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1. Chapter 1

Renee Stevens%s's Photo   Renee Stevens, 21 Jun 2012

“Will it harm him to open the tank?” Malik stared at the man inside the tank, his nude body floating in some sort of purplish fluid with tubes attached to multiple parts of his body.  He saw the buttons on a small panel attached to the tank, but didn’t dare push anything until he knew what would happen to the man inside.

“I don’t know, Malik.” 

Malik looked over to where Tala was looking through papers strewn about the floor.  He had been scouting for a new safe house for the humans under his protection when he had come across this building in the middle of nowhere. It had looked completely abandoned and he’d discounted it as a safe haven, but when he had finally gained entrance he realized how perfect it would be.

It seemed to be self-maintained and the further he investigated, the more he was impressed.  In what seemed to be a control room, he’d found a display that monitored power and if he was right, the whole place was powered by solar panels.  In that same room was a bank of monitors and he’d turned them on, hoping to get a better idea of what they’d found. 

His jaw had nearly hit the floor when he came across the monitor showing the human in the tank.  He’d immediately started searching and had finally come across a room locked with a fingerprint scanner and a code.  He’d had to call in someone else to get the door open and three hours later, he found himself in the same room with the guy he’d spotted on the monitors.

“Here, I think I found something.”  Tala stood and hurried towards him.  She thrust a piece of paper at him and he took it and read through it. 

“Okay, so opening the tank won’t hurt him, but it also says something about an injection to wake him from cryo-sleep?  What injection?”  Malik looked around the room, hoping to find some idea as to what the papers were talking about.  He finally gave up and turned back to Tala.  “Okay, here’s what we’re going to do.  I’m going to get him out of the tank; you try and find out what the hell injection he needs to have in order for him to regain consciousness.”

Malik watched Tala hurry back to the papers on the floor and scoop them into a pile before going through them one at a time.  He consulted the paper in his hand before stepping up to the panel and hitting the buttons in the order the paper dictated. He briefly wondered why they would make it so easy to open the tank but shrugged it off as something seemed to start happening within the purplish liquid.  As he watched, the liquid began to drain from the tank but stopped once the man’s head was free.  At first, Malik was concerned that something had malfunctioned but after a moment, a small panel opened and a syringe came out of the opening and buried the needle into the man’s neck.

“What the hell.”  Apparently whoever was responsible for all of this had thought of everything.  He opened his mouth to call out to Tala to stop looking when he saw the man’s eyes fly open and he started struggling in the tank, his hands reaching out to press frantically against the glass, searching for a way out as his mouth opened in a scream.

***

Nick frantically looked for a way out of the glass tube.  He remembered being given something to make him relax and then he was put in the tank with instructions to breathe deeply.  He had fought against his claustrophobia as it filled with some sort of gas and he took deep calming breaths, trying to stave off the panic attack.  That was the last thing he remembered before he woke up in some sort of purplish liquid that stopped just shy of his neck.

He pressed his hands repeatedly against the glass, panic quickly setting in when he couldn’t find any way to free himself from the tube.  He opened his mouth to scream but no sound came out as suddenly the glass gave way and he stumbled from the tube amidst the rush of liquid.  He nearly fell, but strong arms suddenly reached out and wrapped around him and pulled him against a solid chest.

“Easy, easy, I got you.”

Nick looked up to thank his savior only to freeze as his gaze focused on the man’s smile.  Fangs, a good inch long from his estimation took the place of regular human canines.  He screamed and fought to free himself from the arms that held him trapped.  The arms around him released so suddenly that he staggered, fear coursing through him as whoever the man was reached for him again.

“Malik, I found…”

Nick turned his head toward the voice and saw a striking woman, probably close to his own five foot eight but when she opened her mouth he saw the same fangs he’d seen on the man.  He backed up, shaking his head as he went, trying to put as much distance between them as possible.  He was only stopped when his ass collided with something behind him and stopped his progress.

“What… what are you?  What are you going to do to me?”  Nick reached behind him. There had to be a weapon somewhere, though he was sure nothing he could find would do any good against the man facing him.  He forced himself to meet the man’s pale blue, nearly white, eyes and was even more confused when he saw what looked like compassion reflecting back at him. 

“We’re not going to hurt you.”  Whoever the man was, Malik he presumed, held his hands out in front of him, palms out. 

Nick could see that he held no weapons, but he seriously doubted the man in front of him needed them.  Not with those two sharp upper fangs. 

“I was only asleep for two years, how…” Nick whispered the words, not wanting the man or woman across the room to hear him. 

***

Malik stared at the man a dozen feet or so away from him.  He had to have heard wrong, there was no way the man could have been in that tank for two years.  Vampires had made themselves known to the humans nearly ten years ago, yet the man in front of him seemed to have no clue that he even existed.  He raked his fingers through his hair, being sure not to make any sudden movements to frighten the man any more than he already was.  How was he going to explain this?  Tala jumped in before he could even think of where to start.

“Exactly what year do you think this is anyway?”

Malik could hear the scorn in her voice and shot her a look to shut her up.  Whatever was going on here, he seriously doubted it was the man in front of him’s fault that he didn’t seem to know about vampires.  He would bet money that the guy didn’t know about shape-shifters either.

“Tala, I think you should go.”  It was a struggle to keep his voice neutral, but he managed.  He waited until he heard her footsteps fading away before he focused once more on the naked man.   The  poor guy started shivering, probably from fear just as much as the cold, prompting Malik to look around until he spotted a pale blue lab coat amidst the debris in the room.  He moved to get it.

“Easy, I’m not going to hurt you; I’m just getting you something to put on.”  He hated the way the man flinched at his slightest movement and kept his voice as gentle as possible.  “By the way, I’m Malik.  You are?”

“Nick.”

Malik smiled, making sure his lips kept his fangs covered so as not to frighten Nick any more than necessary.  At least he had a name now; they were definitely making some progress.  He stopped and reached down for the lap coat and lifted it up for inspection.  It wasn’t going to be very warm, but it would be better than nothing.

“This should work.”  He started towards Nick and sighed as the other man cringed and hurried around the table he was backed up against.  He didn’t know how to make Nick understand that he really wasn’t going to hurt him.

“Th... Thank you.”  Nick reached over the table as Malik handed him the lab coat.

Malik watched him slip it on and clutch the sides together.  It barely covered him, but it would do.  He only wished he had a real coat to offer Nick, but since he didn’t tend to get cold there was little point in carrying a coat, or even a jacket, with him.

“The woman that left is Tala.  I know she was a little blunt in her question, but now I’m going to ask it.  What year do you think this is?”  It wasn’t just his curiosity making him ask, he needed to figure out what was going on so that he could decide where to go from here.

Nick just stared at him for a minute and Malik had about given up hope of getting any answers out of the man.  He’d had several actual interrogations that had gone a lot easier than this.  He saw Nick sigh and his shoulders slump.

“That’s easy, it’s 2012?”

***

Nick watched the Malik’s eyes widen and wondered why him saying the year had surprised the guy.  It wasn’t like he’d just announced that he was going to walk on Mars or something.  He looked around the room and shuddered at the mess around him but didn’t have time to think about it when he heard Malik speak.

“Actually, it’s 2050.”

Nick frowned.  That was impossible.  When he’d agreed to the experiment he’d only agreed to be put into the cryo-tank for two years, certainly not forty!  He wouldn’t have even done that but it wasn’t as though he’d had much to lose.  He’d just lost his boyfriend, his house, and his job, but not in that order.  His life was so screwed up that he had thought maybe sleeping two years away would give him a chance to start over when he woke up. 

“That’s impossible!”  It was, wasn’t it?

“Apparently not.”  Malik looked thoughtful as he turned and walked across the room before turning to once more face him.  “What exactly is all this?”  Malik gestured around him.

“I don’t know what all this is, but that,” Nick pointed to the cryo-tank, “is a cryo-tank.   It’s designed to perfectly preserve a living being and allow them to sleep for an indefinite amount of time.”

“And you agreed to be put in that thing?”

Nick could hear the disbelief in Malik’s voice and shrugged.  He had, but he had never thought he’d be in there for as long as he was.

“Yes, I did.  What of it?”  Anger took the place of his fear as he faced off against what he’d already guessed was a vampire.  What other explanation could there be for the milky white skin, fangs, and odd colored eyes? 

“Why?  I mean, sorry, but what would have possessed you to agree to something like that?”

Malik stared at him like he’d just grown two heads or something and Nick had to seriously bite back the laughter that bubbled up.  Well, considering he was standing here talking to a vampire, who knew what else was possible at this point.

“Not that it’s any of your business, but when you lose your house, your job, and your boyfrie…” Nick grimaced as he realized what he had just about said.  Were vampires any more tolerant of gays than humans were?  Was that something else that had changed during his forty years of sleep?

“You don’t have to worry; vampires have never been as uptight as humans.  About a lot of things.”  Malik smirked, his eyes growing heated as they roved up and down Nick’s barely covered body causing him to pull the lab coat tighter around him.  “See, uptight.”

Nick chose not to respond and instead focused on what was more important.  He’d apparently slept undisturbed for forty years and probably would have slept away even more years had it not been for Malik.  For that he did owe the guy a debt of gratitude, as much as he hated to admit it.  Who knows what else he would have missed, considering he apparently already missed the existence of vampires.

“So, care to tell me what else I’ve missed?  Other than the existence of vampires, that is.”  Nick kept his distance from Malik as he made his way around the room.  If he remembered right, and he was sure he did, they had put his clothes in one of the lockers.  He kept one eye on Malik as he worked his way around the room, surprised when he got to the lockers and found them undisturbed, despite the destruction of the rest of the room.  He turned away from Malik and reached to open the locker he remembered them putting his stuff in only to slam his hand angrily against the metal at the sight of the lock. 

“What did that locker ever do to you?” Malik’s voice sounded from just behind him and made him jump nearly a foot.

“God, would you relax, I told you I wouldn’t hurt you.  Some of my kind would, but I’ve devoted my life to keeping your race safe.”  Malik’s hands fell on Nick’s shoulders and moved him out of the way.  “That’s a flimsy ass lock.” 

Nick watched in both fear and awe as Malik took the bottom of the lock in his hand and pulled.  His jaw dropped at the now open lock and he glanced at Malik out of the corner of his eye.  Was the lock as flimsy as the vampire said, or was he just that strong?  He breathed a sigh of relief and hurriedly opened the locker when he saw Malik step away.  He was overjoyed to see his clothes still hanging neatly in the locker and grabbed them and pulled them on, only turning to face Malik once he was fully dressed. He shut the locker with a slam as Malik’s words penetrated.

“What do you mean some of your kind would?” 

“I think maybe you’d better sit down.”  Malik motioned to a chair and from the stiffness of his shoulders; Nick knew that the coming news wasn’t going to be good.

“That bad?” He sat and clenched his hands in his lap as he waited to hear what else he’d missed.

“Yeah, that bad.”  Malik raked his hands through his hair.  “I’m not going to cover the last forty years; we don’t have time for that right now.  I’m only going to tell you have to know.”

Nick wasn’t going to argue.  He was willing to take whatever he could get at the moment.  He just wanted to know what kind of world he was going to be faced with when he left this stupid building.  Which he hoped would be happening very very soon.  He just nodded his acceptance and waited for Malik to start.

“About ten years ago, my kind decided we were done hiding.  It started with just a few of us, but eventually nearly all vampires made themselves known.  People were scared, but after a year or so they seemed to pretty much accept us.” 

Nick snorted in disbelief.  It only took other humans a year to accept vampires, but gays had been trying to be accepted for years.  Go figure.  Malik seemed to just ignore him and kept going.

“There were still those that wanted nothing to do with us, but they were the minority.  Anyways, werewolves and other shape shifters decided that if vampires could come out, so to speak, then so could they.  Human’s seemed to take a little longer to warm up to them, but eventually they did.”  Malik swallowed and took a deep breath before continuing.  “About two years ago, a sect of vampires decided that they no longer wanted to just be accepted.  They felt that as the stronger species, they should rule and set out to enslave your people.”

Fury rose in Nick and he felt his hands start shaking, no longer from cold but from the anger that coursed through him.    His nails dug into his skin, puncturing it and causing blood to well up to the surface.  He saw Malik’s gaze dart to his hands before focusing once more on his face as he continued.

“They claimed that human’s job was to be their servants, not unlike your people’s Civil War.  They gathered their forces and stormed the west coast, killing or enslaving anyone who opposed them.   Women, and some men, are forced…”

Nick shook his head, not wanting to hear it.  He could already imagine what they were made to do.  Malik didn’t need to spell it out for him.  His whole body was nearly vibrating with the strength of his fury and it was all he could do to sit here and listen.

“Most Were’s opposed them and joined forces with those like me.  We just want to live peacefully with your kind.  Unfortunately, the sect grew stronger and stronger and gradually started to force us back.  We protect your people as best as we can but we can’t be everywhere.  Every time the sect manages to gain ground, we take those we can to somewhere that’s safe.  Our biggest fear is that they’re not going to stop with just your country.”  Malik’s voice had dropped to where Nick had to strain to hear the last of what he said.

“Surely you can push them back.”  Nick didn’t know why he thought that, but surely in vampire versus vampire the good guys would eventually win.

“Sometimes we gain ground, other times we lose ground.  It’s taken them nearly a year to push us back this far, but more and more of my kind keep joining them.  While I fight when necessary, I’m more of a scout, looking ahead for safe places to take your kind.”  Malik gestured around the room they were in.  “This place may not look like much, but it’s easily defendable.”

Nick’s brain went into overtime, trying to remember everything he could about vampires, not that he’d ever thought any of it was true.  He hadn’t believed in vampires, but since they were obviously real, maybe some of the legends were true too.  Sunlight.  That was it.  Their biggest weakness.

“What about sunlight?  Doesn’t that kill your kind?”  Even before he’d agreed to being put in the cryo-tank they’d had UV lights that simulated sunlight, those could be used at night.

“It hurts like hell, but it doesn’t kill us, at least not immediately.  Don’t get me wrong, your people put up a good fight in the beginning, but it wasn’t enough, even with our aid.”

“Garlic?”

“Legend.”

“Holy Water?” Nick’s mind grasped at any idea that came to him.

“Again, hurts like hell, doesn’t make us burst into a pile of ashes.”  Malik took a step towards him.  “Your people believed the same way that those things would save them, they don’t.  All they do is piss the sect off even more and make them more blood thirsty.”

Nick's shaking was no longer from simply anger.  The more Malik talked, the more scared he became until his trembling was from nothing more than gut wrenching fear.    Did he really sleep away forty years just to be killed by a sect of vampires?  Just what kind of world had he woken up to and how was he going to survive?  Maybe he should just go back in the cryo-tank.



So, what did you think of my prompt attempt?  Like it?  Hate it?  Let me know!


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