Authors: Robert S. Wilson
"There are some things we need to know if we're going to keep things sane around here.
still a lot of our people calling for war and I can only hold them at bay for so long. Eventually, we'll have to make a decision."
Hank's throat was suddenly incredibly dry. The Emperor's voice came as expected. "Tell them yes and listen very carefully to what I tell you before you answer any questions."
"Yes. I'll answer any questions I can."
said, a sense of tension Hank hadn't before noticed seeming to dissipate from the vampire. "The smell of the ancestor's blood is heavy on your breath. I have to ask... how is this
The Emperor's reply came with an immediacy Hank hadn't expected.
"The Emperor is supplying it to me," Hank said.
A tense silence engulfed the air. A fire seemed to burn in
eyes. "We've known for some time there were others out there somewhere, a separate line, but we never dreamed the Emperor had access to them. This is disturbing news indeed."
face showed a spark of panic then. "What does he know of the blood?"
Again the Emperor seemed to have the answer ready almost before
even finished his question.
"He only knows of my addiction to it. He doesn't realize the power it—" before he could finish his sentence,
reached forward like lightning and gripped hold of Hank's throat. In a flash Hank could not make out,
grip loosened and fell flat on the table,
thin soft hand clamped on his wrist.
"He's lying. I know you heard his heart rate spike too. He dares feed us false information!"
jaw quivered with fury as his eyes burned into Hank's.
The Emperor spoke then for the last time. "You have failed, Mr. Evans. Unlike
, Mr. Draper will be quite pleased with this turn of events. Anyway, don't worry yourself too much about it. I have other arrangements in place to take up where you left off. And you're quite well taken care of. I'll be hitting the kill switch now. Goodbye, Mr. Evans. It was a pleasure."
"So, you experienced two thousand years of
life, and now you two are, like, psychically linked or some shit?" Jackie laughed. "I thought my story was fucked up."
Simon smiled. "Yeah, well...on one hand I'm glad it happened. It opened my eyes to a
of things, but at the same time. I'm not so glad. There's a part of me that wishes I had never woken up."
There was a tense silence between them as they sat there on the ledge of an old warehouse, their legs dangling over the edge.
"Anyway, the drop off will be here soon. I'm not sure I'm really supposed to be doing this, but if you want some... moral support, I'll be right here. It's not an easy thing to experience. There was a time when taking a man's life didn't mean
' to me. And now that I'm this
I suddenly feel so goddamn remorseful for human life."
Jackie nodded. The distant sound of an engine and tires treading on pavement crept up from the outskirts of the city. Jackie swallowed, unable to deny the conflicting emotions of fear and desire for the blood within her. A small dot appeared on the horizon coming up the far away street that from this distance looked like a street in a model town. When the truck was about a mile away it screeched to a stop and the sound of gas expelling morphed into a dozen coughing men. An instant later the truck was speeding off squealing tires as it went.
The two of them stood up and took each other's hand. Jackie closed her eyes and they both stepped off of the building, falling forward toward the parking lot below as graceful as two floating feathers.
* * *
At the rest stop, Jack was draining the last pint or so of blood from Donnie Winchester's throat when the sound of mariachi music piped up from the cell phone in his pocket. He gripped tightly onto the back of the boy's neck, running his fingers through his soft copper hair. Jack wasn't giving up this moment for anything.
The soft smell of him, the feel of his warmth giving way to cold darkness, the pressure of his own erection pushing against Donnie's little feet.
When the child was drained, Jack sat him up proper in the back seat of the car next to his now stiffening brother Jasper. He took a long look in Donnie's now eternally still emerald eyes and then kissed him gently on the forehead. The sounds of mariachi exploded from Jack's pocket again. He pulled the phone out and hit the green button. "
" his voice echoed across the open parking lot.
"It's your lucky day, Mr. Draper. The mediator's child is yours. Make sure it's clean and untraceable and there are to be
"It'd be my pleasure, sir." A dark grin stretched across Jack's blood-smeared lips as he put the phone away. Within a fraction of a second, he was in his car, starting the engine and driving away. The Winchesters' sedan shrinking behind him in the rearview mirror, a single blue dot swallowed in the midst of a dark void.
* * *
Jackie had proven to be a much more efficient and emotionally prepared killer than Simon had his first—and so far only—time feeding. He had explained to her that he would not need to drink the blood himself and would prefer to wait until the need truly arose before going through the experience again. Jackie had drained not one, but two men. She had been visibly thrilled and enraptured by the hunt.
Simon had never once in his human life considered the thought of having children, but several moments when Jackie seemed to almost lose control of the situation, a sort of paternal instinct seemed to set in Simon and he nearly interrupted Jackie's taking of one of the men. But Jackie just as quickly regained control and fed completely on her own with no help from him. He couldn't help but feel useless as he stood there watching.
But he'd decided one thing right then. He would watch over Jackie whatever it took. He knew pressures were rising between the vampires and the Empire. Even then as Hank Evans sat down to meet with the vampire council, Simon could feel the tensions increasing at that table through his link with
. He paid careful attention to allow
to slip into
mind from time to time to keep up on the direction of the meeting.
Simon and Jackie had made it almost to the Nest before either of them spoke.
"Almost to the end of the line.
I've got a meeting to catch, but listen...we should do this again some time."
Smiling, Jackie nodded. "I'd like that. Thanks for being there with me."
"Oh, it's not like I added much to the equation. You did marvelously on your own."
Jackie's pale skin blushed. "Either way,
I'll see you some other time, then."
"Take care," Simon said. Jackie entered the tunnel, disappearing into the dark corridor. Simon sighed as he began the long walk back to the tower.
* * *
The house had been easy enough to track down thanks to the device he'd slipped into Toby's backpack over a week ago while he was sleeping. Jack had rather enjoyed standing over Hank Evans's body as he slept. The power of that moment was one of the many thrills that Jack loved about life. He was really beginning to take to this deal he had going with the Emperor quite nicely.
He slid around the side of the house in the narrow gap between it and its neighbor. The only light still on in the house was a stove light in the kitchen. He grabbed hold of the cracks between the tan bricks of the structure and started to climb.
* * *
The time to act had finally come around to haunt Joseph. He had long ago assigned a tactical group to keep at the ready in case things in Necropolis got out of hand. Their instructions were clear. Move in during the daylight hours and burn everything above and below ground making sure not to leave a single "living" thing behind. But the city of the dead was far too strong of a pillar holding up his control of the people, the entire country.
Joseph paced as he contemplated his next action. If the threat of the place, the legend—the illusion, were to disappear in the course of one day, the risk of an uprising could rear its ugly head at him and then what would he do?
There was his personal crop of vampires, sure. But he'd long ago witnessed what the scope of dissention would be if he were to make a wide scale aggressive move against his own people. He couldn't therefore let loose his army of vampires in the streets of the Empire.
There was only one solution and it was becoming all too clear.
The Emperor made a call from his emergency line. "Make preparations for a flight to the
. I want to be in the air and on my way within the hour, do you understand?" Joseph's voice nearly cracked with rage. He'd put a lot of time and a lot of work into making such a nice place for himself in this new world. He wasn't about to let those filthy, rotten vampires stand in his way now.
* * *
unable to sleep as he stared up at the faintly-lit yellow ceiling. He couldn't help but wonder if they'd made the right decision in coming to this place. The long bony shadows of trees stretched across the ceiling shook back and forth while a wind howled outside as if it were mournful it couldn't manage its way inside. Toby, thankful there was no one else in the room to see his fear, pulled his blanket up to his shoulders. It wouldn't likely save his life if anyone were to attack, but it did add a certain level of security and comfort—even if it was only in his head.
* * *
Everyone at the table went completely silent the moment
hand grabbed hold of
wrist. Hank's face turned a shade of white almost paler than the rest of them.
had known that something was wrong, but he feared he would now find out just what that something was without any time to brace for it. Hank opened his mouth as if to speak, but nothing came out. His body began to convulse, blood spat out from between his lips and splattered
face. The vampire twitched with desire, but
grip tightened and he kept himself still.
Hank's eyes rolled up in the back of his head as his body continued to spasm. The others at the table could only watch as his convulsions increased and then suddenly and completely stopped. His body slumped forward his face slapping against the table. Blood leaked from his nose and mouth, dripping down and eventually forming a small pool of crimson around his head on the table.
* * *
Jack pulled hard on the window, bracing himself against the wall with his other arm. As he pulled, he could see the locks inside turning slightly from the pressure the window was putting on them. Finally they popped forward and released the window to be opened without
much as a squeak. He leaned forward and entered the open window.
A large bed sat against the wall to his right where a young woman lay asleep and snoring loudly. Her dark, short, curly hair framed her red-cheeked face. Whatever she was dreaming must have been pleasant. Jack reached down with stealth, covering her mouth with his hand as he reached for the other pillow. Her eyes were like fearful saucers as he brought the pillow down over her face. Her struggle was long and hard, but she didn't make enough sound to carry beyond the closed door of the room.
When she finally gave up the fight and fell into the darkness, Jack rose and wiped his face.
He reached down and closed her eyelids out of respect. Sneaking over to the door, he opened it gently. The faint sounds of a television crept up from downstairs and across the hall two other doors stood waiting. Jack slipped out into the hallway, his face twitching into a slight grin.
* * *
A muffled shriek tore Toby awake from the sweet vivid dream he was having about Kathy. He lay there frozen in bed, unable to build the courage to so much as pull back the blankets. The wind screeched outside blowing the tree limbs and their shadows across the wall in side to side motions.
It must have just been the wind.
But he wasn't so sure.
He pulled the covers tighter around his neck. More than anything, he wanted to feel safe and get back to sleep. Get back to his lovely dream. He closed his eyes and thought about Kathy's pleasant features and found himself calming some. It probably was just the wind. He began slipping through the darkness, back into the vivid colors and sounds of fantasy. He smiled as he saw her face again.
* * *
The images continued to flood Simon as he ran. He'd been so preoccupied spending time with Jackie that he hadn't been paying attention to the meeting. And apparently
had been so shocked by what happened that he hadn't thought to call for Simon sooner.