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R. Eric

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About R. Eric

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    Charleston, South Carolina
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    I write...A lot.

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  1. Chapter 71

    You'll see.
  2. Chapter 71

    We decided that night to enjoy this stateroom. Now, I wasn’t concerned with how much it cost. Not anymore. We didn’t go anywhere that day. We even put the “do not disturb” sign on the door and spent all evening and night being together and made love many times. Waking up, I answered nature’s call and came back, opening the curtains to our outside balcony on the second floor of our stateroom. I smiled at what I saw. I heard Tony moving in bed and looked as he looked up as he curled my pillow under him and he blinked at the bright morning light shining in. “You’ll be happy to know…” I said smiling. “We’re in a city now. No nature stuff today.” Tony grinned. “You love that stuff, baby.” He got up and walked over next to me and looked out over the city. He gave a shrugging nod. “It’s a bit smaller than I’m used to…” I rolled my eyes and hugged him. “But you can shop and do what you want.” I shook my finger at him. “But don’t think I won’t give you a hard time about it.” Tony chuckled. “Of course, you will.” He said kissing me. “I would expect nothing less.” “I should order your kawfee.” I grinned and turned to go to the phone, but he grabbed me and pulled me back to him as he hands went over me. “I feel a lot better this morning.” He smiled kissing me again, but wasn’t holding anything back. He really didn’t before, but now… I nodded as he kissed my neck, his lips tracing along my jawline. “There was an elephant in our room. We needed to discuss it.” I said simply. I pushed him away just enough so he could see my face. “Now, we are going to enjoy this trip!” I said firmly. He was facing a potentially dangerous illness. I had heard there were stages he would go through. Talking about it helped some. He kissed me deeper and with more intent. “I love you, Mitch.” I hugged him. “I don’t ever tire of hearing it. I love you, too.” He smiled bigger. “Maybe you should hold off on calling for the coffee just now.” He said as his hands were now roaming over me and we went back to bed and made love again. Coffee was eventually ordered and we showered and got dressed. Then we went to breakfast. “Is there something you want to do or somewhere you want to go?” I asked at breakfast. “They have shopping excursions to go on…” Tony shook his head and smiled. “Nah, I prefer winging it.” Then he shrugged. “I looked up on the Internet the places I could go, so we’ll try that.” “I’m with you.” We did walk off the ship and toured around Auckland. This was not New York City, but it was a city. We went to several stores and looked at many things. I loved many of the shops with items and crafts made by the Maori people there. They were fascinating to me. While I knew they were Polynesian, they…to me had very unique appearance! There were a few handsome men, if I had been free and they asked me, I would not have turned down for a date. They were handsome people of course, but liked a lot of tattoos. I didn’t care, but not that many and over their face? I was surprised that Tony didn’t go to a more…fashion driven business. Then I thought, we’d been to Milan and bought in Manhattan for this trip, so why? We bought some beautiful pieces of art to send to my mother and father. We did buy shirts for David, Sasha and Alik and had them sent home with the great designs on the front. Those great swirling designs and we even got one of the ceremonial masks they sometimes wore, not that they needed them with the elaborate face painting they often did. We went up and down Queen Street and even had a nice lunch. It wasn’t long when I noticed…quite happily, Tony was more relaxed and he was cutting up like he always did. We ate at the Mamak Malaysian Restaurant where…he’d been places I never dreamed I’d go, but he was looking uncertain at some of the dishes. I chuckled as he was reading. “I gather this is chicken.” He said. “Why is it in curry?” I laughed. “If it wasn’t, it wouldn’t be Curry Chicken Laksa if it didn’t.” I said logically. “There are many other items.” I pointed to the menu. “There’s chicken or beef murtabak…” “Murdabak…what the hell is that!?” I laughed harder seeing the old Tony I liked was beginning to surface more. He could see it! I loved him, of course, but I liked Tony like this. “It’s fried bread, babe…” I pointed to the menu where it said that. “Tony, not everything has to be Italian! If you wanted that, they have restaurants here that are Italian! You could have had your macaroni and gravy!” “We can do that at home!” He stated his objection loudly indignant. I pulled him to me kissing him. This was my Tony. We had a great time! There was one incident that could have been…unpleasant. There was always a line when boarding as those key/ticket things had to be used to check us onboard. A good thing to do to make sure everyone was back, but if you didn’t make it back…well, catch a transport to the next port of call if you wanted to stay on the ship. They wouldn’t wait. As we were getting back on the ship with many other passengers…the lottery winners were in line as well. I don’t recall their names and I don’t want to remember. They were…middle age, but clearly didn’t think about their appearance, but looked like tourists. He was a little heavy and there were sweat stains under his arms on his inexpensive shirt. She was…well…big earrings and big hair. Should I say more? Clearly, they had problems with homosexuals when whatever conversation with his wife in a louder than necessary, used the words “disgusting queers” clearly aimed at us. Tony smiled at me, but his smile wasn’t happy and then turned to the man. I had seen Tony happy, upset and many emotions in between, but this look he gave...Tony walked up very menacingly to this…person. Tony was a few inches taller, but I don’t think this man thought Tony could be violent. Tony was queer! We were all pansies, right? I had not seen this side of Tony before. The man’s eye grew at Tony’s expression of almost pure hatred came through loud and clear to the lottery winner. The lottery man’s wife grabbed her husband’s arm in shock. I don’t think lottery guy knew how threatening Tony could be and he didn’t expect Tony to strike back. I didn’t know Tony could look that way either! Well, he did growl at my ex…whatever he was that was Ted. “Tony.” I said cautioning him not wanting to let go of his hand. He backed the man against the wall portion of the entrance. “Listen to me, you stupid pig of a man!” He said loud so everyone could hear. “I’ve enjoyed being here, so far. I don’t know where you came from and I don’t give a damn. Who the HELL do you think you are?” He said raising his fist, but held back and instead got closer raising his finger to shake in the man’s face. “You think you can just cast these insults at me or my husband and there will be no consequence!?” He said louder as he shook his head. “I don’t know what sort of queer you’re used to dealing with back where you came from. Again, I don’t give a damn. This queer will promise you this, say anything again, there will be a potentially violent reaction. Stay away from us! In fact, when you see us approach on the ship…head the other way. If you say one more insult in our direction and you’ll find out what that reaction will be! Go back to your white trash, doublewide life, trailer park world; enjoy the money for now, because from what I’ve seen, it won’t last. You’ll be broke soon enough, but I promise you this, you’ll be swimming back to shore if I hear one more word from that gaping pie hole. I will toss your ass over the side!” He shouted making the man cower a little more. “Tony you were insulting as well.” I said to him so everyone else could hear. “What!?” Tony looked at me surprised. “He deserves a hell of a lot more!” He thumbed in lottery guy’s direction. I grinned at Tony as I waved to the man. “Not about him…” I said putting my arm in his, “I’m talking the insult to pigs you just made! I’ve known quite a few pigs in my life, you know about me and animals. They’re pretty smart; messy, but smart.” I looked at the man. “You’re not very smart. It’s a big world and there are millions of us queers in the world. You’re in it, but don’t see it? Unfortunately, we’re where you’re from, too…poor people. We’re everywhere!” Then I said. “Now, my Tony’s Italian…and from New York City. Mobsters and all that. I would seriously consider that if I were you! You can only insult a New York Italian so long before the rest of our huge family gets involved.” Tony laughed drawing me closer. “And we do have a huge family.” He turned back to the man and said angrily. “Stay out of our bedroom! I don’t even want to imagine yours!” Tony shuddered as he handed his card to the crewman who checked us onboard who smiled at us a little carefully. Not because he was scared of Tony, but silently approved? The other passengers boarding suddenly started applauding. This lucky couple apparently made no friends on this trip. They were toxic! Tony took my hand as we entered the bulk of the ship. The toxic couple looked like they couldn’t understand why we were being supported! As Tony and I strolled slowly back through the luxurious area on deck 2. “I had a great time today.” Tony said smiling. “That was fun.” He said pulling me closer as he threw his arm over my shoulders and kissing me on the temple as we went. “I did, too.” I nodded and looked at him. “Sir Samuel’s for coffee?” He grinned. “You read my mind.” He smiled at me. “You do that after all these years.” “Bravo!” We heard a British accented woman’s loud voice behind us. Turning, we saw Louise and Ben Parker, two of our friends at our dinner table. “Hi, Louise!” I greeted our friends, waving at Ben. “Hi, Ben.” “You showed remarkable restraint dealing with that man.” Ben said smiling. “For a minute there, I thought you would hit him. I would have.” Louise hit him lightly. Tony looked away and then smiled back. “It really was very tempting. I really wanted to.” “But you didn’t. He’s such a nasty, horrible man.” Louise shook her head with distain. “Will we see you at dinner later?” Tony nodded. “We’ll be there.” We waved them as they headed for their cabin. “I don’t understand about him.” Tony confessed to me. “He’s rather dim. I’m bigger than he is!” I shrugged. “I don’t know, but…gay men are not always the fighting kind. Most of us in the past were sort of…seen as wimpy.” Tony looked astonished. “They’re not like that in New York!” He said simply. “And you certainly are not a wimp.” I had watched Tony as we were preparing to go here, but I watched as this cancer scare took a lot of his joy away from him. That unknown had weighed heavily on him, but we’d talked about it and I saw him start to come back. Now the weight was lessened and he was getting there, but now…I watched him smile wide and looked at me. “We’re on the Queen Mary.” He said as he was finally getting it. The dark unknown threat had overshadowed much in his mind. I had said and knew there were stages he would go through. We would travel this path and there would many times he would get angry, deny and other parts, but for now, we had a plan and he was finally becoming aware of where he was. I nodded and smiled. “Yes, we are. We have been on it a week.” He shook his head. “No! I’m on the Queen Mary!!” I chuckled at his realization of the obvious. “Yes, you are.” I said kissing him. “Welcome aboard, babe.” I’ve used the phrase about a child on Christmas morning being excited about a present they always wanted. That kid had nothing on Tony’s jubilation! “I’m on the Queen Mary!!!” He shouted thrusting his arms in the air in triumph and grabbed me and did a fast waltz swinging me around in happiness. He even provided the music as he hummed causing many around us to move out of our way, but they all chuckling and smiled at his joy! We had our coffees and went up to get ready for the night. I loved that he was happy again...for now. He was so happy; the man was whistling! As I was about to get ready after my shower, he suddenly grabbed me, brought me in the bedroom and threw me on the bed and proceeded kissing me hungrily which I gave back with equal force! To hell with dinner! I preferred him! We would order room service if we needed to. We made love again!! We cleaned up and finished dressing, fortunately it wasn’t a formal night and we were fifteen minutes late. “Sorry we’re late.” Tony said quickly as he let go of my hand and we sat down. Rene Girard smiled at us, but his knowing smile said he knew why we were late…or at least suspected. We were on vacation and he knew we were in love. Two plus two is four, right? “Well, this is a special ship.” Deon said with the light French accented English and taking her husband’s hand. “It’s magical what it can do.” I agreed. “It can do magic.” “You’ll be doing without us again tomorrow night.” Tony said. “We celebrate our birthdays tomorrow.” Louise Parker smiled. “That’s nice you do it together.” She looked at our other friends and told them what Tony had done to the lottery winner when we came back from Auckland. Tony was blushing, but smiling as they discussed it at length together. Tony and I had a pleasant evening on the beautiful ship enjoying the warm weather and each other. The next day we were at Bays of Islands. Again, we dressed, after the coffee was delivered and went to breakfast. On the way however, we found a dark headed bear of a man in his forties; I mean he was huge! He towered over nearly everything. Well over six and a half feet tall and I bet nearly three hundred pounds! A giant. With his height, that three hundred pounds wasn’t bad, but he was going to gain weight if not careful. He was…rugged, in a not bad kind of way. He was looking for…something. He was holding a shirt and something else and getting frustrated. He looked at us and pleaded. “Help, please?” He pleaded in a very accented voice. I smiled as I recognized the accent as soon as he spoke. “Конечно, мы поможем тебе.” Telling him of course we’d help him. I told you the Russian alphabet was bizarre. (The rest will be written in English. So, just relax.) The man’s eyes lit up and he smiled. “You speak Russian!?” He said surprised, but happy at this discovery. Tony smiled and pushed me forward. “He does.” But he said it in Russian, which proved his what he just said, false. I rolled my eyes and looked at this new man. “He can speak Russian, as you just heard he can.” Tony nodded. “He speaks better that I do.” “I am Ivan Belov.” The man said shaking my hand. “I speak English a little…” I smiled. “Okay, Ivan…” I remembered what Sasha told me about Russian intolerance to gays. “I’m Mitch McKenzie.” I waved to Tony. “This is Tony Delveccio.” Ivan nodded. “I’ve seen you two around the ship! Yes.” “Then you know we’re together, we’re married.” I said carefully. Ivan nodded as he smiled. “Yes! I’m glad!” He said happily. “I could see you were lovers, I’m glad you are serious!” Then his eyes narrowed trying to understand. “Why do you speak Russian?” I was relieved at his reaction. “We have a special couple of Russians as friends…one of which is joining the family. He said most Russians didn’t really like us.” Ivan’s face looked…embarrassed? “It is not really…accepted in Russia, but it’s getting better.” He smiled more. “You go out in the world and see it’s not so bad…or rare.” He looked at his shirt and piece of paper. “Now, if you can help me?” He held up his shirt. “This is to give the laundry instructions, but it’s in English! Where is extra starch?” He waved the form. “I need to have this shirt for tonight.” Tony chuckled. “You could use the phone in your stateroom? Someone would help you.” Ivan looked surprised. “I am ashamed to!” He shrugged and gestured toward us. “I get to meet you!” I chuckled and pointed the extra starch out on the laundry slip. “You came on this ship, which is British, sailing around major English-speaking countries. Why?” Ivan looked surprised. “Why!?” He waved at the ship. “This is the Queen Mary! I tried for years to get on her! I didn’t care where it was going, this is the Queen Mary!” Tony nudged me gently and said. “Vedere? Te l'avevo detto.” He said to say he told me so. I looked back and grinned. “Zitto.” I told him to shut up. Ivan smiled. “That…I know is Italian.” A small woman in her late thirties came out looking in the corridor. “Ivan, I told you to use the phone to get that done. We have to go!” “Okay.” Ivan admitted embarrassed. “They come here after they find someone that speaks Russian and I have to explain…that’s too much, this was faster!” What was surprising was the size difference. He was well over six feet tall and huge! She was a petite little woman maybe a full foot shorter and thin with blonde hair, but this huge man was a marshmallow when it came to her. “Katya, come meet my new friends!” He said proudly. “This is my wife!” He waved to us. “Meet Mitch McKenzie and Tony Delveccio. They both speak Russian!” Tony smiled again. “He does.” I reached back taking Tony’s hand. She smiled and held her hand out. “We’ve seen you around the ship!” Tony pulled me to him closer, looking at our new friends over my shoulder. “We need to leave if we’re to make the shuttle. We still need to eat breakfast.” He said in English pitifully telling me he was hungry. “Speak Russian with our new friends, Tony.” I said in Russian and looked back at our new friends. “Well, he needs more coffee and breakfast or he’ll waste away. That is what he just said. We’ll be around.” I chuckled as Tony kept his arms around me as we walked. I waved to Ivan and Katya. On the way to breakfast Tony squeezed me as we walked. “Maybe I should invest more in that translation unit.” He shrugged. “It works with Russian.” “I thought we were testing the unit, doesn’t it need a better program?” I asked. Tony nodded. “The software is being developed for other languages, but…” he chuckled. “It seems all you’ve downloaded on the computer is about Russian. And you’ve downloaded quite a bit.” He shrugged. “I see great potential in it.” I hugged him as we walked. “Far be it from me to argue with the investing genius.” Tony’s and my affections were not hidden by us and now, we were a lot freer. At long last, Tony got his breakfast! And kawfee!
  3. Chapter 70

    After the turmoil of emotions expressed, I spooned him that night. He needed me. I did cry a little more, quietly, but I wouldn’t let go. I couldn’t. I talked to whatever power was in charge and questioned why this horrible thing could happen. He or She, deity or force knew all about me and even knew what I was thinking. Denying I felt or thought badly about them or this horrible event and why they allowed it was no secret from Him. Baptists didn’t have the thing where we had to have somebody else talk for us, I told Him I had doubts and wanted to understand why. Tony was sick? The doctor said he didn’t know yet. Tony said he could feel it. His father had it, but Angelo was in his seventies!! Tony was in his forties! The thing was, Tony needed me. It was later when I felt Tony stir from his favored position on me. During the night he had turned. He liked to hear my heartbeat, so he sometimes slept on my chest. He smiled at me, but his expression was subdued, almost embarrassed. “Good morning.” He said softly. I smiled as I looked in his eyes as I ran my fingers in his hair. “It’s nearly noon, but, yes, it’s a good morning. It will be great day.” We had been together for years now and I knew as he began to get ready to say more and I stopped him bringing him into a kiss. Not our typical good morning kiss; nor was it a consuming with desire kiss. I wanted him to know, without saying it, that I loved him. Words couldn’t do the emotion justice; not this time. “If you’re going to say what I think you are, don’t.” I said softly as my fingers were in his hair again. His eyebrows rose and I saw the very slight…but it was there, humor in his eyes. “How do you know what I’m going to say?” “Because I know you, Tony.” I said simply. “We’ve been together five…going on six years now. You think I don’t know what you’re going to say? But, if you think you have to; go ahead, say it.” “I was just going to say, I’m sorry…” I was nodding as I know my eyes showed him I knew it. “See!?” I said quickly. “I knew you were going to say that!” I rolled on top of him. “Listen, Tony Delveccio, we stood before God and a whole lot people who are our family and friends, vowed to stick together through good times and bad times, richer or poorer.” What I said next was more difficult than I thought due to a lump I was feeling due to the heaviness of emotions I was feeling. “Sickness and health. Right now, we’re going through that will be bad. Never apologize to me about having feelings. I will always be at your side, and I will be on your side. Always.” I smiled kissing him, but I knew there was a tear forming in my eye and I didn’t wipe it away. Tony pulled me closer. “I guess you do know me.” He kissed me deeper. “So, what do you know about what I want to do right now?” “Yes.” Looking at him and I felt so…much love and agony at what he was facing and he knew I would be there for him. “But before we do, I know that we’re going to go back and forth about this situation…you’ll be calm sometimes, I will be other times. We’ve always been completely honest with each other. We tell each other everything.” I said. “Last night, you told me you were scared.” Now, the tear fell unchecked by me. “I’m scared, too. I am terrified.” He squeezed me more as I saw sorrow in his eyes. “You are not doing this. It’s just happening to you. I am so scared that I will lose you.” As much as I tried to keep my voice steady, it broke. “I am amazed that I could love anyone like I do you. I never knew it was possible. I wish you could feel how much…so I have to tell you in words which are inadequate.” I watched as his eyes were watering. “I…” I looked deeply in his eyes, “…love…” I saw and heard my tear hit his chest, “…you.” I kissed him again, longer and more intense and heard his breathing hitch. “I will do all I can to keep you alive. I’ll give anything, any organs I have…my whole self to keep you here and alive and healthy. I need you, Tony.” His lips were quivering as he held me so I could see him. “I’m here now.” He barely got out. “Love me, Mitch.” “I do, Tony.” I said kissing him. “I will.” Love making that morning took on a whole new meaning for me. We had many wild nights, we had slow passion other times, but this time…I put all my desire for him and how much I loved having him, right now, with me. Why worry about losing him later when he was here with me now? I was determined that I would love that he was with me and treasure each moment we had together. It was later when he again pulled me to him. I felt his lips on my neck. “We’re missing Tauranga.” Tony said softly. I smiled and rolled over facing him. “So?” I shrugged. “Our time together is a little more important than another nature filled…whatever.” “You love all that nature stuff!” I shook my head. “I love you way more than all the flowers and animals, Tony.” I smiled at him. “You’ve wanted to be on the Queen Mary…” I tried to remember when he brought it up and how many times, “a long time! We are! You need to have things you want to see and do. We’ll do them! This is our trip!” Tony chuckled. “Yes, it is. We’ll be in Auckland tomorrow.” He leaned in kissing me lightly. “Let’s spend the day together here.” “We should order dinner brought here as well.” I suggested. “I’m not feeling like…socializing tonight.” Tony’s eyebrows rose questioning and I knew him. “I didn’t say we couldn’t see a show or something…go dancing…but I want just you today.” I smiled. “Okay?” Tony nodded and smiled at me. “That would be great.” He rolled over and got up and went to the desk. “In fact, I say we order lunch and dinner and have it here.” He shrugged. “We’re here for a few more days. We can stay here, enjoy the stateroom and each other.” He grinned. “But one thing I need right now…?” I nodded and said it with him smiling back. “Is kawfee!” I even said it like he does. He chuckled shaking his head. “You know me so well.” He said picking up the phone by our bed to order his precious coffee. Later we would order our…lunch? Dinner? It was going to be a meal! He plopped down again on the bed and handed me the menu. “Like you said…it may be nothing.” I nodded as I looked at the menu and again…I couldn’t stop touching him. He didn’t mind. “You said you feel it was…something.” He nodded. “I do.” He confessed. “If it is something…I will have to go through treatments.” “Of course, you will.” “It will make me…sick.” He said softly, but not looking at me. “It will.” I agreed pulling his head gently to look at me. “But you fight this, damn it.” “I intend to, but I will be weak and…” he hesitated. “Can I ask that we don’t tell anyone?” He saw my expression and held his hand up. “I mean, not at first.” “Sure.” I put the menu down and lowered us down on the bed. “If we can defeat this, no one needs to know, but…here’s that Mitchism again.” I saw him smile at that. “We’re worrying about the ride on the horse when we haven’t located the saddle. Hell, the horse is still in the pasture! We need to get the information from Dr. Keogh, about the….” I waved at him, “…whatever in you and he will tell us the treatment you need to get rid of it.” Tony frowned. “I’ve known people that have gone through that chemo and radiation. They got sick.” “All at once?” I asked wanted him to think. It could, it might and yet he needed not to see it as inevitable. “No, it was gradual.” I nodded and again, leaned in a kissed him lightly. “This is important, I know. I know you’re scared. It’s worse because we don’t know. I’m scared! I shouldn’t have to tell to feel free to say whatever you feel or think, okay? You know that. We’ll talk about whatever and I mean it. I am your husband, Tony. I will always listen.” I smiled. “If it was pancreatic cancer, I’d be very worried, but this could go on for years!” I said begging him to see that. “The doctor didn’t tell us to cancel this, if he was worried, he would have made us stay to get treatment as soon as possible.” Tony nodded. “But it might! It runs in the family…!” I pulled him into a hug. “Please, baby…don’t surrender so quickly. If it is something, we’ll deal with it!” I promised. “Together!” I saw his eyes and they were clouded over. “Don’t give up. If it is serious, we deal with it.” He nodded and looked at me. “Promise me…not a word to Kathy, Al, Louise…nobody.” He looked at me determined. “Especially not to Nick.” He sat up. “We go on with our plans as usual. Nothing changes.” “Okay, baby.” I agreed. “No one will be told until they question what’s wrong.” “Not even then!” Tony shook his head. “We say I have something else.” “I can’t do that!” I objected. “I don’t lie well! You know that.” “You can evade the subject.” Tony shrugged. My eyes widened. “I’m going to evade a question from Kathy!?” I waved at him. “She’s a nurse for christ’s sake! Al’s a doctor! They will probably know without asking. You know your sister!” I saw Tony’s distressed look and I took his face in my hands. “Can we wait until we talk to Dr. Keogh? Find out what treatment he intends to give and what your reaction will be? It might not…” Tony moved quickly as he sat up. “I feel it! There’s something there! He said so.” He said pounding on his own chest. “I know there’s something wrong! My mother, my father, both parents on either side…almost no one’s died of anything else other than something related to cancer! I will get it!” He was now shouting. “I have it!” I jumped up beside him. “First, your father was elderly! He even said it himself he was old! Your mother was also elderly!” I shouted just as loud. “You’re not!” I threw my hands up. “Damn it, Tony! Your father had it for we don’t know how long when he got sick enough to go to the doctor and then it was too late! You didn’t! You will not just give up and die!! We have a chance!” My finger jabbed his chest over where he had pounded his chest making him back up slowly. Tony’s eyes widened. “Are you sure you’re not really Italian?” The humor was what it was, but I was on a roll and I wasn’t stopping. “You mean a lot to a bunch of people, Anthony Delveccio! You have a son, sisters, nieces and nephews that need you! More important, you have a husband. Me! I am your husband, I need you the most! We are going to fight this…thing you said you’ve got. Do you hear me?” Tony nodded and walked over and hugged me. “Sorry, I’m just worrying.” I held him to me. “It’s in your genes, I know.” I got us to sit down again and looked him in the eyes. “I will be with you the whole way, I promise.” I watched him smile at me. “I love you. Have I told you that?” Tony grinned. “No, I don’t think you’ve ever said that before to me.” I nodded as I pushed him on his back and straddled his middle, arms over his head. “Trying to dethrone me as the wiseass?” Tony chuckled as he surrendered. “I never stood a chance of doing that.” Then he said seriously. “I know you love me.” “Good.” I said running my nose in his chest hair and kissed his chest as I went. Tony smiled. “You know how I feel about you.” I propped on his chest as I mockingly looked unsure. “I don’t recall…” “I love you, Mitch.” He said seriously. “You’re my whole world.” He said softly. “Just, try to keep me sane.” Then we heard the soft melodic tone. “Never doubt I’ll be here, for whenever or whatever you need.” I said kissing him. “Your kawfee’s here.” I grinned. He laughed at me saying it that way. “I’m turning you into a YANKEE!!” He got up and was going down. “You might want to put a robe on?” I suggested waving at his nude form. “I love seeing it, but it might be a bit of a shock for the guy or girl with the coffee. As nice as the view is…” I waved again at his naked form. Tony waved that comment off, but got the robe on. “I’m sure I won’t the first.” I sighed knowing we were in for a long struggle. Tony was my whole world and I won’t let him go without a fight. I had to get his mind off this unknown and back on the trip we were on. This was his dream! But I was equally determined it wasn’t to be his last. “I ordered you that vanilla iced latte you love!” I heard from below making me grin more. “On my way.” We really didn’t do much that day, but spend time together. We did order the meal after drinking our coffee. “I may need to talk to someone.” I said as we finished our meal. Tony looked up. “You mean a therapist?” I shook my head. “Not like that yet…maybe later.” I smiled. “There are people in our lives that I would trust.” I said. “David is just that person. He’s my cousin, but he’s my good friend…always has been.” Tony nodded. “And therefore Sasha.” “We made Sasha our next of kin. We trust him.” I said. “They’re our family now, but no one else.” Tony nodded. “I have you to talk to, so…” he shrugged. “It makes sense.” He sat back with a sigh. “I just don’t want to worry anyone.” I took his hand. “That’s what family and friends do. They will worry because they love you.” I said. “It will happen.”
  4. Chapter 23

    We did go to our apartment at the VUN to do just that. We proved we loved each other…once…and basically lost consciousness afterwards. We were tired. It had been an intense couple days…hell, the entire journey from Egypt to Transylvania had been very intense. There was little time to really rest. I know even Colin had no idea how far spread the vampires were at the beginning. The vampire never trusted anyone and was always hidden. Now technology was catching up even with us. We were no longer hiding and trying to encourage others to take the serum and step back into the world and in the daylight. Colin and I really needed to go back to Dragon and try to stop this…crazy Russian from doing damage. What he wanted, I was pretty sure, was he wanted…well…to take over the world! Lucian was being used. He was another one that wanted something. Not to take over the world, but to strike back at a world he thought was unfair to him the past. I think. We needed to get back, so…well…we needed to make showering faster, but I always enjoyed Colin. A hot, wet and soapy Colin, how could I resist? The shower together ended up taking longer than we planned. Go figure. The plane would wait. It was the VUN’s plane! “We communicate with each other.” I said finishing dressing as I put my shoes on. Colin froze as he was putting his shirt on. “You and I communicate well.” He almost objected. I chuckled. “No, we…” I pointed and him and me, “…we are fine. I meant the different vampire groups around the world.” “That’s because of the trust issue again.” Colin said. I smiled at him. “Apparently, we don’t communicate that well, I need to just say it clearer. The Manhattan VUN and the British VUN need a better way to communicate.” I said standing up. “Soon…and I know we’ll be successful…are going to have to include the vampires in Romania with our group. All of Europe can become part of the VUN. We need a way to keep each other up to date. Like when we called Edwin for help with what’s coming up on October 31st. If we had…a web page, or something that can do that. We could just send them a request for help. In fact, I’d bet Edwin would volunteer if we didn’t ask because they’d already know.” “But webpages aren’t always secure.” Colin stated his doubt. “Our broadcasts with Dragon weren’t secure. Otherwise, that Vampire Death Squad wouldn’t be waging this…vigilante war on us now.” I walked over to him. “Don’t you think Stan…our brilliant Stan…couldn’t come up with a Website, secure, access restricted by…not passwords…” I frowned, “…I hate passwords, but retina scans, fingerprints…something that Edwin, you, me, Matt and soon Dragon or Gaius can access alone? Create a dummy page in case someone no part of the VUN accesses the page, but if accessed correctly, give us access to all things…” I grinned, “vampire.” Colin chuckled as he brought me closer to him. “I think we need to ask him.” He kissed me. “This is beginning to sound like…” he grimaced, “running a country.” “We are a country.” I said simply. “We are not in the same place by geography, we’re not held together to any ideology or religion, but we share an affliction. We’re vampires who need to take our place in this world.” I kissed him again. “And right now, you are the president of this country.” I grinned watching his eyes grow. “Me!?” Colin balked. “I’m not qualified to lead a country!” I smiled. “Are you kidding!? You are the most…dedicated man, honest, hard-working trustworthy man I’ve ever known. You’re smart. You’re over qualified! We can have elections when we are more consolidated, but for now, you’re president!” “You are too!” Colin stated firmly. “I don’t want to be seen as First Lady or First Gentleman.” I then gave him a serious look. “We may be facing something…” I hesitated. “If Iilya does what he wants…if they attack those people at the Transylvania Halloween festivities…we could all be exposed.” Colin nodded. “I thought of that.” He shrugged looking away. “The government in Romania can deny what happens, but…a lot of people will be exposed and they won’t be able to deny it long. There would TV coverage, not to mention the thousands of personal footage circulating on the Web.” Colin sat on the bed again. “In many ways…it would be a relief.” “How so?” “All this sneaking around and trying to avoid being discovered about who we are, avoiding daylight because it could kill us. We are what we are.” Colin said. “Do you think that would be better?” I asked sitting next to him. “Not at first.” Colin admitted. “But after people see us as just people…” “They won’t.” I said simply. “They can’t. I worry if people can accept we’re gay, add a vampire to the resume and just paint a target on us, aim and shoot. We are vampires. You know first they will fear us. Once that is proven untrue there will be those that want to be us, but many just won’t believe we aren’t dangerous.” Colin was shaking his head. “No. We need to stop Iilya from making more and killing.” He stood up and face away from me. “No one should go through what I did. What Gabriella went through and George, Willie…” I stood next to him. “But I haven’t.” I turned him around to look at me again. “Colin, you lived through Hell, I understand that, but I haven’t. My mother hasn’t. I have it pretty damned good.” I smiled. “Sure, after I was bitten, the first time I went through the serum to stop me from becoming a vampire. It worked, but I remember how much that hurt. The next time, I didn’t suffer…well, I did with the serum like you did a week. I got the disc and I haven’t had the hunger like you did. That one night I fed on blood because we had no serum. I never got the driving hunger. After I got the disc, I haven’t hurt at all.” Colin shook his head. “But you could become that vampire with that desire for blood you can’t control.” “Could! Not, would, as long as George has the serum and I take it, I won’t.” I was trying to impress on him that what we were and the serum could be misused. “George came up with this serum, chemically to take away all the bad parts about being a vampire and kept the good.” “Good.” Colin nodded, but clearly couldn’t accept what I was saying. “It’s obvious! We won’t die!” I said louder. “We don’t get sick! I’m saying there are people who will pay top dollar to be able to live and not get sick! Including Iilya. That’s what he wants.” I took Colin’s hand. “We need to talk to George.” “Why?” Colin asked as we left our apartment. I spoke as we walked in to corridor. “I kept trying to figure out why Iilya wanted the Old Ones.” I said. “I couldn’t figure it out, but I’m…getting an idea.” “We assumed he was going to use them to make more.” Colin stated. “Is he?” I asked going down the hall faster. “That’s the only reason?” Going into the lab, of course George was poring over what he’d gathered in Romania and other finds. This was a passion for George. “George.” I said causing him to turn around. “Why do you think Iilya will want Repetate and Iustina?” George looked puzzled. “To make other vampires. That’s why we brought them here to take that option away. And I could continue working on the cure, but Iilya would use them to make wild vampires.” He folded his arms as he thought. “He may think they could be used to make him a stronger vampire. It’s all conjecture right now as we’re guessing.” “Why an Old One?” I asked. “He has vampires and humans.” George shrugged. “Again, it will be conjecture, but they are the living source of the original venom; undiluted, pure venom.” “They knew about the serum, when?” I asked. “Just a few weeks to a few months ago, maybe.” George said. “You discovered the venom.” I said. George chuckled. “I didn’t discover the venom. It was always there.” He shrugged. “It more like when we say Benjamin Franklin discovered electricity. It was always there. Ben just figured out what lightening is made from. I just noticed the venom and found where vampires came from.” I held my finger up. “But are you the only one to notice this venom?” George’s eyebrows rose. “I don’t know.” I threw my hands up at the obvious. “You couldn’t know! We weren’t even really talking before a few decades ago. How could we know?” I touched George’s arm. “You are a brilliant man. I don’t know of a soul that knows more about vampires…” I stopped. “Wait! I couldn’t know, no one would share and kept it secret as we weren’t talking to each other yet. The closest we came was letters that took weeks to months in the beginning and only recently they hooked up by phone and email. What I’m going to say…” I collected my thoughts. “When did you notice the venom?” George thought. “It was in the 1950s. After I was bitten and became a vampire, I worked to discover what this was and find a solution. I was bitten in the late 1940s. It took about ten years to discover the venom.” “And the serum, when did you discover that?” George threw his arms in frustration. “I’m always finding the serum.” He said helplessly. “It’s been an ongoing, never ending process and still is. The first working serum I had in the late 1970’s allowed us to go in the sun for a few hours before we began to tingle. Additions were made and refinements were made as I worked out problems. I learned the best way to process what worked, a little, and made it work better. Then I got the serum to last most of the day. Then I got it to work all day, but it hurt a lot each time. Then down to a few hours a night after injecting the serum and the sun didn’t tingle or burn at all, the serum was worked better, we only suffered a few hours of agony a night.” He waved at Colin. “By the time he met you, I had it refined and so we could keep the serum levels up and only suffer a few minutes of pain a night. Now, we have no pain at all due to a better delivery method.” “And that is for as long as the serum disc is inserted.” Colin pointed out. “We could go back to what we are!” “But Nicolae could help eliminate that!” George argued back to Colin. I was nodding raised my hand to stop them. “Yes, yes…I get that. My point is there was no formula until recently. We are offering what people want! No inevitable end of life at fifty to eighty years. We don’t get sick. We now know of five Old Ones. There were two in England, Gizmo in Germany and the two we have here. There were hundreds…or even thousands of them at one time. We also know that they created hundreds, thousands of vampires, not to dismiss the countless deaths. Vampire to vampire, as we talk about generations, vampire bites a man and that man bites a human, so forth down the line to us! Among those vampires made…like you, they weren’t necessarily stupid. Someone may have noticed the venom before you did. They may want an Old One. Iilya’s trying to do the same thing! I’ll just bet on it.” I looked at George. “That morning we were shot, George, were there any vials of the serum missing? They knew we were starting Dragon on the serum. You would have it with you. The house was protected, but…on the path and not in the caverns?” “There vials taken by the police and…I don’t know. There were several missing.” George shrugged. “Things were a little chaotic.” “They knew about the serum! That may be what they were after.” “But they weren’t there to know how to administer it!” George objected. “It’s medicine as far as they’re concerned. They wouldn’t know the serum has to be in the heart at first to start the heart again.” I said the obvious. “If they try it in the arm, it won’t work. These men aren’t stupid, they could figure it out with enough trial and error.” I said. “What are you going to do with Repetate and Iustina?” “I was going to try Nicolae’s natural…antivenin and antibody on the venom.” “Would the serum work on the venom?” I asked. “Well, Wayne was bitten by an Old One and the serum worked on him if administered correctly.” George said. “But I wasn’t going to do that, I was using the antivenin and antibodies I strengthened from Nicolae on the Old One’s venom.” “But Iilya and Lucian don’t know about Nicolae.” I looked at Colin. “Do they?” “Lucian knew about Gaius, I’m sure he knows Nicolae is Gaius’ son, but…” Colin shook his head. “No, they probably watched us come and go, but we didn’t do much with Nicolae there or know why we need him.” He looked at George. “We really didn’t talk about Nicolae. Most of the things with him was done at the house or his own house.” “And we moved Repetate and Iustina so quickly. They may know we took them, but not where.” I said. “I never sense a vampire around other than Dragon’s people. They may not even know they’re gone.” “You think they’ll attack Halloween Night?” George asked. “To get the Old Ones?” “Dragon is not one of them anymore.” I said. “We changed many of the vampires with Dragon and the last of them is being changed this week.” I said. “They did know we were doing that. While everything is going on at Dracula’s Castle, the defenses for the cavern where Dragon kept Iustina and Repetate will be at their lowest. They think we’ll all be at the Castle to stop them, I bet they will go to the caverns to get Iustina and Repetate! Dragon wouldn’t allow anyone to take them, but they might count on Dragon being busy that night as well.” Colin gave an appreciative nod. “Do you have a plan?” I grinned. “Of course! Let’s give them what they want! The caverns with few guards.” I smiled. “Only we’ll be waiting for them.” “They’ll sense us.” Colin said. I shook my head. “Other than your daughter, can vampires sense anything else other than there is a vampire?” Colin chuckled. “I can’t.” He waved at George. “Can you?” George shook his head. “Nope.” I nodded. “They will expect some vampires will be there, but this time…it will be us! The festivities at the Castle and in the town will have a few of our vampires in it. That’s covered. We need to be there when Iilya and Lucian gets there.” “They will bring others to help them.” Colin said. “We’ll be armed.” I said. “With serum and sun guns as well as other things like pepper spray or mace for the humans. They won’t expect that.” I frowned. “Maybe a gun for Iilya and Lucian.” “But, Honey, they’re dangerous.” Colin reminded. “They won’t stop.” I nodded holding my hand up to stop him from going on. “I know! I was willing to shoot Iustina and Repetate, but only if I had to. I would shoot Iilya and Lucian…if I have to.” I sighed. “Iilya is a product of Soviet attempts to take control. It was overdone, but he is what he was created to be, just like Iustina and Repetate.” I looked at Colin. “You said it before. With Iustina and Repetate, we give them the blood and satiate their hunger and keep them away from untreated humans and they are no threat. We can’t give Iilya anything to do that. There’s reason he is what he is, but that’s no excuse.” I nodded. “We will have to kill him. He’s gone far beyond his training and conditioning. He’s a psychopath, a threat. We have to rid us of that threat and Lucian with him. I don’t think he will listen to reason.” I looked at Colin. “I don’t have to like it.” Colin brought me close to him as he hugged me and kissed my forehead. George gave a smile. “Well, before you leave…why not have a meal? I was going to meet with Nicolae and Helga later. You should meet them too, and their three children.” Colin nodded as he released me a little. “That would be great.” We gathered in the VUN’s restaurant where we saw Nicolae again. Helga was blonde, but that wasn’t her fault, poor thing. (My preference, remember?) She was in her late thirties, but a pretty woman. They had three children; two boys and a girl. The girl was in the middle in age with her brothers, one older, about sixteen or seventeen with dark hair like his father and grandfather, named Rica, the girl, about twelve named Gina, also had dark hair and the other youngest was blonde like his mother named Jan about seven. The children knew, like most in Romania, how to speak English, so no translators were needed. Helga smiled as we consumed our meals and again, amazed at how much Colin could eat. “I hope this situation is over soon.” She said quietly. “I know this is important.” She looked at me and smiled as she told us. “I met Nick and he told me before we were married what his father was…” she laughed lightly, “of course, I didn’t really believe him at first, but I met Gaius and who could deny it?” Colin nodded. “People always have a problem with accepting what we are.” Greta nodded. “And you’re like Gaius? You have to be. I’ve seen what you’re done for Gaius and I want to help…but we have jobs…a life in Romania I want to go back to it.” I smiled at Greta. “Well, the next week will tell the tale.” I said. “But it would be very dangerous if anything happened to your family; Nicolae in particular. He carries a natural way to keep him human. We need that. It could be a cure for us. We’ll get you back as soon as it’s safe.” I brightened and looked at her children. “In the meantime, enjoy Manhattan! There are all sorts of sights and places to go.” I looked at Rica. “We have a gaming system in your suite. There is a library of games to choose from and movies by the thousands.” I watched Rica’s and Jan’s eyes grow hearing that. Nicolae growled, but smiled. “Don’t tell them that! We’ll never get them outside!” Then he chuckled at his sons. “You’ll be spoiled staying here. I may not be able pry you off!” The visit was nice. They were good people, but soon, we needed to return to Romania. Saying good-bye to George and Burke, we then took the helicopter to the airport. We took the plane back, only this time, not in a container!
  5. Chapter 22

    We got to the caverns and went down to Iustina and Repetate. They were a little uneasy, but smiled at me when I came in their cell. “Okay.” I said to them as I also smiled so they would stay calm. “We’re going to take you for a little trip.” I explained and showed them again the imagines of a helicopter. “First, we’ll take you in this, then we get to the plane and we will get in the container and take a longer trip in the airplane.” Dragon came in the cell. “La revedere, semenii. Nu vă faceţi griji, ne vedem din nou, dar nu pentru o perioada de timp. Acest lucru este pentru binele tau. Ok?” The translator I had told me Dragon told them good bye and he would see them again, but not for a while. This was for their own good. He smiled at them. “Veţi fi în siguranţă, promit.” He assured them they would be safe and promised them. Then I swear, Dragon, now that he has the moisture even cried a little. He looked at me. “Take care of them, please, Devon.” He said and brought both Iustina and Repetate in a hug and then looked at them each. “A fi bun pentru, Devon. Ne vedem în curând.” He told them to be good for me and he’d see them soon.” They may be predators for people, but I could see Dragon loved them. What was more, they clearly loved him. I nodded and touched Dragon’s arm. “I will take good care of them.” Dragon nodded. “Nicolae and Helga will be meeting you at the base and going with you from there.” Dragon said. He looked worried. “They’ve not been outside in decades. Their sense of smell is remarkable. They might smell people in the area. It was how they located and tracked prey.” I hated to use them, but… “They don’t have…” I thought of a kind word, but there was none, “…leases or chains?” “You couldn’t hold them.” He smiled. “They may not look it, but their very strong; especially when they smell blood.” Dragon shook his head. “They would have to be if they can take down a grown man down, even by surprise.” “That’s why we haven’t bothered with chains. I bet if they wanted to they could have pried open those iron bars. What’s odd was, they seem to like it down here. Just…lure them with blood and they should go willingly. That’s how we got them down here.” He grinned. “Though you might want to hold their hands.” “They had a comfortable life and didn’t have to hunt for their meal. Sure, they liked it.” I grinned. “And perhaps someone that cared for them for the first time in their lives.” “Probably.” Dragon smiled at them again as he ran his hand over Iustina’s face. “But they could get spooked.” Dragon offered. “It’s a scary world out there for the unprepared.” “I know.” I pulled my jacket open. “I have a plan if they tried to get away and try to run.” The handgun was in a holster near my chest. “They won’t get far, but I swear I won’t use it, unless I have to. I have it, just in case.” “You could miss.” Dragon objected lightly. “I was pretty good at small arms marksmanship.” I said hating what I was saying. “I won’t miss.” I said sadly. Dragon nodded. “I hope you won’t have to use it.” “Me, too.” I said. “I don’t want to.” Colin came in behind Dragon. “Okay, they are about ten minutes away; there is a clearing of sorts…we’ll take them there. The pilot didn’t say he had trouble yet, but we need to get in and go.” I looked at Repetate and Iustina, holding out my hands to them. “Okay. This will be a little scary, but I’m going, too. Trust me.” And I was smiling at them to reassure them. There was no hesitation, they looked at my hands and they each gave me theirs. “I’m not leaving you.” They trusted me. Other than Dragon, I wondered if they ever had someone to even offer to hold their hands, but they knew what to do. We went through the caverns toward the opening and went outside. It had been a long time since they’d done that and I saw them lift their noses and sniffed. It was colder now, but they didn’t seem bothered by it. They had lived their lives without clothing; they must have been used being naked. The clearing was a small patch of ground that had just enough room for the helicopter to land. When we got close, I felt Repetate hesitate in going toward the helicopter with its blades going creating a strong wind. I smiled again. “I know it’s noisy and makes wind. I’ll be with you. It won’t hurt me, so it won’t hurt you.” Colin had gotten on and was waving us toward him. “It’s okay.” I got them on, but I saw the pilot’s eyes grow when he saw them. He had flown us before and he may have transported vampires before, but I knew he’d never seen an Old One. I leaned forward. They were pale and didn’t wear cloths…that would be surprising for anyone. “You had the Disflavor?” “Of course.” The pilot said. “Then you’re fine.” I said smiling. “Relax, they won’t attack you.” Colin patted the pilot on the shoulder. “Let’s go.” He said. “We need to land fast, get them in the container and take off quickly.” “Do you think the authorities will be after us?” I asked Colin. Colin grinned. “Well, they might have questions. The flight team is going to be radioing they are having trouble and have to set down.” He shrugged. “The only available landing site will be the Base. They will set down; we’ll load up and take off again. As soon as we land the chopper, we load them in the container and then signal the pilots to land the plane. We load the container and leave.” “I never saw the container before.” I said. “What’s special about it?” “It’s totally enclosed.” Colin explained. “Inside has a few seats, it circulates air and has power. It’s not big for easier placing in cargo. The little bathroom is very small.” I nodded. “I’m riding with Iustina and Repetate.” Colin looked a little surprised for a second, but then nodded. “It should be comfortable. We transported the First One, Miranda in it, remember her?” He smiled. “Nothing too sloppy for the queen of Vampires in the United States.” He bumped me. “It even has a TV!” “Great!” I nodded. “We’ll be to watch cartoons! They love those.” Colin laughed. “George is also going to try what he gave Willie when we took him out of the abandoned subway. It should work, but their blood system is all venom. We’ll see if it works.” I noticed that when we took off, they were a little uneasy, but when I pointed lights on the many houses as we flew over; telling Iustina and Repetate they were flying like birds now. They got interested as we past of the dark world below! Seeing I was okay, they calmed down. They were having an adventure! We landed and we didn’t have a lot of time. I got a couple bags of blood out and opened the valve so they could smell the blood. Iustina and Repetate was very interested as I waved in front of them and they followed me into the hanger. This was an abandoned hanger, so there was metal rusting in places, if it was there at all. The area surrounding the hanger was overgrown with some weeds, grass growing through cracks in the pavement, but there was a hanger door slightly open and in the middle of this massive vacant floor was…it was a giant black box. A cube…ten or twelve feet by ten or twelve feet. It had door like you would see on ships or submarines. I led the two Old Ones to the box as Colin rotated the wheel to open the door. Once inside, I was pleased. It wasn’t bad! There were three chairs along the wall to the right. A large TV on wall to the left. A tiny little section to the side I saw was a toilet, but vampires just urinated ammonia, so it wasn’t a full bathroom. Basically a urinal and little sink. Small light were on inside, like emergency lights until we were connected with the plane’s power. I looked at him smiling. “You’re riding with us?” Colin shrugged. “They never sit in a chair and don’t sleep on a bed; preferring the floor, so there’s room.” He said kissing me. Using only our hearing did we, Colin and I, knew what was happening. The box was pretty sound proof and heard nothing something touched the container. “The power needs to be hooked up when we’re loaded.” Colin explained. They were drinking the blood, but that was just the beginning. The door opened again and George came in. He waved to Iustina and Repetate. “Hello, guys.” He held up another few bags of blood. “I’ve included something to hopefully make them sleep.” He said to Colin and me. “I’m not sure how they will react to any sedative. It worked for Willie, it should work for them.” I took the bags and put them in a cooler. The two of them saw me put the blood away and I smiled at them. “You’ll get it. We just need to get started.” I said and did my hand showing we needed to take off. We heard a thump and then was raised a little. They weren’t sure about that. “It’s okay.” We moved shakily and then an angle I knew we were being loaded. Another thump and then lowered with another thump. “You need to hang on.” I told them showing them as I grabbed the arms of the chair and reconsidered and went down with them. I pulled them to me and said. “It will be quick.” “Shouldn’t you be in the seat buckled in?” Colin asked me. “Nate’s good. It will be bumpy, but Repetate and Iustina will do better if I’m right with them.” I waved at the chairs. “They wouldn’t understand about those seats or seatbelts.” “Well the actual flight time is about twelve hours.” Colin said. “We will have to refuel, but we go down, top the tanks off and back up; very little delay.” “And I have over ten hours of cartoons!” I said brightly. “Of course, with the sedative in the blood, they hopefully will sleep.” “And hopefully we will, too.” Colin said smiling. “Why cartoons?” I felt the engine rev though there was a rumble as it radiated through the metal container. “Tom and Jerry are the best, they have almost no dialog; just a lot of action. They love it.” I smiled as Repetate and Iustina got even closer because of the movement and noise. “It’s okay. This has to happen.” I assured them again. Then they were startled with we suddenly had power and there was air flowing now. Then I felt the bumps and I knew we were moving down the runway and then the sudden freedom of the rumble and vibration as we rose on the air currents. Its wasn’t too long before my ears popped and theirs did, too, which surprised them. I smiled and nodded pointing at my own ear. “Yes, pop.” Things evened out and I hooked up my computer to the big screen TV and they were distracted as the Tom and Jerry music started and they turned to the screen. They has seen the monitor and enjoyed that, now it was on a bigger screen. As we were cruising, I gave them the other bags of blood which they consumed as they watched. “We might have a market for TV blood dinners.” Colin groaned as I got up and sat beside him. “Just watch the cartoons.” He said kissing me and leaned back putting his arm around me. “Watching cartoons with the kids.” I smiled resting against Colin. “Just watch the cartoons.” Colin chuckled lightly. “I gather you got through to Edwin.” I said. “You weren’t worried when we left and I was busy with the kids.” “He, Matt and one of their medical staff are on the way now.” He looked at his watch. “In fact, they should be there.” He said. “By the end of this week, we’ll have twenty more vampires on serum to help cover the crowd.” “Good.” I smiled. It didn’t take but an hour or so before I watched both Repetate and Iustina lay flat, the curled into the fetal position and go to sleep. George’s sedative worked. Instead of worrying about them, it was shortly after that both Colin and I pushed the seat back and were also asleep. I woke when we landed, but Repetate and Iustina hardly moved. We fueled, more to top off the tanks and then took off again. We had left Romania about 9pm, the time there. We followed the sun…or the moon…it was a long night. It was a total of fourteen hours, but we got there in the morning hours of the East Coast. Of course, Colin and George had that covered as well. By this time, I was still the new guy at the VUN. We landed and then there was the thump again and the power went out. We were moved again. A flight again for about a half an hour and another thump and we were moved again. I knew what was happening when we were suddenly going down. Then the door was opened a George stuck his smiling face in. “We’re here.” George waved to us. “Come on out.” Again, I took Repetate’s and Iustina’s hands again and led them out of the container and knew I was back at the VUN in Manhattan. I recognized the not quite white cinder brick walls as we stepped off of the freight elevator. No sunlight was getting in here. Leading them to a room, in fact, the very one we kept Willie when we got him out of the subway. “How’d they travel?” George asked. I nodded. “Fine.” “They weren’t restless being confined for so long?” “They were confined for decades, this is just a change in scenery.” I said bringing them in the room. “They are used to it.” I smiled at Iustina who smiled at me. I looked at Colin. “How’d we get in here?” Colin smiled. “Well, there is a helicopter we use that can pick up the container and flew us here, we moved the container in the freight elevator and down we came.” He shrugged. “Simple.” Getting Repetate and Iustina settled didn’t take long. They would watched by employees that knew about vampires. I still thought the holding…room…was a little sterile. I had instructed them to install a TV for them, and that was really the only thing in the room. “Devon!” I heard behind me. “Hi, Col-“ she froze. Turning, there was Amanda standing at the door! The first vampire I’d met so quickly after being bitten, still blonde, but very pretty now. Hair done and make up in a woman’s business pink suit. I smiled. “Hi, Amanda!” She was staring at Repetate and Iustina beside me. “That’s the Old Ones you told us about?” I nodded. “This is Iustina and Repetate.” I ran my hand over Repetate’s bald head as I smiled at Amanda. “Otherwise, in English…Earless and Repeat.” I pointed out Iustina’s missing ear. Looking at Amanda, she was clearly…let’s just say she wasn’t comfortable with them. “They really are harmless…” I said, “…well, to us they are.” I looked as Repetate was sort of cowering behind me. “They can be very sweet.” I looked at her. “They and other like them are what began this whole nightmare for all of us.” I returned my gaze to her. “But they are what they were made to be. I don’t blame them. What they have inside could be part of the answer for getting rid of the venom in us.” Colin walked over. “What are your duties here?” Amanda was still staring at the Old Ones and looked up and caught herself. “Oh, I work with Ursula.” Ursula was one of the first vampires I’d met. Colin, then Gabriella and of course Brett and then George; when we arrived in Manhattan after the Christmas party where I was first bitten, Ursula was the woman that greeted us. Colin smiled. “I mean, why are you here with them?” He said putting a hand on Iustina’s shoulder…and I don’t even think he was conscious of it. They were comfortable with Colin now and Colin was comfortable with them. “Oh!” Amanda smiled. “I’m here to see that their…” she looked at the two, “…needs are met.” “The first need they have is blood.” I said simply. “They drink about two to three pints of blood every day.” I looked around the room. “They urinate ammonia, so we will need something for them to do that. They don’t sleep on a bed or even sit in a chair. The prefer the floor.” “But most important.” Colin stressed very seriously. “Do not let any person even in this part of the building in that isn’t a vampire or on the Disflavor.” He said firmly. “I mean it!” I nodded. “Their reaction to Sorin was…pretty intense.” “They will kill anyone up here that is human.” Colin added. “When George comes to do anything medical or takes them to the lab…no one should even be on this floor! They will smell their blood and try to attack.” Amanda nodded and pulled a small leather-bound notebook out and wrote it down. “No one!” Colin said firmly again. Then I bounced. “Second, when they aren’t with George and here in this room.” I waved at the TV. “Make sure there is nonstop cartoons showing.” I grinned. “They love those.” I watched as Colin wavered a little. I steadied him. “And you need to eat. That sandwich you had on the plane wasn’t enough.” Colin smiled feeling the drain. “I’ll be fine.” “We got Nicolae and these two here.” I said. “They’re safe now. You will come with me and eat.” I said lovingly, but firm. Colin grinned. “You’re the boss.” “Is there a remote? Or should I use my computer?” I asked about the TV. “I’ll make sure the library has what’s needed. You will have to use your computer until I get the connection.” She said, but was still looking at them. “They are just so…” I raised my eyebrows and waited. “…so odd.” She continued. I nodded. “They are that.” I agreed. “But once you get used to their appearance, and you will…” I said smiling at her. “…they grow on you.” I brought Iustina and Repetate in for a quick hug. “I actually love them.” I looked at them again. “Colin is hungry.” I explained. “We’re going to get him and me something to eat.” I saw their eyes light up. “No, not for you. You had your meal.” I waved at the ceiling. “It’s daylight out and you would be hurt, so…I’ll be back.” I saw them nod, but looked at the TV. “Yes, I’ll hook it up.” They had slept a good portion of the way and I had several hours of cartoons they hadn’t seen. Hooking it up quickly began the cartoons. I told them again I would be back. I walked back into the hall with Colin and Amanda. “I don’t think they will, but the door needs to be locked…always. They are used to being confined, that shouldn’t be a problem. I just don’t want to take chances. They are very, very strong.” Amanda nodded. “I’ll make sure everyone knows this.” Then she smiled at me. “But it’s clear they love you and follow every word you say.” Colin nodded. “I don’t want to seem…overbearing, but…this is so vital…nothing takes more importance…I can’t say it enough…if they do get out. They can’t get out!” He said gravely. “They are a great, great threat. A lot people will die and we will have a lot more wild vampires in Manhattan. These two are the most dangerous creatures on this planet to men, women and children everywhere…and has ever been. They can not GET OUT!” He emphasized those last words. “I’ll make sure everyone here knows and push it even deeper.” Amanda assured. “I promise.” “As sweet as I think they seem now; how friendly and docile…” I looked at Repetae and Iustina, ”even innocent as they seem…don’t be deceived…the deaths to men and women over the thousands years of their lives...is over a thousand, hundreds of thousands…perhaps a million or more…they have killed and will again if they get out.” I added. “As much as I love them…and I do.” I showed her the gun I had on me. “I would do it, if needed. I will kill them. No regrets and no second thoughts.” I heard Amanda swallow and look at Iustina and Repetate again with more understanding. “I’ll make sure the guards clearly understand that.” She said as her voice shook only a little. “I’ll even double what we scheduled. They will be kept confined. I swear it.” “Countless lives depend on it.” Colin said and wavered again. “Okay, husband.” I took him by the arm and threw it over my shoulder as I kept him standing. “You eat. Right now! Let’s go.” I took Colin to the restaurant at the VUN who knew to make food in volumes for certain people and Colin was one of those certain people. A meal was made and soon Colin was shoveling it in. “I’m glad you understand about those two. You drove that home very well with Amanda.” Colin said sighing. “Could you kill them?” “Of course.” I said shrugging. “It would hurt me, but with them there’d be no choice. I know what they’ve done and I know what they are. They are no threat for us, so I didn’t want them to be won over by their charms. They are strange at first, but they can’t let down their guard even once.” I said smiling as Colin didn’t stop eating. I took the arm closest to me. “We did what we needed to do. We got them safe. George can continue his work on them and find something with their venom. We have Nicolae and his wife here, their children. They’re safe. George has his lab, he is going to find a way to help us stop the venom naturally with Nicolae’s blood.” I smiled. “This will end.” Colin sighed. “If it doesn’t?” I shook my head. “I can’t believe that. There is a solution here. George will find it and we will be free. Until he does, we’ll give others that are going through this help and make things better.” Colin smiled. “We need a few hours alone time.” He said leaning closer. “You’re not tired?” “I have energy for you.” He leaned in kissing me gently. “I love you, Devon.” I ran my fingers in his hair. “I believe you.” I said kissing him. “I love you, Colin.” He put his fork down and put his napkin on the table. “Let’s go and prove it to each other.” His eyebrows danced when he said that.
  6. Chapter 21

    Things were very busy after that. Dragon went to get Nicolae and his wife and have them ready to go. I dealt with Iustina and Repetate. As always, they smiled at me as I entered their cell. Perhaps Colin was right, they did like me more than other people. I had quit using the translator with them, because they seemed to understand what I was saying…is was less about the language, but tone and how I said it. I brought up the laptop making their eyes light up. “Yes, we’ll see some more cartoons later, I promise, but I have something you need to see.” I watched their faces show curiosity. I pulled up the web page I chose about airlines and air travel. “This…” I pointed at the picture of a waiting airplane, “…is an airplane. We get on board it. See?” The scene showed people boarding the airplane and getting to seats as the flight attendants helped them with their carry-ons. Then the scene went to the plane going down the runway and lifting in the air, “…these people are flying to somewhere.” The scene was in daylight. “You…” I pointed at them, “…are going to do that tonight.” I knew they got it when I watched their eyes grow in alarm. “You’ll be safe.” I assured. “You can’t be out in the daytime, I know that.” I said. “We have a special way for you to travel and stay out of the sun. I will be with you.” I watched their look of uneasiness lessen. “We don’t want you hurt. George will be with you as well and Colin, but I will be traveling with you in that container to keep you safe. I won’t leave you to travel alone.” The fact they didn’t speak didn’t mean they couldn’t communicate. I saw the look come on their faces and perhaps because I spent so much time with them I knew that look meant clearly “why?” I smiled at them. “You guys are very important. We have to protect you from some bad people that want to harm us. They will harm you, too. We won’t let that happen.” I watched as they seem to understand. How they knew, I couldn’t understand. Perhaps the length of their lives and the many languages over the countless centuries made it easier, though I doubted anyone ever really spoke to them and just screamed, but they knew what I meant. “We are taking somewhere safe.” They pointed at the computer screen. “Yes. You will fly.” I looked around the cell that had been their home for decades. “Is there anything you want to take with you?” I looked at their puzzled faces. “Is there something you want to keep? Something yours?” I realized, they really didn’t do much other than drink their daily amount of blood, sleep and wait for Dragon to visit. Then I came around and I added to their routine with my daily visits. I smiled again. “I just don’t want you to be upset.” After that I went to find Colin. Our lives were possible because of what he did. Keeping track of the business, monitoring investments and the other things for the VUN. Walking through the caverns, I was impressed with what Dragon and his people did to make it livable. It was getting colder outside, but the temperature down here was pretty constant. I found Colin as he was poring over something on his laptop as he had that thing in his ear, but not for translating. He was on a phone call. He wasn’t doing business, but getting things ready so we could leave. “…and we leave as soon as we get to the airport and load them up. The helicopter is coming to pick us up and take us to the base, we load the Old Ones in the container and take off from the old Soviet Base. The pilots need to have the Disflavor.” He said. “Right.” He nodded, even though who he was nodding about couldn’t see him. “We’ll be ready.” He said and pulled the earpiece out, sighed and leaned back as he rubbed his face from fatigue. I came up behind him as he sat, putting my arms around his neck from behind leaning in and kissed the top of his head and began messaging his shoulders which made him groan appreciatively. “We might be vampires and not die due to illness, but we still get tired.” I came around and pulled a chair over next to him. “You need to rest, baby.” Colin smiled at me and leaned into kiss me directly in a more…personal way. “You’ve gotten no more rest than I have.” He smiled as he rubbed his forehead against mine as he looked at me with those emerald eyes. “We’ll try to get some rest on the plane.” Then I saw his eyes get a look of embarrassment. “About what I said to you about Sorin…I’m sorry…” he paused as he was thinking what to say. I kissed his again. “You have feelings…and for those few moments, you felt jealous.” I smiled. Colin looked away a little. “Yea, I shouldn’t have been.” I pulled his face back to look at me and smiled. “Of course you should.” I said immediately. “I hope you do get jealous, Colin.” I saw his got a surprised look. “Another man…you felt, threatened what you knew was yours…threatened what you know belongs to you…me.” I smiled brightly. “I am yours, Colin. I do belong to you.” I smiled lifting his left hand. “I put this ring I put on your finger to tell the world, you belong to me.” I held up my left hand. “You put this on my finger to tell the world, I belong to you. Just you and only you.” I kissed him again. “I love you, Colin. When we married, I told all the guests and family that we were a couple…you and me…making our lives one. Sorin is a nice man. I like him, but I love you. You occupy a part of me that no one could take the place of…my heart. There will be no one else.” I smiled as I looked in those eyes that were now smiling with the rest of his face. “I’m sorry you had that feeling, but I glad you felt it. You told me again, you know I’m yours. I will be more careful among other people.” Colin chuckled. “You shouldn’t have to do that.” “But I will.” I assured. “I say again, I love you. If that helps you from having those feeling again, I will do so willingly. You’re a part of me now. I’m not losing you. I will never leave you…just don’t…belt anybody or anything like that and we’re good.” Then I grinned. “How I knew I wasn’t his type was when he was having problems with the whole vampire thing. He admitted to not being able to accept it in his head and the gay part he didn’t want to be involved. He admitted to me he didn’t get the gay thing.” “Oh?” I nodded. “Well, I had him clarify that statement where he admitted we all have things that attract us and I won’t be attracted to what he is attracted to.” I chuckled. “Believe me, I wasn’t.” Colin grinned. “Which is?” I sat back. “I can’t tell you that! If you want to know, ask him!” “Doctor patient confidentiality. I get it.” “One more time.” I chuckled. “I’m not a doctor.” Colin nodded. “Right. Did you tell the Old Ones what was going to happen soon?” Colin asked. I nodded. “I did. They really do understand a lot more than we think they can.” I said. “I showed them images of a plane and people boarding it and taking off. I got through to them they were going to do that. They understood.” Colin smiled as he ran his fingers in my hair. “You have a way…it’s almost magical in relating to others, even Old Ones. You may not have those letters next to your name, but you’re as good as any doctor.” Then he looked resolved as he looked back. “After this is over…and it will be over,” he assured, “I think we need to go back to that island a while. To reconnect.” I had felt it, too. We were still very much in love, but this life recently was pulling us apart. I nodded. “I think that’s a great idea…just you and me…” “…no clothes and a lot of sun.” Colin continued as his lips were close enough to mine I felt them move against mine. “No vampires…no serum…” “Yes, it will just be us.” That’s when we heard him walk in. “Oh…pardon me.” George said smiling at what he saw and stopped. “Sorry.” He was about to walk out again. “Just kissing my husband, George; nothing else for now.” Colin said smiling sitting up. “What’s up?” “It’s the other vampires.” George said. “Dimitri and others are beginning their week. Our leaving tonight, I can’t be here to monitor their injections.” I looked confused. “But George, that’s why we brought Dr. Petran here, to help you. Can’t she do it?” “She has a conflict a few of those nights.” George said. “She has a busy practice and a life.” He stated the obvious. “What about our group in England?” I asked Colin. “They have medical people there and they know the serum and how to administer it. Besides we could use other vampires here. They can help.” Colin nodded. “Yes! They have other vampires!” He grinned kissing me. “Am I thick? They are part of VUN! We’ll bring them here!” He kissed me quickly and put the earpiece back in. “I’m calling Edwin at Thornwood.” I chuckled as I kissed him back quickly. “You’re not thick, but you always take of things and always do it yourself. We’re a family with Edwin and his group. I just reminded you.” I patted him on the arm. “You would have thought of eventually.” Colin kissed me again and tapped some keys on the keyboard to call Edwin at Thornwood. Colin, George and I went back to the house we rented. George and Burke were going back to the United States and stay for a while. Burke didn’t want George to go alone and I wasn’t surprised he wanted to stay with him. Colin and I just got some things to go and come back. Colin was speaking on the phone to make sure Nicolae and his wife were ready to go with their children. The thing was…we were doing things that wasn’t…authorized. The helicopter to pick us and Iustina and Repetate up could fly low and avoid detection…we hoped. Our plane was taking off, landing at the old Soviet base where we would load quickly and take off again before we raised too many eyebrows…and their eyebrows would be raised. They had the airstrip…a not really maintained airstrip, but it was there. Stan came in our room suddenly. “Guys! I found out about Iilya!” Colin turned to Stan. “What? You mean the vampire?” “No! Iilya the KGB agent!” He pulled up the file he had on his tablet. “He was…is Iilya Vasin.” He said almost happy, more about being able to discover what was difficult to find, but he did! “I even have his photo. It’s him. He was officially MIA in 1966.” He said excited. “This guy is a really bad man.” He shook his head. “According to the records, he was suspect about a string of murders…three of them were his superiors!” I was surprised. “And they kept him?” “Hell, they promoted him!” Stan said. “It seems a man of his caliber was valuable to these particular Soviets.” “Those files were accessible?” Colin asked. Stan didn’t say a word, but gave Colin the look that said, “of course not.” “Buddy and I got them, okay? They tried to destroy many records after the Soviet Union collapsed, but some were digitized, and other records which Buddy began searching through since we met Iilya. That Delkenzie translation program translated Russian easily.” He nodded appreciatively. “I guess Mitch wasn’t kidding when he said he worked harder on Russian. He did that language first and Buddy breezed right through it. Well, Buddy pieced together those records and…we got it!” He went on more excited in triumph. “Get this, he was made what he is! Just like Repetate and Iustina!” “What!?” I said astonished. Stan was nodding. “Yes! There was nothing added or given like a formula or anything…maybe some chemicals to enhance the conditioning, but he along with some other children in the late 1940s and 1950s were taken and literally programmed! I mean as in hypnosis and conditioning to overthrow and take control of any situation. He was so undercover, even others in the government didn’t know about him and the other agents!” “That makes sense.” Colin said nodding. “It does?” I asked Colin. “I was alive then, remember?” Colin shrugged. “I was underground in New York, but we heard about what was happening then and there were rumors galore about what the Reds were doing. I watched TV then and listened to the radio, it was full of rumors and theories, even the ones about the area of Russia where they were raising some of their people in Russian versions of small town America over there to be the perfect sleeper agents. Conditioned and could blend effortlessly in communities in America and be triggered with a code word and do all sorts of damage.” I instantly thought of three movies where those premises were used, but kept it to myself. I stood up slowly as I thought out loud. “It sounds like his conditioning was different and a lot more intense.” “So?” Colin said. “He’s just like Iustina and Repetate.” I said simply. “No, he’s not!” Colin said quickly. “Iustina and Repetate killed in the past. We know that; we are the result of those they didn’t kill. Iilya is planning to kill in little more than a week.” He said coming over to me. “Iilya was created by a government that was bent on taking over many nations, including the United States.” “Especially the United States.” I nodded. “I know…or least I read about the Soviet threat in school.” “Iustina and Repetate don’t kill now because they’re locked away and given blood, they don’t need to kill now.” Colin said. “We can’t give Iilya what he needs to stop him from doing what he’s planning.” “I just wish we didn’t have to kill anyone.” I said sadly. “I don’t see we have many choices.” Colin said. “If Iustina and Repetate did get out and threatened to kill again, wouldn’t you agree they should be stopped meaning they would die?” I realized what he was saying and I smiled. “Yes, but…it’s different with those two Old Ones. They’re only a threat to people who aren’t vampires or not on Disflavor. They’re innocent…I was considering that Iilya was possibly innocent.” I saw his surprise. “He was a child when he was taken to become this…agent.” “We need Repetate and Iustina.” Colin sai d. “We don’t need Iilya!” “Because we don’t need Iilya!?” I nodded a little angry. “I know, but he’s a person! A human being. I don’t think anyone should be killed because we think he has no purpose or meets our needs.” I got up and was almost ranting. “I won’t kill indiscriminately! No one should.” Colin sighed and nodded. “No, but I know he’s not doing this sort of soul search like you are before he strikes.” “Because we aren’t what he is!” I said. “He was made like he is. You have humanity in you, you always have. His was taken out. Colin, you know I hate killing so much as a bug when I have to. I usually catch it and set it free outside, but a man…I am having regrets.” Colin looked with a frustrated expression, but smiled tolerantly. “No, that’s not it…if you can think of way no one dies, fine, but he’s leading a group of vampires to kill. He and Lucian are going to be making more vampires and killing people…and kill us if they can!” I nodded as I looked away feeling helpless as I knew the possible inevitability. “I know, I know. We won’t have a choice. I just don’t like it.” Colin brought me to him kissing me quickly. “I know.” He looked at his watch. “It will be sundown in an hour.” He said smiling as he hugged me. “Let’s get the boys ready.” I smiled when he said that. “The boys?” I repeated. “That almost sounded like you’re beginning to like them.” Colin nodded as he began to walk with me back to the cell where Iustina and Repetate was. “I like them just fine.” He smiled at me. “I’m not as fond as you are of them, but I like them just fine. We better head out.”
  7. Chapter 20

    Sorin looked puzzled. “I said something wrong?” I grinned at Sorin. “Not at all!” I smiled slapping him lightly on the back. “We, the very few…appreciate good cinema and a good story.” I frowned at Gabriella and my mother. “Sometimes it’s not appreciated by some…less enlightened individuals.” Stan came in the room, but was carrying a tablet he studied as he walked, but had a near blank stare as he was looking at what he was reading. “Earth to Stan.” Mark said lightly to his partner, but looked at Stan’s face. “Is there a problem, Stan?” Stan looked up as he read. “Huh?” Then he seemed to come around more and aware we were there. “Oh, yes…” he said looking at all of us. “Now, we have another problem.” “Another problem?” Colin asked. “What new problem is it now?” “Well, it’s not really a new problem, but a complication.” Stan looked at his tablet. “Buddy and I planted…well…it’s sort of a piggyback program like malware or one of those programs to just ride a message and see what keys you hit and tell it’s source.” He said. “Even though we can’t find where this Vampire Death Squad originates. The messages are flying all around on the World Wide Web.” “Who’s Buddy?” Sorin asked as he looked up having looked the plastic gun as he marveled at what it was supposed to do. “Vampire Death Squad?” I patted Sorin. “I’ll explain in a minute.” I said. “What have you found out, Stan?” Stan was nodding as he read. “The program Buddy and I created attached itself to the last message sent…that broadcast the Vampire Death Squad sent and rode it all over the world. When it arrived at different locations, it left a piece of itself so I could read other messages that are received and sent.” He waved the tablet. “They are referring to ground zero.” He said looking at all of us. “They’re coming here! They think this is ground zero!” I shook my head. “But this isn’t ground zero.” I said simply. “Vampires originated in the Middle East.” Stan nodded. “They don’t know that.” Colin frowned. “If they aren’t already here.” He said softly. “Who are these people?” Sorin practically bellowed. “Who is coming or already here?” I gave a quick nod and realized he couldn’t know. “Buddy is our computer. Our brain. He’s not here, but the mainframe back in Manhattan ties in with all our computers, devices, translators…Stan is our…well…he is all things computer. He’s a genius. We broadcast a web broadcast showing Dragon's conversion from vampire back to something more human to ease the other vampires into trusting us. We thought. This group…this Death Squad has four kills under their belts, warning us…through another broadcast that they would kill us!” “But you’re on the same side!” Sorin then asked simply. “They don’t see you as good guys?” I shook my head. “They couldn’t know that.” “Vampire Death Squad?” Sorin said again. “They sound like they could be teenagers…at best…in college.” Stan nodded appreciatively. “He’s right.” He smiled at Sorin. “How do you know?” Mom asked Stan. Stan turned the tablet to my mother. “The language used.” He said simply. “Many are from the United States, but…everyone is using this shorthand now, but almost all of these messages have it.” “Buddy translates languages.” Shelly said. “Could it just be the translation program shorting it?” “No. This generation has grown up on LOL and TMI and all that. Abbreviations in language when texting. Even messages of love and hate is abbreviated like 143 means I love you and 182 means I hate you. They don’t have time to write things out. These messages are full of them and some that are just theirs!” Stan explained. “Buddy doesn’t translate those.” He pulled up a message and read it out loud. “TOA 2 GZ 1029 DCWL.” Sorin looked confused. “What? That’s just numbers and letters.” Stan pointed at Sorin. “Exactly.” He grinned. “That means time of arrival to ground zero October 29th, Dracula’s Castle, Wallachia.” He sighed. “I had to work that one out, but almost everyone these days has their emails sent to their phones now. They can receive and respond by phone, but this generation thinks that’s too much typing and don’t even think about punctuation. They created and use these shortcuts.” He shook his tablet. “I think these are what these are.” Sorin smiled as he got it. “This is like that movie…” he started, “the one with those two boys named Corey something in it…” But his tone was telling me the gravity of this situation was hitting home now as he lowered the serum gun. “The Lost Boys?” I supplied. Sorin nodded. “Yes! Lost Boys! This group could be made up of people like in that movie, where they grew up, went to college and now fight vampires on semester breaks!?” “The really bad part is…these guys are well supplied financially and are using sophisticated hardware.” Stan said. “If anything, I think they’re using college access to computers to do some of these things.” Stan said. “Using Daddy’s money to hunt these vampires and using the computer lab.” Mark threw his hands up. “So, we have some Poindexters in a computer lab killing vampires while studying Calculus!?” “Poindexters?” Sorin asked having no clue what Mark meant. “What is that?” I grinned did a quick search. “Tocilar.” I offered. Sorin’s eyes now had understanding. “Oh.” But I saw his face begin to lose more of that happy discovery look. Colin leaned toward me and looked puzzled. “What’s tocilar?” “Geek.” I said. “Oh.” Colin said. Sorin suddenly thrusting his arms out. “Stop!! Everyone just stop!” He was gathering himself and thinking. “I lost myself a little with all this.” He said handing what looked like a Supersoaker to Mark. “I got caught up in this…fever about vampires, but…I am an enforcer of the law here.” Sorin said a little testily. “This whole…night has been…” he swirled his finger again around his head. “It’s been crazy. I woke up one morning not even a few weeks ago…where I was handed this case and thought…no, I knew you were hiding something. There was an explanation. Rich men from the West are wandering around in the woods that early? A doctor in the group…with an unknown drug. I knew there was more than what I was told. I knew it! I’m thinking drugs or something I can deal with. A simple crime!” He turned to Colin. “I find out there are vampires! Real vampires and I’ve seen them!” He shook his head. “My mind is still telling me it is a trick, but I can’t figure out how or why.” He looked at the others in the room. “You are almost all vampires here.” He shook his head. “I saw those two…what you call Old Ones and I still have trouble with accepting it, but they were right there! I saw them! There are real vampires and they’ve been here for centuries! Longer in some cases.” He waved at Amasis. “I knew you were hiding what you were doing here, but I never once considered this.” He was starting to get loud. “Well, now, I’m back! I’m the police! This has been amazing, but now there’s another group coming in to kill you!?” “Wrong, Inspector.” I said. “This group is coming to kill all vampires. Me, Colin, Iilya, Lucian, Gaius…Dragon..!” Sorin was struggling again as he sat down suddenly. “I have always been this…show me evidence person.” He explained. “I’ve seen people do some horrible things to others and themselves.” He looked at Colin. “You suffered like Dragon did tonight almost every night?” Colin nodded. “Once the levels were…” Sorin nodded quickly. “I know…it was shorter, but you did it willingly every night!” “To try to get rid of this? I’d do it again.” Colin nodded. “George will succeed in finding how to get us free from this venom. I know he will.” Sorin nodded. “What I’m saying, I was always the Investigator. Show me evidence. Follow the rules…” he looked up at me, “what your TV shows say by the book sort of investigator.” He threw his hands up. “But there are no laws about how to deal with vampires! Now, I find out there are vampires here to help other vampires out, another group of vampires that want to be Dracula-type of vampire or one in those fiction stories…and now this group of kids that want all vampires to simply die.” He shook his head. “What rule do I follow? I can deputize all of you, but there will be thousands of people here that night! How do I protect them?” Alex smiled sadly. “You can’t.” Sorin put his head in his hands as he tried to come up with a solution. “People are going to die?” “Definitely.” I nodded. “We’re going to try to minimize as many as we can, but there will be deaths.” “A long time ago, some greedy men decided they knew what was best for us and to hell with the other people and wanted to control the world.” Colin said calmly. “They…over hundreds years created the creatures like Iustina and Repetate. The Old Ones were sent out in the world to destroy. Now, we’re trying to clean up the mess. I know about five of these things. There was one in England that bit Wayne. He saw another there. Gizmo was the one that Devon met in Germany that was killed. Their numbers have been reduced, but the effects are still ongoing.” “They’re breaking the law!” Sorin asked. “The laws of nature! Why are they still alive?” “Because we need to understand them and find out about how to counteract their venom.” I said. “It would be easier to just destroy them, but I think Dragon did a good job keeping them contained like he has. They’re no threat now.” “As long as they’re in custody.” Sorin said. “But they could get out.” “We’re trying to deal with a problem, not get rid of it.” Wayne said. “What can we do?” Sorin asked all of us. “We could broadcast, as you said you did with Dragon, telling people not to come.” “And not be able to tell them why?” Colin asked. “We come up with something…we could say there was a terrorist threat.” Sorin offered. “Which you’ll have to show evidence, like you said.” I said. “What threat? By whom? How’d you find out?” Colin stood next to me. “Why did they chose you to solve what happened to us?” Colin asked Sorin. Sorin smiled. “Because I have a 94 percent resolution rate. Conviction.” He said trying not to sound too proud. “I get the answer to problems. Drugs, prostitution or murder…I get whoever is responsible. I close cases.” “That’s great!” I said grinning. “You’re good at what you do.” I walked over to him. “Look, Sorin…this is going to be very bad. That you have to face.” Colin came up behind me. “We’re doing everything in our power to make…lessen the losses.” “We don’t have any guidelines.” Mom said. “We’ll help in any way, however we can.” “The danger will not be us.” Willie said. “Iilya, Lucian and their followers will be…” “And this Vampire Death Squad.” I nodded. “We won’t have guns to use on people. The sun gun and serum pellets are our weapons, but we’ll be out there.” “What are your plans for those two…” he pointed with his thumb over his shoulder. “…Iustina and Repetate?” Colin nodded. “Well, George wants to take them to Manhattan. He has a lab there that will work better…he says.” “How are you going to do that?” Sorin asked. “They can’t be out the daytime.” Colin nodded. “They won’t be the first vampires we’ve transported, but they will be from the farthest away. We have containers they can travel in that will shield them from sunlight.” “We’ll move them at night to the container and then put the container on a plane.” I explained. “This is going to be a busy night coming up.” Willie warned Sorin. Colin smiled at Sorin. “We’ll be out there with you.” He assured. Sorin was not in charge of the protection that was needed in Transylvania that night, but he was part of the task force to help with it. He met with us almost every day. Dragon was going through the serum and Sorin got to see him and even shared the first morning Dragon had to see the sunrise. Burke got him familiar with the serum guns and sun guns. Now Colin and I was bringing Sorin over to speak with George. George and Laurel were working almost night and day with the venom and Nicolae’s unusual blood properties. Laurel was looking at the computer screen…no more did you have to look down on a sample under a microscope…the monitor screen showed the cells that was in Nicolae’s blood large and in color! She nodded. “I see…it is like a convergence to the two. The antivenin and antibody…” She looked at George’s notes. “This is…what batch?” She asked. “You added venom directly from Iustina and Repetate…and they’re living.” George nodded. “And I harvest the ones that survive to further the process. They are getting stronger.” I cleared my throat making them both turn around. “Sorry to interrupt, but…have you had a chance to…whatever…tweak the detectors?” George nodded. “Of course!” He went to a counter near where they were working and picked up one he had worked on. “John was helping with this…we can’t seem to…” he shook his head, “…you can’t just point at someone and know if they’re a vampire or not.” He explained as he turned it on. He looked up. “Dimitry.” He called to a man walking by. He was still a vampire. “Dimitry is going to have the serum tomorrow night, but for now…” he pointed the detector at Dimitry and the red light blinked and a little alert sounded from the detector. “At best, it’s a proximity alert, meaning there is a vampire near you.” “But there will be a crowd that night.” Sorin said. “Our senses are tuned to pick up vampires.” George explained. “We use smell; the subtle biochemical changes that occur in the body that can be read. The problem is…if they are upwind or downwind, you may or may not get much warning.” I nodded. “But, you’ll get a warning.” “It’s best if one of us is with you at all times.” George said cautiously. He smiled at Sorin. “This will give you some warning.” Sorein shrugged and smiled at me. “It’s better than nothing.” He looked at me. “How are we doing this? Do I deputize you all?” “You could Shelly, Chuck and Mark, but I think it will be best if Devon, our mother and the others just fan out in the crowd.” Colin said. “More noses and senses out among the people.” Sorin nodded and still looked a little worried. Colin put his hand on Sorin’s shoulder. “What’s going to happen is going to happen. We’ll just do what we can to prevent it from being so much worse. You’re not alone in this.” Sorin nodded. “It will be bad.” He sighed. “It will.” I agreed. “And my people will help as well.” Dragon said happily as he walked in the room. Only he didn’t have on that dark leather now. His hair had been cut, his eyes had moisture and we was wearing a leather jacket over a turtle neck sweater and nice pair of pants! He was a very nice looking man. “Who are you?” I grinned as Dragon came over to us. “You look familiar.” Dragon chuckled. “That’s a joke.” He literally bounced. “I look like a man of the twenty-first century now?” He asked holding his jacket open so we could see what he had on. Colin nodded. “Very much so.” He looked behind Dragon. “Wasn’t Gaius with you?” Dragon nodded. “He’s spending a lot of time with his son and daughter-in-law, catching up on missed time with them.” “We should probably get Nicolae out of the country before this…thing.” Colin suggested to us. “If they realize he’s a key…” George nodded. “I agree. If we lose him…” “They don’t have any idea what we’re doing, do they?” I asked Colin and George. “No, but we don’t want to risk losing him the night of this Transylvania Halloween thing.” George said. “Okay, they leave within the week.” Colin said simply. “What about Iustina and Repetate?” I asked. “Shouldn’t they go, too?” Colin nodded and brought me aside. “I was thinking…” he looked at me, knowing I wouldn’t like what he was going to say. “You need to go with them.” “What!?” I practically bellowed. “Leave you here!? I’m not leaving you!” Colin nodded and tried to calm me down. “I know you don’t want to, but think a minute.” He said. “They are dangerous creatures. Not to us, because we are vampires. Manhattan would be an open feeding ground for them if they got loose!” “They won’t get loose.” “There could be accidents and…it could happen and who is the one person they trust right now? You!” Colin said again simply. “If they got loose the only one they would come to is you.” I waved at George. “They trust him! They let him take their venom!” Colin nodded again. “With you there. Face it, Devon, you are the only one that can keep them calm and trying to escape!” “Colin! I am not leaving you here!” I said now worried about the fact he would be separated from me if I went. “No.” I said shaking my head. “This might become deadly, even for us! I won’t be able to think or do anything if I don’t know you’re safe.” “Iilya and Lucian know about these Old Ones.” Colin said. “They might come after them to make them…more the vampire.” “How can I do that, Colin?” I asked him. “I care about them, but I love you! I love you! I can’t leave my husband to deal with this alone.” “I know, but they’ve never flown before.” Colin went on. “Hell, they’ve probably never seen an airplane. They’ll be scared, but they will be vulnerable if they stay.” “Fine.” I looked at George. “Is the container ready? Is it here?” George nodded. “It’s here.” “We load them up.” I said to Colin. “We get Nicolae, his wife and children on that plane…put Iustina and Repetate in the container and we fly directly to Manhattan, I get them secured and we fly right back! But you come with me! I’m not taking chances with losing you.” Colin nodded. “Okay, but we can’t leave them alone.” Colin objected. “That’s Iustina and Repetate…Colin, they’ve lived for decades in that cell. They’ve lived how many thousands of years?” I shook my head. “We put them in one of those rooms where we put Brett.” I said. “The one they can’t get out of…” I patted his chest. “I don’t know if they understand me, but I’ll tell them what will happen and whoever’s watching them to keep the Bugs Bunny, Tom and Jerry coming and keep them supplied with blood. They should be fine.” I waved toward George. “He’ll be there and they know him. They’ll make it a few days to do this and get back.” We’d been so busy these few days, most of the time we collapsed in bed and just went to sleep. Pitiful. I saw his eyes soften and he smiled. “I will confess something to you.” He waved at Sorin. “I was jealous of Sorin for a while.” I asked surprised. “Why?” Colin shrugged. “He was…so much more than I…he knew movies like you do and he’s a handsome guy you seemed to like...” I know my eyes widened. I didn’t need to see them. “And you think I would be tempted…Colin!” Colin smiled again. “I didn’t say that, but you have a way with people and they just love you. How could he not love you?” He shook his head. “But not the way I love you. Now, I know you love me and this just proves it more.” He kissed me gently and pulled me into an embrace. “We’ll have to hurry.” “I love you, Colin.” I grinned. “Besides, I’m not his type.” Colin’s eye grew. “And how do you know that?” “He told me!” “How did that subject come up?” Colin demanded. “I’ll tell you all of it.” I grinned and looked at his slightly peeved face. “You’re kind of sexy when you’re jealous.” I pulled him to me kissing him. “I took vows to you. Don’t worry about things that won’t happen. I love only you.” I said swatting him lightly, making him flinch, but knew I’d never hurt him. He grinned pressing his forehead against mine. “I know.” We came back at Sorin was arguing with Dragon. “…but it’s been centuries since you fought any conflict! Things changed over these centuries.” Sorin said. “You are who I think you are, we don’t want to kill anyone.” “I proved I would do anything to keep the people safe!” Dragon argued. “Something is threatening them again. My men are from several wars over the centuries.” Dragon said heatedly. “Dimitri is the last three of my people to go on the serum. They are vampires. They will be able to sense these other vampires. Don’t tell me you can’t use their help, Sorin.” “That would put more vampires on the serum out there.” I pointed out to Sorin. He looked up like he was seeking heavenly assistance and then looked back at Dragon. “Fine. But your people answer to me! Got it?” Colin chuckled. “Okay, say good-bye to Iustina and Repetate. They leave tonight.” He looked at Dragon. “Can you tell Gaius we’re moving his son and family tonight?” Dragon nodded with a smile. “I can! I’ll go to his house! In the daytime and tell him!” He said almost excited about the fact he could now. “Sorin, it takes a few days to get them there and settled, we’ll be back before this Halloween thing. I promise. We’ll coordinate what we need to do when we get back.” Sorin nodded. “I hope so.”
  8. Chapter 19

    Dr. Petran stayed with Dragon and George as Dragon endured the pain. I’d seen a lot of people suffer as they took the serum, there was no need for me to see it again. However, I also noted that Sorin was grimacing as Dragon suffered and walked out of the chamber. He was the police and I knew he’d seen worse things than this…I imagined. Sorin was mature with a little grey in his hair, but I think his gruff demeanor was more for show and to threaten criminals…the human kind. I followed Sorin as he returned to Iustina and Repetate where I saw Sorin still sitting as he was watching the two Old Ones enjoy the Bugs Bunny cartoons. He looked this way and that and then sat in a chair near the Old Ones’ cell. That New York Bronx or Brooklyn accent of the lovable rabbit was distinct and the music told me what they were looking at. He looked as if he was still working things out in his head. I pulled a chair near him as he struggled with his own thoughts. “Give it time.” I smiled. “It’s a lot to take in just a few hours.” Sorin came back from his deep thoughts and chuckled. “To say the very least.” He shook his head. “Everything I thought I knew about the world has sort of…gone all…nebun… little crazy.” He circled his temple to say crazy. He had an Eastern European accent, but I heard less the longer we stayed here. I laughed. “You’re not crazy. It’s hard to believe, but you’re not crazy.” I nodded. “Things won’t be the same for you now.” “All of you had to go through that?” Sorin pointed back Dragon’s chamber. “All that…pain?” I nodded. “Yes.” I smiled. “Colin did it every day for a while.” Sorin’s eyes widened hearing that. “No.” He said impressed with the level of determination Colin and George had. “You, too?” I smiled. “Well, the first time I was bitten…” “First time?” Sorin asked. “George said it only took one bite!” I put a hand on his shoulder and nodded stopping him. “I was the only one to get the serum so quickly after a bite.” I inhaled as I knew Sorin was trying to understand. “It was mere…minutes after I was bitten, maybe not even minutes…because Colin was a vampire and I wasn’t.” “But you knew what he was.” Sorin said to get things clear. “I found a picture of him in some rubble where the house is now.” I smiled. “He said it was a grandparent and he just looked like him.” I smiled as I thought of that day. “But, it was him. Day two, he told me the truth about what he was after he took the medication and explained what he was and how the medication was to prevent him from being a vampire.” Sorin shook his head. “But this level of pain!? Every night!?” I shook my head. “No.” I explained about the blood levels needed to be up and how it hurt because the heart needed restarting. “I would do it, if needed. George has done some major improvements.” I held my arm up to show Sorin the disc of serum. “Now, it doesn’t hurt.” “Okay.” He said as he was working it through. “I get it. It’s a horrible life and you want out and any sacrifice is not too much, I get that.” He looked at me with his eyebrows still together. “There aren’t any more…surprises? Out there? Is there?” He motioned out of the caverns. “Surprises?” “Werewolves, witches, ghosts or goblins…that sort of thing? Frankenstein?” I laughed. “I’ve never seen or heard of any.” I shrugged. “I’m not saying there aren’t, I just don’t know of any.” I thought. “I suppose there could be werewolves…after all they have an infection as well…but I dare say they won’t be those in the movies.” He nodded as I could see him coming to grips at last with all of this new information and ideas. “That’s good…I guess.” He looked at the Old Ones who were laughing in their way at whatever Bugs was doing. “They are…not as creepy as before.” “They were made to drink blood. You had what they needed to live…now, you don’t. I’m glad you see they aren’t the evil.” I smiled. “I don’t say they aren’t dangerous…they are. Clearly they are a threat to mankind, but we can’t just destroy them. We might be able to help even.” “Tell me why they were made in the first place.” Sorin asked. “Well, the texts we translated talked of an empire that wanted scouts…soldiers that would go in an advance fighting force to weaken anyone they came across...” Sorin looked surprised. “Wait. So, this translating project…whatever…is real?” Sorin asked. I nodded. “Very real.” I picked up my fully charged translator and clicked it on. “As I said before, we don’t have to speak so many languages, so we never learn to. You do.” I smiled. “You slip into English so well, it’s not necessary. We are a diverse world and the vampires which we thought might be in the hundreds, maybe a thousand are a lot more.” I smile. “And we need to talk to them, so it made sense to back this project and use it.” Sorin shook his head. “Sorry for interrupting. Back to these two. Who could think this sort of shit up!?” He asked incredibly. I chuckled. “Many have dreamt of the perfect warrior and the perfect weapon.” I smiled at Repetate and Iustina. “There they are…so they thought.” Sorin nodded and thought more. “Do you know what happened to this empire?” I shook my head. “No, not really, but…” I waved at Iustina and Repetate. “There were a whole lot more of them in the beginning…I can only offer conjecture what might have happened. There is no proof. I don’t know if this empire had what we do for countering the effects…making them less of a target to their own people. I would dare to say that these weapons turned on their creators if they didn’t.” Sorin nodded and then gave a reluctant shrug. “It doesn’t matter, they’re gone now.” He looked at Iustina and Repetate. “But they’re still here.” “Yes, they are.” I smiled looking as they were smiling at something else they saw. “I know we’re asking a lot from you, Inspector…” He chuckled. “Just call me Sorin.” He shook his head. “I have a feeling we’ll know each other a long time.” I smiled at the idea. “I welcome that.” I said sincerely. “I know there will be a lot of questions later as you…” I waved at him, “assimilate all this.” Sorin chuckled again. “I’m working on it.” “I had a hard time with it, too.” I admitted. Sorin looked shocked. “I guess you did. Anyone would.” He smiled. "You must have come around…you married him.” I nodded. “He had the harder time than I did.” Sorin looked surprised. “He did? He had the hard time.” “When we first met…he was a vampire already on the serum. He knew about the venom and that it was in all his fluids. So, therefore in his…” “Yes, I get it!” Sorin said quickly laughing uncomfortably holding his hands up to stop me. I smirked. “Which is harder to accept? The fact that we’re vampires? Or that we’re gay?” Sorin shook his head. “You’re both!” He snickered. “I do have trouble understanding being…gay…but as long as I’m not involved...” “And until you said that, I was rooting for you.” I shook my head as I frowned. “I admit it!” Sorin confessed. “I don’t get it.” He threw his hands out. “It doesn’t make sense!” He threw his hand out toward Iustina and Repetate. “They don’t make sense.” He frowned. “But they’re here and so are you.” He turned again to me. “Do you believe in God? How do you think He feels about what you are?” “Are we talking about the vampire thing or the gay thing?” I asked angrily. Sorin looked puzzled and shook his head. “No, you misunderstand.” He chuckled. “Maybe we should use the translator after all.” He smiled. “I mean…I can’t imagine a man I would be attracted to enough to make me want to have sex with him.” He waved at me as if to physically shove the miscommunication away. “We are attracted to what we’re attracted to. We all do have…things...” He smiled. “Many don’t care for what attracts me.” “And what are you attracted to?” I asked now curious. Sorin was beginning to turn pink. “I like my women…” he scratched the side of his nose as he was embarrassed. “…let me say…I like meat on a woman.” I smiled and nodded. “Oh.” He held his hand up again. “Not fat, no, but a few extra pounds…soft and round.” He watched as I was apparently my nose was turning up and pointed at me. “See!? You’re not attracted at all…that’s what I meant. You’re not involved, so that’s what I meant about the gay part. I don’t want to be involved.” I nodded. “I get it.” I looked at him. “Do I believe in God?” I shrugged and threw my hands up. “I can’t answer that. I have no proof. I’ve never seen a miracle or seen an angel. I’ve wanted to, but never did.” “That means you don’t believe in magic.” Sorin nodded. “Not the Bewitched kind of magic, no, but…” I frowned, “there’s magic all around us.” Sorin cocked his head. “Where?” “You have it in you.” I smiled. “You. That presence that is looking out on the world through your eyes…seeing me, knowing who I am and more importantly, who you are. That’s magic.” I smiled. “There are vampires out there that are just basic predators. They wake up, hunt and go to sleep and do it again the next night. We say they’ve lost their humanity. I say, they lose their sense of self.” I nodded. “There are wonders in the world and there are horrors, but they’re real I never could have dreamed up this life.” I sighed. “We are animals. Yet there is something different. We know what we are. I’d say that’s pretty magical.” Sorin bowed a little. “I mean…burning bushes and things like that.” I smiled. “Haven’t seen one.” He nodded. “Is there anything that really surprised you about all this?” He asked indicating the caverns. I nodded. “Oh, absolutely.” I frowned. “It was really sad the first time I had…a problem with what we were doing…killing vampires.” I held my hand up to stop his question. “I wasn’t prepared for the one we found in Manhattan…New York…wherever. New York is big.” I chuckled. “The vampire we found that night was only five years old.” “Five!?” Sorin balked. “You couldn’t…use the serum?” I shrugged again. “I don’t know.” I admitted. “We were still on the injections and the discs were new…and Colin said there was nothing left of the boy at that time that he was a mindless predator and I didn’t see anything but a pissed of vampire about to kill a man!” “Five.” Sorin said in disbelief. “There are vampires that aren’t that picky or didn’t have luck hunting, so...” I explained with a shrug. “The bottom line is they need blood. Colin, Gabriella and the others never asked to be a vampire. It was done by someone else who wanted to kill them. Destroy them.” “And you?” I smiled. “Well, I was a little different.” I explained how Colin had been forced off the serum and became a vampire and I did it so he wouldn’t suffer. “He could resist so long and…he would die after he attacked me and realized what he’d done. It wasn’t his fault.” “You love him very much.” Sorin nodded with a smile. “I can’t argue with that.” “As far as God’s take on all of this…He understands much more than anyone else and He’s God! He knows the hearts of all of us.” I said simply. “Vampires, too.” Sorin thumbed back toward Dragon and the others. “He has to do this five or six more days.” He said to confirm. I nodded. “He will if he wants to see a sunrise.” I was very serious now. “You and I really don’t have a clue as to how bad it is…being a vampire. I don’t. I was a full vampire one night. Colin did it for almost two centuries.” I looked up as Repetate was looking puzzled and I realized the CD had run out. “Wait guys!” I said to them both. “I have more!” I went to the cell door and looked back at Sorin. “I’m opening the door. You’ll see they won’t be interested in you now.” I slowly opened the door and Iustina and Repetate just smiled knowing the enjoyment was going to continue. I looked at Sorin and smiled. “It’s going to work out fine, Sorin.” I assured. “We’re just people. Not all of us are fiends or something to go bump in the night.” It was after Dragon had gone to sleep did Laurel have to retire for rest. She even called to say there was an emergency she needed to take care of and won’t be back to the hospital a while. George looked surprised as she shut her phone down. “I’m glad you’re here, but don’t you have other patients?” Laurel smiled. “Who can do without me a few days.” She said. “I was called in because of you.” She pointed to me and Colin. “You were all shot and…well…I hate to say it, but…money does talk and we couldn’t have a major investor killed by someone without punishing them and getting to the bottom of who shot you.” She almost bounced. “And what better medical mystery than real live vampires!” She asked pointing at Dragon’s prone form. She took George’s arm. “Now, you say you have recorded what you’re found so far on a hard drive. I’d love to see it.” I was with Repetate and Iustina a while, but came back to find Sorin looking around the caverns we were in and he was nodding at what he saw. He stamped a foot on the hardwood floor and was impressed at the lack of give. “Do you like where Dragon and his people live?” I asked Sorin. Sorin turned and nodded. “It’s amazing!” He tapped his foot on the floor again. “What’s under here? It’s level!” “Sand, I think.” I answered. “The ground has all those stalagmites that are jagged and the sand fills up the spaces. They boarded it up below.” “It’s smooth and level!” “They had a while to refine it.” I said. He turned to me and smiled. “All these centuries…this was under our feet.” He said marveling. “It’s a little out of town, but, other than the color of some of the rock…a cave is a cave.” I said simply. I looked at what had clearly been a lava tube at one time, perhaps millions of years in that past and only hammered out by hand at some portions to make it easier to get through. “Stalagmites and Stalactites are all pretty much the same underground.” “And which is which again?” Sorin grinned. “Sticks tight to the ceiling…stalactites.” I pointed up at the ceiling of the cave. Sorin nodded. “That’s good.” He said smiling and he was looking more at ease now. “So, tell me…who tried to kill you when you were attacked?” He said leveling his gaze on me. “I still have an investigation.” I told him about Iilya and Lucian and how they were planning something big. “And you think this Halloween in Transylvania is that event?” Sorin asked as he worked it in his mind. “They can do several things that night.” I said. “They feed. They make more vampires and it’s televised.” Sorin frowned. “That would be a spectacle, but so…out there.” “But when it begins to happen, the people won’t be scared for a while thinking that’s why they’re here…to be scared. They will think it’s part of the festivities.” Sorin nodded as he walked over to me. “Something is keeping you here, though.” He said. “More than Dragon and his men…rescuing vampires.” “Understand, this is an ongoing research process. We know that the original venom has gone through many people and so forth and down the line, it became what you see. There is no telling how many vampires got the venom, made it their own and passed it to another. Each time, it seems fractionally less.” I explained. “There is a vampire here that managed something no vampire can do, as far as I know. A child. He has a son.” Sorin nodded. “And this son has something that will help you?” “He has immunity.” I explained. “He’s not a vampire, but has the venom. He has his own antivenin and antibody which George hopes to take from him and give to us.” “But you’ll never die!” Sorin pointed out. “There is a price.” I said. “You have to stay on the serum. If we run out, we become those things again. You saw what Dragon went through…willingly to be free of this! He doesn’t want to live forever and have no life.” “But you do!” Sorin said again. “You do now! You have that life.” He stressed. “You’re flying around the world, eating in fine restaurants, going to exotic places…you won’t die!” I shook my head. “We will!” I said. “Everyone dies. The problem is…we’re not going to be killed because of illness or age, but we will die. How would you feel if you know that one day, you will be killed? It’s inevitable! You won’t slip away in your sleep after decades of life or even with an illness.” I watched and I was getting angrier as Sorin’s eyes grew as I said what I was saying. “You will die! You will be killed! Something or someone is going to kill you.” I turned back as I was speaking louder than even I intended. “Or worse…you’re in an accident. A plane crashes, a car runs you over. You lose and arm or leg…but it won’t grow back, but you will live! You won’t die. You could be brain damaged and you won’t die! The only one I know that had anything close to a bearable life was Amasis, he was a god, or so he though for millennia. He stayed in a place like this for more than two thousand years!!” I was advancing as I spoke, but Sorin was backing up as I did with shock on his face. “When I saw Gabriella that first night.” I shook my head. “She was this horrible…monster…this…thing!” I said not hiding my disgust. “She was more like those undead you read about or hear about. Basically a corpse that…and thank God, had some humanity in her still. Her sense of self was still there and that was magic.” I shook my head. “I’m glad I won’t be leaving Colin…necessarily. But think about what I’d do if I lost him! Eventually we will lose each other. We know that. Nothing lasts forever.” I shook my head. “No, I want Colin and me to have our time together, but it will end. I know that.” “Whoa.” Sorin said holding his hand up to stop the assault I was giving verbally. “I get it.” He assured me. “But, my point is you have no idea when. It could be tomorrow or not for hundreds of years. Thousands of years. I have maybe twenty to thirty years, I hope.” He smiled. “Can’t you see where that would be what a lot of people want?” I sighed. “Yes. I brought the same arguments to George and Colin.” I said softer. “But it’s a cheat. Fearing death. When Brett bit me, and he was the one that wanted to be a vampire, not because he would live, but to destroy Colin! He almost did.” “That was the first bite.” Sorin said confirming. “Right.” I shook my head. “He wasn’t that sharp in the first place, but he was insane with the turn of the centuries.” I looked at Sorin. “This isn’t a state I wish on anyone. I chose this for Colin. My mother chose it because of Willie.” I said sadly. “They were both…all of them…Willie, Colin, Alex…they were lost and lonely. They’re not anymore, but if I can have today and tomorrow with Colin, I’ll take it. Mom can have Willie today and tomorrow…maybe we can help make up the years of suffering they have.” He gave a shrug and nod. “I guess there’s good and bad with both.” He looked around. “Where’s everyone else? I know Colin is here with George…” “They do nightly patrols.” I answered. “We’re trying to find these other vampires. The ones not with Dragon.” “You can do that?” Sorin asked. “Some of us had abilities we brought over from our days as regular people.” I said. “Gabriella and Alex have a keen sense of smell. We all do, but theirs…it’s almost supernatural what they can smell.” “So, there is a way for you to sense a vampire.” “We feel it when we meet one.” I nodded. “Gabriella and Alex can smell it.” I waved at Repetate and Iustina. “They can, too.” Sorin nodded. “My non-vampire blood.” “George has a detector he claims works. We’ll find out that night.” We met with the others to gather what information we got that night back at the house we rented. “These vampires are keeping it very low.” Gabriella said sighing as she sat in a chair. “I didn’t pick up a thing.” “But they have to feed!” Colin said turning to Sorin. “What about livestock? Have there been any complaints about missing livestock?” Sorin shrugged. “I didn’t pay much attention it, but now that you mention it, there have been some reports about someone bothering with them.” “Bothering? How?” Colin asked. Sorin nodded. “The livestock were all drained of blood, but there were no deaths.” “What kind of livestock?” Colin asked. “Cows, sheep, goats and pigs mostly.” Sorin reported. “They need them alive to go back for more later.” He smiled. “Now that I know about it, knowing what it means, I can watch for it. But these events happened over a broad range of land. There’s no way of determining where they will hit next.” Colin rubbed his face in his hands. “It will be Halloween night, I’m sure of it.” He looked at Sorin. “I know there will be police there.” Sorin nodded vigorously. “Absolutely there will be…a lot of crazies and those vampires will be there added to the mix.” Willie sat up. “Your local police will need help. Are you getting help from other sources?” Sorin nodded again vigorously. “Absolutely, but we’re spread thin enough as it is even with support staff. It’s over all Romania.” Shelly smiled. “Well, how about a few more?” She waved at Chuck and Mark. “We’re all certified with handguns, and we can qualify again if we need to.” Sorin brightened. “You are agents.” He nodded. “I could deputize you. I’d be within my rights to do that.” He then growled. “But you follow orders!” He pointed to Mark and Chuck. Chuck grinned as he saluted. “Roger that, Sarg!” Colin smiled at what he saw. “This could be good!” He said happily. He stood up. “Now, I’ll show you what we have when we find these vampires to push back! I think we'll get things done now.” “Push back? As in weapons? Garlic and Holy Water doesn’t work?” Sorin asked and then nodded. “Oh, yes, you said you liked garlic, Colin.” Mark came in with…and truthfully it looked more like a toy, but that was the point. More like those really big squirt guns. “This is a serum gun.” He said opening the cartridge. “It shoots little hard pellets of the serum.” “Isn’t that what you have shot in you!?” Sorin asked. “To rid you of that…whatever.” “Yes, but the dosage is so low, it just hurts, if it does nothing else, it will slow them down.” Mark replied and he pulled up another…it looked like a flashlight. “And this…” Mark flipped a switch and it came on, “…is a sun gun.” He waved his hand in front of it and even aimed it at Sorin. “See? No harm to the humans!” Sorin rose and took the two guns. “Anti-vampire weaponry.” He grinned and looked up as I knew the look. “There’s this great movie…Underworld Series…they had these great weapons!!” There was a general groan from everyone and my mother shook her head. “No, not you, too!” Gabriella snickered. “Here we go again.” She moaned as her eyes rolled. “Another movie fanatic!” I chuckled. “Well, Sorin’s right, they did have some bitchin’ weapons!!”
  9. Chapter 18

    Sorin was looking at Dr. Petran as if to question her sanity. “You believe this!?” He asked her in disbelief. Dr. Petran cocked her head at him. “Give me another explanation.” She said quickly. “I’m a doctor, Sorin. I’m not some silly little girl afraid of vampires. There is something in their systems I couldn’t explain. When they told me, I had a hard time believing them.” She waved at Dragon and the others there. “They are vampires. Surely you see that.” Sorin was like Dr. Petran and many others. He saw what was in front of him, but his mind was having difficulty letting it sink in. “They are just stories.” He said as he worked it over in his mind. “My grandmother told me about them, but…” he shook his head. “They were just stories.” “When I was first bitten.” Colin said. “I knew of one other.” He said softly. “He bit me to destroy me. Then I found out he bit my daughter.” He waved to Gabriella who waved at Sorin. His eyes grew having the same reaction even I had with the age problem. “I met others during the war…the Civil War. They were just feeding. Wild. I was not one of them.” He smiled. “I left home, found others…there are literally thousands of us out in the world.” He walked over to George. “This…brilliant man…came up with a serum…it doesn’t take the vampire out of us, but it puts it to rest.” He grinned. “You, Dr. Petran, Chuck, Shelly, Mark and his partner Stan, who is back at the house on his computer watching us now…are the only ones here who haven’t been bitten. You aren’t vampires.” “If you’re everywhere, why come here?” Sorin asked. “We think…” George began. “No…I know there is an answer here. We have a venom. That’s what makes us vampires. We don’t change into bats or any of that nonsense.” He shook his head dismissing that idea physically. “There is a vampire here that did what I’ve never knew was possible. He had a son.” George said walking toward Sorin. “That son holds the key to our getting rid of this…infection. We are victims, not demons or the undead. We have an infection.” He went to Dr. Petran. “The substance she saw in our blood is that infection and the serum used to treat it. This son has a natural…ability to block that venom and infection. I need that to help us.” He waved at everyone here. “To help all of us. We want our lives back.” “In Transylvania.” Sorin was clarifying again. “Because it started here.” I shook my head. “No. It didn’t start here, but in the Middle East.” I motioned for Sorin to follow me. “I’ll show you what started it.” Sorin followed, but kept the vampires with Dragon in front of him as he did, turning and even walked backwards so he could keep an eye on them. Dr. Petran smiled, but followed as well. I stopped in front of the cell where and held up my hands to stop them. “Prepare yourselves…they are unlike anything you have ever seen.” I stepped back and waved to the two Old Ones. “This is Earless and Repeat. Iustina and Repetate in Romanian.” I hate to admit it, but those two put on a show. Repetate and Iustina were at the bars hissing and reaching out Sorin. The fangs were always out, but now they wanted Sorin. Badly. Sorin jumped back a foot and now he did draw his gun, but Dragon was there instantly and took the gun away. Dragon had fed before we arrived and his movements and actions were very fast. “No! They are not dangerous for us.” Dragon said firmly. His demeanor was dark and shadowed, but he would take no exception to what he had said. “I will not allow you to harm them.” I nodded. “They are not endangering us because we already are vampires. They can sense it, smell it and feel it.” I backed closer the cell bars and stood right below the two Old Ones, who were ignoring me as they still were reaching for Sorin. “As you can see…they’re not interested in Dr. Petran. She took the serum to make her…less appetizing.” I grinned as I waved at Dr. Petran who was more fascinated by Iustina and Repetate. She wasn’t scared at all. Her scientific curiosity was stimulated more than her fear. “This…” I groaned. “Disflavor…” I looked at George. “I still hate that name. I’d prefer Ew Yuk to Disflavor.” Colin chuckled and nodded. “My husband is big on names and movies. He insisted we call ourselves the Vampire United Nations. The VUN.” I grinned back. “That was a hell of a lot better than Holm’s Laboratories!” I grinned at George. “Nothing wrong with your name, George, but it gives more…pizazz!” George just rolled his eyes. “I just don’t have your flare.” He grinned and shrugged. I grinned back. “You know I love you.” George nodded with a grin. Dr. Petran got closer and was looking them over and Iustina and Reptate who ignored her completely, but still wanted Sorin’s blood. “What an interesting physiology!” She marveled and turned to Sorin. “Do you still not believe it?” She waved at Repetate and Iustina. “Here they are; right in front of you! That can’t be faked. No hair, naked and…” she looked closer. “No anus!?” She asked me to confirm what she saw. “They drink only blood and piss ammonia.” I explained. “No solid wastes? No need for one.” Sorin took his jacket off quickly and pulled his shirt down to reveal his arm. “Give me that…Disflavor…whatever you call it…” George smiled and pulled the syringe he had already prepared for Sorin. A quick dab of the alcohol swab and he stuck the needled in Sorin’s arm. “It takes a few minutes to work its way in, but it works quickly as you can see with Dr. Petran.” George was right, it did work quickly as Repetate and Iustina lowered their arms and stopped hissing at Sorin. I grinned as Sorin watched as he became less focused on by Repetate and Iustina. They were now smiling at me and happy to see me. Which I spoke to them and opened the door to go in the cell with them. Sorin’s eyes widened as they crowded around me, waving at the laptop I had left them to watch cartoons and things on. They didn’t understand how to scroll through the database for more cartoons. I grinned and pulled a CD out that had hours of Bug Bunny and Daffy Duck cartoons. Dr. Petran was still caught up in the Old Ones and dared to come in the cell with me. Repetate and Instina looked at her and even smiled at her! “I’m sorry this has been so…” Colin began saying to Sorin. “…well, it’s not something we can just explain easily.” Sorin nodded as he began to relax. “I can understand why.” George walked in the cell with us. “Doctor…” She broke her stare at Repetate and Iustina and smiled at George. “I think now you can all call me Laurel.” Dr. Petran smiled. “This is all…so…” “Unbelievable?” George nodded. “Sorin.” Sorin looked up at George. “You wanted to know what that liquid was I was carrying that night.” George said. “I’ll do one better. Dragon, are you ready to start again?” Dragon nodded. “I’m patient.” Sorin looked as if he almost forgot about Dragon and his eyes widened as Dragon smiled at him only inches away; Dragon’s fangs still out. “This is the serum I gave to all here with us in our group.” He said holding the vial up. “I’m going to start his treatment again. In five or six days, he’ll see the sunrise again that he hasn’t been able to see in how many centuries?” Dragon nodded. “It’s been quite a few.” Then he frowned and rubbed his chest. “Though I am not looking forward to the pain again.” George nodded and laughed. “No, but it will work. I promise.” George reassured. He had a patient smile for Sorin. “I’m willing to share all I know, what I’ve observed and demonstrate what I’ve found to work with this venom.” Sorin pointed at the two Old Ones. “Those are vampires, too?” He asked more to keep it straight in his head. George nodded. “They are the origins of all vampires.” I was getting an affectionate touch from Iustina. “These are two of many that were sent into the world. They are the oldest living things on this planet.” I grinned I rubbed Iustina’s face below his missing ear because he liked it there the best. “They are thousands of years old.” Sorin was still having difficulty with what we were telling him, yet unable to ignore what he saw with his own eyes. “Thousands of years?” Amasis, who was using the translator because his understanding of English was still not fluent and he wanted to understand what we were talking about. He came over to Sorin. “I am over two thousand years old. I found out I was the last Pharaoh in Egypt.” Sorin heard it and his eyes grew and again, his mind was telling him it was impossible, but seeing what we’ve told him was true…not about Amasis or what we told him about us, but as in the two Old Ones right in front of him; he couldn’t say it wasn’t true. “That’s…unbelievable.” He said weakly. “Other than Iustina and Repetate, he is the oldest vampire we’ve found.” Colin said. “We have represented here veterans of many wars from World War II, two veterans of World War I.” He smiled. “My daughter and I predate the Civil War in the States.” Willie nodded. “It’s only because of the serum, we’ve been able to branch out to see what happened to us and began getting a better picture of what we had to work with.” “We have one in custody that is old, but she’s evil.” George said. “She was the source for most of the vampires in the United States, but with modern day technology, we closed the gaps and began talking with groups around the world and found there are thousands like us. Willie’s right, since we’ve been out in the world a more concise understanding is beginning to form and maybe a cure.” “There are evil vampires.” I confessed softly. “But these vampires were evil before they were bitten. It doesn’t come from the fact they were bitten.” “The venom seeks a human being that’s healthy and has the best blood.” George said. He waved at Dragon’s men and us. “All of these vampires are generations away from these vampires.” He pointed to Repetate and Iustina. “They bite a person and they become what we call the Wild Vampires. They become like these Old Ones and can’t think or speak.” Then he grinned. “Well, there’s Wayne.” He pointed to Wayne. “Wayne was bitten by an Old One in England, but somehow managed to put together that we might help him. He was a wild vampire. Unable to speak or understand, but we gave him the serum and he is now a fully functioning person.” Sorin looked at Gabriella and then to Colin. “You said she’s your daughter?” He was still having trouble with that. I chuckled. “Yea, it blows you mind, doesn’t it? I had problems with that myself. The age thing.” I shrugged. “I still do at times.” “And she…” Sorin pointed to my mother, “is your mother. She didn’t give birth to you? I mean, she didn’t give birth to you as a vampire.” I shook my head. “Oh, no…she gave birth to me thirty some odd years ago. I’m the youngest vampire here.” I grinned. “She and I are the only ones I know of that became vampires willingly.” “Willingly.” Sorin repeated. “I met Colin and fell in love with the man.” I said. “Whether or not you think being homosexual is right or not. He would be alone if I hadn’t.” Mom nodded. “I met William and…we also fell in love, so Devon and I wanted to be with them and we let them bite us.” “You wanted to live forever?” Sorin asked again in the tone for clarification. “We wanted Willie and Colin to have someone in their lives that wouldn’t die!” I said firmly. “For almost two centuries Colin has lost people in his life.” “You were both injured.” Laurel said. “Badly. Granted you healed at a remarkable rate; is that because of the serum? Not like a regular person. There is no ritual or anything to kill a vampire?” “No, we could be killed.” Colin confessed. “And it doesn’t have to be a stake through the heart. We can fall and break bones…like our necks. We can be shot and stabbed.” “Vampires reproduce their numbers by the bite, not sex.” George said. “The venom they infect us with basically rewrites our DNA and we become the thing that makes this venom.” He waved at Repetate. “He bites someone, they become a wild vampire. I’ve found that with each new host…” he explained. “They also rewrite the venom. My venom is my venom and is different that Colin’s. However, our venom all came from one of these vampires.” He said about Iustina and Repetate. “There were hundreds…maybe thousands of these creatures…manufactured.” “Manufactured?” Sorin asked. “By who?” Laurel asked. George nodded. “Well, that’s the tricky part.” He smiled and scratched his ear as he did when had to admit something he was still not sure of himself. “We don’t know who they were. The word or symbol for the name has not been translated, but an empire or king in the ancient world wanted to weaken his future conquests is our best guess.” “The texts we found…” I waved at Amasis, “thanks to him. A group of men or scientists came up with something they put in the water. Men and women, having to drink water that had this…whatever in the water…gave birth to these things.” I said as Repetate knew I was talking about him and smiled at me. “They are victims, too.” I smiled back at Repetate as he found out to start the CD of cartoons. “They really are kind of sweet.” “Sweet!?” Sorin balked. “They are killers!” “They are what they were born to be! They can’t help that they are what they were created to be.” I shot back. “They are innocent!” Sorin looked at me like I was insane now. “You defend them?” “They’re not hunting you now.” I said simply. “They only consume blood…human blood.” Colin nodded. “Whether or not you see that they are innocent, they are important to us for ridding ourselves of this infection.” Colin sighed as he walked closer to Sorin. “You wanted to know the truth…why we were here.” He waved at the surroundings. “This is it. This is the truth.” George nodded. “There is a threat.” He said causing Sorin to look at him again. “We are not the enemy, but there are vampires out there that are a big threat. They are planning something big, we just don’t know what that is.” “There was a man named Iilya.” Dragon said. “He believes we are more than we are.” “All of the movies and books out about vampires…” I said. “Iilya wants to be that kind of vampire, he wants power, but there is no vampire like they want. We’re certainly not.” “You’re not?” Sorin asked to confirm. “Fangs you have, hunger for blood…” “I only had fangs once.” I chuckled. “On the serum, we don’t have fangs.” I shrugged. “When I first smelled blood, I didn’t realize…well…imagine a steak done just right.” I shook my head. “I don’t remember anything smelling so good…and the taste!” Sorin was becoming more relaxed and nodded. “Okay, so Dr. Petran I understand why you need her. She’s a doctor and scientist.” He shrugged. “The investigation I did because you were shot, but what do you need from me?” George nodded with a smile. “Thank you. For listening.” Colin came over and put his arm around me. “There are dangerous vampires in this part of the world besides Iilya or Lucian. That is because they were dangerous men before, now they’re planning something…Iilya and Lucian were the ones that had us shot. I’d wager all I have on that.” Sorin shook his head. “Why?” “We’re not sure, but almost every town has one or two vampires that keep themselves hidden.” I smiled and waved to the other vampires with Dragon. “There are several here. What’s happening now is…there are no vampires out there at all at night.” Sorin again shook his head. “Maybe their gone?” “No.” Alex said simply. “One of the things we can say is our advantage about becoming vampires…our senses were enhanced to make us better hunters. I can tell if a vampire has crossed a path even a day later from the scent they leave behind.” He took Gabriella’s hand. “My wife can even tell what gender they are. I can’t.” “But they’re still here.” Gabriella said. “They’re waiting for something.” “What?” Sorin asked. Shelly came forward. “I found this today.” She handed a brochure to Colin. “This could be what they’re waiting for.” I looked at the brochure in Colin’s hand. Written in big letters. “Halloween in Transylvania.” The script used was bright red and dripping like blood. The image also contained what I knew was Vlad’s castle, but shrouded in mist as the sun was setting. “Dracula Castle Escape,” was also written on the brochure. It was just a couple of weeks away! “Oh, my god. Transylvania is going to be packed with people then.” I said shaking my head. Colin nodded and looked helpless a second. “They’ll be up late…drunk mostly and just partying all night.” He looked at Sorin. “This happens every year?” Sorin nodded and then shrugged. “Of course…it one of the things we’re famous for. Dracula.” He thought. “Local law enforcement will be out fully…there will be over ten thousand people here…probably…tripling the population!” I nodded. “I bet this is what they’re counting on.” “You think they’ll attack the people that come here?” Mom asked. Colin frowned. “If they want to make a statement, yes.” “We may have pushed their timetable forward some…” I said. “For decades, they could pick and choose, but since we’ve offered this serum…” “…we’ve forced them to move up their agenda.” Colin nodded. Dragon walked over and looked at the brochure. “My home.” He said with a longing tone and affection, touching the picture of the castle. His castle. Now Sorin’s eyes widened even more. “Your home!?” He looked at the castle and of course knew it well as did every person in Romania and around the world. “You’re not…” he now was backing again. “It can’t be. You can’t be!” “Inspector.” I shook my head. “You know that book is about a fictional character. Not Vlad Dracul.” Dragon, not really comfortable with his infamous past and just looked away at first, but looked at Sorin. “You often talk about what can’t be.” He smiled. “Yet it stands before you.” Sorin shook his head. “Because it’s goes against all we are taught could be.” Sorin looked at the others. “All of you are just fiction!” I chuckled. “Again, we stand before you.” Dragon was still looking at the brochure and the writing there. “I’ve heard about this…hall…o…ween?” He stated hesitantly. “My understanding was it was mostly for children.” I nodded. “For a lot of people, it is.” I admitted. “October 31st has changed over the centuries and it’s not just for children. It’s taken on many cultural influences, superstitions and now is just a day…or should I say night…of thrills for children and adults.” “Thrills.” Dragon repeated as he held the brochure up. “I see images of strange creatures on this.” I nodded. “Being scared is thrilling.” I said simply. “Devon loved Halloween.” Mom said. “I think you stopped Trick or Treating at…” she thought. “Was it twelve?” Laughing I smiled as I remembered. “I matured from a pirate, clown and Power Ranger to ghost, mummy and…” I waggled my eyebrows. “The last years, I was a vampire!” I patted Sorin on the shoulder. “Sort of prophetic, isn’t it? Only there aren’t the plastic fangs or cape now.” Colin grinned, but was thinking. “We don’t know that is what they’re waiting for.” Chuck stepped forward. “It will be televised. If they are…” he said. “We need to be prepared for something big.” “Think about it, Colin.” I said. “If you sprang out on the night of Halloween. Would you be suspicious of fangs? It would be considered part of an elaborate costume. Part of the night’s entertainment until it became too real.” “But if it’s venom they spread to make vampires...” Laurel offered with a nod. “How much venom is required to make a vampire?” She asked George. George shrugged. “One bite will do it.” “And how fast is the conversion?” Laurel asked. “A few hours.” George said. “The full transformation takes place during the day after the victim is bitten.” “I don’t suppose we have enough serum to counter any attacks that happen that night.” I said to George. “Like I got after the first time I was bitten.” George shook his head. “No. We wouldn’t have enough blood to provide transfusions either.” “You were bitten twice?” Laurel asked. “He was bitten by the same vampire I and Gabby was.” Colin smied. “Sorry, that’s the name I used with my daughter. Gabriella and were bitten by the same vampire. I gave him the serum mere minutes following the bite.” “And then he was purged of all his blood and had it replaced with fresh blood not having any venom.” George added. “There is no way of blocking these vampires?” Sorin asked. “Garlic or crosses…Holy Water?” I shook my head. “They don’t do a thing. Crosses do nothing.” “And I love garlic.” Colin admitted. “Very nice flavoring, but no adverse reaction to it.” “They would increase their numbers by thousands!” Sorin said. “There are people coming from all over the world!” “That’s why I’m saying this…” Shelly said waving at the brochure, “is the event we’re looking for. I know it is. It will even be televised.” “Which Iilya wants.” Mark said. “If you wanted to force someone to give secrets or suffer…scare people over TV.” “People will have their phones and other devices to record and transmit what happened.” Mom said. “Even if you could say it was all staged or not real afterwards…there will be footage going around the world. It would literally scare the entire world.” Colin shook his head. “We really need to find them.” George walked over to Dragon. “I hate to say it, but…” he pulled out a vial of the serum. “We’re wasting time talking…you need this now.” Dragon looked at the vial, grimaced and nodded. “Let’s do it.” George looked at Dr. Petran and Sorin. “Now you’ll see how this works.” “But know this…” Colin said. “It will hurt Dragon, but in the end…he will be able to go out and eat again.” He walked over to Dragon. “Perhaps even go home for the first time in centuries if he wants to. He’ll have freedom.” We got Dragon to the chamber he used during the daytime when he slept. We explained what was going to happen…even had Laurel and Sorin feel Dragon had no real pulse. Then George again prepared Dragon’s chest and inserted the needle in Drag’s heart. Neither Sorin or Laurel were ready to see that it did…hurt…very much as Dragon arched his back with the pain.
  10. Chapter 17

    Dr. Petran didn’t even look shocked. Perhaps like many here in this part of the world, knowing about the reality vampires was accepted, just not spoken about so openly. “You become vampires.” Like with many others, it wasn’t a question. I saw her face and saw she was still struggling with it. “Take your time.” I said smiling. “We get this sort of reaction in every country.” “You were out in the day time when you were attacked.” She said, still working it out in her mind. “You were injured pretty severely. None of these things are questioned, but it’s not the accepted…way things are supposed to be.” “We aren’t like the stories or myths.” George came closer. “Long story short...” He said sighing. “Vampires are not like in stories. We have a venom that’s in our systems that make us vampires. Other than the fangs, drinking blood and can only come out a night, that’s where it ends. I’ve never known one like in any of the stories. We aren’t evil.” “And none of the creepy music, I’m sorry to say.” I groused. “George, you and this lovely doctor can exchange the how and when of vampire science about us and this serum, but I really need to see Colin.” I said about to get up. George nodded. “Of course you do.” He came over to the bed and was about to help me get up. “Hold it!” Dr. Petran said urgently. “You lay this bombshell on me and want to leave the room!? I’d say what you just told me deserves more information. I have questions.” George looked at me and smiled. “We did sort of give her a bomb.” “Yes, George, but my husband was shot.” I said. “I wake up and you know I want to see him. He had surgery, I had a bullet removed. It’s him coming to me or me going to him, but I’m seeing him.” I lifted the sheet and saw the gown. “Now, I need at least underwear to wear under this gown or I’ll go bare-assed to his room which I don’t know where that is, but you know I will find him.” George chuckled. “Yes, I know you would.” That’s when my mother came rushing in. “There he is.” She said coming to hug me which she did. “I was by yesterday and you were still unconscious. I’m so glad you’re okay!” She said and proceeded to cover my face with kisses. “I’m okay, Mom.” I waved to the doctor who was now staring with wider eyes than before. “Dr. Petran…this is my mother Betty Kalin. She’s one of us, too.” Then Willie came in. “Hi, Dad!” I waved to him. “And this is my stepfather Willie Kalin!” I nodded. “Or I should say William. He’s a vampire, too.” Mom stood up a little more from the hug a bit startled that I said it so casually. “What are you doing?” I waved at the doctor. “She’s an MD, Mom. She saw the anomalies in Colin’s and my blood work. We told her what that was…she knows.” Mom looked at me less surprised and then at Dr. Petran. “Oh.” George nodded. “That’s why I was the doctor on record before.” He shrugged. “But when I was shot as well…” he said lightly asking how it could be avoided. I patted my mother on the arm. “Now, I’m going to see Colin.” “But you’ve just woken up!” Mom said. I nodded. “I feel fine.” I moved my shoulder. “Sore, but fine.” I looked at the doctor. “One of the first things is to get the patient up and moving, well, I’m moving.” I said with resolution. “Either help me or knock me out so I won’t, but I’m seeing my husband.” I saw the tube that was connected to my arm and the IV that was feeding fluids in my system. Dr. Petran looked worried a bit more. “You just had surgery to remove the bullet less than twenty-four hours ago. Your husband has, too. We didn’t have enough room in the room he is in, but Colin’s surgery was more invasive; therefore his recovery would be longer.” George nodded. “There are things that are…unusual for us. We heal a lot faster than regular people. Magnify the healing process by two. Devon’s surgery was less than twenty-four hours ago, but he’s healed two days’ worth. That I can guarantee without even looking. In a week there will be two weeks’ worth of healing.” “We are essentially hosts for the venom.” Mom explained to Dr. Petran. “We live for the venom if we didn’t have the serum. It wouldn’t due to have a host that couldn’t hunt. The venom causes us to heal more rapidly and not get sick. If we didn’t have the serum, we’d be nearly mindless predators.” I waved at all of them. “Yes, yes…more about the science of what we are later.” I said feeling the urge to see Colin even greater. “Either get me something to haul this IV with me, take it out or I will. I’ve got to see Colin!” I stressed harder. Dr. Petran had to shake herself from her natural curiosity and finally heard me. “Yes, of course.” She rose. “I’ll get you some scrub pants and a wheelchair.” She went to retrieve what I needed. Scooting to the side of the bed, I looked at George. “When I saw you last, you were shot in the arm. How is it?” George nodded and pulled his shirt down to show his upper arm where he’d been shot. “Healing very well.” He smiled. “We should have planned for this sort of thing.” “George.” I said with a sigh. “We knew there was a possibility you could be incapacitated. You were shot.” George nodded. “Yes, but my field backup was you.” He said. “We need more people.” I waved at the door to my room. “Which we may have right here with Dr. Petran.” “I suppose Sorin Dulca saw you?” George asked. I nodded. “Just before Dr. Petran came in.” “What did you sense from him?” George asked. “Why are you asking me?” I asked. “I’m not a psychic. I don’t claim to be any authority on human behavior or trustworthiness.” Mom touched my face. “Honey, you’re instincts are very good, now answer George’s question.” I frowned. “I’m not sure.” I said honestly. “I sense he could be an ally, but he’s a very practical man. He’ll be hard to win over unless we show him the evidence and he’ll want evidence he can see for himself.” I looked at George. “We’re more public than we’ve ever been before.” I said to them. “We’re talking about it over the Internet. One day, it will come out that there are real vampires in the world.” I looked hesitantly as Lena came in pushing a wheelchair and a pair of those paper scrub pants used in medical circles now. Paper scrubs were the best as they were disposable. The pole on the side of the chair was for the IV. “We may be faced with that soon.” George groaned. “I know.” “It’s not going to be like all those shows on TV.” I said. “We have to be careful.” Putting the pants on in a way all guys know how, revealing his ass for a split second while he pulls them up while the gown covers anything else. I wasn’t worried about it. My mother changed me as a baby and the rest were guys and Lena was a nurse, so no problem. Besides, someone undressed me to put this gown on me, for all I knew, it was her! “Later, George.” I said as I pulled the IV down and hooked it to the pole. “Colin. Now!” I waved again to the door. Going through the hospital I could see that the hospital was indeed old, but as I said before, it was clean. No matter what country or language the duties and responsibilities of medical personnel was the same. They watched various computer monitors for patients and did other…medical duties. I was taken to an elevator and one floor down. Finally I was wheeled into a room where there were four beds. All four had people recovering from having had surgery within that day, but I knew which one was Colin. I should have known he was aware as soon as we entered to room. He practically sat up, but struggled due to his injuries. “Devon!” He said as his eyes lit up. Forget the IV, I was out of the chair and practically pulled the IV out as I rushed to his prone body on his right side to avoid furthering any injury and I was pulled into a kiss he was all too ready to give back. He almost consumed me as I did with him. Colin was always sexy, but even now a day or two without shaving, he was still sexy to me. I felt his hands go over me as he took me in visually and physically, inventorying me to see if I was all there. I was doing the same thing with him. “I was so worried about you.” I said softly as our mouths were near each other’s’ ears as we embraced. “I could have lost you.” Colin began wiping my face where I hadn’t known I was crying. “You didn’t.” He said assuring me. “Thanks to you.” He shook his head. “I couldn’t do a thing for you.” “In a few more centuries, I might consider letting you go, but I don’t think so.” I said. “I’m just glad you’re alive and I’m determined to keep you alive.” Dr. Petran came in behind us and heard us as she spoke with George more. “You were very fortunate, Mr. Wentworth.” She chuckled. “Since you’re both Wentworths, I say you are fortunate, Devon. The bullet passed through Colin Wentworth, but nicked your Brachial artery. You bled out very quickly and needed some transfusion, which I wouldn’t think possible...since…” she looked at the others in the room. “…what you told me about. That’s why we operated as we did on you.” I looked at the other patients there. Most of them were asleep, but there were a few guests or family and Colin and I were being watched as he nor I gave a single thought about what they’d think about two men kissing like that. I looked up to see a late middle aged woman sitting by the bed of some male, but her frown told me she didn’t approve of what she saw. I chuckled as I broke off with Colin. “No matter what country it is, some just don’t approve.” I whispered to Colin. Colin looked over and smiled. “If she knew the whole truth about us, she would be even more shocked.” I grinned as we touched foreheads. “Well, we don’t want to scare the straights too much.” “People scare too easily.” Colin said kissing me again unashamed. Dr. Petran came over and smiled. “I hate to interrupt, but…let’s see how you’re doing, Colin.” She stopped. “I can call you Colin, can’t I? If nothing more than to keep the two of you separate.” Colin nodded with a shrug. “It’s my name.” She nodded and went over and pulled his covers back and took the tape off carefully to pull the dressing away and nodded at what she saw. “You were correct, the healing I see is happening pretty quickly.” Colin looked at her and then looked at me. I nodded to his unasked question. “She’s a doctor.” I offered quietly. “She saw our blood work. She knows.” “Oh.” Colin said simply as he looked at her. “What are your plans with this knowledge?” Dr. Petran shook her head. “I have no plans.” She said shrugging. “I’m a doctor. What plans would I make? You’re all not threats, as far as I know of.” She nodded. “I can’t argue with what I’ve seen.” She looked at me. “You are prepared to show me more?” “You mean, show you real vampires?” I said hesitantly. “We can explain how it started, but will you trust us to do something to keep you safe?” “By doing what?” She asked. George walked closer. “I came up with a serum for you as well…” he looked at the surrounding others. “…those like you who aren’t what we are.” He pulled on his ear as thought about what he needed to do. “All of the people with us are not…what we are. They take this serum to make them not a target.” I chuckled. “You won’t be on the menu.” She looked surprised. “Do I ask if it’s safe?” George nodded. “You can ask Stan, Mark, Shelly and Chuck. They haven’t shown any ill effects.” “We need to speak more freely.” Dr. Petran said as she looked up and Lena. “He’s healed enough to be moved. We’ll put Colin and Devon in room together.” There was a little mayhem while we got settled, but my time there was only to be a couple of more days, if there were no complications. That also meant that Dr. Petran wouldn’t see her “proof” until Colin and I were released. Colin insisted that he was allowed to take her to Dragon. I had never been shot before. Colin had been shot before back in the 19th Century, not that either of us wanted to have one up on the other about that. We were put in a semi-private room and that allowed more visitors. Gabriella and Alex came to check on us, as did Chuck, Shelly, Mark and Stan. The nightly patrols of the town and surrounding countryside were still done. It was Stan that came with Mark and he gave us the latest findings. “…still no sightings of the other vampires in the area.” Stan said sighing. “I did some research on Sorin Dulca. He will be difficult to shake. He has a reputation of getting things done.” Then he sighed. “And now…another potential threat has surfaced.” Colin’s eyebrow rose. “Another threat?” He asked. “To us?” “To vampires as a whole.” Stan corrected. “There has been a lot of activity surrounding our broadcasts with Dragon. Many are trying to find where it’s coming from.” He looked up suddenly, “Which would be difficult to do, as I’ve bounced the broadcast using Buddy around the world. It is nearly impossible for someone to track it here.” “Nearly impossible.” I repeated. “But not impossible.” Stan nodded. “I have Buddy putting out false breadcrumbs to lead to other sites and countries and that’s why I say it’s nearly impossible to track us.” “Who is this threat?” Colin asked. “Buddy’s trying to locate them as they are trying to locate us.” Stan explained. “They think they’re…modern versions of Van Helsing.” Mark griped. “Van Helsing? Abraham Van Helsing? From the book Bram Stoker wrote?” I asked. “Vampire hunters?” “Bram Stoker or those vampire hunters in the Blade series…whatever.” Mark said. “They call themselves the Vampire Death Squad.” Stan reported. “They claim four kills so far.” “Have they located us?” Colin asked. “Not yet.” He shook his head. “But they are doing what we did. They’ve made a broadcast.” He patted his laptop. “You have it.” Colin said simply. “Show us.” Stan opened his laptop and tapped his mousepad and an image came up. The face had a garish clown mask on, in a dimly lit place and his voice was synthesized. There was no accent or anything to tell how old he was or what country he was from. “This is a warning.” The voice said angrily. “For all you vampires…and yes, we know you are vampires. I and my brothers and sisters have seen your kind before. Those out there that think this new group is the answer to your problems…think again. We know what you are. We hunters and vowed to rid the world of you and your kind. Each of us in my group has lost a person to one of you and have promised those members of family, friends and lovers to get rid the world of all of you. We will succeed. If you stay hidden…you will do better. To those of you that sent that message…telling the world that you are here and will liberate others…you’re time on Earth is limited. We will find you. We will kill you.” He nodded. “This is your only warning.” My eyes widened as I watched. When it was done Colin and I just looked at each other. “Well, that was certainly dramatic.” “I think it was scare us back into the darkness.” Colin grumbled. “That’s not going to happen. They have been around for centuries and failed.” “How serious is this threat?” I asked Stan. “Serious enough to rival my talents with the computer.” Stan said hesitantly. “Like I did, they’ve covered their own tracks leading me around the globe. Whatever group they are from, they have some smart people.” “There’s no way to track it any more than they can track us.” Colin said shaking his head. Stan shook his head. “I’ve had Buddy working on things…like the background…be it noises in the background, things around them to give us some idea of where they’re from. They were careful not to leave anything.” Colin nodded. “It’s a big world.” He shrugged. “Could they have been the ones that attacked us? Or were we just blaming Iilya?” “Until we capture one and ask him…we won’t know.” Mark said solemnly. “I think it was Iilya and Lucian who knew where to have these men waiting and when. You were assaulted. That much is clear. Who they are, we have to question them.” “You guys are way out of any jurisdiction you would have in the United States.” Colin pointed out. “We can’t just take someone off the street and question them.” “Which is why we need to include Sorin Dulca when we show Dr. Petran.” I said quietly. “And what if he doesn’t go for it?” Colin asked. “What if he turns against us?” I shook my head. “One look at the real deal and he can’t go against us. One look at Iustina and Repetate, he’ll be convinced.” Colin shook his head and put his head back as he sighed. “Now, we’re not only avoiding police. We’re coming against other vampires and now this Vampire Death Squad.” “Which is why we need help.” I said again. “We need to move quickly to get Sorin Dulca on our side and Dr. Petran.” I looked at Stan. “Where is Gaius? I hope Dragon understands what happened.” “He told Dragon what happened to you.” Stan reported. I shook my head. “We wasted a whole night with Dragon. He’ll have to start his treatment again.” Mark nodded. “He knows.” He smiled. “Of course, you can do it and show this doctor and investigator how it’s done and what it will be like.” I was discharged before Colin, but only by a day or so. Dr. Petran was amazed by the rate of recovery and I was, too. George was right. We did recover quickly. Mom was right as well. We did live for the venom, but with the serum, that table was turned. Now, the venom worked for us. Sorin Dulca was a man that knew what he was doing. He came several times questioning both Colin and myself. The day Colin was discharged, Colin looked at the inspector seriously. “If you really want to know what’s going on…how about we show you?” Sorin looked at us with caution. “So, there is more than just the translating going on.” Colin looked at Sorin as I helped him get his shirt on. He was healing just fine, but was still sore on his left side and being his husband, I naturally helped. “Do you want to know? We’re showing Dr. Petran also.” Sorin looked more cautious. “We could really use your help, Inspector, but you need to trust us.” Sorin was going over it in his mind, but if this led him to the answers… “Do you want to help us?” Colin asked. “We aren’t doing anything to hurt anyone. In fact, we’re doing all we can to help people. There is more than the world can even guess exist in the world.” Colin looked at Sorin more directly. “At first, it will only be you and Dr. Petran. Do you agree?” Sorin nodded. “Okay. What do I need to do?” Colin smiled. “Meet us at our house in Transylvania tonight, two or three hours before sunset.” I suspected Sorin Dulca would cover his tracks. I told Stan this as well and asked him to have a scan of any frequencies or possible transmissions he could send anywhere. “I can do one better!” Stan said brightly and handed me what looked like the translation devices we carried. “This will jam whatever he has on him to track his own movements. Just stay with him and nothing will get through.” I grinned at him. “You are an amazing man, Stan.” He shrugged. “I try.” Then he patted the CPU. “Buddy makes it easier.” “Buddy only works when you work him. Don’t sell yourself short.” I grinned. “You’re the talent, not Buddy.” I said making Stan smile. Dr. Petran arrived after Sorin Dulca apologizing for being late. “Sorry, I had a late consultation regarding a patient.” Colin smiled with a nod. “You’re a doctor. Those duties are understood.” He waved at the sky that was getting darker. “But we better go.” We all began our walking through the dark forest to the underground where Dragon and the others were. And Sorin was looked puzzled at where we were going, but this was a large group of people going. Reaching the entry for the underground, he stopped looking at what was a large crack in the hillside. “We’re to go in there?” Sorin asked. Colin nodded. “To see the truth. Yes.” He looked at Sorin. “You can go first or I can; whatever we need to do to win your trust.” Sorin was judging Colin carefully to see if Colin was being sincere. “Do I have a choice?” “Sure you do.” Colin nodded. “Trust us or not. That’s your choice.” He walked in front of him and entered the passageway. Truth about what we were and where we were was hitting Sorin now more as he saw the steps even out and then become more level and the torch lit way casted it’s eeriness over where we were. Dr. Petran was not as surprised, but still wary. It wasn’t long before we came again to the large chamber where Dragon and the dozen of his men and women were gathered. Dragon rose from his chair in the center of them. “Welcome Dr. Petran and Inspector Dulca. I am the one they call Dragon. I lead these people you see here.” Sorin was a little shaken by what he was seeing and his guard was coming up as he was not quite reaching for the gun he always carried holstered at his chest for easy reach. “What is this? Who are you?” It was creepy down here. Colin stepped in front of Inspector Dulca to stop him from doing what we feared he might, but him having the gun was his security. We let him keep it. “They are as we are…they’re vampires.” Sorin was backing away as his eyes grew, never doubting for a moment they were what Colin said they were. “That…that’s impossible!” Even Dr. Petran stood in front of Dragon to keep Inspector Dulca from shooting. “I’ve seen the blood work. They have something…this could be it.” Dragon chuckled. “We can prove it.” He said smiling and then hissed and showed the fangs that had come out smelling the human blood. Now Sorin was about to pull his gun out, but I stopped him. “You don’t have to worry about these vampires.” I said calmly. “They are no threat to you.” “You can’t be vampires!” Sorin said backing away more, but stopped by Chuck and Mark. “You were out in the day time.” He looked at Colin. “I saw you eat! A lot!” I nodded. “He does.” I grinned. Colin nodded. “Because I’ve been treated.” He waved at Mark and Chuck. “They aren’t vampires at all, but safe here.” George walked up. “And I can give you the same protection they’ve got.” He said. “But you need to see the whole truth.” He pulled out a vial he had in his leather doctor’s bag. “Do I give this to you?” He shook the vial of liquid. “It removes you from being a target.” Dr. Petran was staring at the others with Dragon and was finally accepting the truth. “They are vampires.” She said fully accepting what she was seeing as she rolled up her sleeve. “Do it.” She said to George who nodded and prepped her for the Disflavor. “This is fiction!” Sorin said firmly. “This can’t be real.” Willie chuckled. “It’s very real.” “There have been thousands of victims over the millennia. Almost every one of these people are victims.” George explained as he finished giving Dr. Petran her Disflavor. “No more than you would be if you were attacked by one of these or others that are vampires. There are vampires in every country. There is a hidden populace that need help.” Colin nodded. “We’re willing to show you the whole truth, but you need protection. I’ll give you the names and numbers of others in the United States and England that know what we are and are helping. They also were shown and are willing to help. “We can’t do this alone, Inspector.” I said. “We don’t want to break laws, but we have to sometimes to do what is needed.” I waved at the other vampires with Dragon. “These vampires can control their hunger and only feed on the blood of livestock. We will show you vampires that can’t and tell you how it started, but only if you take the Disflavor.” Colin grinned. “You wanted the truth.” He said. “Here it is and we’ll show you all we have including the source of many.”
  11. Chapter 16

    “What did you do?” Dragon asked still concentrating on the gold cross, but was still not quite…comfortable holding it. He gave it back to me. I smiled at Dragon. “I did what I believed you could not argue with. I showed you…you’re not evil.” Gaius was marveling over being able to touch the cross. “Before, it did burn.” I looked at Gaius. “You saw it coming?” “Yes.” Gaius nodded. “It burned because you believed it would burn.” I shrugged. “You made it burn. You did, not God.” “That was dangerous. I could have struck out and killed you.” Dragon said. I nodded. “You’ve lived in a prison…wondering if you were evil for what…five hundred years?” I looked at Dragon and Gaius. “You both are a smart men. You both have killed, but as you have said before…not without cause.” I nodded. “I suppose if you did kill me, you would have thought you had cause, but I don’t sense you’re a bad men. I didn’t think you would.” Dragon shook his head. “Maybe I am not a bad man.” He said softly. “No, you’re not.” I said as soft. “The fact that it’s bothering you that you might be, tells me you’re not.” Gaius held his hand out to take the cross again. “I just need a few more moments with it.” I handed it back. “Sure, Gaius.” Dragon grinned slightly. “How did you come to this opinion?” I shrugged. “I could tell.” He looked at me. “What is your take on Lucian and Iilya?” I chuckled again. “Well, I get the opinion that Lucian was bullied a lot as a child and teenager. Now, he feels he has some power and is striking back at the world.” “That may be, but…” Dragon began. I held my hand up. “I say it’s a reason, it’s not an excuse.” “Oh.” Dragon grinned. “But Iilya…?” Then I frowned. “Iilya is another story.” Dragon nodded. “And what story do you get from Iilya?” He sat back smiling to see if I got what he did about Iilya. Now, I didn’t smile. “That is a man that would scare me before he became a vampire.” I shook my head. “From what I understand about Iilya, he was KGB in the fifties and sixties…from what I learned in school; that was a time of intense paranoia for Americans and Soviets. The Cold War was on full and we feared nuclear holocaust every day.” I nodded. “If he is what I think…of course, I could be just seeing the propaganda given about them and those times. He is the greater threat, not Lucian.” Dragon nodded. “Because you see there is another agenda?” I chuckled, but it wasn’t because I saw amusement. “Oh, yes. We have a man that was raised to think a certain way, though I think that thinking has been influenced by his desire for power.” Dragon nodded again as he rose. “You sense a lot for someone…so young.” I shrugged. “I can’t help the age thing, but I can see a man who wants more than he claims. Iilya does. How did he get into your group?” “He didn’t.” Dragon smiled as he got closer to me, but shook his head. “He was a victim.” “Because Lucian bit him?” I asked surprised. “No, Iilya wasn’t the victim. Lucian was.” Dragon explained. “Lucian was…as you perceived, abused by people growing up.” He looked almost sympathetic when he continued softly. “He starved for any positive attention. He craved any affection. Iilya gave that to him.” I looked at him uncertain. “You mean sex?” Dragon nodded and then shrugged. “Iilya was willing to do whatever was necessary to get inside our ranks which Lucian allowed.” “Iilya did it to get to you.” I clarified. “It was Iilya that kept asking about the secrets of being a vampire.” Dragon said as Colin walked up. “It was he that told Lucian about the stories and swore there must be truth in them.” “Apparently the vampire movies made it to Russia back then.” I shrugged. “Or they made them up themselves. I’m sure there were movies about them, but…” I shrugged. “How did you begin to see these things in a man’s personality?” Dragon smiled asking. “My work when in service…” I began. “I saw men, women and children suffer because someone wants power. I’ve seen the looks of zealots and people who think they deserve more than anyone else. Iilya has that look.” Colin put his arm around me. “Not everyone over there was like that; even in the Middle East.” I nodded with a real chuckle. “No, there were some very real highlights. Adil.” I smiled at the memory. “He’d be in his late teens now. He was five when I met him. He was charming and he knew very little English, but he liked the fact we were soldiers. He was fascinated by us and the uniforms…” I chuckled. “…of course, the guns, but I didn’t carry a gun.” Dragon’s eyes widened. “No gun? You were a soldier.” I nodded. “I was a medic.” I corrected. “I was there the save lives, not kill.” “What if you were threatened?” Dragon asked. “I was supposed to carry a smaller gun.” I admitted. “A thirty-eight if my saying what kind of gun I was to carry means anything to you. It’s a small handgun. Mostly I carried a med-kit satchel of medications. I didn’t make room for the gun.” I chuckled remembering. “I won his confidence by giving him Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups.” Dragon grinned. “I take it that was a form of…sweets?” “It is.” Colin said grinning. “Devon’s preferred treat.” I shrugged. “Peanut butter and chocolate!? Who could not like that?” I patted him on the arm. “I look forward to you’re having one soon. Then you’ll know.” I had taken a risk with Dragon, but we knew that something was going to happen. We stayed below during the nights. Iilya and Lucian couldn’t strike us during the daylight. We didn’t know what sort of following those two had, but we knew there would be something soon, but we had not anticipated an attack after the sun was up. The attack was by men, not vampires. Dragon had gotten the first dose of the serum. As with every vampire that took it, there was the pain. It was after he had gone to sleep that Colin, George, Burke, Gaius, Chuck, Mark and I were walking back to the house. The surrounding countryside of Transylvania was kind of creepy even in the morning light. The trees shrouded much in darkness. As the season was changing now, it was cooler in the morning and there was the morning mist that caused the tree shrouded grounds seem that way. My love of movies and the stories about this part of the world only added to my unease. The fear of this area was due to that, I thought, but I could sense…something… Making it through a wooded section a group of five men jumped out of the mist before we got to the town itself. We wore the translators always as there were some who did not speak enough English. A blonde man at the head of the group snarled. “Fi plecat americanii! Noi nu va ceda!” The translator came back with Be gone Americans. We will not surrender! Then I saw a gun rise from his jacket as he began firing wildly at us! What happened next was a little fast, but Colin threw himself in front of me and tackled me down and I hit the ground hard jolting me. I heard Chuck yelling at Mark who was yelling something back and then…I’d seen video of a man that filmed a grizzly bear attacking and it was almost like that when Gaius came at them with a howl and charged the attacking men. I had gotten caught in a firefight, as they called it, when I served in the Middle East and my training kicked in immediately and remained low, but Colin looked at me surprised and to my horror as he was suddenly not able to breathe as he gasped! “Oh, god! Colin!! No, Colin!” I screamed as I looked down at him. He’d been shot in the back in the upper left portion of his back. I knew from the many injured I’d treated he had the bullet puncture his lung. “Colin, hold on.” I scrambled for George’s med-kit and grabbed something to plug the hole. I looked as I saw George moan and hold his arm, but was concerned with Burke who was concerned about George. Mark and Chuck had been behind us and they didn’t seem to be hit, but had sprung into action at the five men that attacked us. My focus was Colin as I began pulling his shirt open, I saw the exit wound where the bullet had passed through Colin. The exit wound looked very bad, but it didn’t pass anywhere near the heart. Clearly it had gone through his lung. The entry was just a clean little puncture. I began rummaging quickly through the supplies and got out the tape and opened a package for some sterile gauze. I didn’t need the gauze, but the plastic was needed. I had to put covering over the wounds as his lung could deflate and he could bleed into that lung. “You’re got a penetrating chest wound, Colin.” I said as I knew I was shaking. “The bullet penetrated the lung.” I rolled him over, cleaned the skin with alcohol and stuck the packaging over his entry wound taping plastic down. The newly cleaned skin would help the tape stick. Working fast was how you saved lives and I was not going to let Colin die. Then I went to his exit wound which was bigger and messier. Again, cleaning the skin I taped again the plastic over the wound. “Easy, Colin.” I said as I worked. “You’re going to be fine. This will help you with your breathing.” I said more to assure me as well as him. “Son of a bitch, that hurts.” Colin managed as his gasping eased, but his eyes widened when he looked at me. “Devon, you were hit, too!” He said touching the left of my chest and brought back a bloodied hand. I hadn’t noticed in the excitement. That jolt I felt must have been the bullet as well as the fall. “I’m fine.” I looked around at chaos as the men that had jumped out us fled. Gaius was angry, but looked back to see who was hurt. Seeing Colin was shot and I was also bleeding, George was shot, but the most critical was Colin. “I’ll get help!” Gaius said and hurried toward the village. That’s when I was aware of some pain where I had been shot. From what I gathered, the same bullet that had gone through Colin had lodged itself in me? I didn’t know for sure, but Colin had placed his body in the way of the shot. The way he had covered me with his own body had slowed the bullet and now it was lodged in my upper left chest above my collarbone and I was hurt, but I didn’t wait to feel it. The rush at the time had filled my perceptions and I had to stop Colin’s lung from threatening his life. I went over to George to find his wound was also not too severe. The bullet had again been clean, but he was shot in the upper arm and it had gone in above the elbow and below the shoulder. I felt the moment where I’d gotten my energy from the adrenaline rush was waning and I began to get dizzy. Burke was helping George, but I was losing a good bit of blood and lost consciousness as I finally went down. When I did wake up, I was in a bed, but the surroundings told me it was a hospital room. This was definitely not a hospital in the United States for the building was much older than most I’d seen. It was clean, but the age showed, but the equipment was modern. A young dark-haired woman entered the room and smiled at me. “Văd că suntem treji acum.” She said. I frowned as I looked over the area. I was groggy, but I looked for my translator. “I don’t have my translator. What did you say?” She chuckled as she nodded. “Is that what is what that thing was?” She asked in accented English as she went to a cabinet and pulled a bag out. “I said, you’re wake now. My name is Lena.” She pulled the earpiece and device out. “Is this what you seek?” She handed it to me and helped me sit up a bit more. I took the device and looked at it. “That needs recharging.” I shook my head. Looking around I saw no one else. “There were others with me.” I said. “Colin Wentworth, George Holms, John Burke…” The woman nodded. “Colin Wentworth had surgery and is in another room. You were unconscious a whole day.” I sat up quickly. “Is he alright?” I asked more urgently. “I need to see him.” She smiled. “Our best surgeon worked on him. He’s been unconscious until recently.” She looked at me curiously. “He’s your brother?” We had received very little problem with Colin’s and my marriage with others we’d met, but I was cautious. “No. He and I are married.” Her eyes did widen a little. “Oh?” I chuckled. “No matter what country or language, I’m used to the…” I did air quotes, “…oh.” I looked at the bandages on my shoulder. “Is the fact that I’m married to a man going to help or hinder my and Colin’s recovery?” She shook her head. “No.” She said quickly. “I’m just…surprised.” “Why?” I asked. I heard someone else enter the room. “We do recognize gay unions in Romania, but we do not allow them to marry.” A male voice at the door said. His accent was telling me he was a local. The man that was in shape, but was in his late forties or early fifties with gray hair was at his temples and beginning to take over his dark head of hair. He walked over and stood by my bed. “I am investigating this…incident.” He stuck his hand out. “I’m Sorin Dulca.” He pulled his wallet thing out and showed me a badge. “I say again, is the fact that I’m married to a man determine whether or not we recover?” I asked. “Of course not.” Lena said quickly and smiled and shook her head. “Doctor Petran is treating you and she’s very good.” She patted me on the arm. “Your…husband is in good hands.” She assured. “He’s doing well from what I understand. We’ll have you transferred to a room together later.” She looked at the investigator. “Play nice. He was shot.” She said as if to remind him and left. “Which brings me to some questions.” Inspector Dulca said smiling tightly. “What brings you to Romania, Mr. Wentworth?” I smiled, but this was a first for me. “We are working on a computer program, which I can’t show you without power.” I held up my translator. “No power.” He nodded, but he did it the way that all cops do when they suspect something else. “What sort of program?” “It’s a translating program.” I explained. “There are some…like us in the United States that aren’t forced to learn other languages like you do…which to me, leads to a little xenophobic as Americans think everyone should speak English. We never are bothered to learn other languages.” I pointed out. “When we have power again, I can show you how it works. This country has a lot of languages spoken here. We go around speaking to various people and it builds our database to hopefully make a world-wide translator.” He nodded. “And what sort of program needs a doctor to accompany them?” “George is a friend and an investor.” I shook my head as I saw his unsatisfied reception of what I’d said. “You’d know…” I began, “if you knew me…you’d know I’m a big fan of movies and television.” I chuckled. “I’m also a big fan of people and their behaviors.” I was careful with my own body language. I remained loose and casual by not folding my arms over my chest, which I knew would hurt my shoulder if I tried. “The line of questions and your behavior tells me you suspect something illegal was happening.” “Was there?” The man asked. “It’s the nature of my job to be suspicious.” He chuckled explaining and nodded as he walked a little. “I’m a study on human behavior, too.” He was not an ugly man, but he was shrewd. He had a practiced mean look he was…almost…using. “I can always tell when someone lies…or leaves things out.” He nodded. “I suspect that’s what’s happening here.” He looked at me critically. “You didn’t know you’re attackers?” “Why would we lie?” I shook my head. “No, I’ve never seen them before.” “And you don’t know what was the motive for the attack?” Sorin asked. I nodded. “I think I know…or I suspect I do, but I can’t be sure.” I answered honestly. “The house we rented was ransacked a couple of weeks ago and equipment destroyed. We leased the use of the former Soviet military base to be more secure.” I looked out the window. “I’m in Barsov, aren’t I? I recognize the clock tower I see from here. The mayor here leased it. George Scriparu allowed us to do that. He knows why we’re here and what we’re doing. We showed him how our program worked and he was all behind it.” Inspector Dulca nodded. “Yes, he was the one that assigned me this case.” He pointed out. “He was concerned about the welfare of some rich American businessmen in our country was attacked and wanted me to investigate personally.” His tone told me he was still suspecting more. “Which I will do, but I find it odd for men…out early in the morning…a doctor with a medical kit…two men I find out are FBI agents…” “The doctor I explained. The FBI agents are friends, as well. They are also with us to protect the equipment we were using.” I said logically making sure me tone was even. “The program is used by the United Nations so it’s of international importance. Mark and Chuck weren’t armed. Shelly is also with us and an agent with the FBI, but standing guard over our equipment at the base. We’ve complied with all laws in Romania. We simply wanted to gather the languages here. I will be glad to show you once the translator is charged.” A woman came in my room. “I hope you’re finished Inspector.” She was in her early forties, her hair was cut short and was blonde, but she had it treated as I’d seen many women who were going gray as a blonde and had it…frosted? She was a little heavier than she needed to be. Not fat, but just…had a few more pounds than she needed. “Hello, Mr. Wentworth. I’m Dr. Laurel Petran. I treated you, getting the bullet out of your shoulder.” She greeted me shaking my good hand and looked at the Inspector who said something to her in Romanian to which she spoke back in Romanian. Then she smiled at me. “And I think we should speak English as you do not speak Romanian. We would be rude not to.” I frowned and chuckled. “No, I can’t speak Romanian without this.” I held the translator up. “Once powered, I will. I love that you all seem to be able to speak many languages. I wish I could, so we’re coming up with this to help everyone do that.” “Inspector Dulca was asking about the vials from the medical kit Dr. Holms was carrying.” Dr. Petran said. “I told him it was nothing narcotic and was not illegal.” She explained. “And I asked him to leave while I speak with you. Doctor/Patient confidence.” I nodded. “Oh, I see.” Inspector Dulca nodded. “Well, we know where you are.” He said to me. “I assume you’re not leaving for a while?” He asked. I shook my head. “We’re not finished here. We’ll be here a few more weeks or even months.” Inspector Dulca nodded. “I’ll be in contact. I hope you recover well.” He said and walked out. Dr. Petran nodded as she escorted him to the door and shut it. Turning to me, her face changed. She was also suspecting more and I knew I couldn’t fool her. “I would appreciate some information, though.” She walked over. “Your husband’s wounds were treated very well. His life was saved by some quick thinking by someone. He claims that was you.” I nodded. “I was a medic in the military. I’ve done aid in the field.” She smiled. “That was a first-class field dressing done…top notch.” “Is he recovering?” She nodded. “Of course. I asked Dr. Holms some questions and he just said it was a condition he was treating.” She said. “We ran some blood tests on all of you.” She folded her arms over her chest. “Care to tell me what is in your blood I’ve never seen before?” She pulled my arm up. “And what is this?” She tapped my disc of serum. “You all three have them and versions of the same element in your blood. I told the Inspector we did run tests on the vials and you have the same substance in your own bodies.” She said. “It comes from this, doesn’t it?” “Yes, it does.” I answered, but feeling a tingling in my armpits as I was being cornered. I couldn’t just evade the questions. “Like you said, it’s not an illegal substance, but we all share a single condition that Dr. Holms found a way to treat. He came up with a drug that treats this condition.” “Which is?” She asked. “I won’t insult your intelligence, we all have a form of Polymorphous Light Eruption.” I prayed she’d leave at that. She nodded, but I knew she wasn’t going to let it go. “And it’s pretty severe, but I have a problem with that explanation.” She said sitting beside my bed in the only chair. “The substance in your blood would have no effect on the skin cell lesions.” She sighed. “But I noticed something else in your blood; if anything, I’d say this…” she touched my disc again. “This substance keeps whatever is in your blood from having affect. I studied abroad. That’s the reason I speak English as well as I do. I’ve learned a good deal in America as well as in England. I will say there has never been a sample of this in any of the hospitals or clinics I studied in.” She looked at me firmly. “What is it?” “You’d think I was crazy if I tell you.” I said and sighed. “I was bitten and I have a venom in me that will never go away. This disc makes a serum that keeps me from becoming…” I started, but couldn’t say the word. The door opened again. “I hope Dr. Petran, when you do know. This goes under the doctor/patient confidentiality.” George said firmly. “You will tell no one.” She looked up at George. “Of course.” I sighed in relief. “Hi, George! Thank god you showed up.” Dr. Petran nodded. “I have to keep it between us…you were about to say…to keep you from becoming what?” She asked again. “Vampires.” I said.
  12. Chapter 15

    The response to Dragon’s video broadcast was immediate. In just a few days we started getting messages from all over the world. Dragon’s hypnotic voice carried and was just as potent as if he was standing right in front of them. We stood over Stan’s shoulder as the others were gathering to share what they found that night. Stan began feeling the weight of all the requests and messages coming in. “I need help! Look at the number messages!” He said after he saw the volume of messages com9ng in. “Going through all these messages is going to be difficult. Authenticating the senders and there are so many of them!” He waved at his screen. “Even now there are more coming.” He looked back at George and me. “How many vampires are there?” Colin shook his head. “You don’t really expect an answer, do you?” He grinned. “I feel it safe to say, there are a whole lot.” I bounced as I watched the screen and messages came on the screen. “And those are just the ones that have family or is connected to the Internet. I’m sure there are many more not connected.” My eyebrows wiggled at the prospect. Mark grinned. “That’s what we wanted, isn’t it?” He said as he hugged Stan from behind and then sat in a nearby chair. The others were dressed for their patrolling in dark colors and warmer clothing as it got cold here at night. The dark colors were not to hide what they were, but not be easily seen by others who weren’t vampires. “Why is it always with the dark clothes?” I asked. “No matter what the country vampires wear dark clothes. Is there a dress code I should be told about?” Willie grinned and pulled the serum gun from under his trench coat. “It doesn’t attract attention and it’s easier to hide this.” Mom kissed me on the cheek. “Besides, black is more slimming and always chic.” Stan nodded at Mark’s question. “It’s what we want, but sorting all this will take time.” He turned in his chair. “What I said about hacking. The system can’t be hacked; not easily, but there are others that are not vampires that are contacting us.” He patted Buddy. “He can stop a lot of attempts to hack in.” He looked back at the screen. “There are messages from Canada, the United States, England as well as other countries around the world. India, China, Japan and others…I don’t recognize some of these languages. Some of these are just teenagers and young adults that think it was cool what we sent out.” He shook his head. “There are agencies also trying to get in.” He chuckled. “So far, the FBI isn’t one of them or MI5.” I squeezed Stan’s shoulders. “That’s because there is someone in those agencies that know who and what we are.” I grinned. “We’ll get you some help, Stan.” I said patting him on the back as the others came in. “Mom can type over a hundred words a minute!” Mom laughed and rolled her eyes. “Years ago.” “But I bet you’re still fast.” I said. It was when Alex and Gabriella came in that drew our attention. Gabriella sighed wearily as she sat down as if exhausted. Alex gave grim smile as he looked at us. “Things are getting strange out there.” “Strange?” Colin asked. “You mean, more strange that it is with vampires roaming around?’ Alex gave a grudging nod. “That’s the problem, we haven’t come across one the past few nights.” Colin frowned. “You maybe just didn’t see them?” “They can’t just slink past us.” Gabriella shook her head touching her nose. “It isn’t even that.” She explained. “A vampire has…a scent.” She began. “The problem is…we’re picking up a lot of scents, but they are crisscrossing their trails and confusing us.” “The vampire tracker can’t pick up anything, if no one’s there.” Shelly said putting the tracker down. Alex nodded. “The thing is, there are a bunch of them.” “Dozens, maybe.” Gabriella said. “It’s like when you’re looking for footprints, but the area is so high in traffic there’s no way to see how many people and where they go.” Alex said. “I’m telling you, it’s on purpose. They want to disguise their numbers and where they are.” Colin nodded. “Why?” He asked no one and everyone. “What is they want?” George came in the room with Burke. “They want to be the vampire of legend; like in those stories.” He said hesitantly. “They want the power we are supposed to have.” “But we’re not that kind of vampire! No one is! They don’t exist.” Colin said again stating the obvious. “That’s why it’s a story. They are all just stories. We have a physical condition, there’s nothing supernatural or evil about us.” “Yet, we don’t die.” George said. “That one fact seems to make them think we are supernatural. The fact we don’t die is supernatural.” I nodded as I thought and did what George and Colin did as I thought out loud. “You need to realize, these vampires are old.” I looked at them again. “They believe we are more.” “Why? We simply haven’t died.” Colin asked. “It’s not evil or good. There’s no devil or god in anyone.” “Are you sure?” I asked. “When you were bitten, what did you think you were?” “I knew I wasn’t…” Colin said thinking about how to explain it. “At first, I didn’t know! When the sun was about to rise, I could feel the danger and I knew I had to get somewhere safe, so I buried myself.” “How did you know to do this?” I asked. Colin shook his head. “I don’t know. Instinct?” “An instinct that was clearly not…human,” I pointed out, “and therefore, unnatural, but supernatural.” “What!?” Colin balked. “We’re dealing with a form of thinking that predates a lot of science.” I pointed out. “Gaius and Dragon think they’re going to be punished by God.” I waved at Amasis. “He thought he was a god.” I waved my hands at the overwhelming scope of what I was saying. “I’m not looking for a theological debate, but we’re dealing with centuries of beliefs! Believing in gods is just one of those beliefs. Lucian believes we are products of supernatural…occurrences. So, why aren’t we capable of more?” Colin looked a little annoyed. “Because we aren’t.” I nodded. “And Lucian needs to understand that.” I shrugged. “You have to admit, Dragon has a talent that seems to appeal to everyone. He can influence almost anyone.” Mom frowned. “Having met him once, I have to say he does have that talent.” She gave an appreciative nod. “And it’s a pretty impressive talent.” “But it’s human.” I pointed out. “The ability to lead people…to hypnotize is very human.” I said. “Dragon is Vlad the Impaler. He won’t admit it, but he is. He had this ability when he was a man. Now that’s he’s lived as long as he has…it just got better…stronger at using it. It’s like our ability to see or smell.” I waved at Gabriella and Alex. “They pick up on scents I can only sense in close range. They can almost see a trail left by the scent. That ability is more than natural to me; our hearing…the same thing. Lucian and his followers see those enhancements, too. They think with time and teaching, they can become that legendary vampire all the stories are about.” “It’s not possible.” George said. “We are not supernatural.” He shook his head. I shook my head. “We are! You said it yourself!” I said. “We don’t die from any natural cause, that’s supernatural.” “Our life spans are a result of the venom. There is a biological reason we don’t die.” George said. “We’re kept alive to feed the venom and pass it on.” I looked at Mom. “Have you seen the venom under a microscope?” Mom shook her head. “Not really.” “How do you know you have it?” I waved at George. “He could be lying about all this.” George looked at me like I’d lost my mind. “I’m not! You know I’m not.” I nodded. “But she hasn’t.” I looked at Amasis and Wayne. “You haven’t seen it. Do you believe what he’s done and says about what we are?” Wayne also looked puzzled. “He’s not lying. We are sitting her as the result of what he’s found out and treatment.” “Well, not to lecture, but…man came up with explanations for what he saw and the Earth. That is the religions of this world.” I said. “The sun and moon rotated around the Earth. We know now…having seen the evidence we are moving around the sun. Then we found out or entire solar system is rotating in a galaxy and that galaxy is floating in space. We’re always in motion. Nothing rotates around the Earth but the moon.” I smiled. “I know this because I’ve seen the evidence. I know there is a venom, because I’ve seen it.” I waved out of the house, “they do not.” Colin nodded. “He’s right. We just introduced the idea of the venom recently.” “The Devine spark we carry as men and women is still there.” I said. “We are aware of ourselves. We have a venom. That spark is still there, but we’re now…hosts…to the venom. We never lost our souls.” “But you believe in God?” Burke asked. I chuckled. “Whether I believe in God or not is irrelevant.” I shrugged. “I believe there is something about us that’s special. I know the life here is much too complicated for my understanding…I have a hard time believing it’s just random and not a plan. I don’t care how long it took.” I waved again at Amasis. “He was born before Christ was even born! He’s not a Christian. Is he a child of any god? He’s human! These vampires are men and they were raised to believe a certain way. We can’t expect them to accept what we tell them about ourselves without proof!” “How can we prove that?” George asked. “We have no idea what their education was. Would they know what we say if we show it to them?” “We don’t have to.” I smiled. “We ask them the question. Are they now evil?” I shrugged. “I don’t feel any different. I am a vampire, but I’m still me. I still have the slightly warped sense of humor I’ve always had. I love movies and often quote them and compare situations that remind me of movies,” I grinned as they were nodding, “as you well know.” I chuckled they laughed. “I’m not evil. We need to ask them if they are.” I smiled at Wayne. “Even those we classified as wild have their humanity. Wayne got his back. He got his mind back.” I held my hands out. “Dragon is going on the serum, right?” I asked George. “Yes, I was planning to do it tonight.” George nodded. “We may put that off for another broadcast.” I said smiling. “We need to show them that what they are has nothing to do with what you did wrong or even lack of faith. The one basic is a belief. We’ll show Dragon as a vampire.” I grinned. “What is the one thing that drives a vampire back in almost all the movies and stories?” “A cross.” Mom said. “Holy water?” I nodded. “We’ll have the broadcast where Dragon does not burn because of a cross…or a Star of David or any other religious icon. He is not evil. He’s infected, just like we are. Like measles or any disease that doesn’t care what you are, in can infect you and will.” “But he may believe his is evil.” Gabriella suggested. “Will his mind will tell him he is and burn?” I shook my head. “Not if he doesn’t know it’s there.” I chuckled. “And it would have to be a powerful mind to cause him to burn because he believes it will. He has the strong mind, but I intend to prove he’s not evil.” I looked at Colin. “I think we need to include Gaius in this as well.”’ “That could be dangerous.” George said quietly, uncertain how I was going to do this. “Men of this time were willing to go to war and die for what they believed. Dragon killed brutally to defend his people and beliefs.” “Yes, he did. The Ottoman Empire soldiers were his victims, but it could make a difference for us.” I said. “I’ll be careful. I’ve seen him enraged and I don’t want that again.” I smiled at George. “You would die for your beliefs I have no doubt, but I’ll be careful.” It was later in our bedroom when Colin came over. He slid beneath the sheets beside me. “This plan of yours…to prove to Dragon he is not evil…what is it?” Colin asked. I shrugged. “I’m sort of…winging it.” I said softly. “There is no real plan, but something I intend to do.” Colin looked very uncomfortable now. “Winging it.” He chuckled, but not happily and nodded as he stretched out beside me. “Listen, Devon…when you married me…I had no idea what was going to happen.” His admission was hesitant and he didn’t look at me directly. “I knew you were special, but I had no idea how special you are.” The chuckled was not because he was trying to be funny, but… I lifted his head so he had to look at me. “Colin.” I began. “What is it that you don’t want to say?” Colin grinned and looked surprised a little. “How do you know I have something I don’t want to say?” I brought him into a kiss which he readily responded to. “Because, I know you.” I said simply. “You have this way of easing things before you tell me something not good.” I said looking in his emerald eyes. “I think I know it, but…” “I worried about what we’re doing.” Colin said. “Worried about what we’re doing? Or what I’m doing?” I asked with a smile. “Stop that!” Colin smiled and shoved me lightly. “I’m serious. This Dragon is who we know he is. This man is a dangerous man. He can hurt you.” “I know.” I nodded. “When I bit you…I brought you into a life…” Colin started. I held my finger to his lips. “Don’t say it again.” I said softly. “You didn’t know how it was going to turn out.” I said simply. “This life is not what you had in mind and so forth. How could you have?” Colin frowned. “Stop saying what I’m going to say!” He pushed me down and crawled over me to look down at me. “Knowing me as well as you do…is kind of irritating.” He grinned. I nodded as I smiled at him. “Sorry.” I gave him a look of patience, but it was put there on purpose. “Go ahead.” “Be serious.” Colin urged. “Winging it maybe what you want to do, but I want you safe.” He shook his head. “Since we met, there have been some dangerous characters like Brett Marshall who attacked you because of me. I don’t want you to be putting yourself at an unnecessary risk.” I rolled us so I was on him. “Look, Colin. When I met you, I was just hoping to get a job. Instead, I meet the man of my dreams who turns out to be a vampire.” I chuckled. “As I got to know you, I find out you’re an amazing human being. Now you’re my husband.” “But I’ve put you in danger!” He said sadly. “And not just you, your mother, too.” “Mom is fine.” I said smiling. “She’s happy. She met a great guy and happily married to him.” I gave a grudging shrug. “No, I didn’t marry a regular guy. I’ve been in combat, I’ve seen a lot of things I wish I didn’t, but I have no regrets about being in this life.” I looked at his eyes. “You’re not having regrets, are you?” Colin looked surprised. “About marrying you? No, but this is not an easy life. There are those out there that want to kill us.” “You’re worried I could be hurt by Dragon.” I nodded. “Do you trust me?” Colin rolled his eyes. “Of course.” He looked at me harder. “I trust you! It’s Dragon I’m not sure of.” “Was I wrong about Wayne?” I asked. “Was I wrong about the Old Ones? Or Alex?” “I don’t know about the Old Ones.” Colin admitted. “They are dangerous, too.” “To regular people, yes. To us? No.” I said. “They’re like…children.” I shook my head. “I can’t explain it, but…I just know Dragon won’t kill me.” “How?” Colin asked. “I thought I was the one that could sense people.” “You can….about business and stuff…it’s like when I explained about the heightened senses. It’s a part of who we are.” I struggled to find a way to explain. “When I confronted Dragon about him judging himself…I knew he was going to blow up.” I chuckled. “I was right. He did blow up. I have never been so scared in my life, but I knew…I knew…he wouldn’t hurt me.” I shook my head again. “I don’t believe he will this time either.” “How do you know?” Colin stressed again. I had to think. “I just do.” I grinned. “But you know…I’ve been feeling a little of that disconnect with you recently.” “Oh?” Colin asked with a smile. “We’ll have to do something about that.” Then he got serious again. “Just one more thing, though. I trust you. I love you. Because of that I’m super protective of you. You’re a grown man and I adore everything about you, but…understand…I will always question your safety.” I nodded as I leaned down and kissed him again. “That’s the man you are.” I reasoned. “You really killed those men that were going to attack Gabriella…I have no doubt you’d do it for me. Just…trust me. Okay?” “Okay.” He grinned and rolled us over again. “Enough vampire talk. We need to reconnect.” I nodded pulling him down to kiss me fuller, which I returned with as much feeling. “I love you.” Colin grinned back. “I know. I love you.” I increased the pressure of our kiss. “I know.” We all went below ground to Dragon that night. “Here we are again into the Dragon’s Lair.” Mark grinned to me as he waggled his eyebrows as he helped Stan bring his equipment down. I rolled my eyes. “How long did it take you to come up with that one?” I asked, but it was pretty good. Colin pulled me aside. “Devon, I know you can reach people that I wouldn’t even dream of trying to reach. We discussed it last night…or this morning…whatever it was, but I’m still trying to protect you.” I nodded. “I know.” Colin said as he looked at Dragon. “He could snap your neck…I don’t want to lose you.” I kissed him. “I know he could, but…I told you, I don’t think he will, just like I knew he wouldn’t that time I confronted him telling him he wasn’t evil. In spite, what he believes he is, he’s a logical man.” I patted him on the chest. “You are my strength. I thought about you when I confronted Dragon about him being evil that last time.” I grinned. “Now, I’ll show him.” I kissed him again deeper. “And, I told him if he hurt me…you’d kill him.” Colin chuckled. “And I would, but he could probably kill both of us.” I nodded again. “I also said my mother, Willie and all the others would kill him.” I gave him a sly grin. “I even told him George would probably do it and he knew more about us as vampires and it wouldn’t be easy if he did.” Colin nodded as he leaned closer pressing his face against my neck. “No, it wouldn’t.” When Gaius got there, I told them both what we were doing; as in, explaining that what we are had nothing to do with what kind of person we are, we were infected, plain and simple. Then George would be giving Dragon his serum. Then I further explained what we were going to do and why we were broadcasting again. Stan looked at me and waved toward us. “In this broadcast…we don’t need to be so secretive. The best angle will be if he sits up more.” He waved at his tablet that was acting as a monitor. “See?” He waved at Dragon. “If you could sit up for a better image?” Dragon was again caught up in the technology; he didn’t pay that much attention to what I was doing. I got what was needed and put it behind him. The gold cross, I had leaning against him. “Just sit up.” I said. “The best angle will be direct focus on you.” Dragon shook his head. “So many marvels in this world. I feel I’ve missed so much.” “That’s why we’re here. To catch you up.” I grinned and patted him on the shoulder. We assembled around the chamber as Dragon spoke again to everyone out there. Stan’s coaching of him to sit up paid off. He never leaned back on the cross. “…there is a vampire among us that is leading others of our kind to a conflict. Do not be deceived. Lucian is not telling the truth. Our enemy is not mankind, do not become an enemy to us.” He said “…and in conclusion, we are simply carrying an infection. There is evidence and we will show you this evidence.” The screen showed the images of normal blood and vampire’s blood. Then it showed the venom that Wayne had given to George before when he was a wild vampire with George explaining what they were looking at. “See for yourself. We have an illness. We are not the pawns of Hell.” I walked up and all that could be seen was my torso. “Neither are you.” I said to Dragon. “You are not evil; neither is any one of you evil just because you have this condition.” I added as I reached behind Dragon and picked up the gold cross he had behind him. I rested it against his forehead. “Nothing. He is not evil. I am like you, but it didn’t harm me. Nor is it harming Dragon.” Dragon had not seen what I’d pulled from behind him. He sat back as he focused and his eyes widened as he sat back suddenly in shock. “Don’t jump back now; you’ve leaned on it for quite a few minutes.” I said. “I told you, you aren’t evil.” I said softly so only he could hear. “Do you believe me now?” “You tricked me.” Dragon whispered angrily becoming angrier. I nodded. “I did to prove a point to them and to you. You are not evil. Otherwise, you’d be a cinder by now.” I pulled out some other icons of religious faiths and placed each against him. The cross was his concern, but I said without showing my face. “He is not evil. He has a soul like all of you do. What you have is an infection. You can be a criminal or a saint, you were bitten and carry an infection. We have a treatment. We need others that can help us with this treatment.” Gaius was staring wide eyed at the objects I pulled out. “It’s true?” He reached tentatively for the large cross I was holding, but not sure he could touch it. “I’m not evil?” I smiled at Gaius and shook my head. “No.” I held the cross out to him. “Take it. I’m not evil. It won’t hurt you. It’s not hurting me and we are the same. We’re vampires.” The broadcast did show Gaius taking the cross, which didn’t burn him. Now that he had moisture in his eyes it showed that there were tears coming down his face. “For centuries…I thought...” Gaius said softly. He looked at Dragon. “It doesn’t burn!” He smiled through his tears. “I’m not evil. I have a chance.” “Just like everyone else.” I said. “Believe me.”
  13. Chapter 14

    The weather was changing as it was going to be autumn soon and it was cooler at night now. Then again, my view of this part of the world was a little…well, a cave is a cave. I saw Egypt, mostly underground. I did see a lot of England, but Transylvania I saw mostly underground. The part of this underground world was like the others…carved out from centuries of habitation. Passageways were widen, floors were leveled out and torches burned to light the way. The seasonal changes could be felt outside, but it stayed the same down where we were. I spoke with Gaius almost every night, but almost never with Dragon. I knew I wasn’t a therapist and I didn’t put myself in that position, but I did listen. That was the most important part of any therapy. I tried to pay attention to what they didn’t say as well as what they did say. I needed to talk to Dragon as he would be the one to address the other vampires. The problem was…who would he present? Vlad the Impaler? The Dragon or…he claims he’s not and I knew he wasn’t, but people thought of him as Dracula! The feature that stuck out the most with Dragon, was his voice. I’m not kidding when I said he used a form of hypnosis when he spoke. He could almost make me cheat on Colin. Almost, but that would not happen, I don’t care how convincing he could be. Thank God, he didn’t seem interested in having more than a friendship with either of us. Stan sat with Dragon, while I watched as they planned this broadcast of Dragon. “…and we don’t even have to show your face.” Stan explained. “I think it would add to the broadcast if you were seen, more like a face in the shadows. We need your voice more to convince the others to come forward.” Dragon nodded, but like any male, was fascinated more on how it was going to be done and fascinated by the gadgetry. “I’ll leave it to you to decide what is needed.” He looked at the little camera. “How does this work again?” I smiled. “Well, the best way to describe it is…it will be a reflection.” “Won’t that be backwards?” Dragon asked. I chuckled. “Okay…a reflection of a reflection.” “Using the…controlled lightning you told me about.” Dragon nodded and shrugged. “But the things I see on the computer can’t be a reflection.” “Without explaining it all…which I'll do if you like.” Stan began. “We found a way to…write it down so it can be viewed later as many times as you like. It’s a reflection memory.” Dragon rolled his eyes and pinched the bridge of his nose and waved Stan off. “That’s okay, I guess I can find out later…for now, it’s giving me a headache thinking about it.” Stan chuckled. “Many people can’t fully understand it now, either.” I watched as Stan went off to do…whatever he needed to set things up. Timing was important, but…I looked at Dragon. At the moment, Dragon and I were alone. What I planned to do next…well, my heart was beating faster as I thought about it. This was not just for me or Colin, but all vampires in the world. We needed a strong confident leader, which Dragon was. “You do understand what we’re doing, don’t you?” I asked. “And why.” “Sure.” Dragon nodded. “I’m to speak to the other vampires to convince them to help you and bring them together.” I nodded. “You will be the voice for us.” I explained. “You have a power we don’t. Think of the other vampires as…the extension of the people in Wallachia. These people need leadership and you will be the voice that brings them together.” He looked up through eyes…even as a vampire were very compelling, but shaded right now. He had doubts. “Whether I want it or not.” “It’s a heavy responsibility.” I nodded. “A responsibility you handled well in the past.” I said softly. He grunted. “That’s why I’m seen as a monster.” He said sourly. “That’s the problem right now. You are seen as a monster by some, but not by everyone. I don’t. You, however see yourself that way.” I said as I came closer. I was shaking even before I began. I thought of Colin as I began. “With Gaius, I’ve listened to some of what he’s said about that past, but you haven’t said a thing.” “Why should I?” Dragon asked in almost a growl. “I know what you’ve said about talking helping…but I’m facing judgement anyway…so…” I nodded as my heart rate increased. “You’re God now?” I was in dangerous waters now. “I never said that!” Dragon said quickly and a little angry at what I said. I nodded. “You just did.” I pointed out. “You’ve judged yourself and condemned yourself to being punished, no matter what any deity has to say. You’re acting like you’re God!” I said just as loud. Dragon rose from his chair and to say I was frightened would be an understatement; my heart was hammering inside my chest! He came and was glaring down at me. Whatever you fear…I mean real fear, like a shark right beside you with his jaws open and you knew he was going to chomp down on you in matter of seconds; or this vampire with huge looming his fangs bared and a look…there are no words, but he could kill me and I had no doubt he’s never break a sweat! He was as big as Colin, perhaps bigger. “That’s not what I said. I know God can’t forgive what I’ve done!” I couldn’t back down, but my voice was shaking now. “That’s what you said. You are condemning yourself without God’s input at all…you’re think you’re God!” In spite of his attempt to scare me…I saw the rage in his eyes even as dry as they were, but I saw him realize what he was doing. “I sense the fear in you, but you don’t give in. That’s impressive.” “Of course, there is fear.” I said forcing my tone to be even as I could, but I was shaking inside. “Isn’t that how you operate? That’s what you do! That’s all you know how to do. No,” I shook my head, “I won’t give in.” I agreed. “But making people afraid, isn’t that what you do?” I asked. “Scare people?” I shrugged it off. “I’m frightened of you. Terrified, but I can’t let you push me around. Fear is not a bad thing, it keeps us safe. Right now, my heart is beating so fast preparing to run away, but I won’t.” I swallowed and even laughed. “You can kill me if wanted to, but I’m not leaving and you would have to explain what you’ve done not only to Colin, but my mother, step-father and those in our group I consider my family. If you do, they will kill you. And George,” I laughed harder, “he knows more about vampires than anyone, I know he could come up with an effective way and then you will face judgement; from them!” I shouted and he looked away and started to walk off. “You’ve got fear right now in you!” “I do not!!” Dragon shouted as he turned to look at me. I laughed at his statement. “Sure you do, you’re afraid of God Himself! Afraid that when you face Him, He’ll cast you in to Lake of Fire! You…” I said coming in front of him, “are scared!” I touched his shoulder. “I’m not going to coddle you. You did some things that are pretty gruesome, but you had a reason. The sooner you deal with that, the easier if will be.” I smiled. “Your name is Vlad, not Dragon. I’m not going away. You are not evil.” I said. “If I back down, Lucian wins. Brett Marshall wins and all those that want to stop us. They win.” I said. “You can hurt me, you can kill me without effort, but I don’t think you will hurt me.” I made him look at me. “Will you?” I had to pee really badly, but I couldn’t move. He suddenly chuckled. “You’re a brave man, Devon.” He smiled. I shrugged. “That’s the problem with fear; I don’t feel brave when I feel fear.” I chuckled. “The flight part of the fight or flight thing inside me is yelling to flee.” Dragon nodded with a chuckled. “But you don’t runaway, that’s brave.” I nodded. “Well, you scared the piss out of me.” I said weakly and hurried off to where Repetate and Iustina had their makeshift toilet when they were out of their cell with Dragon in the great hall. I let out a stream…but letting it go felt so good. I heard Dragon laughing as I came out. Dragon came to me and grabbed me in a hug. Yes, there was a lot of hugging with Colin, George…hell, I hugged Repetate and Iustina every time I saw them and before I left them. Dracula was hugging me! “You,” Dragon said smiling at me, “my friend, are a unique human being.” He said kissing me on the temple. “I like you.” I sighed. “I like you, too.” That’s when Stan came back with his portable unit and froze. He looked at us hesitantly. “Should I come back? I heard a pretty heated discussion, but I see it’s all good now.” He grinned. “Do I give you a few more minutes?” Then we heard rapid footfalls as Colin literally skidded to a stop. “What’s wrong? Are you okay?” He asked, looking at me. “I heard yelling.” I grinned at Dragon and patted him on the shoulder. “We’re fine.” Dragon did the manly one armed hug of me and smiled at Colin. “You are a lucky man, Colin Wentworth. You have a great human being as a husband.” Colin walked closer, still not sure what to make of the situation. “I know.” He said still not sure what was happening. “Stan.” Dragon said. “Will this…record…my progress, taking the serum?” Stan nodded. “Sure.” He smiled. “It’s a pretty long process, though.” “But they will feel more assured if they see it.” Dragon explained. “No shadows, they need to see that I am what they are.” I nodded smiling at what he saw was the best way to approach this. “But you need to be full on. Be Vlad Dracul. It will come across with more purpose.” Stan came closer and held his hand up. “This might be hacked. No, I’m sure we will be.” He whispered. “There will be others that see this…others who aren’t vampires.” I nodded. “We always face that odd, but can’t you scramble the source? Would they trace the signal here?” Stan considered my question and thought. “A top hacker might be able.” He chuckled. “But I’m a top programmer.” He shrugged. “Hell, I’ll have it bouncing all around the globe! I got this, but it will be hacked, but it will be harder.” He waved the concern off. Sitting on his throne…if you want to call it that, it lacked some of the ornate…whatever I’d seen on other, but it was a grand chair, but…though I didn’t expect it; his voice almost seemed…unnatural as he addressed the camera. On the screen, we did start with a shadowed image of Dragon, but it lightened to show he was a vampire. The fangs and the eyes were plain to see. “I am the one called the Dragon.” He said as his voice almost seemed to…rumble, but that was his power. “I do not have to say more, but I have…” he looked at me, “…met some very good people from the United States of America, who are also like we are. I know having witnessed a few friends go through it, it will hurt, but they have a treatment for our condition and you will go through it with me.” He smiled. “I know in a week’s time, I will again eat food and be able to go in the sun again after several hundred years of living in the darkness.” He shook his head. “This is a new day for us. I have seen the results and now you will see me as I go through this.” He smiled. “I was asked, my friends are trustworthy, they have helped in their own country, in England and Egypt. You need to decide, is the way you live now what you want? You help is needed. You have the means to reply. Those of us with medical and scientific knowledge are needed. Communicate with them. Trust them…or you can remain where you are…in the dark, waiting for the next feeding.” His face went to darkness again and he added. “The choice…is yours.”
  14. Chapter 13

    I was concerned about Dragon. I told Gaius that as long as he had remorse and regret about what he’d done, he had something to come back to. Meaning, he was still human and just needed closure. Dragon, or so it seemed, had no problem with what he’d done in past. Well, that just seemed right to me since he refused to be called by his own name because of what he’d done. He did have a very dark personality…kind of. I sensed a lot of brooding in him. Yet, he seemed to be capable of making friends and being friendly. He liked, appreciated and seemed to genuinely love Repetate and Iustina. They loved him as their whole demeanor changed when they saw him approach. They didn’t even have to see him. As he approached, they gathered near the bars of their cell in anticipation of his arrival because they could smell him, sense his coming. My observation of Repetate and Iustina revealed they both had definite and separate personalities. Iustina was the shorter of the two, but more assertive and a little stubborn. Repetate liked to clown around and pulled pranks, like hiding when I came to them and I have to admit, he was damned good at it. He could contort his body in ways I didn’t think possible and hide in the most improbable places as he was very nibble and limber; hiding behind an uneven stack of crates I never would have looked to find him. The cell was to keep them in place, for the safety of other people and themselves, so it was not barren of furniture or places to sit, but I didn’t see they sat much on anything preferring to sit on the floor when they had to sit. The light in the underground was done by either torch or lamp light fueled by oils. I could see they were very pale, almost white to gray in color. I was constantly reminded of those…gray aliens we’ve all seen pictures of. Only these two had eyes like a human and ears. Their musculature was not like regular humans as they had very little definition for the muscles in their chests and arms, but were very strong, able to lift a hundred pounds or more easily. While they could not speak, I saw them interacting with each other and seemed to understand gestures and grunts from each other. I longed to see their physiology. I knew they were human, but there were differences. The lack of genitals was the first difference and no way of eliminating solid waste, but a diet of nothing but blood, they wouldn’t need get rid of solids that way. I noticed they didn’t have a radio or anything, so I brought out my laptop and pulled up some music I thought they’d like. Well, that opened a whole new world for them. They were fascinated by the computer and what they heard on those little speakers, which weren’t bad, but not really good stereo speakers, but having never heard music it was new to them. I was smiling when I saw them both frown when I got a country song going, so I changed it. I wasn’t going to expose them to more…harsher sounds at first, preferring lighter and music that didn’t have words. Then I showed some Tom and Jerry cartoons! They were amazed at the moving pictures, but with the sounds, like when Jerry hit Tom in the shin with a lead pipe and Tom yelped and jumped around! They laughed. The old cartoons that had almost no dialogue, but antics of that cat chasing that mouse and the sounds made by them caused them to smile and even…laugh? I was stunned, too! They laughed! It was an odd laugh as they didn’t “ha, ha,” but made a noise that clearly said they thought it was funny! Feeding of these two was simply blood. They consumed about two pints of blood at first light of the day and one as the evening began. They did sleep during the day like Gizmo had preferred a fetal position on the floor. I was then questioned by George about what I’d found and I agreed to write down my findings about them. It was easier than a daily report. However, Colin and I both questioned George about what he found when we returned to the lab he’d set up at the former Soviet base those couple of weeks. He had forgone the long white lab coat that most all doctors and scientists wore, but he was fully a scientist here. “Okay.” George said finally sitting on a stool after he’d run test after test on the samples he had of blood, both with the serum and without the serum…all tested with this antibody and antivenin that Nicolae had. He took a deep breath. “The only way to describe what I’ve found…is it has to be a kind of mutation.” He shrugged. “His birth itself is a mutation, he shouldn’t be here.” “But he is.” Colin pointed out the obvious. George nodded with a sigh. “Thank you for pointing out the obvious.” He grinned. “Gaius was the one that had this…mutation. It is in his DNA which he passed to Nicolae. Nicolae furthered this mutation allowing him to make the antibody and antivenin.” “I thought our DNA that was rewritten by the venom.” Colin said. George nodded. “Yes, but Gaius’ DNA should be making his body make the venom…” he said holding a finger up, “and he is…to a degree…” “Let’s try to be less cryptic, just tell us what’s happening.” Colin groused. George frowned. “Fine.” He turned back to Colin and me. “He’s making less venom than he’s supposed to. His original DNA is coming back!” My eyes widened. “I thought that was impossible.” George nodded. “So did I, but he is. That’s part of the aberration.” He said. “It may be the reason he was able to father a child.” He pointed at the Petri dish where there was blood. “Nicolae was created using Gaius’ DNA, which had the instructions in that DNA to create venom, but he’s not. Instead he had created this…antibody which is working with the antivenin that Nicolae himself came up with.” “Keeping him from becoming a vampire?” Colin asked. “So, he should be a vampire?” The last part we worded as a question telling his uncertainty. “No!” George said happily. “He shouldn’t be at all!! Colin gave a grunt. “But he is!” George nodded. “And that’s the mutation!” “So…” I was seeing if I was understanding George when I asked, “what is Nicolae? Half vampire, half human?” George nodded excitedly. “Yes! That’s why I’m saying he shouldn’t exist, but he does! The natural antibody and antivenin is keeping the venom that is being made from his father’s DNA from working…I mean it’s there, but this antivenin is keeping the venom from doing its job! The only thing Nicolae has is the intolerance for direct sunlight, everything else is just…ignored!” George was excited as he spoke of his findings. “So what does that mean for us?” I asked. “I have a way to go, but…” he held that finger up again as we could both see he was still working things in his mind. “If I can test this antibody and antivenin on the blood of others…like the vampires here not taking the serum and build up the strength of the antibody and antivenin…I hope I can give it to us and we’ll be completely serum free!!” I nodded as I grinned at George’s excitement. “We won’t have to take the serum anymore!” George nodded again. “Right! We’ll make it ourselves.” He looked at Colin. “Do you understand?” “But it’s not a cure.” Colin wanted to be sure he understood again. George shrugged. “I don’t know, I still have some tests, but I can give every vampire this ability to make the antibody and antivenin and they will be almost normal.” He got up and waved at his many samples. “I hope to make a good amount of the antibodies and antivenin. I plan to create a very, very strong version of these antibodies and antivenin to test on the venom from Repetate and Iustina. That’s the purest venom, I’m sure!” He looked back. “If I can do that…we may carry the venom, but it will no longer work at all. It will be like measles or any other disease; we have a defense against it. We can be exposed, but never become a vampire…ever!! It would be natural!” Colin nodded. “I think I understand.” He got up. “Not a word about this to other vampires.” He said standing and looking directly at George. “No one. Now, we really need to find this Lucian and Iilya. This treatment is not what they want.” George shook his head. “Not a word, but it will be in the computer, my findings and conclusions…just in case.” I smiled and put a hand on George’s arm. “Is there anyone else you’d trust with the formula or findings?” I asked. “I mean, I don’t want to lose you at all, but if…” I waved, “God forbid we all die in a plane crash, is there anyone you can think of to take where you left off?” He thought a few seconds. “I’d have to get them up to speed.” He shrugged feeling the heavy gravity he felt with this. “We need a Geneticist, a Biochemist, Biochemical Engineer, a Botanist and person who’s just knowledgeable at being a doctor.” Colin grinned. “You’ve sort of raised the bar very high with all those degrees.” “What about Karen?” I asked. “Wayne’s granddaughter?” George asked. “She’s smart, I’ll give you that…” “I mean…” I began. “There is no such person without the life span you have to be able to keep up and understand what you’re doing. We will need a team, and we can start by asking her and maybe she will know who.” “What about your colleagues from school?” Colin asked. “Which school?” George asked. “That’s our point!” I said. “You’ve had access to many medical minds and scientists…there must be some people you can think of to talk to…people you think you can trust.” Colin nodded. “You are the only practicing doctor that’s a vampire I know of.” I slapped my own forehead. “But we’ve never asked!” I said shaking Colin by the arm. “What?” Colin asked. “There are thousands online that are watching the screen, waiting for something from us.” I said. “We just haven’t asked.” “But that would compromise what we’re doing.” Colin objected. “We’d be telling we have something.” I nodded. “I know that secrecy is needed, I understand why and agree, but George can’t be the only vampire out there that was a doctor.” I pointed out. “He needs help.” George nodded as he began to pace again as he thought. “Depending on who we can find, that person has to know how to work in a lab.” He waved at his lab. “My lab. They need to know how to do things…science changes and if they’ve been a vampire for decades or a hundred years…will they know about Electron-microscopes and computer imaging?” “We’ll have to teach them.” I said simply. “A doctor is a doctor. He or she would be smart enough to do the job with the correct teaching.” “But we’re giving away we have something.” Colin repeated. I shook my head. “Not necessarily.” I grinned. “They already know about the serum, we’ve told them all we have it and will treat them with it.” I shrugged. “We’ll need help when we get to them…wherever they are. A doctor will be needed to give the serum.” George nodded. “We can then glean through the doctors that are able and try to find the ones we think will help with this new treatment.” “If they feel they can trust us.” Colin took a deep breath and let it out as he scratched the back of his head. “We need Dragon to speak to them.” He rose from his chair as he was working it out in his mind. “If anyone can reach them, he can.” He looked at George and me. “We’ll have him ask for the help and see who answers.” I nodded. “I still think Wayne’s granddaughter would be of help. What about your lab technicians back in Manhattan?” “They have a working knowledge, but I need others that have a greater knowledge.” George sighed. “They would have it…in about two decades!” He threw his hands out in frustration. “So?” I said. “Let’s get started!” “I want my lab!” George said frustrated again. “This is fine for a few things, but I need my lab!” “What about Repetate and Iustina?” I asked. “You’ll need them.” George nodded. “I will need them in Manhattan.” I knew this was hard for George. “Then, we’ll take them there.” Colin nodded. “I’ll talk to Dragon…and tell him what we need to do.” He said sadly. “We’ll set up the video-blog and have him ask for medical professionals to come forward to help.” He looked at George. “You’ll need Nicolae and Gaius, I’m sure.” George nodded. “I need Nicolae. Gaius will want to come, too.” I nodded. “That means his wife and kids will have to come, too.” “It would make it easier.” George said with a shrug. “Better than me trying to set up the kind of lab I need here. I have a working lab there.” “I’ll call Congresswoman Chance and Senator Cooke.” Colin said. “We might need them to let whoever is in charge know they are needed and allowed to stay in the United States.” “Anyone can come to the United States.” I said. “They aren’t immigrating.” Colin nodded. “But if word of this gets out…if they are targeted as terrorists or something, they’ll have the government’s backing.” He shrugged. “Just in case.” As always, we all gathered to tell what we found that day…or rather it was morning after the others had spent the night patrolling. We sat in various chairs about the living area as we talked. “George is going home in a few days.” Colin said. “He needs his lab and he’s not getting what he needs working from here.” He looked at Gabriella and Alex. “You’ve gotten nothing about Lucian and Iilya?” Gabriella shook her head. “As I explained, we only had Iilya to go on and he’s laying low. I’ve gotten nothing from him.” Alex nodded as he sat on the sofa by Gabriella. “Your daughter’s ability to track is better than mine. If she hasn’t gotten it, I couldn’t hope to.” I grinned. “Why not?” I smiled at Alex. “Or is it like the difference in the color grape over puce? I could never keep up with all those names, or tell the difference sometimes.” Alex chuckled. “I think it’s that.” He nodded. “Why not just say purple?” He asked looking at his wife. “Because they are different colors!” Gabriella argued, but shook her head. Colin chuckled. “It’s a female thing.” He nodded. I nodded as the guys were chuckling with us. Chuck shook his head. “We don’t have enough estrogen for our gender to see those variations.” “Personally, I’d feel better if you, Gabriella and Mom went back with George and Burke.” Colin said softly, hesitant. That didn’t set well with Gabriella. “Why? We’re needed.” Colin gave a grudging nod and said. “…because it might get dangerous, Gabby.” Shelly sat up straighter at that. “And we’re not in danger all the time!? Because we’re women…you don’t think we can do the job?” “Stop!” Gabriella said sternly to Shelly. “Please don’t yell at him because he wants to protect us…” she rose from beside Alex and walked over to her father. “He always was…even after he was bitten…very protective.” She knelt in front of Colin who wasn’t looking at her. “It was you, wasn’t it?” She pulled his head toward her so he looked at her. “Those years after I was alone at Wentworth, the war had started, my husband was off fighting that stupid war, but I never felt unsafe.” He pressed her forehead against her father’s forehead. “I remember that night…a bunch of deserters came to the plantation…no one could explain finding all those men dead when the sun rose. Their necks were broken and no one knew how it happened.” She smiled. “That was you, wasn’t it? I could almost feel you there.” Colin nodded. “I couldn’t let them hurt you. Those hateful men had raped and pillaged as they came. I couldn’t let them do that to you.” He said softly. He looked at Shelly. “You are a trained professional…but this is my daughter.” He waved at our mother. “She’s Devon’s and my mother.” He looked at me. “I’d send Devon back to Manhattan or Wentworth Manor if I could.” He shook his head. “I’m not sexist, I’m just being protective.” Shelly smiled. “Oh, I see. I apologize.” Gabriella nodded. “I know you want to protect ys, but we’re going to be okay, Daddy.” I moved toward Colin and put my arms around him. “I’d like us all to go away from this danger.” I said. “We can’t, though, this is more important.” “George! We forgot!” Burke said as he slapped his own head. “I forgot!” He said running toward the room that he and George shared and came back with a gun, but not a real gun as it was plastic! “This came with the CPUs!” He held the gun up. “This is new serum gun! Its plastic so it didn’t come across on the TSA scanner, but it can fire multiple shots!” I grinned at George. “You knew about this?” George nodded and grinned. “I knew he was planning something…” Burke looked offended. “I designed and built this!” He said proudly as he showed it to everyone. “It can fire twenty shots before it has to be reloaded.” He pushed a button on it and pulled a clip out. “There are several clips, reloading is easy, but be careful, it can stick. Plastic on plastic needs occasional lubrication...” He shrugged. “But it has an explosive shell that causes it to fire.” “Doesn’t that require metal?” I asked. “Sure, but not enough to attract security and this plastic is pretty good at higher temperatures.” Burke nodded. “The cartridges holding the serum are gel based and will dissolve even in a vampire’s body and will disperse on impact with the vampires. The serum will stop a vampire by causing pain.” George nodded held up a single cartridge. “And its concentrated serum, it will last a while disabling a vampire.” Mark stood up marveling at the gun. “You built this, Burke!? I didn’t know you knew about guns!” Burke nodded. “I’m more than a pretty face, you know? I’ve studied ballistics longer than you have been alive!” He shrugged. “You guys just never needed guns before.” He looked at all our shocked faces. “We had to protect ourselves in Arkansas!” He pointed out. Mark grinned. “Sorry, sorry…” he grinned at the gun, “…of course you are.” He reached out. “Can I?” Burke nodded. “Sure. You’ll have one yourself. It’s pretty light.” “I guess we’ll be needing them soon with Lucian and Iilya.” Colin said sadly. I pulled him toward me and hugged him. “They are planning something. We’ll need those.”
  15. Chapter 12

    Dragon grinned as he watched Repetate and Iustina was so caught up in the fact that I was saying something, yet heard what they understood from my translator. I heard him comment to Colin. “Amasis was correct. Your husband does have compassion for all creatures.” He waved at the two Old Ones. “Even them.” Colin nodded. “He does. He’s almost reckless sometimes, but he can also get through to almost anyone. He’s trusted.” Dragon looked again at the computer, but wasn’t scared to touch it now, but still wasn’t comfortable doing that. “I don’t care what you say about this lightening thing and all that…” he opened the laptop carefully and looked at the many sites still up. “This is truly magical.” “Devon was right.” Colin explained. “It’s a simple tool. He’s used an example to explain it before. You’re handed a blade, you can use it to cut vegetables, chop wood or kill another human being. It’s not the blade’s fault it killed, but the user. Just like with a blade, this can be used to hurt people. You need to be careful.” Dragon nodded. “I always am, but I listen to people that have been in this world and I haven’t.” He shook his head. “I know it seems glamorous to most to live as long as we do, but you’re really isolated.” “Which is another reason I knew I had to do something about it.” Colin nodded. “What do you want with me?” Dragon asked. “I’m not that person on those…” he waved at the computer, “…that Inter…net.” “I need you to understand what we’re trying to do.” Colin said. “Our numbers are in the thousands, perhaps a million worldwide, but we are so isolated, we can’t do anything. Together, we can return to the world. I’d like to have your support.” Dragon nodded as he thought. “I’ll do what I can, but this really isn’t my world anymore.” He said sadly. “You have more power than you realize.” Colin said urgently. “Like it or not, people see you as Dracula!” Dragon looked up suddenly and shook his head. “But I’m not! Dracula was fiction!” “I know.” Colin said quickly and shook his head. “It doesn’t matter.” He took a deep breath. “This may seem…odd…to you, but you have more power than you know you have. Vampires don’t trust. I know that, but if you urge them to go with this…they might open up more.” Colin explained. “We number in the thousands…perhaps a million or more, but the world has become smaller as more of us are on the Internet and connected through that.” “I can’t be everywhere.” Dragon said simply. “That’s the beauty of this Internet.” Colin nodded. “You can.” He waved at the computer. “Through this you can reach out and touch every one of them with your voice.” He waved at the computer. “We can do this however you want, but it would help us if you did.” Dragon looked uncertain, but nodded. “I’ll consider your words.” I smiled having overheard all they talked about. Whatever talent Dragon had, his very presence with us would mean a lot. My time with Repetate and Iustina was to win their trust. The goal was simply to get them to volunteer their venom. They were both entertaining and though simple as many would see…if they weren’t hunting you, that is. Gaius and Cragen completed their treatments and had discs inserted in them. The transformation of those two was like the others, nothing but spectacular. Gaius had that horrible disfigurement over his eye, but a simple eyepatch covered that and his one good eye had the moisture needed and he looked very handsome. Their coming into the sunrise was delayed a day, but once we got them to that point, their reaction was like others. They just knew they’d never see another one without dying. Seeing it was nothing short of miraculous. We told Dragon and the other vampires we were giving the serum to them, but George needed their blood as it was now to begin again making headway with finding a cure. I’ve said it often, so you know vampires may not trust easily, but they had learned patience and none them were worried about waiting a few more days. We needed a space for George to work and Stan to continue his work. The new CPU was being sent, along with the supplies George needed to make more serum. We were also working to broaden the language database for the Delkenzie Translation Program which was growing quickly. The real trick was looking for a place to work in that had the power we needed in this part of the world. It needed to be secure as well as have access to the needed power. This part of the world was beautiful; if seen from above, but almost all of our time here had been spent underground. A cave is a cave, is a cave. Most of these vampires were like others we met like Burke who had bred sheep for the purpose of consuming their blood instead of hunting a killing people. The vampires in Transylvania had bred cows and goats for their consumption of blood. Several families that had vampires in their families had a few choice livestock to provide the vampires with the needed blood. It was at the house we rented that Gabriella and Alex let us know about what they found out about Lucian and Iilya. “The problem is…” Alex was explaining to the others gathered to compare notes. “…they are clever.” Gabriella nodded. “They crisscross their paths.” She explained. “Tracking vampires, I mean vampires that can track is apparently not new to them. They know how to…” she thought for a word. Alex was nodding. “…how to blur their tracks.” He completed for his wife. “Iilya has remained hidden.” Gabriella said. “I know his scent, but this crisscrossing of his tracks causes problems and this Lucian is an unknown to us. Iilya traveled with several vampires so we can’t pinpoint a single vampire by scent.” George nodded and let out a frustrated grunt. “Damn it.” He stood up and started to pace as he thought. “We are just so close to a solution, I know it!” Burke smiled at George. “And it will be here again, we just need some equipment. It will be fine, George.” George looked at Burke and nodded. “It’s just so…” “Frustrating.” Burke said smiling he said taking George’s hand. “I know.” George sighed and sat down again. “There is something…” he started, “…so different about Nicolae’s blood. He should be a vampire, but he isn’t. He’s aging normally and has children of his own! The answer is there, but I need my notes and research I did.” Colin got up and hugged George. “And it will be there when we get the new CPU.” He looked at Stan. “What have you found out about a secure location to work out of?” Stan grinned. “Well, the problem isn’t the power, it is the location.” He reached down and pulled up his laptop. “There are locations that were used during the Cold War…” he looked up. “…I was in diapers back then.” “Ten years ago?” Mark asked innocently. Stan put his hand on Mark’s face and shoved him lightly and said. “Shaddup.” He said almost absently. “The Soviet Union had bases around here. There’s one not far, if we get permission to use it.” He said. “Can I ask a stupid question?” Shelly began almost too quietly. Colin looked at Shelly. “Sure.” “Why are you doing this?” Shelly asked. Colin smiled and gave his shrug and nod. “That’s not a stupid question.” Shelly sat forward. “I mean, why cure yourselves? You have what most people want.” She said simply. “You’re young, full of life and you won’t die.” She looked at Colin. “I joined this group to hunt vampires that prey on people.” She put in. “I’ll all for that, but the idea that you could add a few decades or even a century or even…” she waved at Amasis. “…a couple of thousand years is amazing.” Amasis nodded and he smiled at Shelly. “But we’re cut off from the human race. We can’t…or didn’t know we could until we found Gaius and found out we could…but we can’t have children.” He looked at Shelly. “You enter a whole different subject with loved ones and people that mean something to you that you will lose.” “Being a vampire means losing people.” George said. “But you aren’t.” Shelly pointed to George. “You have Burke now.” She waved at Colin. “You have Gabriella and Devon.” She waved at my mother. “Betty became a vampire to stay with Willie and her son. I think Betty and Devon have the best as vampires…someone that will love them for a long, long time. They are losing no one.” “But that doesn’t mean we won’t die.” Colin corrected. “We can be killed by guns or even hit by a car.” “Could.” Shelly said. “Not will. There’s a huge difference. You could lose them, but not will lose them.” She shook her head. “I have a mother and father who are doing pretty well, but they are getting older. I will lose them one day. We’re raised knowing that.” She smiled. “I have a sister that has two kids.” She chuckled at a memory. “I can only imagine what their lives will be like and I hope I see a lot of that life. I wouldn’t mind having a child of my own one day.” She shook her head and looked at us. “There’s no solution, but I will hunt the vampires that kill people, but don’t be in such a hurry to become human again. Enjoy knowing that you might live a damned long time!” She waved at George. “The things he’s contributed to science and medicine is just mind blowing. Imagine what he’ll find in another century! He’s brilliant, but he can work on a problem for decades…if not indefinitely! The breakthroughs he will make…” she waved her head like it was impossible to believe, “I can’t begin to comprehend.” “But the world won’t see us as human.” Gabriella said. Shelly shook her head. “Why not? I do.” She held her hands out. “You’re right. We will be entering a new world if we have people that can just live indefinitely.” She smiled again. “I would love to, but not without my sister, her kids and my parents. You see what happened to after you were bitten as a curse.” She nodded. “It was…until now? George found a way to stop the venom from working and now you have a life, enjoying meals and travel and anything you like. Don’t rush this whole…cure thing.” Chuck nodded. “She’s right.” He added. “Let’s stop these vampires here like Iilya and Lucian from doing…whatever they are doing.” He nodded. “I’ve considered what it would be like to be one of you and…” he grinned. “That would be sweet, but like Shelly said. If I do this, I would want my father to be included, but he never would now that Mom’s gone.” He smiled. “However, you have what a lot of people want. Enjoy it.” It was later, when both Colin and I were exhausted and decided to go to bed a while and rest. As Colin slid in next to me, I was feeling a little guilty about my feelings. It must have been of my face, for as Colin was leaning closer to me, he stopped. “What?” Colin asked. I grinned at him and nodded. “We’re married. You can read me.” “I was there.” Colin grinned. “I read you very well, but what are you thinking about?” I frowned. “You won’t like it.” Colin frowned, too. “Oh?” I nodded. “I like being a vampire.” There, I said it. “What!?” Colin asked in disbelief as he sat up more. I waved at him. “See? You don’t like it. I knew you wouldn’t.” I held my hands up to stop him. “Just…hear me out.” Colin laid down a bit more. “Okay.” “I never had the horrible things you experienced.” I explained. “I never had to worry about avoiding the sun for any other reason that I would get a sunburn easily when I was human.” I sat up to face him. “I don’t feel any different than I did when I was human! I’ve never hungered but that one time right after you bit me. I’ve never looked at a human being and seen a target to feed off of. You came in like this…knight and brought me into your world and…” I laughed, “…this world is pretty sweet. You’re rich, you’re generous and you’re smart.” “But if George didn’t come up with the serum…it would be miserable!” I nodded. “But he did! I have had no pains after the introduction of the serum. Your life had almost nothing but pain; mine didn’t.” I nodded. “I knew…after we first met, I knew I would be a vampire.” Colin shook his head. “I didn't want that life for you.” “You didn’t do anything to me, Colin.” I looked in his emerald colored eyes. “I secretly thank Burke for making it impossible for you not to make me a vampire. You had to feed and I was the target. I knew you would never hurt me. You loved me. You hated what you were for so long…you couldn’t see it any other way.” I looked away. “I’m not sorry I became a vampire, Colin.” I looked again. “If this changes you’re opinion of me…well, we’ve always been honest. I’m being honest. I saw how glad you were to be in a relationship with me and I never wanted to leave you.” Colin heard me, but he was looking in my eyes. “Okay, I’ll be honest, too.” He took a deep breath. “I wanted to make you a vampire almost from that first day.” My eyes widened. “You did not.” Colin nodded. “I did. Of course, you found the evidence of who I was and I really didn’t fight you by not telling you the truth, but I wanted to make you vampire…well, you didn’t run away; I didn’t scare you, so I wanted you to stay,” he shrugged, “but I was on the serum, I couldn’t make you a vampire, so…” “If you could have, you’d have done it?” I asked. “For love?” Colin gave a shrug. “Lust at that point, but…yes. That was very selfish of me.” I got up and pushed him back. “No, it wasn’t!” I was on top of him at this point. “It was human. We’re social creatures, we’re not meant to be alone. You were!” “Yes, but making you like me wasn’t the answer!” Colin protested weakly. I nodded. “But you didn’t, well…you did, but with George’s serum I’m not like you were.” I settled on top of him. “Are you mad at me for liking what I am?” “Are you mad at me because of who I am and my wanting to keep you with me?” Colin asked. I shook my head. “Not a bit.” Colin smiled. “I’m not mad at you.” “So, what are we going to do?” I asked. “The problem was, we can’t have children…normally.” He smiled. “But replenishing the Earth isn’t that essential if we live as long as we do.” “But we can die.” I pointed out. “We’ll need to have children because we can, and will die; eventually.” “That’s one of the reasons George is looking for a cure.” “Shelly’s right; we shouldn’t be worrying about a cure.” I said. “We now know a vampire can have children, we have Nicolae as proof.” “Without the serum, we will become those blood suckers again.” Colin said. I nodded. “George said the components to make the serum isn’t hard to find.” “But complicated to make, he says.” Colin said. “So, we make sure George has what he needs and passes it on. This Lucian seems to be under the impression that we are supposed to be the undead or like the character Bram Stoker wrote about.” I said. “He, right now, is the danger and we need to find him. My kidnapping when we were in Egypt told us that there are men out there that will want what we have to become this all powerful vampire.” Colin nodded. “Vampires are just people that don’t have a time limit; that’s scary to people.” He said. “There are good vampires and bad vampires. We just need to deal with the bad ones and keep the good ones safe.” I nodded. “But the more we’re out there and the more people know about us…we will be found out.” Colin sighed. “If that happens, I can see another of your movies scenarios where there is a raging horde of angry villagers with pitchforks and torches assaulting the castle.” “The world isn’t ready for us.” I nodded. “But we are here now.” Colin said. “What do we do?” “We’ve become aliens on our own planet.” I said quietly. “I wish we were from another planet, we’d have a home to go back to.” “What we need…” Colin said quietly. “Is a place on the world where we can be free to be what we are; like those men that took you…governments will try to use us for whatever. People will want us to make them into vampires or just kill us.” I nodded. “There’s really no place left here on the world to go to found a country of our own. Even Antarctica is crowded more now.” Colin smiled. “Well, maybe there’s a country…struggling that would welcome us.” He grinned. “Imagine, a country that’s struggling and we come in. We have doctors, lawyers, scientists, teachers and politicians with centuries of experience…George could open a hospital. We could add to the economy of that country and make it prosper.” “If we can get the other vampires to talk to us...” I said. “We can’t form a country without them.” “All this is premature anyway, we need to find Lucian and get Dragon on our side.” Colin said as he grinned at me. “We have been so busy…” he said, “…you’ve told me, but…do you still love me?” I smiled down at him. “There, since we’re baring our souls to each other…no. You have to know the truth; I don’t love you at all.” Colin chuckled. “Yes, I agree. It’s truth time. I don’t love you, either.” “See!?” I said kissing him. “We’ve been together so long; I can read you, too. I know better.” “You can’t lie to me, either.” Colin said rolling us so he was on top. “I know you do.” I pulled Colin closer. “I know you do.” We had not one, but tw0 CPUs arrive from Manhattan along with things George needed to make up his lab so he could continue with his research. Now the issue was with the government of Romania. Stan found there was an unused Soviet Base in the town of Barsov a little northeast of where we were. We had to deal with the mayor there who was also called George. George Scriparu who was dark headed about fifty. Colin, Stan, Mark and I went to negotiate with him to let us use it. “I don’t understand.” The Mayor said from behind his desk in English. “Why do you wish to use this base?” He asked for clarification. Language issues? “Because of what we’re doing.” Colin said and touched his translator and spoke in his earpiece microphone. “Suntem crearea unui program pentru calculator să ajute cu traducerea şi avem nevoie de un loc sigur. Casa pe care am închiriat a fost vandalizat şi am nevoie de undeva mai sigure.” He said saying we were creating the program to translate and we had been our equipment vandalized while we had it the the house we rented. “Ne veţi plăti pentru costul şi securitate. Chiar şi pentru orice actualizări de putere s-ar putea nevoie. Avem nevoie doar de aprobarea dumneavoastră.” Colin said we’d pay for the use and provide the security and even upgrade the power as needed. Now the mayor was standing as he looked in disbelief looking at the device on Colin’s shoulder. “Asta a fost in limba romana.” My earpiece told me he had said what Colin and said was in Romanian. Colin nodded. “Acum, poate intelegeti mai bine?” Colin said now he may understand better. (The rest I will write in English, but we were all speaking Romanian and English.) “We need our equipment to be secure as we move around the country gathering needed information.” Colin said and turned to Stan and Mark. “Stan is brilliant with the computer…he can watch it while there…” Stan grinned and nodded. “Thanks, Boss.” Colin rolled his eyes and waved at Mark. “Mark is part of our security. So, we won’t be unprotected, though you may need to explain what is allowed and not allowed in this part of the world.” Mark’s eyes were slits when he looked at Colin. “Gee, thanks.” He muttered in English. We got permission to use it, with the understanding that we were to use a security firm from Romania for the outside security. We were not allowed to have guns here, but Colin agreed to hire this firm, which we found out later was a relative that ran it. Of course Mark, Stan, Shelly and Chuck had their guns with them and could protect our stuff from inside the base. The whole transition took a few days, but we got set up and found ourselves to be secure and George went back to his research. The man that had okayed our bringing our things into Romania was the same man that had let us in the first time and loved his translator! I could kiss Mitch for letting us use it. That program was providing the perfect cover! We were investors, but were really adding to his language database and therefore not a lie. Every member of our team carried one and all conversations were entered in and translated, making it easier as we went through the various towns. We still patrolled for Lucian and Iilya and finding they had made others that were still remaining hidden. We interviewed Gaius, Cragen and Dragon. Now that George had his equipment, he took samples of Dragon’s blood and took Nicolae’s again and started doing research again. Gaius sat as his son got his blood drawn again. Gaius was enjoying being out during the day with his family. “Tell me.” George said to Gaius as he prepared Nicolae’s blood to test. “The vampire that bit you…you were wild after the bite because he was?” Gaius nodded. “I was.” He frowned. “Memories are a little foggy during those couple of centuries.” He grunted as he tried to remember some of it. “I remember I fought myself…” he tapped his own head in the memory of the frustration he’d gone through, “in here. I found it hard to think and recall anything.” “And Dragon?” George asked. “We were bitten by two separate vampires.” I frowned at a memory. “There were several during that battle when were both turned. They wandered around in these…packs…like wolves.” George nodded. “But you came back.” He said. “Do you remember how much time had passed before you could think clearly again?” “I don’t really…” Gaius began. “It was a couple of centuries I know. I remember having to hide all the time…” “You said…” I began coming closer to the man. “…you were afraid to face God with what you did.” I said quietly. “You’re speaking of that period, or when you were with Dragon?” “Both.” Gaius said bitterly. “I remember what I did with or for Dragon, but not when I was out of my head. I know I probably hunted humans.” “You weren’t yourself.” I said calmly. “The venom was driving you then and took away your humanity. What you did with Dragon…” “Was horrible!” Gaius spat. “He did it! I did it…there were others that did it!” I nodded. “Okay, I’m not offering any absolution about that, but…if someone threatened Nicolae or your grandchildren and there was no other choice…” “I ran poles up men’s asses that made the shafts come out the neck or chest! I gouged out eyes and cut off their man parts while they were alive!!” He said as he began rocking back and forth to shield what he now clearly could remember. “To stop them.” I reminded him as I put my hand on his shoulder as he rocked. “Was there any other way?” He was crying now as he shook his head. “I don’t know.” He said in sorrow and regret. “Dragon…you know he is Vlad, but he…did it himself as well…but he couldn’t do it alone. I had to help.” I nodded and touched his other shoulder and made him look up at me with his good eye. “I figured that out a while ago.” He shut his good eye. “Gaius.” I said and he looked at me. “Willie…my stepfather…has some horrors he remembers when he fought in a war. It’s a terrible thing, war. I’ve dealt with the injuries of soldiers and one of those injuries is in your mind. You remember what happened. You’ll never forget. I don’t forget the things I saw, but I’ll help you if you want.” “How? You can’t take it away.” Gaius said sobbing. I shook my head. “No, I can’t, but there is one thing I can do. I can listen…maybe give some perspective.” Gaius shook his head. “I can’t! I can’t talk about what I did!!” I nodded again, still speaking softly to him. “What you’re going through is Post Traumatic Depression, it is a real diagnosis.” George smiled at Gaius. “Listen to him, Gaius. He’s helped Willie and others.” “I can see it bothers you.” I said. “That’s better than you not giving it another thought. You regret what happened and it’s tearing you up inside. If you don’t talk to me, you’ll never be able to deal with it. You brain want to deal with it, but you’re not letting it.” I made sure he was looking at me. “I’m not saying it will be an easy thing to do, but you have to, if you want to get better.” “I don’t want to remember.” I nodded again. “I know, but you can’t have any release if you don’t. Talking will help your mind accept what you had to do. Then you may be able to forgive yourself and talk with God. He will forgive. The problem is…we don’t forgive ourselves.” Colin smiled as I hugged Gaius, who grabbed me and held on tight.

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