. It was all a secret. No more pain, please! Please… ”she sobbed.

"Well, you see, it wasn't that difficult," said Azrael with a smile and gently patted the tear-streaked cheek. The human woman shrugged away from him, crying. Still smiling, he got up and turned to face the cave entrance.

"Why are you doing this?" It whispered softly behind him. He turned thoughtfully and looked the woman in the eye. She pressed the crippled hand tight to her chest.

“You have hurt me very much and now you are trying to take from me what is the only important thing in this world. How else should I react? It didn't work to hide me. You have already found me twice, so why not a third, fourth or fifth time? But what I don't understand, human woman ... “, he answered her and slowly strolled towards her again.

With panic in her eyes, she tried to crawl away from him and hit the hard rock with her back. Their escape ended there for the time being.

"Why are you so eager to catch me and lock me up? To dissect and examine me like an animal? What gives you the right to do that? ”He asked with a totally calm face, but pure hatred burned in his eyes. All of a sudden it became too much for him.

The months of hiding, the constant fear of being discovered, like the strangeness of these modern times. It just had to get out of him. The woman turned pale and pinched her lips. With tears of fear in her eyes, she avoided his gaze.

"Why, human, why?", He uttered frustrated and grabbed her arm hard.

He had searched for an answer to this question since the beginning of time with humans, but he had never found one. It was so frustrating. But instead of responding, she just started crying. And that really got him white hot. These feelings all the time. As if you needed something like that, as if something like that would help you. So pointless.

Furious, he threw her against the rock face. Several times there was a clang of breaking bones and filled the air with fine singing. She hit the ground with a loud scream and blood began to drip from the corner of her mouth. But Azrael was too angry to take care of the wonderful, red liquid. He had to go. Even if the sun would rise soon, he had to put as much space as possible between himself and these people. And he had to destroy the evidence. He quickly made a large dagger out of HIM and stepped up to the trembling woman.

"No, please don't, no, PLEASE ... noooo ..." she howled when she noticed the murder tool in his hand.

“But human woman,” he simply says calmly and in a perfectly shaped movement thrust the weapon into her chest, exactly into her stomach. It slid as if through water without meeting the slightest resistance. Warm blood ran to the rhythm of her pulse from the deep wound when he pulled the blade out again with a single jerk. She let out her loudest shriek yet.

Ignoring the bleeding piece of human, Azrael turned and walked to the cave entrance. She would bleed to death in the next few minutes, unless a miracle happened. And miracles didn't happen in this world. Because he had not granted her the grace of a quick death. No, she would slowly and painfully be corroded inside by her own juices. How beautiful…

He peered out carefully with all his senses. Nothing. Tired, he swung himself into the air and let the winds carry him higher and higher. First find a hiding place for the day and then off to Strasbourg. From now on he was back in the eternal game between the people and himself.

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