Sweet Dreams

Discussion in 'THREAD ARCHIVES' started by Literary_Dreamer, May 3, 2013.

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  1. -2009-​
    “It is amazing, Caius,” said the vampire prince, standing on the threshold of the great and cavernous tomb which had been carved out of the mountain. “It’s simply amazing.”

    “Thank you, my prince,” replied the man who followed him into the chamber.

    “Oh, drop the formalities. Nobody’s listening,” the prince complained.

    “Old habits,” Caius said with a negligent shrug. “It’s hard to know what to call you, sometimes. But I can understand why you’re uncomfortable with titles. After all, there was a time when you thought that your name was Principem Meus.”

    “And they would have gone on letting me think that, too. If it hadn’t been for you, I doubt anyone would have corrected me.” The prince laughed loudly at the memory. As the sound echoed through the cavern, he closed his eyes and simply listened. How long had it been since he’d last laughed?

    Caius indulged in a small smile. He was glad to see that recent events hadn’t changed the prince in any fundamental way. His troubles had merely weighed down on him. Now, with the prospect of a thousand year sleep, they’d lifted and he’d returned to a more innocent state of mind. Caius only wished he could go there, too. Things would be perfect, then, like they had once been.

    -235 AD-​
    “Your Highness? Your Highness! Please stop this!” A well-meaning official squawked and squirmed as the prince of the vampires caught his hand and held it over the open flame of his oil lamp.

    Attrahenti…” The prince examined the official’s hand before releasing the poor man. He then held his own hand over the flame for far longer than he’d kept the official’s hand. His face was devoid of all expression as the fire licked his flesh. There was only mild curiosity in his eyes as he removed his hand from the fire and brushed the dead tissue off of his fingers. He didn’t look away until his hand had returned to its original state. “My hand is like this, his hand is like this, but the servants are not. When I do this to them, they must wrap there hand in fasciis. What is fasciis?”

    “Bandages, my lord?” asked one of the officials. “They are used to protect a wound.”

    “A vulnus?” the prince asked. “What is that?”

    “When you put the servants’ hands in the flame, that wounds them,” the official explained.

    “I see…” said the prince. If he understood that he was hurting the servants, he did not express it. He looked rather bored, in fact. Aware that they were losing the prince’s interest and afraid that he might do them more harm, the officials, gathered in his room, hurried to explain their reason for being there in order to leave more quickly.

    “We are afraid, my prince, that you are not being served in a manner that is not worthy of you,” said one of the officials, stepping forward but not getting within arm’s reach of the prince. “Therefore, we have gone through the trouble of finding you a suitable slave to personally serve you.”

    Servus, servus, servus,” the prince said, turning the unfamiliar word over in his mouth. “It sounds interesting. Show me.”

    The officials opened the door and let a very poorly treated young slave into the room. When the prince didn’t immediately react in revulsion, the officials expressed their pleasure at having pleased the prince and scurried out of the room. None of them were particularly important officials so the prince didn’t bother to bid them goodbye.

    “Step forward. Who are you?” he said, now more interested in the slave before him.

    “I am called Caius Marius Lucullus,” said the slave, eyes turned toward the floor even as he approached the prince. The prince repeated the name several times.

    “That’s rather long. May I call you just Caius?” he asked.

    “Whatever Your Highness wishes,” replied the slave.

    “I wish it,” the prince said. “But that isn’t important right now. I have a question to ask you. What does the word servus mean?”

    The slave accidentally looked up in shock. He immediately returned his gaze downwards but stammered, “You do not know the word slave, Sire?”

    “No,” the prince replied. “Could you explain it?”

    “A slave is a person who is owned by another person.”

    “Ridiculous!” the prince exclaimed. “Those officials are trying to kill me. I can barely look after myself and they want me to take care of another person?”

    “You misunderstand, Your Highness,” the slave said. “I serve you, work for you.”

    “Like the servants?”

    “In a way.”

    “Very well, come here.” The prince motioned for the slave to come stand by him. As soon as the slave was in arm’s reach, the prince grabbed him and held his hand over the fire. The slave struggled at first but quickly stopped. When the prince released him, he watched in amazement as the skin grew back on his hand at a visible pace. “You are not like the servants,” the prince announced, “you are like the officials.”

    “But I was sent here to be your slave,” the slave protested.

    “Amuse me, then. The servants amuse me. If you can amuse me like the servants, I will keep you as my slave. Tell me your history.”

    The slave explained how he had lead a normal life until his family was killed a fortnight ago and he’d been changed into whatever he was now, which wasn’t what he’d been before. Then he’d been brought to the prince.

    “What does familiam mean?” the prince asked.

    “Family? They are the people who live with you and love you. They are also the ones related to you by blood.”

    “I’ve never had that,” the prince said, almost appearing sad. “It sounds very nice.”

    “Did I amuse you, my prince?”

    “No, but I like you. You’ve lost your family and I never had one. Could we make up for each other’s lack and be a family?”

    “It doesn’t work that way, my prince,” the slave stammered.

    “Why not? If we share blood and you remain with me forever, are we not brothers?”

    “But I am your slave.”

    “I do not want you to be my slave. I want you to be my brother. I own you, if you are my slave, yes? like I own this lamp. I can do what I want with this lamp, so I can do what I want with you. I want you to be my brother, so you will be my brother and not my slave.”

    The slave did not dare argue more with this odd prince, so he gave in. “I will be your brother.”

    The prince smiled for the first time, lighting up his face like a child’s. Without warning, he pinned down the slave and took blood from him. The prince then presented his wrist for the slave to do the same. The slave was reluctant, he hadn’t been a blood drinker for long and the action still disturbed him but, beyond that, he was uneasy taking blood from the prince of the blood drinkers. The prince was insistent, however, and eventually the slave took some.

    “You are now my brother, Caius Marius Lucullus,” the prince announced happily. “We are family.”

    “How do I address my brother?” the slave, now brother of the prince, asked. He was afraid of insulting this prince because he was so odd.

    “By my name. It isn’t as long or fancy as yours. It is Prince.”

    The brother of the prince tried very hard not to laugh but fail. “Your name isn’t Prince,” he laughed. “That is your title. You are a prince. A leader? A ruler?”

    “A title?” the prince asked. “Well, then I do not have a name.”

    “You haven’t got a name?” the brother asked, dumbfounded. “Would you…like me to give you a name?” He asked it hesitantly but the prince was very excited by the idea.

    “I would be honoured, Brother.”

    “Then you shall be… Caius Marius Alexander,” he said.

    “But aren’t you Caius Marius?” asked the prince.

    “It is tradition in my family to name all of the males Caius Marius. I will call you Alexander.”

    “Must I call you Lucullus, then?” the prince, now Alexander, asked.

    “No. You may still call me Caius,” his brother replied.

    “It has been a very long time since you named me Alexander,” the prince said when he was done laughing. “A lot has changed but that name has remained with me the entire time.”

    “It suited you then and it still suits you now,” Caius said.

    “But I’m not defending my people, I’m running away. And I loathe myself for doing it.”

    “It’s better this way,” Caius assured his blood brother. “You couldn’t stand against them much longer. Besides, I have some suspicions that will be easier to investigate when they aren’t afraid you’ll catch them.”

    “But is a thousand years too long?”

    “In a thousand years, half of them will be dead and no one will remember this petty little fight. They’ll welcome you back with cheers because they don’t realise how much they need you but they’ll know it well by then.”

    “I feel terrible leaving you in this mess,” the prince said. “You have to look after Thomas, too. I trust him to remain true to my ideas but I don’t think he’s strong enough to lead our kind. I would have appointed you but you’ve always been too close to me. They’d never trust you.”

    “I understand and I’ll look after Tommy.”

    “I’ll come find you when I wake,” Alexander promised.

    “I’ll keep a book of every important thing that happens while you’re asleep. You can read it to catch up when you find me.”

    “Convenient. I wished I’d had something like that last time.”

    “You don’t know how long you were unconscious last time. You might have only been out a day but without your memory, we’ll never know.”

    “Let’s hope I don’t lose my memory this time. Please don’t be offended if I can’t remember you when I wake.”

    “You will remember, I am certain of it,” Caius assured the prince. “But we should hurry. Dawn is near and I will be missed.”

    Alexander nodded and moved to the centre of the chamber where the bier stood, as if in a trance. He took one last look around, gazing longest at the vaulted ceiling which was modelled after a gothic cathedral, then climbed up on the stone table. Once the prince was settled, Caius placed his hand on Alexander’s brow and began mumbling to himself. The words were unintelligible but they had a cadence to them, like a spell or a prayer. When he had finished, the prince was asleep with a placid expression on his face.

    “Goodnight, my prince,” Caius said. “Sleep well as the millennium passes.”
  2. Year 2012

    Over the course of a decade, there had been an intense uprising of undead. Vampires existed, and for some time they argued the wisdom of "coming out of the coffin." But when they failed to integrate politically, they turned threatening...and today, they declared war. It began as isolated incidents, sparse and remote attacks. Every week more people were killed or taken and by the time a hundred years had passed as people neglected their gardens and jobs for the supposed safety of shackled doors.

    The military began running most towns with guards where they could spare them, troops doling out rations to civilians that detested them (even more than fang-bangers). And for every chance they had to find peace, mankind made a violent defense. And so humanity currently lacked the manpower - the lifeforce if you will - to hold them off most areas. Major towns and several state capitols had been secured and remained stable this long, but the night dwelling species was fighting for it's survival - and winning, spreading - with rogue fangs seeking justice in human bloodstreams.

    Year 2112

    The young woman held the hand of her father, as they watched the sun birth from the sky. They'd sat like this before, when she was young. Often far from home, the high -ranking officer shared more than one thing with his only daughter.

    She too had climbed the ranks of the Marine ladder, if indeed there was much left of it at all. As such there was little respect or hope to be had for someone like Captain Maya Flint. Good will and brotherhood had lost meaning to so many, and many thought her a fool to still believe this fight was good. None made any mention of it, having too much respect for her father and pity at their losses. And she was ready to face it all again - the sympathies and inappropriately intimate hugs from...nobody. While she was certainly not the only female marine, and joined at the average age of fifteen, she was the only female ranking officer. The closest thing she got to hugs was a week without the guillatine of criticism as per the norm. And that was how it needed to be. Their grieving period was over, and whether or not they were ready there was another night at stake.

    Year 2100
    Age Eight​

    "Dad, what's insomnia?" The first night she gained the courage to seek a drop of his knowledge, she was glad the cold validated her chills. He smiled a reply.

    "Insomnia means you can't sleep. But it can save your life. How else would we know we made it through the night?" He would joke about her innate qualifications for night watch, never actually demanding of having a future in military. Loyalty runs deep however, especially in bonds of blood and love. These things instilled an obligation in Maya to not just her family but to the whole of her species.

    In the years to follow she would run so many things through her mind as she sought to see it through the night. Sometimes she had her mother, briefly her brothers, but mostly Max. Until she had aged into double digits, once her father had been gone longer than six months, she would count the nights she stayed awake to ensure she could escape into the days. Once her mind worried like that and her sleep patterns changed, she would sneak from her window as soon as most shadows were obvious. Planting her foot in every sunbeam, she would walk slowly and quietly to toss a pebble at her friend and neighbor's window. Max would usually wake, wave a hello, and then Maya could sleep until noon. Otherwise, larger rocks ensued. This nervous ritual maintained even when she realized it was silly and dangerous. There weren't many guards near the handful of cabins planted near one another (for tactical and safety measures), so the two could run around as they pleased. Even in town, the guards knew their fathers and so turned a blind eye to what little trouble they could have caused. Most of Maya's thoughts eventually became memories that would run through her mental movie nights - so she could weigh them in these quiet moments before the world heaved its sigh of relief at surviving just one more day.

    Year 2112

    The new year came with a new promotion, as Maya's father Gregory reached General status. She had applied makeup before, but never without her mother Freya's delicate instruction. Maya daubed on a vivid lipstain, stroked on a mascara as dark as emptiness. It was a long-forgotten tradition, for a woman to paint her face. Frivolities just had no niche, but as a young woman in a formal setting every facial expression and lack thereof felt a hollow and lustless mask. Maya enjoyed color, and knew it was craved by every human just as they longed for water or food or sunshine. She cut her cheekbones with blush that replaced her pale face with her mother's, contrasting the patches and pins of the work of her father. Tonight she wore an evening gown, the same red as her lipstick, to complete the celebratory ensemble. Her white-blonde hair hung in lazy curls, and she wore no diamonds or jewels aside from her own emerald eyes. All she had left of family was her father and in spite of the gun holstered to her thigh, tonight was his to be honored and to dance with his not-so-little girl.

    For Maya, it was a once-in-a-lifetime chance to dress like a woman. She struggled with the lack of movement and strategic value of such an outfit...but finally reconciled that if she hadn't died yet, she should at least have enough courage to live risky just once. They still had hours to dusk anyway, and guards were doubled for extra security. She had never owned heels that weren't laced to a boot, and those slipper-types were so flat they hurt. If she could run miles and sneak silently in boots, she concluded, then she would dance in them as well.

    The Next Day​
    Reports were overflowing with fresh death and the number of new recruits just didn't replenish their forces. But intelligence came to Gregory that scouts had found what they thought to be the location of a vampire tomb, so he had them do a little digging. Leading that party was his daughter Maya, and she was the first to lay eyes on the crypt.

    "I found something!" Her shout caught the party's attention, and all hands spread to her sides and helped her dig more fruitfully. And there it was...a simple marble tomb, the small unearthed part of it still dusted with orangey brown dirt.

    "Stay hydrated, maggots." Stepping back to observe her group and estimate the time before nightfall. "Jensen, take two men with you and alert the General. Tell him I'll need extraction permissions and a wagon or two. A truck if we can. Stay sharp, and radio when you get there."

    Part of her hoped there were several blood suckers buried here, on the off-chance their "children" might be killed off as well. But as her men dug out what she guessed was the entrance, she realized there was equal chance it could be empty. None she had encountered seemed cowardly enough to be the sort to hide away. Tipping her canteen, she had to stop so many plausible scenarios running through her mind and just wait. She would be leading a handful of them through a place of unfathomable darkness, in search of at least one coffin. Having never encountered one off the battlefield before, she did not grasp how they treated their inanimate dead or if they ever even slept.

    The potential knowledge this place held was of obvious importance, and the Captain pretended she couldn't hear her team's whispers of uncertainty. If they couldn't see the potential of learning more about the enemy, then it would serve them better to grunt in these new trenches with shovels in their hands. They just happened to be the most skilled of the recon members and would follow her orders. If they decided to freak out in this mausoleum, she doubted they'd even find their way out without her voice. But she would hold faith in them as long as they held some in her, and so far so well. Briefing them on protocol, Maya instructed them that she would take point and when she looked back to give direction they damn well better be attentive, and so flashlights would stay on unless otherwise instructed. Never go alone was the first and foremost rule for anyone who left their home or safe zone, and in this darkness she explained, if one wandered off they would likely be considered lost and gone. With that, they organized formation and began the slow excavation.

    The Coffin Room​
    They had all read of ancient Egyptians and not really cared but the entire room was perfectly smooth, save the name engraved upon the lid. Maya's hand brushed the slightly foreign characters that spelled what resembled 'Alexander' in her own tongue. The beam of her flashlight flicked from the coffin's head to its foot before she stepped down from its platform, and she signalled her team to file out. All in all it was almost quaint, though expertly crafted with the expensive stone. Simple, yet respectful. She wondered who he was and as she emerged into the waning sunlight, Maya found herself questioning whether vampires had memories or craved the sun as much as blood.
    #2 Fiaryn, May 5, 2013
    Last edited by a moderator: May 5, 2013
  3. A young looking man with warm, dark blond hair and strange pale green eyes leaned back in his seat to observe the glowing screen before him at a little more distance. There were no lights on in the room other than the screen, casting everything in a bluish, electronic glow. He tapped on his lips thoughtfully then leaned forward to delete a line of text.

    From the light off the screen, it was easy to tell that the room was cluttered. It was filled with books and other almost ancient artefacts which cast strange shadows. It would have been easy to assume that the owner of the room was a scholar of some sort but he was dressed in the military style preferred by most mercenaries. Then again, everyone was a mercenary these days.

    A small hand came to rest on his shoulder and he, unsurprised at its arrival, turned his head towards it. The hand lifted briefly to caress his cheek before returning to its rightful side.

    “Caius-san,” spoke a soft female voice in the dark. “Are you writing to Alexander-san again?” Keiko, the speaker, was a petite Asian beauty. She spoke perfect English, along with perfect Russian, French, Chinese, Italian, Korean, and of course her native Japanese but her act depended on her cute depiction of an innocent Japanese girl and she liked to get in character before she got on stage.

    Caius smiled bitterly and let out a breath through his nose that was to be taken as a laugh. He exited the word processing program which had been open and turned on a light next to the computer. “I’m always writing to Alexander. I promised I would.” He turned his swivel chair to face her.

    “You always keep your promises, Caius-san,” Keiko said.

    “But you, apparently, do not,” Caius said, noting with disapproval that Keiko was wearing an elegant kimono. “I thought that you were going to take the night off.” Keiko only wore kimono and used Japanese honorifics when she was going to work.

    “I know,” Keiko said. “But the landlord bumped up the rent again and said that if we didn’t have it in by next week, we’d be out on the street. He’s already got people looking at the room. If I take the night off, we’ll never make rent.”

    “I told you not to worry about money things, my dear,” Caius said. “What would my long life be if I’d never learned to save a little money? We’ll be fine. Now go get some rest.” When Keiko hesitated, Caius got up and began herding her towards the bedroom. “Sleep,” he ordered, “or I won’t be taking from you again.” The threat seemed to resonate with the girl and she was reluctant no more, hurrying to go get the rest Caius had demanded.

    Caius was about to return to his computer and the task of chronicling the times for Alexander when there was a sharp knock at the door. Caius sighed. “What is it now?” and went to answer it.

    On opening the door, he found a woman who was dressed as a mercenary. The only thing which told him that she was not a mercenary was the fact that he had known her for seven hundred years, give or take a decade. She had the mean look of a warrior and her dark hair was dressed plainly. This was all only illusion so that the bullies of the town would not take her as easy prey.

    “Elsie…” Caius said with a sour smile.

    Elsie, whose real name was Elisabeta Aldea, was no more pleased than Caius was. She stared at him with an imperious frigidity before saying, “What are you still doing here?”

    It was clear that Elisabeta had not arrived really expecting Caius to be absent and the obvious falseness that was implied by her statement disgusted him. He considered for a moment shutting the door in her face. He knew, however, that avoiding the problem was not the solution and so he stepped aside to let her in.

    “I thought you wanted nothing to do with me, Elsie,” Caius said in a tired tone as he shut and locked the door behind the unwelcome woman.

    “Where is that Asian whore that you keep?” Elsabeta asked.

    “Sleeping,” Caius said acidly, “so be quiet.”

    “I’ll get right to the point, then. Why are you here when you should be out looking for Alexander?”

    “I told you, there’s no point in looking for Alexander. He’ll return when he’s ready. All we need to do is to wait for him.”

    “He is our prince. It is our duty to look for him and protect him. We cannot simply abandon him. We must retake his throne.”

    “You are too hasty, Elsie. Alexander disappeared because he thought it was right. It was his decision. If he thought it was the right time to return, he would. Don’t you trust him?”

    “How can you be so certain he made the decision on his own? What if he was forced? You know what turbulent times those were when he vanished. You know what the government did the moment he disappeared. It isn’t that great of a stretch to think that they orchestrated the whole thing.”

    Caius was silent for a long moment, placing his words together with care. “Do you really think…so little of our prince that he would allow himself to be kidnapped and disposed of? He was not a young vampire, not naïve, and certainly not weak. Why is it so hard for you to trust him?”

    “If it really was his idea, why hasn’t he come to find us? We are his family, Caius. His family. Don’t you think our loving brother would spare a thought for how much we’d worry about him? Humans are flooding the area around where he was last seen. I just heard the reports. If he’s still there…if he’s still there…”

    “Now you think a human, of all things, could harm our princely brother? That is just insulting. No human could touch a hair on his head without his permission.”

    “Do you really trust him so much or do you simply not care?” Elisabeta asked, voice quavering as if she would cry.

    “I trust him because he trusted me. I can’t say much without breaking that trust but I’ll tell you this: nine hundred years. Be patient for another nine hundred years and I’ll personally go with you to find our brother and we’ll welcome him with royal fanfare. All right? I know that nine hundred years seems a long time to you, that’s longer than you’ve been alive, but trust me.”

    Elisabeta was silent for a long time. She stared at many things around the cluttered entryway, but she wouldn’t look Caius in the eye. She could hear the sound of the young woman’s soft breathing in the other room and it made her clench her jaw.

    “I can’t trust you, Caius,” she said at length. “I’m sorry but you’ve never been completely honest with me so I can’t trust you.”

    “I’m sorry to hear that but it won’t change anything,” Caius said, opening the door and motioning for Elisabeta to leave. “Goodbye, Elsie.”

    “I’m going to find our brother,” she told him, “and you’re coming with me, even if I have to kidnap that little human pet of yours to get you to come.”
  4. Decisions​

    "What options could there possibly BE, Mr. MacKenna?!" An argument had erupted in the board room amongst the men that had gathered in Maya's childhood home. For the moment, Maya remained quiet. Her father hadn't arrived yet from his personal security of the casket, and the old men were bickering about whether to outright stake the possible vampire- or whether to open it at all. There had been nothing inside the tomb to indicate what he might have meant to anyone, just the stone and the dust...and a name. Tapping a nail on the table, head in her hand, Maya attempted to gather what she did know of the enemy. But it only brought bad memories to the forefront of her mind, and the tantrums before her were a prime distraction. Enough was enough.

    "Knock. It. Off." Voice low, she didn't even need to raise it. "Arguing like children over facts you don't have will put us all in an early grave." Silence remained until her father's arrival. As he took his seat he sighed, and Maya found herself looking at a much older man. He seemed very withdrawn and extremely worrisome.
    "Gentlemen...I need a volunteer, and no questions." At this the room was tense. "I cannot indulge specific points of information, but I can say it's a delivery. Where to is the sole knowledge and responsibility of the volunteer, who may attempt to gather a team but will likely not need one. While immediate danger is a minimum, potential danger is uncertain though capabilities are high." Still, the room was quiet.

    MacKenna broke the silence, "Without knowing what we're getting into, you want a volunteer...what aren't you telling us?" The General's face remained stone.

    "Precisely what you don't need to know," was his response. He scanned the table meeting each set of eyes until he finally rested his on Maya's, and what she saw was fear. She'd only seen it in her brothers and fellow trainees in their greener days, never her father. It frightened her, thus inspired her to stand.

    "I will. I pledge my service to this mission and its secrecy, with the knowledge that it might end me." Adrenaline trickled into her heart, yet she breathed deep and stood tall. Her father simply nodded, short and sweet, just like that.

    "Any objections?" He scanned the table once more.

    Again, MacKenna broke peace. "Sharing information with family is treason-" he began. But this set off Major Price, who had informed Maya of the school girl drama that was the boardroom.

    "MacKenna...shut your spiggot. You might be considered family to the few of us that still run this place. Girl's got spunk and the will to commit. I sure don't see you pledging your loyalty, either." Price was much like the Flints in his straight forward conversations. He was probably the closest thing Maya's father had to a brother or friend.

    MacKenna bickered while Maya stood, until Gregory intervened. "Okay, all opposed remain seated. All for, please stand." Only MacKenna remained seated, but had always held a grudge against his only superior's daughter. Maya believed he was insecure of losing out to her if anything ever happened to the General, though he liked to focus on her "inexperience." The thought was not the task at hand however, so she escorted the men out of their cabin and prepared for the strangest briefing of her life.

    Science, Actually​
    After hearing that this possible vampire was wanted for biological research efforts, an intense conversation of the morals of experimentation was the last thing the father and daughter came to. A bewildered expression wrinkled Maya's inhebriated face all the same. She didn't drink often, let alone with or in front of her own father and boss. It was just one of those moments where facing a lot of unknowns and an inevitable goodbye weighs on a person, and spirits certainly raised one another. They cooked and ate dinner together before Maya gathered the meager leftovers and slipped to where Max lived. No longer next door, the walk was a bit longer and brought her past the tent she knew the coffin resided in. A full minute was spent staring in its direction in which she wondered to unmask its contents, but she made her way to her destination. They spent the night playing games and making the evening seem like one of many, without the foreboding anticipation.
    #4 Fiaryn, May 9, 2013
    Last edited by a moderator: May 9, 2013
  5. “Keiko… Keiko… Keiko!” The human girl sighed, opening her eyes just enough to prove that she was awake, and rolled over. She pulled the blankets more closely around her and settled in to go back to sleep.

    “Keiko, wake up!” At the firm command, she sat up and rubbed her eyes.

    “Hm? I thought you told me to go to sleep,” she said around a yawn.

    “I know, my love, I know,” Caius said, rubbing Keiko’s cheek affectionately. “Plans have changed now. I’m afraid it’s not safe for us here any longer. We have to leave.”

    “But what about the rent?” Keiko mumbled, not quite awake enough to hear the urgency in the vampire’s tone.

    “The rent doesn’t matter,” Caius said. “Elsie’s gone and done something completely stupid and it’s implicated us. We have to leave here now.”

    “And go where?”

    “Far away. As far as we can go without leaving the neutral zone. I was thinking Moscow, since it’s near the eastern border of vampire territory. I may have been…marked a traitor in the vampire government for my loyalty to Alexander but I still have friends over there who can help us if we need.”

    Keiko had gone pale. The thought of going as far away as Moscow frightened her badly. Travel was difficult with a war going on for anyone without military credentials, and even then it was said to be a hassle. Personally, Keiko had never been more than a day’s car ride from where she’d been born and she would have been glad to keep it that way.

    “Moscow?” she whispered.

    “Yes, so you’d best get packing. Leave your kimono. Western dress will be more practical where we’re going. If you ever set up shop again and need kimono, I’ll buy you more.”

    Keiko stumbled up off the bed and went to the messy dresser from behind which she picked up a large duffle bag. She began stuffing clothes in it and was about halfway done when she remembered that she still needed to get dressed. She grabbed the first things that came to her hand and began pulling them on in a gangly, rushed way. Her clothes were all in muted greys, blacks, and greens…so matching wasn’t an issue.

    “What about your things?” Keiko asked, turning toward Caius once her clothes were all in the bag.

    “I have what I need,” Caius said. He patted a military style backpack that was slung over his shoulder. “You’ll need something to defend yourself with, in case we run into trouble.” His eyes were fixed on a floorboard that wasn’t quite even with the rest. “But be sure not to take more than you can carry. We need to travel light right now. We can replace anything we need once we’re settled again.”

    Keiko pulled up the floor board and extracted half a dozen contraband weapons. She unpacked and repacked her bag three times until she was certain she had everything that she could not bear to part with. She eyed the vampire with suspicion as he did not appear to be having the same difficulties she was.

    “How are you ready so quickly?” she asked at last, shutting her bag for the final time.

    “I was always ready to leave,” Caius answered. “It’s an old habit. Before the war, our kind had to always be hiding, secret. We had to be ready to go if we even dreamt that our secret was compromised. I suppose I just haven’t gotten used to being out in the open. I was hiding for a very long time, after all.” He smiled wanly and motioned for Keiko to come with him.

    To the girl’s horror, Elisabeta was waiting for them by the door with a handsome, young, human man. He looked at Keiko from under his long fringe of dark curls and smile shyly. Their bags were also packed.

    “Wh-what is she doing here?” Keiko asked, turning to Caius in panic. The human girl didn’t like Elisabeta any more than Elisabeta appeared to like Keiko. Keiko called Elisabeta “Iyana Josei”, which was “Unpleasant Woman” in Japanese. Caius probably wouldn’t have tolerated Keiko calling Elisabeta that but Elisabeta called Keiko “Curvă Japonez” which meant “Japanese Whore” in Romanian so he supposed it was fair.

    “We’re travelling with you,” Elisabeta said, “at least as far as Moscow. Hopefully, we can go further together but that really all depends on Caius. This is Mikhail, by the way. He’s my boy. I don’t actually know his real name or where he’s from but he speaks Russian so I call him Mikhail.”

    “O, da?” Keiko asked, turning towards the young man in hopes of gaining a conversation partner for when Caius’ attention was being stolen by Elisabeta.

    “Da, da,” the young man answered with a more confident smile and began speaking rapidly in Russian. Keiko kept up and answered him happily.

    “The thing speaks Russian?” Elisabeta asked, eyeing Keiko critically.

    “She does. She speaks many languages well.”

    “And she can protect herself?”

    “Most definitely. She’s well versed in several forms of martial arts and can figure out almost any weapon.”

    “A useful thing, is she?”


    “So I’m to understand you bought her as more than a bed warmer?”

    “I freed her but, yes, that’s exactly what you are to understand. We should leave now, before the thugs start closing in on us.”
  6. Waking Up Drunk​
    Awaking was sluggish for the Captain. Max had given her a blanket, though she hadn't intended to pass out on his floor. Once she made it back to her own room, she snatched the only trinket she allowed herself - the dog tags of each brother - and put on her uniform. After hugging her father they made their way to the heavily guarded tent for preparation and salutes.

    Maya had been granted a truck for the journey, with two others as drivers, that would take her through just one neutral zone and straight to the heart of military observation. All they knew of the mission was behind the wheel. Maya's job was to oversee the safe and timely delivery, keeping personal watch over the casket in the locked trailer. If anyone besides the other two soldiers opened the doors, they would be shot. If the vampire awakened and proved hostile, it would be shot (or else Maya would likely be drained). Having the fastest trigger finger often landed her in high pressure situations, and flipping on the lantern did little to ease her distaste of small dark spaces or things with fangs.

    Hopelessly Hungover​
    It had never been a habit of hers to get smashed before a mission, in fact had been a point of protocol to avoid it, as such she felt absolutely terrible. The trailer had a few holes in it that allowed for airflow and prevented escape. Having left during the night would allow them to reach the neutral zone by daylight, hopefully avoiding any mishaps if the mission were compromised.

    But it won't be... thinking to herself was all she would have for a couple days, and she did her best to breathe through her anxieties. Pushing away the more disasterous mental images, she took a bottle from the supply crate.

    Finishing off her first bottle of water and tossing it aside, Maya rubbed at her temples. A glance at her watch told her a bathroom break was awhile off, so she pulled out a deck of cards, setting her weapon across her lap. Bathroom break referring to the periodic stop at the side of the road that might allow the small group to relieve themselves, and in Maya's case that meant the large jugs on the opposite side of the encasement. She sat at the back of the trailer, behind the coffin so it would be between her and the door should anything happen. Need be, she could shoot the jugs of excrement and ruin somebody's day.

    Gross... she shook her head at the unsanitary and childish thought, glancing at the coffin in between laying down cards. It made her wonder at the probabilities of her own funeral. Humans couldn't afford elaborate burials these days, and their bodies lay in simple wooden boxes, if they were laid in anything besides the grave itself. Still more hardly made it into the ground at all, lost on forsaken and desecrated battlefields, or turned altogether.

    Someone must have loved you... the longer time dragged on, the more Maya found herself thinking at the coffin and its vampire. That much had been established before her leave, but this was the first time the military had obtained an uncompromised sample subject of the enemy, and as far as anyone else was concerned the contents were unknown. Vampire prisoners were unheard of and eyewitness accounts bordered on heresy or legend. Maya was unsure of how they planned to detain such a creature in captivity, let alone keep it alive without incident. But that wasn't her objective, as concerned as she was about it. They needed to know more as a species, she needed to know more as a person. For now, she had her alotted break and snagged the evening's rations. By morning she might be clear-headed enough to string some logic together.
  7. Alexander’s first sensation on waking was the thirst. It burned through him like a thousand desert suns. He’d never felt thirst like this before. Ever muscle in his body quivered under the torment. He could smell the blood of humans. It was near. He could reach out and take it. Take it and end the agony. Unconsciously, he reached out.

    When Alexander’s fingers grazed the cool stone above him, he felt his second sensation: claustrophobic panic. His body seized up and he became aware that he was breathing because he had trouble doing so. He felt sure that he would suffocate, that he would never escape this prison he found himself in. His thirst was made worse by the knowledge that it would never be quenched.

    There was only one way to find relief from the thirst and the panic: sleep. Alexander forced himself back into unconsciousness. The tactic only lasted a little while though and soon (or, at least, it felt soon—too soon) he was awake again and the things that tortured him returned in full force. The agony was such that it caused tears to run down his face against his bidding. He tried to scream, just to express what he was feeling, but no sound came out.

    After a while, what seemed like eons to the unfortunate vampire prince, he began to adapt to the thirst and his panic subsided. Slowly, his mind cleared and he could think for the first time since he’d woken.

    I am Alexander Aldea, he told himself. I am the prince of the vampires. I am here because I am waiting out the turmoil in the government. I was going to sleep for a thousand years. Has it been a thousand years? Why are their humans so near my casket? Something is wrong.

    Alexander didn’t dwell on considering all the things that could have gone wrong because he didn’t want to incite that paralysing panic again. Instead, he focused on recovering all two thousand years of his memories which were muddled by sleep. He sorted them out and examined them closely. He was glad to find that he hadn’t lost any during his sleep.

    Suddenly a new memory rose unbidden to his mind like a dream.

    Alabaster halls were lit by yellow flame. Incense clogged the room until it was almost suffocating. There was the smell of dirt and human sweat beneath the incense. Music drifted mutely through the walls, like it was being played in another room. He was sitting on a throne and before him kneelt a young woman, naked but for heavy golden jewellery and a black wig.

    “Take me, O Great One,” she said. “It is an honour to serve you.” Her words were not in any language Alexander had heard before but he understood them clearly. He rose from his throne and went to her. He took her hands and bid her rise, leading her behind a gauzy curtain to a more personal room.

    It was an old memory, Alexander could tell. It resembled closely enough what archaeologists had discovered about the ancient civilization of Egypt that Alexander had no trouble believing that the memory came from that time period. The importance of the memory left him giddy and he found himself grinning like a fool. I can speak Ancient Egyptian!

    Abruptly, whatever had been carrying Alexander’s coffin stopped. He suddenly realised that he’d been moving and that whatever was wrong was far too serious for him to have dismissed it the way he did. He bit himself and drew some blood. The act weakened him greatly but it slackened the thirst enough for him to escape and find a healthier source of blood.

    With great difficulty, he removed the lid to his coffin and rose up out of it. He found himself in a military truck. He nearly fainted between the exertion of getting out of the coffin and the wretched circumstance he found himself in. He’d have to play at being human because they wouldn’t just let him leave and he couldn’t risk being injured—it would take him far too long to heal. But how would he play it? His own weakness gave him an idea.

    The truck was empty, or at least the back of it was, so he called out, “Hello?” in a weak and cracked voice. “Hello? Is anybody there? Somebody? Somebody? Help!” He’d reached the back of the truck by the time he said the last word. His voice failed him then and he couldn’t make another sound before he passed out, falling into the dust behind the truck.

    He regained consciousness almost the moment he hit the ground but he was stunned and unable to do anything but wait for the humans in charge of the truck to react.
  8. As she was about to open her meal, the lid of the casket before her rattled and began to slide open. The sight of a panicked vampire shouting for help sent her into a brief shock. They were supposed to be monsters. Monsters didn't run around freaking out, and certainly weren't afraid of humans. Once she regained her composure, she tumbled out of the truck after the pale figure.

    Pointing her gun's barrel in the neck of the vampire, Maya motioned for him to be quiet with a single finger at her mouth. The last thing she needed was for those stupid drivers to panic and shoot, or ask too many questions. Luckily their bathroom break was in progress.

    "Everything okay back there?" One of them yelled from the front.

    "Yeah, just...fell." Looking back to the vampire, she wondered what actions were appropriate in this situation. The hand that had insisted his quieting was extended to help him off the ground, gun in a pointed gesture toward the truck. Maya intentionally looked slightly above the creature's eyes, somewhere near his brow.

    I can help, she mouthed wordlessly. With any luck, and a little trust, maybe she could learn something that science geeks couldn't.
  9. Alexander took the hand offered to him cautiously and stood on wobbly legs. The entire time, he watched the gun with a profound distaste. He shook his head when the female soldier mouthed that she could help.

    “Gee,” he said softly, mindful of the other humans. “I’d love to believe you but I…can’t. It’s just…” he pointed to the gun with a wave of the fingers on his left hand, “that. I don’t like guns. I really don’t like guns. Do you know how many people are killed by guns every year? Too many, that’s how many. I really don’t like guns.”

    Alexander’s lucidity surprised even himself. It was like the fall from the truck had knocked all of the sense back into him. He was thinking very clearly despite the gnawing thirst that buzzed incessantly in the back of his mind.

    “I’d walk away right now but I know you’d just shoot me if I did. Have I mentioned how much I don’t like guns? Anyway, dying isn’t on my list of things to do right now so I’ll get back in that nice truck of yours. You don’t happen to have any food, do you? I’m really craving some veal right now but a hunk of mouldy bread will do, too. Prisoner’s last meal and all…because I’ve got this haunting feeling that, wherever you’re taking me, they’re just going to kill me anyways.”

    Carefully, Alexander climbed back into the truck. He paused for a moment to replace the lid of the coffin before taking a seat. He stared at the stone object in silent contemplation for a long while before turning to the female soldier and asking, “Do you know how long I was in there? I don’t. Everything is so hazy. I don’t remember much from before they put me in there. I know it can’t have been long or I would have died and yet that stone looks so old.

    “I’ve been hoping to find out something from the carvings but it’s useless. It’s just my name, a George Eliot poem, and some nonsense words that might be a spell of some sort. I’m beginning to wonder if the poem wasn’t some sort of joke. Do you know anything and do you have any food?”
  10. The woman lowered her weapon to her side and followed him into the truck, closing the doors behind her and relying on the lantern upon the floor. She'd relied on guns, become comfortable with them, trusted them to save her. But she knew the desire to be rid of them, to crave a life that didn't require them. Her foot flicked and sent the gun sliding away from them, and the truck started up once more.

    "Those crates hold food and water, help yourself. My name is Maya, and I am a military Captain. What I know is the year, 2112. Quite frankly, I wasn't expecting this." She sized up the figure, wondering if this hospitality would mean her end. Hopeful though, that it might provide some insight.

    "I can't really tell you much more than that. My squad came across a sort of temple or mausoleum, but...it was just you. No treasures or decoration, skeletons or other coffins. Just you. But it was surprisingly clean, if dark. The craftsmanship seems like someone took great care of your..." remains seemed to be an alarming word for the moment, so she ended with, "...well, of you. Does that help at all? Did you...dream?"

    Maya's pulse quickened slightly, unsure of where this could possibly end or what might be offensive. Realizing she had one more thing to address, she continued.

    "I don't think they'd kill you, at first. I certainly won't. It's against my orders."
  11. “Oh, thank you,” Alexander said. He went to the crates and examined their contents. He shovelled a handful of food into his mouth so that his hands would be free to hold even more food. “Mm.” He closed his eyes and leaned his head back as he ate, as if the pleasure of eating was pure ecstasy. “This,” he said when his mouth was clear enough to talk, “has to be the best food I’ve ever tasted.”

    He ate for a while in silence, going back for more food several times. After he’d slowed eating, Alexander began to turn what Maya had said over in his mind.

    “2112,” he said. “The number means nothing to me.” So, I’ve been asleep for a hundred years. I must have woken as self-defense when they moved me. “But I can’t even remember my birthdate. I’m not even sure if I’d remember my name if it weren’t printed on that coffin.” He pointed to the inscription on the lid. “Alexander Aldea. I don’t even know where I’m from.

    “Care isn’t exactly the word I’d use. I can’t remember anything clearly but I get the impressions of betrayal and suffering. Also, the situation you describe is interesting because most cultures would leave gifts in the tomb of a person who was important or cared about, yet you describe a tomb bare of anything but this sarcophagus.

    “As for this,” Alexander lightly kicked the coffin, “this is not the casket of anyone with any significance. The presence of my name is as self-explanatory as a headstone marking a grave. The spell serves some sort of ritual or mystical purpose which can only be revealed by someone who was present at my entombment and can remember. The poem is…a farce. You can see that it is hastily carved and the content is, considering the circumstances, sarcastic at best.”

    Alexander fell silent after his observations. “I do not know how I knew that,” he said after the long pause, “but I did.” He closed his eyes and appeared to meditate on the unexpected knowledge.

    “I don’t quite believe your assurances of my safety but I might be more inclined to do so if you would agree to do something for me. It may sound strange but I would like you to give me an overview of the past hundred years. If I could remember something, anything, it would be a vast comfort to me. I don’t know how long I was in that coffin and I can’t be sure if that spell didn’t allow me to survive in there longer than what I would have otherwise been able to. I’m asking for the past hundred years just to be safe because I’m wondering if I don’t believe in magic, after all.”
  12. Watching him devour rations as if they were sweet cakes or savory roast was nearly comical to the woman. Many survived on little more than what they were given or what they could grow, but nobody overly enjoyed the prepackaged stuff. She could remember chewing past a moldy lump of bread of fruit in her own lifetime. Allowing herself a chuckle, she took a few bites of her own rations; breaking bread with the enemy. While it was something she had never imagined doing, she wanted to know why he wasn't the animal she'd seen in every other vampiric creature.

    His question about the last hundred years made her swallow a bit harder, considering the length of a vampire's catnap, or exponential strength and age. The beginnings of shock trickled over Maya, and at first she couldn't pin-point the words to describe this century. So much had happened, and so little of it in her lifetime.

    "Well...humans have been at war, the entire time. So really, they're lucky to have a coffin at all, if there are any bodies after the blood-suckers are done with them. I'm guessing back then people chose a path that would find them losing many traditions. And people, obviously." Chewing around her thoughts for a moment, she considered how else to continue.

    "As for magic...I've been wondering myself. Wondering really, how one survives a nap in that thing." She gestured to the coffin as she swallowed. "D'you remember vampires? Strange, violent creatures. Aim for the throat, suck the soul? Ring any bells?" The end of her sentence grew somewhat hollow, exposing that she realized what he was and didn't particularly appreciate the knowledge or attempted deception.
    #12 Fiaryn, May 18, 2013
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 2, 2013
  13. Alexander choked on the food he’d been inhaling. He coughed until he could breathe again but he was still wheezing when, looking at the morsels still in his hand with suspicion, he set them down.

    “I would be careful what you say and who you accuse of what, Captain,” he said when he’d regained his composure. “Admittedly, there is not much danger which could come from me. There is a stigma which comes with the term monster, however, which makes it a word which should only be used with careful consideration. A man may be termed good or bad but the title isn’t like that of monster. A good man may tarnish his reputation and become a bad man while a bad man may likewise redeem himself and become a good man. Not so a monster. A monster is worse than bad and will never be redeemed no matter what good they do. In fact, a monster will be a monster even if they’ve never done wrong.

    “Take tonight, for example. What have I done which is monstrous? I woke up, called for help, fainted, asked for food, and ate. I did not hurt anyone; I did not even demand the food. I asked for it, politely, or as politely as you can expect from a man who is half-starved and disoriented. What have I done that is vampire-like? All I can think of to prove my guilt is that I survived under circumstances that would have killed most humans. Yet, you accuse me without any knowledge of the truth. You may not have said so in that many words but do not think I am ignorant of tone. I cannot even deny being a vampire because you would never believe me, after all what vampire would admit to being a vampire?

    “Part of me wants to forgive you because you are young and cannot know any better. The rest of me asks what kind of world does not teach you better and gives you a gun, and ranks you a captain and sends you out to play at being a soldier. But I know none of the others are better and I am so very sorry that this is the world you’ve been given. I don’t know if these vampires you speak of are real or not but they are real to you and I’m sure they are real to the people at the end of our journey. If they believe, as you do, that I am a vampire, then my fate is sealed because it has been a reality since the dawn of time that humans only have one use for monsters, vampire or not, and that is to kill them.

    “I am strangely at peace with that knowledge. Perhaps it is because this isn’t the sort of world that I would want to live in. But it’s strange because the last thing I remember, I had my whole life ahead of me and I had a younger brother and a little sister who needed me. They’re probably long dead now, killed in this war of yours but, to me, I just saw them yesterday. I haven’t even had time to miss them yet but they’ve probably been gone a very long time and I never said a proper goodbye to them and…” Alexander reached up to touch his cheek where a tear had escaped and run down his face. It was a real tear because everything he’d said since Maya had accused him was true and, even though he’d not really been thinking about what he was saying; realisation after realisation was rolling over him, culminating in the horror of what he’d allowed to happen to the world in his absence. He wept for his vampires, who had ruined themselves. He wept for the humans, who were innocent children in his eyes. He wept for his brother and sister, whom he’d actually loved and who were, in all likelihood, dead.

    “Good God,” he said, wiping the tear away and forcing a melancholy laugh, “I’m crying, how embarrassing.”
  14. Maya slowed her chewing, and stopped eating after she swallowed. She wanted to shoot him at first, but the tears caught her off guard. Listening to the whole thing she wondered if her ancestors had been fools to turn vampires down.

    "Look...wow...I had no idea your kind could cry. I've lost most my family, and this title is as hollow as you imagine. But people die, and we've barely enough to fill the ranks anymore. Like you think, this is all I've known. My ancestors couldn't imagine living alongside vampires. Maybe they couldn't imagine myths being real, couldn't stand reality being mingled with dreams and nightmares alike. That wasn't my choice to make, but that's what started this mess..." She took a drink to wash down the dry ration and sudden creeping guilt.

    "I didn't mean to call you a monster, vampire or no, but what I've seen of them hasn't proven otherwise. When you called for help...I can tell you're different. I just don't understand how. As much as I'd like to ease your worry of being killed, I cannot reveal anymore of this mission. Just know their intentions don't lie in execution." She felt somewhat dishonest, but her natural guard had crept back in. As curious as she was, she couldn't risk sabotaging her own tasks now, could she?
  15. Alexander touched the wet track that ran down his cheek. “What do you mean? Of course I can cry. That is what I do not understand. So many people are so eager to forget that vampires were originally humans, even in literature, which is why I stopped reading vampire fiction.

    “Before the war, I was not different. Vampires weren’t beasts. They were indistinguishable from the humans. They lived quiet lives and took blood in the least invasive ways possible. There was no ill will towards humans, except in radical groups that believed we should be the masters of the planet and farm humans like the humans farmed cattle, but those groups were largely ignored. We did our best to stay out of sight. We even had a shadow government to keep us in line. I wonder what has happened to the High Council. I wonder who the Vampire Prince is, if there is still a Prince.

    “As the twenty-first century dawned there was a panic. Just like the humans, some vampires believed the world would end in 2012. Others believed that the humans would discover us and purge us like they’d tried to in centuries past. There were vampires who preached about the end of days, vampires who searched desperately for a cure, and vampires who killed themselves rather than face the horrors of the coming days. The High Council was accused of mass corruption and the Vampire Prince was denounced as a liar. In the midst of this chaos was a group of radical vampires who called themselves the ‘Book Openers’.

    “The Book Openers advocated for revealing ourselves to the humans. They said it was the only way to bring peace and prosperity to both of our races. The humans would gain from us our experience and strength and, in turn, we would never have to hide again. Many vampires were drawn to this idea of a perfect future and the Book Openers gained a large following very quickly.

    “The Vampire Prince and a small number of vampires close to him opposed this idea. They said the humans weren’t ready, that they would never accept real vampires. That group was so small that they were easily defeated by the Book Openers, even though the leader of the opposition was the Vampire Prince himself. That small group made the mistake of retreating when they should have fought to the death. They are likely all dead now anyway, assassinated or ordinary casualties of war.

    “What has happened to vampirekind since then, I can only guess. I assume that many were turned in the first years of the war to raise an army. Those vampires, born in war, have likely been so tormented and twisted that they are, in reality, little more than monsters. Those would be the vampire soldiers that you probably met. They are, if I am correct, in agonies you and I will never understand and they kill because they quite literally know nothing else. I know this because I once commanded the finest vampire army the world has ever known and when I was through with them I had to put them down because it was the only mercy I could do for them.”

    Alexander rubbed his face. The tears had long since stopped but the craving for blood was returning and he was doing all he could to distract himself. The last thing he needed was to lose control of his thirst.

    “I’m sorry. That was probably more than you would ever want to know about vampires. After all, the only thing you probably want to know about us is the best way to kill us. Am I right?”
  16. A whole history had existed, right alongside the one she had been taught and thus knew. Setting shock aside in favor of curiosity, she found herself looking at a much larger picture of the world as she knew it. Politics hadn't really been all that integral in her lifetime, with the President being more of a distant thought or idea than Commander in Chief. Still, she knew what happened when unrest gathered its forces, and people rebelled. Sometimes it was revolutionary, but often it was disasterous. Well it used to be. Then again, she had managed to be reckless to her benefit.

    "Used to be human would be the phrase I guess...when it comes to why still-humans don't feel...safe? I dunno. But thank you, actually. I found it interesting. And I think that's part of what our scientists would have wanted to know. You're probably right though, they might have wanted to kill you after questioning anyway. What happened to the prince?" Maya found herself giving some information the more he talked, eager to hear what she didn't know. And dangling was the possibility to learn more, to gather some tidbits that might help...someone. At the very least she found herself entertained for the ride.
  17. “Don’t be stupid. Scientists wouldn’t care one wit about vampire culture or history. If they’re looking for anything from me, it would be vampire military tactics, and when they find me useless for having been in the ground a hundred years, they will use me as a test subject for finding vampire weaknesses until I am dead. Do you think I am naïve that I would believe that military scientists would be satisfied by hearing a history lesson? As for the prince…

    “The prince…” Alexander said thoughtfully. “What happened to the prince? I’ve been wondering that myself. He ruled our—my kind for two thousand years. He was widely regarded as a good and wise prince. He was…well loved. Still, on the eve of battle, when his High Council had turned against him, when we knew it was either wage a civil war with the Book Openers or give in to their demands, he vanished. No one knew where he went or why. He left a weak little worm to guard his throne. Of course the poor bastard gave in right away, it was that or die. He didn’t trust, couldn’t trust the prince’s brother to protect him. Why should he? The prince vanished, what was there to say that his brother wouldn’t do the same. So he gave in and war came. Maybe that was what the Book Openers wanted from the beginning. The…regent probably died right away, he wasn’t use to them anymore. I don’t know for certain, I didn’t stick around to watch. And the prince, that son of a bitch, he abandoned his people and he’d probably sitting pretty on a pile of gold in South America, waiting for the war to end so he can come out and play saviour to us all. So, what happened to the prince? I don’t know but I do know that if I ever find him, I’ll kill him. Just a little payment for all of the death he allowed.”

    Alexander was silent for a long moment. He ran his fingers through his hair then folded his hands and unfolded them. He rubbed his hands on his pants and the old fabric tore. He folded his hands again.

    “It’s just a speculation, but I’d bet that’s how it went down and that’s probably what most of the vampires who fought beside me, if they are still alive, would think. I can’t blame them for feeling betrayed. I am…one of the prince’s younger brothers. I wasn’t lying about my younger siblings. I do have a younger brother and sister, or did, Vladimir and Elisabeta. They were my biological, that is, human siblings. We were all turned at the same time and were adopted by the prince. He was unable to remember his life as a human and thus had no recollection of his family, so when he met young vampires who were abused or abandoned, we were abandoned, by their sires, he would take them in and, if he got along with them, adopt them as his siblings. He had one other brother, Caius, who was the one I mentioned before. I was in charge of finding the prince a hiding place when it became apparent that he would be killed if he did not flee. He believed that he was agitating the situation and in his absence things would calm down, so he intended to return in a thousand years. They could not risk my being captured and revealing his hiding place under torture, so they locked me in that tomb when it was time for the prince to flee. I was set to wake in a thousand years to join my siblings and bring a new age of peace to the vampires as part of the esteemed royal family. Your people disturbing that tomb woke me early and also locked my memories of certain information. I literally cannot remember what happened to my brother because of the alarm that the spell set off when you disturbed me early.”

    Alexander had been thinking about telling her the truth but he was afraid that the captain might buy into the nonsense that killing the sire would kill the children and that the vampire prince was the ultimate sire. Therefore, he worked with a half-truth about his family and made himself all but useless to her. She would have no reason to kill him on the spot now.

    “Is there anything else you would like to know, Captain?”
  18. Other than the supposed existance of magic, Maya couldn't know he was lying, but she found herself doubting the value of truth if he would be killed anyway. After a moment of thought she asked, "what now?" Nobody would believe his story on the next base, and after all their conversation the next break was soon to come. "What would you do if you were free? And how much does eating food really stunt your need for blood?" She worried about being stuck in there with a hungry vampire, if she would be killed or turned or if he had any choice in such a matter. There were thoughts forming in her mind of strange vampire secrets and betrayal, none of it making any actual sense. She'd have to find the vampire prince, one way or another. Until then, she'd be stuck in this truck and on this mission with this one.

    She was questioning herself on having not killed him on the spot, but knew delivering a dead vampire wouldn't leave them anything to learn. They needed a relatively live specemin, and nothing less would suffice. But every moment that passed reminded Maya of his fresh awakening, and her concern for his thirst made her skin crawl.
  19. “Are you frightened?” Alexander asked with a slightly sarcastic smile. “Of course you are. You’re afraid I’m going to suck all of your blood out and leave your dried out corpse for your buddies up front to find later. I would like to lay your fears to rest but first I must say some things that might frighten you more. All I ask is that you don’t shoot me until I’m done talking.

    “This food,” he looked at the morsels he’d set down and shrugged, “does absolutely nothing for me. If I’m being completely honest, and I don’t see why I shouldn’t be, it doesn’t even taste like anything to me. It’s just a habit I’ve created to look more human.

    “I am, in fact, quite ravenous. It is all but driving me mad. The positive side to this for you is that I am also very weak, bordering on delirious. I wasn’t faking when I fainted earlier. Imagine being starved to the brink of death and surviving by eating the meat off of your own arm and you might somewhat grasp the state I am currently in: All but harmless to you.”

    Alexander had all but forgotten about biting his wrist until his sensitive ears heard the faint drip of a liquid hitting the floor. He turned over his hand to reveal the black-red blood welling up from twin puncture marks on his wrist. The blood ran down his arm and dripped onto the floor. Alexander’s own blood wasn’t really attractive as a food source for him so he watched apathetically as the precious substance drained from his body.

    “I had to drink my own blood to leave that coffin; pathetic. I might add that I will never stop bleeding at this rate. Vampires have the amazing ability to heal all but instantly, however we must will ourselves to heal. If we do not, or cannot, we will never heal at all. I haven’t the strength to heal myself now and my self-inflicted injury here is only making it worse; it’s a vicious cycle.

    “I have a few options, or rather you do as I lack the strength to do anything. Either you could let me out of the truck and I could feed on the local animals (neither delicious nor nutritious but it should do enough for me to heal) or you could let me take some of your blood (but you would have to stop me before I kill you). I should tell you that if you refuse me both options and I bleed out, I won’t die but I might as well be dead for all the use I’ll be to your superiors.”
  20. She tried to stifle the pounding of her heart but there was little to be done for that. Her mind did pinpoint the place of her gun, but she didn't reach for it.

    "What's to stop you from killing us anyway, once you're stronger? Anyway, we'll be stopping soon. I can distract them, you can bolt." The longer this went on the more she wanted to be done with it. While her loyalties lay with her family, species, and service (to completing this delivery with no mishaps); her patience was ever shortened by the biting anxiety at how to handle this. If he ran off or attacked, she'd have to shoot and either kill him or attract attention. Really no way of looking at this would end without a lengthy and awkward explanation on her part, and the inevitable destruction of the creature she just met. Though from everything she'd known, she shouldn't have felt as if this was at all tragic. Yet she found herself feeling sympathy, for a vampire of all things. Today couldn't get any more confusing or convoluted.

    The truck began to slow and eventually pull over, slightly rocking as it stopped. Maya wondered whether he might hide or just jump her teammates, and once more had to breathe through nerves. She grabbed her gun and water, standing at the ready as the doors opened.
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