A Star Shines turned 2 today!
The Rescue: Part Eighteen Another Short Story Post: Continuing from the last post! This was NOT written by me! All credits go to writer Kimber (KimbersPlace4320@aol.com). Enjoy!) The Rescue: Part Eighteen          The clinic was only dimly lit after hours, and security, although excellent, had little to do but watch empty video screens and while away their watches reading or watching the small television they had installed in their office. From time to time, one would glance at the screens and then back to his book or TV show. They never saw Elias Silverstone slip into the side entrance.          He’d watched the place for days and knew it intimately. The guards were a wild card, but even if he was caught at this point, he’d be sent off to jail or expelled from the clinic, but that’s about all, until, that is, he found DuFron. Slowly, he slipped past another camera and moved along the halls. The monster’s lair must be here somewhere, he never left the place.          As silent as his prey he moved along, his senses reaching out to find the beast. A slight tingle alerted him. There was a vampire not far ahead. Creeping along, he ducked another video camera as it panned the hallway and moved toward the gymnasium. The sense grew stronger, yes; there was definitely one of them ahead. It seemed odd that his sense wasn’t stronger; he’d expected DuFron to give off tremendous energy. Well, the less energy the old beast had, the easier it would be to destroy him. He reached into his sleeve and released the safety on his crossbow as he turned the knob to enter the gym.                   The limousine arrived at Beaumont Manor to be met by Alsaya and Robert Beaumont, along with porters for their luggage.          “Thank you for your help, Lord Beaumont.” Keller said, shaking his hand.          “Don’t mention it, Professor and call me Robert.”          Keller embraced Alsaya tightly.          “Hello, Old Woman.” He said.          She hugged Dallas as well.          “Come inside,” She said, “We have a lot to talk about.”          “If you don’t mind,” Keller said, “I’d like to touch base with Wilma before we start. I deliberately waited until I was here to contact her.”          Keller was shown to a secure telephone line to call Wilma.          Gabriel seemed glad to hear from him, but his news was not good.          “Professor, we’re sure. It was William Van Horn in Fiji. He’s destroyed and nothing remains but grease, but he was caught on video at the hotel. It’s definitely him.”          Keller scowled at the phone.          “I was afraid of that, Gabriel. I was hoping to find him alive and get some information about DuFron. It’s for sure I won’t easily get it from himself.”          “I’m sorry, Professor, we didn’t find him in time. There’s not much forensic evidence.” Gabriel said, then, “Of course, our guys don’t really know what to look for.”          “There really isn’t anything beyond the greasy fire, Gabriel.” Keller replied, “At least not that I’ve noticed. It’s the good news when it comes to destroying them.”          “Professor, be careful out there. I would not care to see you as one of those greasy outlines.”          Keller grinned.          “Thanks, Kid, same goes for me.”          Julian DuFron was awakened out of a sound sleep.          “Herr Doctor, there is an intruder in the halls. He was last seen entering the gymnasium.” Franz said breathlessly. “As per your instructions, we did nothing until I informed you. Shall I have security deal with this?”          DuFron found himself instantly alert. He smiled.          “No, have everyone stand down but maintain surveillance. Helga is in there, Franz. This will be a real test of her abilities.”          He slipped out of bed and into a silk dressing gown.          “Come, Franz, I have a monitor in my study so I can watch her progress.”          The two men slipped into the study and DuFron set the monitor channel to the camera in the gym. For a moment they saw only the dimly lit equipment. Then a shadow moved into view. It was Elias Silverstone.          DuFron took a slender cheroot from his case and lit it. He sat back and inhaled deeply.          “This should be good.”          Reuben sipped a very old burgundy through his straw and smiled. He sat on a wide terrace overlooking the gardens in the rear of Beaumont Manor.          “Professor Keller, Dallas! It is good to see you again!”          He raised his stumps a bit.          “Forgive me that I don’t shake hands. See me again in about a year.”          “It’s good to see you too, Reuben.” Dallas said, “I wish it was in happier circumstances.”          “Happy times are rare for some of us, my dear.”          Keller nodded.          “We all grab them when we can, Reuben.”          “How are the twins, Dallas?” Reuben asked, “They quite charmed me when I was there.”          “They are now in third grade in public school, and they are allowing themselves to grow, so they currently appear as ordinary eight year olds.”          Keller lit a cigarette, blew out a small cloud of blue.          They turned as a commotion arose in the hall, coming their way.           Salvatore Malvado burst out onto the terrace where they sat.          “Senor Beaumont,” He gasped, “is it true? William Van Horn walks no more?”          Robert shrugged.          “As near as we can determine, he has been destroyed, yes.”          Malvado’s shoulders slumped. He and Van Horn had several enterprises going, ones which were not known to the council, and ones which would not now be feasible to continue in.          “My sympathies, Senor Malvado,” Robert said, “I know he was a close friend of yours.”          The Spanish Kindred’s black eyes grew hot and he whirled on Keller.          “And you Senor! You destroyed William Van Horn!” He hissed.          “I never touched him, Senor,” Keller replied, “someone else took care of that.”           All those on the terrace tensed as Malvado stiffened as if to attack, and for a moment he considered it, but, like most of the other counselors, he’d abandoned his fighting skills centuries before. Instead, he straightened and turned to Robert.          “Senor Beaumont,” He began, “it seems now there is no point to this gathering of the council. William Van Horn no longer walks and I see no need in pursuing this any further.”          He let his eyes flick to Keller for but an instant, then back.          “Furthermore, I can no longer remain under your roof. If you could arrange transportation for me, I shall return to Madrid.”          Robert took his arm and led him off into the house. He’d make a show of trying to convince Malvado to stay, but ultimately he’d be glad to see him and the rest go. He sent a mental message back to Reuben that made him smile.          “Robert says that he will get rid of Malvado, and that this probably means our conference is over. We should attempt to search for DuFron again starting right away.”          Alsaya stepped behind his chair and wheeled him into the study. She placed him at the end of the massive leather couch and sat beside him.          “Keller, why don’t you and Dallas take a walk in the gardens? They’re lovely this time of evening.” Alsaya said, “I’m afraid we won’t be much company while we’re doing this.”          Keller nodded, offered Dallas his arm.          “She’s right, Darling, we can’t help here. Let’s go tour the gardens.”                   Elias had trained his eyes to see better in the dark by covering them with a blindfold for long periods before undertaking one of these hunts. This would normally be of no use, but he had a doctor in Hong Kong compile him a list of herbs and foods that would aid as well. Now, even in the semi-darkness of the gym, he could make out most items.          “Good evening, young lady.” He said quietly.          He’d seen Helga. She stepped out into a small pool of light.          “Don’t be afraid,” The slayer said, “I mean you no harm.”          He looked around.          “I seem to have lost my way.”          He kept his voice low and even so as to put her at ease. His skilled senses had already told him she was Kindred, and from the comparative weakness of the signals, she was newly made. What a shame to destroy such a lovely young woman, he thought. Well, it wasn’t he, but one of those blood sucking monsters that was to blame here, probably DuFron himself. He’d end her suffering tonight and spare her centuries of walking death.          She smiled.          “Where are you trying to get to, Mein Herr?” She asked.          “I wanted the information desk.” he said, raising his arm as if to point.          There was a twanging sound as the little weapon in his sleeve fired its deadly wooden shaft. Elias watched as it penetrated her left breast. That, however, was as deep as it went. Elias gasped, something had stopped it.          (Helga)» Take your time with this old fool, give us a good show, my watch dog.«          It was the voice of Julian DuFron in her head.          With a terrible grin, Helga took hold of the shaft and pulled it slowly out of her breast, grimacing only slightly at the pain. She’d experienced so much pain in the last days this was nothing by comparison.           “That, my friend, was a mistake.” She said.          (to be continued)

The Rescue: Part Eighteen

Another Short Story Post: Continuing from the last post! This was NOT written by me! All credits go to writer Kimber (KimbersPlace4320@aol.com).

Enjoy!)

The Rescue: Part Eighteen


         The clinic was only dimly lit after hours, and security, although excellent, had little to do but watch empty video screens and while away their watches reading or watching the small television they had installed in their office. From time to time, one would glance at the screens and then back to his book or TV show. They never saw Elias Silverstone slip into the side entrance.
         He’d watched the place for days and knew it intimately. The guards were a wild card, but even if he was caught at this point, he’d be sent off to jail or expelled from the clinic, but that’s about all, until, that is, he found DuFron. Slowly, he slipped past another camera and moved along the halls. The monster’s lair must be here somewhere, he never left the place.
         As silent as his prey he moved along, his senses reaching out to find the beast. A slight tingle alerted him. There was a vampire not far ahead. Creeping along, he ducked another video camera as it panned the hallway and moved toward the gymnasium. The sense grew stronger, yes; there was definitely one of them ahead. It seemed odd that his sense wasn’t stronger; he’d expected DuFron to give off tremendous energy. Well, the less energy the old beast had, the easier it would be to destroy him. He reached into his sleeve and released the safety on his crossbow as he turned the knob to enter the gym.
        
         The limousine arrived at Beaumont Manor to be met by Alsaya and Robert Beaumont, along with porters for their luggage.
         “Thank you for your help, Lord Beaumont.” Keller said, shaking his hand.
         “Don’t mention it, Professor and call me Robert.”
         Keller embraced Alsaya tightly.
         “Hello, Old Woman.” He said.
         She hugged Dallas as well.
         “Come inside,” She said, “We have a lot to talk about.”
         “If you don’t mind,” Keller said, “I’d like to touch base with Wilma before we start. I deliberately waited until I was here to contact her.”
         Keller was shown to a secure telephone line to call Wilma.
         Gabriel seemed glad to hear from him, but his news was not good.
         “Professor, we’re sure. It was William Van Horn in Fiji. He’s destroyed and nothing remains but grease, but he was caught on video at the hotel. It’s definitely him.”
         Keller scowled at the phone.
         “I was afraid of that, Gabriel. I was hoping to find him alive and get some information about DuFron. It’s for sure I won’t easily get it from himself.”
         “I’m sorry, Professor, we didn’t find him in time. There’s not much forensic evidence.” Gabriel said, then, “Of course, our guys don’t really know what to look for.”
         “There really isn’t anything beyond the greasy fire, Gabriel.” Keller replied, “At least not that I’ve noticed. It’s the good news when it comes to destroying them.”
         “Professor, be careful out there. I would not care to see you as one of those greasy outlines.”
         Keller grinned.
         “Thanks, Kid, same goes for me.”

         Julian DuFron was awakened out of a sound sleep.
         “Herr Doctor, there is an intruder in the halls. He was last seen entering the gymnasium.” Franz said breathlessly. “As per your instructions, we did nothing until I informed you. Shall I have security deal with this?”
         DuFron found himself instantly alert. He smiled.
         “No, have everyone stand down but maintain surveillance. Helga is in there, Franz. This will be a real test of her abilities.”
         He slipped out of bed and into a silk dressing gown.
         “Come, Franz, I have a monitor in my study so I can watch her progress.”
         The two men slipped into the study and DuFron set the monitor channel to the camera in the gym. For a moment they saw only the dimly lit equipment. Then a shadow moved into view. It was Elias Silverstone.
         DuFron took a slender cheroot from his case and lit it. He sat back and inhaled deeply.
         “This should be good.”

         Reuben sipped a very old burgundy through his straw and smiled. He sat on a wide terrace overlooking the gardens in the rear of Beaumont Manor.
         “Professor Keller, Dallas! It is good to see you again!”
         He raised his stumps a bit.
         “Forgive me that I don’t shake hands. See me again in about a year.”
         “It’s good to see you too, Reuben.” Dallas said, “I wish it was in happier circumstances.”
         “Happy times are rare for some of us, my dear.”
         Keller nodded.
         “We all grab them when we can, Reuben.”
         “How are the twins, Dallas?” Reuben asked, “They quite charmed me when I was there.”
         “They are now in third grade in public school, and they are allowing themselves to grow, so they currently appear as ordinary eight year olds.”
         Keller lit a cigarette, blew out a small cloud of blue.
         They turned as a commotion arose in the hall, coming their way.
          Salvatore Malvado burst out onto the terrace where they sat.
         “Senor Beaumont,” He gasped, “is it true? William Van Horn walks no more?”
         Robert shrugged.
         “As near as we can determine, he has been destroyed, yes.”
         Malvado’s shoulders slumped. He and Van Horn had several enterprises going, ones which were not known to the council, and ones which would not now be feasible to continue in.
         “My sympathies, Senor Malvado,” Robert said, “I know he was a close friend of yours.”
         The Spanish Kindred’s black eyes grew hot and he whirled on Keller.
         “And you Senor! You destroyed William Van Horn!” He hissed.
         “I never touched him, Senor,” Keller replied, “someone else took care of that.”
          All those on the terrace tensed as Malvado stiffened as if to attack, and for a moment he considered it, but, like most of the other counselors, he’d abandoned his fighting skills centuries before. Instead, he straightened and turned to Robert.
         “Senor Beaumont,” He began, “it seems now there is no point to this gathering of the council. William Van Horn no longer walks and I see no need in pursuing this any further.”
         He let his eyes flick to Keller for but an instant, then back.
         “Furthermore, I can no longer remain under your roof. If you could arrange transportation for me, I shall return to Madrid.”
         Robert took his arm and led him off into the house. He’d make a show of trying to convince Malvado to stay, but ultimately he’d be glad to see him and the rest go. He sent a mental message back to Reuben that made him smile.
         “Robert says that he will get rid of Malvado, and that this probably means our conference is over. We should attempt to search for DuFron again starting right away.”
         Alsaya stepped behind his chair and wheeled him into the study. She placed him at the end of the massive leather couch and sat beside him.
         “Keller, why don’t you and Dallas take a walk in the gardens? They’re lovely this time of evening.” Alsaya said, “I’m afraid we won’t be much company while we’re doing this.”
         Keller nodded, offered Dallas his arm.
         “She’s right, Darling, we can’t help here. Let’s go tour the gardens.”
        
         Elias had trained his eyes to see better in the dark by covering them with a blindfold for long periods before undertaking one of these hunts. This would normally be of no use, but he had a doctor in Hong Kong compile him a list of herbs and foods that would aid as well. Now, even in the semi-darkness of the gym, he could make out most items.
         “Good evening, young lady.” He said quietly.
         He’d seen Helga. She stepped out into a small pool of light.
         “Don’t be afraid,” The slayer said, “I mean you no harm.”
         He looked around.
         “I seem to have lost my way.”
         He kept his voice low and even so as to put her at ease. His skilled senses had already told him she was Kindred, and from the comparative weakness of the signals, she was newly made. What a shame to destroy such a lovely young woman, he thought. Well, it wasn’t he, but one of those blood sucking monsters that was to blame here, probably DuFron himself. He’d end her suffering tonight and spare her centuries of walking death.
         She smiled.
         “Where are you trying to get to, Mein Herr?” She asked.
         “I wanted the information desk.” he said, raising his arm as if to point.
         There was a twanging sound as the little weapon in his sleeve fired its deadly wooden shaft. Elias watched as it penetrated her left breast. That, however, was as deep as it went. Elias gasped, something had stopped it.
         (Helga)» Take your time with this old fool, give us a good show, my watch dog.«
         It was the voice of Julian DuFron in her head.
         With a terrible grin, Helga took hold of the shaft and pulled it slowly out of her breast, grimacing only slightly at the pain. She’d experienced so much pain in the last days this was nothing by comparison.
          “That, my friend, was a mistake.” She said.
        

(to be continued)

Another Short Story Post: Continuing from the last post! This was NOT written by me! All credits go to writer Kimber (KimbersPlace4320@aol.com). Enjoy!) The Rescue: Part Seventeen          “Andre, how can Father be back?” Martine said slowly. He was having trouble getting his head around the reappearance of Julian DuFron just like everyone else, only his limited intellect was even more confused.          “I don’t know, Brother.”          “I don’t want him to come back, Andre.” Martine pouted.          Andre poured them each a brandy and handed one to Martine. They sat in the drawing room of their spacious house in London. The huge man was too large for any chair, so he sat on a custom made couch that fit his enormous body perfectly.          “Father was able to do many things no one else can, Brother, maybe he can do this too. Whether we like it or not, he may be back.”          Martine took a small sip of the brandy, his free hand softly stroking a small cat which purred contentedly on his broad lap.          “I should have finished him, Andre, when I had the chance.” He said.          Andre shook his head.          “No, no, Martine. We spared him because we did not want to be like him and so we set the fire and left it to fate. Yes, it is a weakness, but it is a good one.”          He downed the fiery liquid in one swallow.          “Will Keller find Father, Andre?”          Andre nodded.          “Yes, probably.”          “And if he does?”          “If he does, Martine, he will save us the trouble of destroying him ourselves, I hope.”          He refilled his glass and topped off his brother’s.          “Father must be destroyed, Brother, or we must be destroyed trying. We cannot live in the same world as he does.”          “What can we do now, Andre?” Martine asked.          “Now we keep close tabs on our friend Keller, Martine. He’ll find Father for us, and destroy him for us. What we must do is make sure this time.”          Elias Silverstone cleaned and oiled his favorite weapon. Years before, a weapon smith in Brussels had made him what he called a sleeve crossbow. Actually it was a tube with several thick rubber bands that, when cocked, would propel a wooden shaft from his sleeve into a given target, that being a blood sucking vampire. Elias was a slayer, and the odd little device had saved him more than once.          In these times of disbelief, he was seldom able to find a lead on any of the undead, but now he was on the track of an ancient, a rare opportunity. That is what brought him to Basil, Switzerland.          He was the eleventh, and probably last, generation of his family to hunt down vampires. Elias had never married and had no heir.          For centuries the Silverstone men, and women, had been slayers, and Elias had inherited their knowledge of the undead monsters. By himself, he’d rid the world of six of them, and this one would be his crowning achievement. He was on the trail of one of the oldest and most powerful among those who were known still to walk, the monster known as Julian DuFron, who had posed as Hans Freitag, and later, Matthias Dohrs and others as yet unknown.          Of course, the blood sucker had used many other aliases through the years, but Elias knew who he was. Through his contacts, he’d traced him for decades, only to have him disappear years before, but now there was no doubt, the fiend had resurfaced. Elias was certain. Among his other skills, he was a psychic, like many of his ancestors, and he had attuned his senses to the creature’s very essence, a skill his grandfather had taught him.          He’d nearly had the beast years before, but it simply disappeared. For a time, Elias assumed DuFron to be dead. Now, it seemed, the monster was back, and as he often did, he was posing as a doctor. There was little doubt that this vampire did have medical skills, he’d certainly worked at it long enough. Well, his career was about to end, if possible, this very night.          There was a time when he hunted only by day, when these beasts were made helpless by the sun’s rays, but now this one and some others had grown old and powerful enough to withstand the light, and that made them even more dangerous. Now, he did his work after dark, when the police were less likely to see him. No one any longer admitted they believed in vampires or the service he did for humanity, he would be arrested if caught destroying them. Of course, with an ancient like this one, there would be no body left, and therefore no evidence of a crime, but sometimes it was necessary for him to kill the vampire’s ghouls as well.  He spat. Disgusting that any human would serve such a beast! Well, he’d deal with them too. The heavy revolver in his shoulder holster was for them.          He left his hotel just at dusk and made his way out of town to the small private clinic where the vampire resided. It was several miles from Basil proper, so he’d rented a car to make the trip. He’d leave it some distance from the clinic so no warning of his approach would alert any guards that the vampire had.  He’d spent days casing the clinic in detail, he knew every in and out and the locations all security cameras.          Slowly he drove through the beautiful Swiss countryside. He loved the Alps, and had considered retiring here, but there was much work still to do before he gave it up. Ahead he saw the dark shape of the building. He pulled off and parked, the rest of his journey would be on foot.          Keller sat, eyes closed across from Dallas on the small private aircraft Wilma had arranged for them. Dallas refused to let Keller go without her. She was involved from the beginning, she said, and she would see it through. As usual, he had no argument that made sense against her going, so she went.          They’d visited Andre and Martine DuFron and warned them of the impending danger. They didn’t take the news well. Keller left them to meet with Alsaya and the others at Beaumont’s estate.          Their plane was met by a chauffeur in black uniform and they were driven in a Rolls Royce to the estate. Dallas’s eyes were huge as she examined the interior of the automobile.          “James, we should get one of these.” She whispered.          “Yes, all right.” He said absently.          She frowned.          “What are you thinking about, James?”          “DuFron, Darling. How could he come back? I saw him destroyed myself. Alsaya utterly drained his blood and then staked him and we watched the remains burn.”          He shook his head.          “No one ever came back from that before, at least not in this way.”          “You’re thinking of Azaiah, aren’t you James?” She pressed. “Do you think there is some connection? Could DuFron have possessed someone as Azaiah possessed you?”          He shrugged.          “After what happened to me, I’m past thinking anything is impossible, Darling. Yes, it’s possible that DuFron came back in some way, and that also means that any number of other ancient monsters may someday do so too.”           “Stick to this battle, James.” She said quietly, “Don’t over think it.”          She took his hand.          “Can you defeat DuFron, James?”          He smiled, squeezed her hand.          “Well, I’m much stronger than the last time we met, and I’ll have help from Alsaya and her cronies I know.”          He sighed.          “That said, I’m not sure, Darling. I do know I have to try.”          She nodded, resigned.          “Yes,” She sighed, “of course you do.”          Julian DuFron sipped excellent Bordeaux and watched as his latest creation performed a rather delicate routine on the cross bars. It had been but a few days since she’d risen as Kindred and already she was beginning to master her new limbs. The remarkable regenerative quality of the Kindred blood had worked some of its magic. The arms were no longer hair covered, nor rough skinned. They were now smooth and sleek, the muscles lean and taut and the angry scars were already beginning to fade.          Yes, the arms were a bit too long for the rest of her body, but becoming manageable, and what power! At her best, she could previously bench press nearly 300 pounds; now, she could lift ten times that. She was faster and lighter on her feet, another marvel of the undead blood. She vaulted to the floor with a double flip, stood, stretched and began to run around the perimeter of the clinic’s gymnasium. It was after hours and the staff had all gone home, all but Franz, who watched from a seat beside his master.          “She’s amazing, Herr Doctor.” He said.          “Just watch, Franz.” DuFron whispered. “I’ve prepared a little surprise.”          The gymnasium was only dimly lit and from the deepest shadows, a smaller shadow emerged, an assassin DuFron had contracted. He moved soundlessly into position, his contract was to destroy Helga, whom he knew to be Kindred. He in fact, was Kindred himself, part of a clan of Ninja-like killers who had embraced the ancient blood to become deadly assassins. He’d been trained since childhood and been given the blood, but had not yet passed the test to prove his mastery. This action might be the one to get him tested.          As the threat drew nearer, Helga stiffened, but kept running. Her sense’s detected the extra presence as soon as he got close enough. She swung into a crouch and rolled off into the darkness, leaving her attacker baffled. He froze, watching, listening, trying even to smell her, but she left no trace. For long moments they both remained as statues, testing each other’s patience. At last, he moved, deliberately making a noise to distract her attention.           It worked; Helga heard him and moved in, using the shadows herself. She pounced on the man, driving him to the floor with a single blow. As he fell, he rolled and attacked, swinging his sword up from the floor at her head. She dropped to the floor as a razor sharp blade hissed over her, skimming her hair.          Helga took a moment to gather her power, and then she moved. Rolling to her feet, she sprang at the man, who had not yet recovered his balance. She drove an immensely powerful hand into his rib cage, smashing the bone and sending the splinters into his lungs, he gasped and staggered back. She dropped him with a kick to the throat.          The assassin was Kindred, like her, he would survive if he could escape her and his wounds heal, and even a blow that would be mortal could not stop him completely. He summoned all his reserve of energy and staggered to his feet.          This was the last hope of saving his honor. To have an initiate destroyed without killing his target was unacceptable. Even if he escaped her, his life would be forfeit to his Elder. He had no choice. With a shriek he attacked, swinging his short sword in a powerful arc toward her throat. He’d been brought into the blood some years before, and his strength had begun to mature. His blow would sever the head of any mortal and all but the strongest immortals.          Helga felt it coming more than anything. Instinctively, she ducked and once again the blade missed her. She swung around and struck, her hand driving into the man’s abdomen. So powerful was the blow that her hand ripped through his flesh and muscle and into his bowels. She grasped a handful and ripped them out. With a look or pure agony and terror on his face, the man crumbled to the floor. Blood spewed from his ruined torso.          Helga raised her hand to strike again, but was stopped by Julian DuFron.          “Enough!” He said, “My Dear, you are a marvel!”          He moved to the floor where the would-be assassin lay. He was severely wounded. It would take weeks for him to fully recover.          “Franz, have our friend here removed to the secure wing. I’ll treat him myself. I am very pleased with him, indeed. There will be no need to report any failure; that was the object of the exercise.”          He looked around.          “Oh, and have someone clean up this mess, if you would be so kind?”          He took Helga by the arm.          “Come, my Chylde.” He said. “You’ve had enough exercise for one night.”          Her striking blue eyes searched his face.          “Julian? That was some sort of test?”          He nodded.          “Yes, indeed it was.”          “And did I pass?” She asked, desperate for his approval.          “Pass?” He said, “Why Helga, you surpassed any bodyguard I ever had. There is no being mortal or immortal that can challenge you.”          He took her hand and kissed it.          “You are my greatest triumph, Helga. Go, find a patient to feed on, you must be thirsty after all that back there.”          He led her off toward the wards. Another benefit of his medical identity, plenty of helpless people from which to feed. (to be continued)

Another Short Story Post: Continuing from the last post! This was NOT written by me! All credits go to writer Kimber (KimbersPlace4320@aol.com).

Enjoy!)

The Rescue: Part Seventeen


         “Andre, how can Father be back?” Martine said slowly. He was having trouble getting his head around the reappearance of Julian DuFron just like everyone else, only his limited intellect was even more confused.
         “I don’t know, Brother.”
         “I don’t want him to come back, Andre.” Martine pouted.
         Andre poured them each a brandy and handed one to Martine. They sat in the drawing room of their spacious house in London. The huge man was too large for any chair, so he sat on a custom made couch that fit his enormous body perfectly.
         “Father was able to do many things no one else can, Brother, maybe he can do this too. Whether we like it or not, he may be back.”
         Martine took a small sip of the brandy, his free hand softly stroking a small cat which purred contentedly on his broad lap.
         “I should have finished him, Andre, when I had the chance.” He said.
         Andre shook his head.
         “No, no, Martine. We spared him because we did not want to be like him and so we set the fire and left it to fate. Yes, it is a weakness, but it is a good one.”
         He downed the fiery liquid in one swallow.
         “Will Keller find Father, Andre?”
         Andre nodded.
         “Yes, probably.”
         “And if he does?”
         “If he does, Martine, he will save us the trouble of destroying him ourselves, I hope.”
         He refilled his glass and topped off his brother’s.
         “Father must be destroyed, Brother, or we must be destroyed trying. We cannot live in the same world as he does.”
         “What can we do now, Andre?” Martine asked.
         “Now we keep close tabs on our friend Keller, Martine. He’ll find Father for us, and destroy him for us. What we must do is make sure this time.”

         Elias Silverstone cleaned and oiled his favorite weapon. Years before, a weapon smith in Brussels had made him what he called a sleeve crossbow. Actually it was a tube with several thick rubber bands that, when cocked, would propel a wooden shaft from his sleeve into a given target, that being a blood sucking vampire. Elias was a slayer, and the odd little device had saved him more than once.
         In these times of disbelief, he was seldom able to find a lead on any of the undead, but now he was on the track of an ancient, a rare opportunity. That is what brought him to Basil, Switzerland.
         He was the eleventh, and probably last, generation of his family to hunt down vampires. Elias had never married and had no heir.
         For centuries the Silverstone men, and women, had been slayers, and Elias had inherited their knowledge of the undead monsters. By himself, he’d rid the world of six of them, and this one would be his crowning achievement. He was on the trail of one of the oldest and most powerful among those who were known still to walk, the monster known as Julian DuFron, who had posed as Hans Freitag, and later, Matthias Dohrs and others as yet unknown.
         Of course, the blood sucker had used many other aliases through the years, but Elias knew who he was. Through his contacts, he’d traced him for decades, only to have him disappear years before, but now there was no doubt, the fiend had resurfaced. Elias was certain. Among his other skills, he was a psychic, like many of his ancestors, and he had attuned his senses to the creature’s very essence, a skill his grandfather had taught him.
         He’d nearly had the beast years before, but it simply disappeared. For a time, Elias assumed DuFron to be dead. Now, it seemed, the monster was back, and as he often did, he was posing as a doctor. There was little doubt that this vampire did have medical skills, he’d certainly worked at it long enough. Well, his career was about to end, if possible, this very night.
         There was a time when he hunted only by day, when these beasts were made helpless by the sun’s rays, but now this one and some others had grown old and powerful enough to withstand the light, and that made them even more dangerous. Now, he did his work after dark, when the police were less likely to see him. No one any longer admitted they believed in vampires or the service he did for humanity, he would be arrested if caught destroying them. Of course, with an ancient like this one, there would be no body left, and therefore no evidence of a crime, but sometimes it was necessary for him to kill the vampire’s ghouls as well.  He spat. Disgusting that any human would serve such a beast! Well, he’d deal with them too. The heavy revolver in his shoulder holster was for them.
         He left his hotel just at dusk and made his way out of town to the small private clinic where the vampire resided. It was several miles from Basil proper, so he’d rented a car to make the trip. He’d leave it some distance from the clinic so no warning of his approach would alert any guards that the vampire had.  He’d spent days casing the clinic in detail, he knew every in and out and the locations all security cameras.
         Slowly he drove through the beautiful Swiss countryside. He loved the Alps, and had considered retiring here, but there was much work still to do before he gave it up. Ahead he saw the dark shape of the building. He pulled off and parked, the rest of his journey would be on foot.

         Keller sat, eyes closed across from Dallas on the small private aircraft Wilma had arranged for them. Dallas refused to let Keller go without her. She was involved from the beginning, she said, and she would see it through. As usual, he had no argument that made sense against her going, so she went.
         They’d visited Andre and Martine DuFron and warned them of the impending danger. They didn’t take the news well. Keller left them to meet with Alsaya and the others at Beaumont’s estate.
         Their plane was met by a chauffeur in black uniform and they were driven in a Rolls Royce to the estate. Dallas’s eyes were huge as she examined the interior of the automobile.
         “James, we should get one of these.” She whispered.
         “Yes, all right.” He said absently.
         She frowned.
         “What are you thinking about, James?”
         “DuFron, Darling. How could he come back? I saw him destroyed myself. Alsaya utterly drained his blood and then staked him and we watched the remains burn.”
         He shook his head.
         “No one ever came back from that before, at least not in this way.”
         “You’re thinking of Azaiah, aren’t you James?” She pressed. “Do you think there is some connection? Could DuFron have possessed someone as Azaiah possessed you?”
         He shrugged.
         “After what happened to me, I’m past thinking anything is impossible, Darling. Yes, it’s possible that DuFron came back in some way, and that also means that any number of other ancient monsters may someday do so too.”
          “Stick to this battle, James.” She said quietly, “Don’t over think it.”
         She took his hand.
         “Can you defeat DuFron, James?”
         He smiled, squeezed her hand.
         “Well, I’m much stronger than the last time we met, and I’ll have help from Alsaya and her cronies I know.”
         He sighed.
         “That said, I’m not sure, Darling. I do know I have to try.”
         She nodded, resigned.
         “Yes,” She sighed, “of course you do.”

         Julian DuFron sipped excellent Bordeaux and watched as his latest creation performed a rather delicate routine on the cross bars. It had been but a few days since she’d risen as Kindred and already she was beginning to master her new limbs. The remarkable regenerative quality of the Kindred blood had worked some of its magic. The arms were no longer hair covered, nor rough skinned. They were now smooth and sleek, the muscles lean and taut and the angry scars were already beginning to fade.
         Yes, the arms were a bit too long for the rest of her body, but becoming manageable, and what power! At her best, she could previously bench press nearly 300 pounds; now, she could lift ten times that. She was faster and lighter on her feet, another marvel of the undead blood. She vaulted to the floor with a double flip, stood, stretched and began to run around the perimeter of the clinic’s gymnasium. It was after hours and the staff had all gone home, all but Franz, who watched from a seat beside his master.
         “She’s amazing, Herr Doctor.” He said.
         “Just watch, Franz.” DuFron whispered. “I’ve prepared a little surprise.”
         The gymnasium was only dimly lit and from the deepest shadows, a smaller shadow emerged, an assassin DuFron had contracted. He moved soundlessly into position, his contract was to destroy Helga, whom he knew to be Kindred. He in fact, was Kindred himself, part of a clan of Ninja-like killers who had embraced the ancient blood to become deadly assassins. He’d been trained since childhood and been given the blood, but had not yet passed the test to prove his mastery. This action might be the one to get him tested.
         As the threat drew nearer, Helga stiffened, but kept running. Her sense’s detected the extra presence as soon as he got close enough. She swung into a crouch and rolled off into the darkness, leaving her attacker baffled. He froze, watching, listening, trying even to smell her, but she left no trace. For long moments they both remained as statues, testing each other’s patience. At last, he moved, deliberately making a noise to distract her attention. 
         It worked; Helga heard him and moved in, using the shadows herself. She pounced on the man, driving him to the floor with a single blow. As he fell, he rolled and attacked, swinging his sword up from the floor at her head. She dropped to the floor as a razor sharp blade hissed over her, skimming her hair.
         Helga took a moment to gather her power, and then she moved. Rolling to her feet, she sprang at the man, who had not yet recovered his balance. She drove an immensely powerful hand into his rib cage, smashing the bone and sending the splinters into his lungs, he gasped and staggered back. She dropped him with a kick to the throat.
         The assassin was Kindred, like her, he would survive if he could escape her and his wounds heal, and even a blow that would be mortal could not stop him completely. He summoned all his reserve of energy and staggered to his feet.
         This was the last hope of saving his honor. To have an initiate destroyed without killing his target was unacceptable. Even if he escaped her, his life would be forfeit to his Elder. He had no choice. With a shriek he attacked, swinging his short sword in a powerful arc toward her throat. He’d been brought into the blood some years before, and his strength had begun to mature. His blow would sever the head of any mortal and all but the strongest immortals.
         Helga felt it coming more than anything. Instinctively, she ducked and once again the blade missed her. She swung around and struck, her hand driving into the man’s abdomen. So powerful was the blow that her hand ripped through his flesh and muscle and into his bowels. She grasped a handful and ripped them out. With a look or pure agony and terror on his face, the man crumbled to the floor. Blood spewed from his ruined torso.
         Helga raised her hand to strike again, but was stopped by Julian DuFron.
         “Enough!” He said, “My Dear, you are a marvel!”
         He moved to the floor where the would-be assassin lay. He was severely wounded. It would take weeks for him to fully recover.
         “Franz, have our friend here removed to the secure wing. I’ll treat him myself. I am very pleased with him, indeed. There will be no need to report any failure; that was the object of the exercise.”
         He looked around.
         “Oh, and have someone clean up this mess, if you would be so kind?”
         He took Helga by the arm.
         “Come, my Chylde.” He said. “You’ve had enough exercise for one night.”
         Her striking blue eyes searched his face.
         “Julian? That was some sort of test?”
         He nodded.
         “Yes, indeed it was.”
         “And did I pass?” She asked, desperate for his approval.
         “Pass?” He said, “Why Helga, you surpassed any bodyguard I ever had. There is no being mortal or immortal that can challenge you.”
         He took her hand and kissed it.
         “You are my greatest triumph, Helga. Go, find a patient to feed on, you must be thirsty after all that back there.”
         He led her off toward the wards. Another benefit of his medical identity, plenty of helpless people from which to feed.

(to be continued)

The Rescue: Part Sixteen Another Short Story Post: Continuing from the last post! This was NOT written by me! All credits go to writer Kimber (KimbersPlace4320@aol.com). Enjoy!) The Rescue: Part Sixteen          Helga had been an Olympic hopeful. Skilled at triathlon and judo, she’d spent her life in training, all to have it end when she tore a ham string in training. After major surgery it healed, but not before her moment had passed. Her depression grew larger by the day. She drifted from job to job. She was a model, a failed actress, a saleswoman, and finally a medical secretary. She was at her desk, blonde hair streaming around a perfect oval face, when Julian DuFron found her.          It was no accident. From the moment he returned he’d sought his next subject. This was a major component of his plan. He’d once again have his work and his science, but he needed minions, body guards. He’d combed through records for years, seeking the perfect candidate, and found Helga.          How he’d wined and dined her. Knowing her mind was a finely tuned as her body, which she had never stopped training, so he took her to art shows, museums, libraries. He’d fed her mind with his ideas as well, his quest for the perfect human. In her he found a student, wide eyed and open, yearning to dig herself out of her crippling depression.          At the right moment he let it slip. Yes, he did know a way to modify the human body, make it stronger, faster, more resilient, nearly indestructible, and truly immortal. His words were like oxygen, she breathed them in. Mesmerized, she talked him into using her for his subject. He told her there would be pain such as she’d never known, and sickness. She’d pass through death and rebirth into a new world, that of the immortals, but she was determined. Julian DuFron had worked his evil magic again.          She looked at her reflection in the mirror. She saw a tall, beautiful young woman with unnaturally long arms. The Kindred power to regenerate had rendered them from those of an ape to human arms. It was yet another amazing property of the undead flesh that it fused and accepted, then changed the new limbs until they appeared to belong.          Helga lifted her head and viewed the angry red scar on her chest. Here, DuFron had implanted titanium mesh to protect her heart and carbon fiber to shield her solar plexus. She flexed a long powerful arm and smiled. The scars would fade quickly and no one would ever know.          The procedure was relatively quick, but it took enormous preparation. DuFron’s agents procured him the human parts he needed to modify Helga’s existing body. This needed to be done within the three day “incubation period” where the mortal becomes a fledgling Kindred. DuFron had discovered that he could surgically implant human limbs onto the body which would be infused with the blood and become part of it. He’d discovered this in the sixteenth century when he began his career as undead.          In those days of repression, with his Kindred Elder, and the Kindred woman, his Sire’s mate, from whom he’d tricked the blood destroyed, he had to be careful just to survive, but there was in Julian DuFron something stirring that he could neither overcome nor deny. He had to know, to experiment.          He started with rats. He’d infuse them with his own blood after draining theirs, and he’d remove their limbs, to replace them with those of other rats. His success led him to experiment on dogs and cats, even to mixing the limbs from one species to another. Unlike mortal humans, the Kindred body does not reject foreign tissue if introduced within the critical three days. As he created his monstrosities, he destroyed them, removing their hearts and driving wooden splinters through them, burning all. There were escapes, and the sewers of Florence still contain a few immortal rats, incredibly strong and intelligent, they have survived for centuries and would probably exist after millennia.          Finally, he turned to humans. From grave robbers he obtained bodies, each one chosen for some desirable limb, which he dissected. Kidnapping a young peasant, he gave him the blood and watched him begin the transformation, and then he began his work. The boy had shown remarkable skill at the harpsichord, but his hands were big, the fingers thick, those of a farmer, not a musician. For all his talent, Andre would always be limited by those hands. Convincing himself he did a service for music lovers in centuries to come, he gave the helpless teen aged boy the hands and a fourteen year old girl.          No corpses had been available at the time, so DuFron found a suitable girl and drained her of blood. He removed her arms and brought them to his hidden lair where he performed his ghastly operations. There he grafted them onto the boy’s shoulders and watched, amazed as the body accepted them, fusing them, flesh and bone, within minutes. Never in his animal experiments had the results been so dramatic, and he knew that the Kindred blood was meant for humans, not the lesser things.          In weeks, Andre was playing again, and better than ever, but though his arms had healed beyond a few fading scars, his mind had not overcome the horror DuFron had put him through. It would take decades and the creation of yet another of DuFrons monstrous chylder for him to begin to break free of the old monster’s grip on his mind.          They traveled for nearly ten years, crossing and re-crossing Europe several times. DuFron found work as a healer, and Andre performed for the crowds at taverns, then fairs, finally for the nobility. Never had they been able to remain long in any place. It was too risky for DuFron to practice his twisted science, but he knew the medicine of the day, and things far beyond it, and was able to treat any malady he was presented with. It was his own paranoia that drove him to constantly move. In his madness he imagined the slayers were at his heels no matter where he went.          It was in this time that explorers drove further into the darkness that was Africa. Exotic animals of all kinds found their way into Italy. Rome boasted zoological gardens the like of which had not been seen since the time of the emperors.          In an effort to compete, Florence began a zoo of her own. Here Julian DuFron would visit late at night, watching the animals. Of course, the zoo was closed, but that was no difficulty for a Kindred of his growing power. In a large iron cage were several apes, now known as Chimpanzees. DuFron was impressed by their enormous strength, several times that of the strongest man. In his twisted mind, he devised a combination of ape and man, the perfect guardian.          Not long after, he bribed a merchant who dealt in rare animals. For an enormous sum he was able to procure an ape of his own. In his killing of the girl so long ago, he’d learned that he could get much better results if he first drained then infused the subject with his blood. He did so with the ape, and then as he had with the girl, he amputated its arms and grafted them onto a newly made fledgling, a barrel-chested wanderer of limited intellect. Then the ape was destroyed.          One did not “kill” a blood drinker, even a fledgling, DuFron knew. One “killed” the heart by piercing it with a sharpened spike of wood. The heart was everything. He could replace the rest, even the head, and he did so with his helpless new victim. Not only did he replace limbs, short stout legs to replace those of the screaming man on the table, into the chest, over the ribs he fashioned a mesh of steel infused with other metals to prevent it from rusting away, strong enough to repel a stake. The result was Martine DuFron.          He was a shade over six feet tall, but nearly as wide. His shoulders were massive and from them hung arms twice the size of any wrestler’s. His body was square, blocky, and his short legs were like the legs of a piano in size and strength. He could rip even an old and powerful Kindred to pieces with his bare hands, and he was nearly indestructible. In all his years of life, no one had ever defeated the gentle giant but Professor James Keller. Rather than match strength against this engine of destruction, Keller had procured a pair of gloves which could be used as a taser. He used them to paralyze and subdue the man mountain. Martine loved the man who had bested him for despite his monstrous appearance, Martine was the gentlest of souls. He preferred to watch children’s television shows and play with his cats. DuFron’s influence could not make him otherwise.          Andre got the job of tending to Martine during the three days. Even as DuFron cut and stitched and tormented the poor wretch, Andre soothed and comforted him. By the time he’d become a fledgling, Martine and Andre had bonded, a bond which would last forever.          They served their evil master in any way he demanded. So strong was his influence that he never suspected they would someday rebel. By his command, they robbed graves and kidnapped victims. Andre assisted in the surgeries, handing his Sire the instruments and later calming and tending the subject as the transformation took its course.          It took centuries for the shame to finally overcome their terror of DuFron. Andre realized that they had become powerful in their long years, the two of them far more powerful than even their master. Not one to rush into anything, Andre spent years watching, observing DuFron, cataloging his weaknesses, until he felt they could strike.          One evening, as DuFron returned from his nightly feeding, Martine attacked. In an instant the older Kindred was swept off his feet and slammed against the stone wall of their abode. Bones audibly snapped and broke, then crushed as Martine vented all his many years of frustration and hatred. Never had his full strength been used against another, he was far too gentle to use anything beyond necessary force, not once had he broke a bone in any kidnapped subject. He merely held them and Andre gave them an injection that paralyzed them, Martine then carried them back to the lair.          Now, though, he was rampant. Fists the size of cantaloupes, taken from a massive sailing man, pounded DuFron. Powerful in his own right, DuFron fought back, but he could do nothing against his mountainous Chylde. At last the big hands wrapped around his head and began to squeeze. DuFron screamed as his eyes popped out. His skull caved in and he lost all ability to move. His thoughts were jumbled, instinctive as the brain matter was crushed.          “Let him go, Brother.” Andre said finally, and Martine released the body, more like a bag of broken shards now.          This was the time they should have destroyed him once and for all, Andre knew, but it wasn’t in him, or Martine to do so. They set fire to DuFron’s lair and left. Andre had booked passage for them on a ship bound for France. There they would spend over a century; sure they were rid of their monstrous master forever. It was not to be.          “Ms. Bankey?”          Wilma pressed the button on her intercom.          “Yes, Gabriel?”          “Can you come here for a second, please? I think I have something.”          Wilma wasted no time in getting to Gabriel’s desk.          “Okay,” She said, “give.”          “I’ve been cross matching possible aliases for William Van Horn with travel destinations, and I think I found him. A Mr. Wurster booked a private jet a few days ago to Fiji. Once there, he registered at the Royal Ambassador Hotel.”          He brought up a video camera image on his screen.          “This is our Mr. Wurster entering the lobby of the rental agency where he booked the jet.”          He enhanced the image and the unmistakable face of William Van Horn appeared.          “Yes, that’s him, all right. Good job, Gabriel.” Wilma said, lifting the desk line. “I’ll have…”          “Wait, Ms. Bankey, there’s more, and it’s not good news.”          Slowly she set the receiver back on its hook.          “It seems our Mr Wurster has disappeared.” He said quietly.          Before she could respond he raised a hand.          “There was a report of a small fire on the same floor as Wurster’s room.” Gabriel went on, “I haven’t received verification yet, but I think its Van Horn.”          His big blue eyes found hers.          “Didn’t Keller tell us once that really old vampires burn to ash when destroyed? Well, that’s what they found at the scene of the fire, just a pile of ashes, in a vaguely human shape.”          She nodded. He was most likely right, and if he was, it meant William Van Horn was dead, truly dead, and so was their lead.          “Good work, dear. Let me know when you get the verification.” She said and walked back into her office.          The door closed quietly, but Gabriel heard her swear bitterly once it was closed. (To be continued)

The Rescue: Part Sixteen

Another Short Story Post: Continuing from the last post! This was NOT written by me! All credits go to writer Kimber (KimbersPlace4320@aol.com).

Enjoy!)

The Rescue: Part Sixteen


         Helga had been an Olympic hopeful. Skilled at triathlon and judo, she’d spent her life in training, all to have it end when she tore a ham string in training. After major surgery it healed, but not before her moment had passed. Her depression grew larger by the day. She drifted from job to job. She was a model, a failed actress, a saleswoman, and finally a medical secretary. She was at her desk, blonde hair streaming around a perfect oval face, when Julian DuFron found her.
         It was no accident. From the moment he returned he’d sought his next subject. This was a major component of his plan. He’d once again have his work and his science, but he needed minions, body guards. He’d combed through records for years, seeking the perfect candidate, and found Helga.
         How he’d wined and dined her. Knowing her mind was a finely tuned as her body, which she had never stopped training, so he took her to art shows, museums, libraries. He’d fed her mind with his ideas as well, his quest for the perfect human. In her he found a student, wide eyed and open, yearning to dig herself out of her crippling depression.
         At the right moment he let it slip. Yes, he did know a way to modify the human body, make it stronger, faster, more resilient, nearly indestructible, and truly immortal. His words were like oxygen, she breathed them in. Mesmerized, she talked him into using her for his subject. He told her there would be pain such as she’d never known, and sickness. She’d pass through death and rebirth into a new world, that of the immortals, but she was determined. Julian DuFron had worked his evil magic again.
         She looked at her reflection in the mirror. She saw a tall, beautiful young woman with unnaturally long arms. The Kindred power to regenerate had rendered them from those of an ape to human arms. It was yet another amazing property of the undead flesh that it fused and accepted, then changed the new limbs until they appeared to belong.
         Helga lifted her head and viewed the angry red scar on her chest. Here, DuFron had implanted titanium mesh to protect her heart and carbon fiber to shield her solar plexus. She flexed a long powerful arm and smiled. The scars would fade quickly and no one would ever know.
         The procedure was relatively quick, but it took enormous preparation. DuFron’s agents procured him the human parts he needed to modify Helga’s existing body. This needed to be done within the three day “incubation period” where the mortal becomes a fledgling Kindred. DuFron had discovered that he could surgically implant human limbs onto the body which would be infused with the blood and become part of it. He’d discovered this in the sixteenth century when he began his career as undead.
         In those days of repression, with his Kindred Elder, and the Kindred woman, his Sire’s mate, from whom he’d tricked the blood destroyed, he had to be careful just to survive, but there was in Julian DuFron something stirring that he could neither overcome nor deny. He had to know, to experiment.
         He started with rats. He’d infuse them with his own blood after draining theirs, and he’d remove their limbs, to replace them with those of other rats. His success led him to experiment on dogs and cats, even to mixing the limbs from one species to another. Unlike mortal humans, the Kindred body does not reject foreign tissue if introduced within the critical three days. As he created his monstrosities, he destroyed them, removing their hearts and driving wooden splinters through them, burning all. There were escapes, and the sewers of Florence still contain a few immortal rats, incredibly strong and intelligent, they have survived for centuries and would probably exist after millennia.
         Finally, he turned to humans. From grave robbers he obtained bodies, each one chosen for some desirable limb, which he dissected. Kidnapping a young peasant, he gave him the blood and watched him begin the transformation, and then he began his work. The boy had shown remarkable skill at the harpsichord, but his hands were big, the fingers thick, those of a farmer, not a musician. For all his talent, Andre would always be limited by those hands. Convincing himself he did a service for music lovers in centuries to come, he gave the helpless teen aged boy the hands and a fourteen year old girl.
         No corpses had been available at the time, so DuFron found a suitable girl and drained her of blood. He removed her arms and brought them to his hidden lair where he performed his ghastly operations. There he grafted them onto the boy’s shoulders and watched, amazed as the body accepted them, fusing them, flesh and bone, within minutes. Never in his animal experiments had the results been so dramatic, and he knew that the Kindred blood was meant for humans, not the lesser things.
         In weeks, Andre was playing again, and better than ever, but though his arms had healed beyond a few fading scars, his mind had not overcome the horror DuFron had put him through. It would take decades and the creation of yet another of DuFrons monstrous chylder for him to begin to break free of the old monster’s grip on his mind.
         They traveled for nearly ten years, crossing and re-crossing Europe several times. DuFron found work as a healer, and Andre performed for the crowds at taverns, then fairs, finally for the nobility. Never had they been able to remain long in any place. It was too risky for DuFron to practice his twisted science, but he knew the medicine of the day, and things far beyond it, and was able to treat any malady he was presented with. It was his own paranoia that drove him to constantly move. In his madness he imagined the slayers were at his heels no matter where he went.
         It was in this time that explorers drove further into the darkness that was Africa. Exotic animals of all kinds found their way into Italy. Rome boasted zoological gardens the like of which had not been seen since the time of the emperors.
         In an effort to compete, Florence began a zoo of her own. Here Julian DuFron would visit late at night, watching the animals. Of course, the zoo was closed, but that was no difficulty for a Kindred of his growing power. In a large iron cage were several apes, now known as Chimpanzees. DuFron was impressed by their enormous strength, several times that of the strongest man. In his twisted mind, he devised a combination of ape and man, the perfect guardian.
         Not long after, he bribed a merchant who dealt in rare animals. For an enormous sum he was able to procure an ape of his own. In his killing of the girl so long ago, he’d learned that he could get much better results if he first drained then infused the subject with his blood. He did so with the ape, and then as he had with the girl, he amputated its arms and grafted them onto a newly made fledgling, a barrel-chested wanderer of limited intellect. Then the ape was destroyed.
         One did not “kill” a blood drinker, even a fledgling, DuFron knew. One “killed” the heart by piercing it with a sharpened spike of wood. The heart was everything. He could replace the rest, even the head, and he did so with his helpless new victim. Not only did he replace limbs, short stout legs to replace those of the screaming man on the table, into the chest, over the ribs he fashioned a mesh of steel infused with other metals to prevent it from rusting away, strong enough to repel a stake. The result was Martine DuFron.
         He was a shade over six feet tall, but nearly as wide. His shoulders were massive and from them hung arms twice the size of any wrestler’s. His body was square, blocky, and his short legs were like the legs of a piano in size and strength. He could rip even an old and powerful Kindred to pieces with his bare hands, and he was nearly indestructible. In all his years of life, no one had ever defeated the gentle giant but Professor James Keller. Rather than match strength against this engine of destruction, Keller had procured a pair of gloves which could be used as a taser. He used them to paralyze and subdue the man mountain. Martine loved the man who had bested him for despite his monstrous appearance, Martine was the gentlest of souls. He preferred to watch children’s television shows and play with his cats. DuFron’s influence could not make him otherwise.
         Andre got the job of tending to Martine during the three days. Even as DuFron cut and stitched and tormented the poor wretch, Andre soothed and comforted him. By the time he’d become a fledgling, Martine and Andre had bonded, a bond which would last forever.
         They served their evil master in any way he demanded. So strong was his influence that he never suspected they would someday rebel. By his command, they robbed graves and kidnapped victims. Andre assisted in the surgeries, handing his Sire the instruments and later calming and tending the subject as the transformation took its course.
         It took centuries for the shame to finally overcome their terror of DuFron. Andre realized that they had become powerful in their long years, the two of them far more powerful than even their master. Not one to rush into anything, Andre spent years watching, observing DuFron, cataloging his weaknesses, until he felt they could strike.
         One evening, as DuFron returned from his nightly feeding, Martine attacked. In an instant the older Kindred was swept off his feet and slammed against the stone wall of their abode. Bones audibly snapped and broke, then crushed as Martine vented all his many years of frustration and hatred. Never had his full strength been used against another, he was far too gentle to use anything beyond necessary force, not once had he broke a bone in any kidnapped subject. He merely held them and Andre gave them an injection that paralyzed them, Martine then carried them back to the lair.
         Now, though, he was rampant. Fists the size of cantaloupes, taken from a massive sailing man, pounded DuFron. Powerful in his own right, DuFron fought back, but he could do nothing against his mountainous Chylde. At last the big hands wrapped around his head and began to squeeze. DuFron screamed as his eyes popped out. His skull caved in and he lost all ability to move. His thoughts were jumbled, instinctive as the brain matter was crushed.
         “Let him go, Brother.” Andre said finally, and Martine released the body, more like a bag of broken shards now.
         This was the time they should have destroyed him once and for all, Andre knew, but it wasn’t in him, or Martine to do so. They set fire to DuFron’s lair and left. Andre had booked passage for them on a ship bound for France. There they would spend over a century; sure they were rid of their monstrous master forever. It was not to be.

         “Ms. Bankey?”
         Wilma pressed the button on her intercom.
         “Yes, Gabriel?”
         “Can you come here for a second, please? I think I have something.”
         Wilma wasted no time in getting to Gabriel’s desk.
         “Okay,” She said, “give.”
         “I’ve been cross matching possible aliases for William Van Horn with travel destinations, and I think I found him. A Mr. Wurster booked a private jet a few days ago to Fiji. Once there, he registered at the Royal Ambassador Hotel.”
         He brought up a video camera image on his screen.
         “This is our Mr. Wurster entering the lobby of the rental agency where he booked the jet.”
         He enhanced the image and the unmistakable face of William Van Horn appeared.
         “Yes, that’s him, all right. Good job, Gabriel.” Wilma said, lifting the desk line. “I’ll have…”
         “Wait, Ms. Bankey, there’s more, and it’s not good news.”
         Slowly she set the receiver back on its hook.
         “It seems our Mr Wurster has disappeared.” He said quietly.
         Before she could respond he raised a hand.
         “There was a report of a small fire on the same floor as Wurster’s room.” Gabriel went on, “I haven’t received verification yet, but I think its Van Horn.”
         His big blue eyes found hers.
         “Didn’t Keller tell us once that really old vampires burn to ash when destroyed? Well, that’s what they found at the scene of the fire, just a pile of ashes, in a vaguely human shape.”
         She nodded. He was most likely right, and if he was, it meant William Van Horn was dead, truly dead, and so was their lead.
         “Good work, dear. Let me know when you get the verification.” She said and walked back into her office.
         The door closed quietly, but Gabriel heard her swear bitterly once it was closed.

(To be continued)

The Rescue: Part Fifteen Another Short Story Post: Continuing from the last post! This was NOT written by me! All credits go to writer Kimber (KimbersPlace4320@aol.com). Enjoy!) The Rescue: Part Fifteen          Keller sat quietly in his vast library. There, among the books, was where he spent most of his time when at home. Here were books and scrolls that could be seen nowhere else, even some he had borrowed from the hidden scrolls of the library of Alexandria, thanks to the power of the twins.          The twins, his two adopted daughters. Ages old, they had chosen to present themselves as six year old girls, and so to have the childhood they were denied so long before. He’d made himself a promise not to involve them in his adventures, in spite of the fact they were among the most powerful beings he had ever encountered, even as Azaiah. No, he would give them their childhood, at any cost.          He was roused from his thoughts by Raoul, who appeared in the doorway.          “Herr Keller, there is a phone call for you. Will you take it in here?”          “Yes, Raoul, thank you.” He replied and lifted the receiver.           “Yes? This is Keller.”          “Keller, thank the gods!” Alsaya said on the other end.          “Alsaya, what’s wrong?”          “You are in danger!” She said breathlessly. “Grave danger!”          “From whom?” Keller asked.          “Julian DuFron.” She answered.          Keller smiled,          “DuFron is dead, Alsaya. I saw you destroy him myself.”          “I can’t explain it, Keller, but there is no doubt, he’s behind this. Robert, Reuben and I all sensed him.”          Keller sat back, lit a cigarette, and frowned.          “Can you find him?”          “No, not yet, but we will. Until then watch out, my friend.”          “Yes,” He answered, “I will do that.”          For a moment there was silence.          “Alsaya, I have an idea. I need to talk to his chylder, Andre and Martine DuFron.”          “Can you trust them, Keller? You know well they have always been in his thrall.”          “I’ll have to risk it, Alsaya, I can’t think of any other way to go.”          “Very well,” She answered, “Since I can’t either, I suggest you keep in touch.”          “Where are you?” He asked.          “We’re in Devon, England.” She replied.          “After I talk to the DuFrons, I’ll come to you. I’m going to need your help to find Julian.”          “You’ll be welcome, Keller.” She replied.          Wilma Bankey was not happy at all. After breaking the news about Julian DuFron, Keller had requested a flight to London to visit the DuFrons and she was opposed bitterly. She’d been along when Keller had last encountered the mad doctor, and supposedly destroyed him. If, indeed, he’d returned he was likely to be more dangerous than ever.          “Keller, we can’t protect you over there. I can’t even call on my colleagues for help because I can’t reveal your secrets. What am I supposed to do?”          “I understand what you’re saying, Wilma, and I’ll just have to look after myself.”          “Well,” She said glumly, “that makes me feel a lot better.”          Hoping to divert her thoughts away he changed the subject.          “Has Gabriel come up with anything?”          “Yes, since you mentioned this DuFron, I had him do some checking on Van Horn’s phone records. Of course, there is no one by the name of DuFron anywhere, he’s changed it, but the fact that he is obsessed with medical experiments does help us find him. There are several places that do the kind of study DuFron was involved in and we are making discrete inquiries. I hope to have something for you in a day or so. Won’t you at least postpone your trip until we have something solid for you to go on?”          “Wilma, DuFron’s chylder hate him as much as we do. He tortured and abused them for centuries and turned them into monsters. I’m sure Andre will help me all he can.”          “I’m glad you’re sure, Keller, I’m not so certain. What if he’s able to exert the same power over them he always had and turn them to his side?”          “I have Alsaya and her colleagues using their powers to check that also. Don’t worry, I’m going to find him and destroy him this time, once and for all.”          “Let’s hope so, Keller,” She said, “let’s hope so.”          Reuben turned his head from side to side to loosen his taut neck muscles. They’d been at it for hours, searching the multitude of thoughts and voices for any sign of Julian DuFron. He smiled as Alsaya presented him with a steaming cup of coffee.          “Thank you, Alsaya. I needed this.” He said, sipping the dark brew through his straw.          “Have you come up with anything, Reuben?” She asked.          “Nothing solid, but I did detect something. There is a clinic in Basil, Switzerland. They do plastic surgery and also some genetic research there.”          He took a long sip of coffee.          “One of the young doctors there had an image in his mind that resembled DuFron. It may be nothing but then it might be the break we’ve been hoping for.”          She went to the desk for paper and pen.          “Give me the information and I’ll send it along.”          “Alsaya, it was just a momentary image, it may mean nothing. Perhaps we should wait…”          “Reuben,” She replied, “There is no time to spare. Wilma Bankey’s people are discrete enough not to give us away, and they have the resources to do some snooping without being found out.”          His worried face made her smile.          “Don’t worry, old friend, if it’s nothing, no harm done, and if it is what we are looking for, we’re ahead of the game.”          He gave her the information and she went off to phone Wilma.          Reuben sipped more coffee.          “I hope you’re right, old girl.” He mumbled.          The lights went down and the slender young man sat at the piano and began to play.          Andre DuFron did not perform publicly. As Kindred, he felt it too risky to expose himself. Instead, he played for small gatherings like the one tonight. He did whatever was necessary to be able to play. The piano was the thing he loved above all others, except, perhaps for his small family, and his brother Martine.          Despite his own centuries of age, DuFron’s family was less than a century old. He’d begun to gather chylder after he and Martine had broken free of their elder, Julian DuFron. For decades they’d existed in silence for fear that the old monster would find them.          He looked down at his beautiful white hands. They weren’t really his, DuFron had taken them from a young woman he’d murdered and grafted them onto his wrists. This was done so that Andre, with his incredible talent for music would have the proper hands to play, all for the amusement of the elder DuFron. It had worked, Andre’s playing was flawless, but his young life had been destroyed in the process.          Off in the wings stood his brother and body guard, Martine. Instead of beautiful hands, DuFron had given him massive arms, legs and chest, as well as steel implants over his heart and rib cage, while limiting his intellect. Simple and childlike, but immensely powerful and nearly indestructible, Martine had emerged from surgery as the perfect guard for the Kindred family.          For centuries, Andre and Martine had done their elder’s bidding, even assisting in his horrible experiments, until finally they rebelled. Martine, spurred on by Andre, had attacked DuFron and broken nearly every bone in his body. Once the old one was helpless they could have destroyed him utterly, but Andre was unable to give the order. Along with the girl’s hands, he apparently had inherited her emotions as well. He hadn’t the heart for it. They’d sealed DuFron in a marble tomb and left him there for eternity, only to have him escape.          Afterward, they’d hidden all over Europe until Keller had at last destroyed their tormentor, or at least they’d thought so. Now they were again in danger, only they didn’t know it.          He finished his playing and stood, soaking in the thunderous applause of his audience. A broad grin crossed his handsome face. It faded as he saw Keller standing in the aisle. They were friends and kept in touch over the years, but to see Keller unannounced could only mean trouble.          An usher appeared and conducted Keller backstage to Andre’s dressing room. As he reached form the door, he was seized by powerful arms and lifted off the floor.          “Martine!” He gasped, and the big man set him down gently.          He seldom spoke, and when he did it was very childlike. DuFron had made sure to limit his intelligence so as to limit the chance that he might someday rebel. Neither DuFron, nor Keller was any match for the enormous Kindred.          “I am glad to see you, Keller.” Martine said slowly in his small voice.          “No more than I am to see you, old friend.” Keller said, “How are your cats?”          Martine’s small round face lit up.          “I had babies, Keller!” He said excitedly. “I have five more kitties now.”          “Isabelle’s grandchildren?” Keller asked. He’d given Martine one of his own cats, Isabelle, as a present.          “Yes, yes!” The big man chuckled, “Isabelle and Benny made babies!”          “I shall be eager to see them.” Keller said.          The dressing room door opened and Andre invited them in.          He shook Keller’s hand warmly, sparing him a bone crushing hug like he’d received from Martine.          “Keller, as glad as I am to see you, I sense all is not well.” He said softly, “What have you come to tell me?”          “It’s Julian, Andre, we think he’s back.”          Lights swam in the young man’s eyes and he fainted dead away. (to be continued)

The Rescue: Part Fifteen

Another Short Story Post: Continuing from the last post! This was NOT written by me! All credits go to writer Kimber (KimbersPlace4320@aol.com).

Enjoy!)

The Rescue: Part Fifteen


         Keller sat quietly in his vast library. There, among the books, was where he spent most of his time when at home. Here were books and scrolls that could be seen nowhere else, even some he had borrowed from the hidden scrolls of the library of Alexandria, thanks to the power of the twins.
         The twins, his two adopted daughters. Ages old, they had chosen to present themselves as six year old girls, and so to have the childhood they were denied so long before. He’d made himself a promise not to involve them in his adventures, in spite of the fact they were among the most powerful beings he had ever encountered, even as Azaiah. No, he would give them their childhood, at any cost.
         He was roused from his thoughts by Raoul, who appeared in the doorway.
         “Herr Keller, there is a phone call for you. Will you take it in here?”
         “Yes, Raoul, thank you.” He replied and lifted the receiver.
          “Yes? This is Keller.”
         “Keller, thank the gods!” Alsaya said on the other end.
         “Alsaya, what’s wrong?”
         “You are in danger!” She said breathlessly. “Grave danger!”
         “From whom?” Keller asked.
         “Julian DuFron.” She answered.
         Keller smiled,
         “DuFron is dead, Alsaya. I saw you destroy him myself.”
         “I can’t explain it, Keller, but there is no doubt, he’s behind this. Robert, Reuben and I all sensed him.”
         Keller sat back, lit a cigarette, and frowned.
         “Can you find him?”
         “No, not yet, but we will. Until then watch out, my friend.”
         “Yes,” He answered, “I will do that.”
         For a moment there was silence.
         “Alsaya, I have an idea. I need to talk to his chylder, Andre and Martine DuFron.”
         “Can you trust them, Keller? You know well they have always been in his thrall.”
         “I’ll have to risk it, Alsaya, I can’t think of any other way to go.”
         “Very well,” She answered, “Since I can’t either, I suggest you keep in touch.”
         “Where are you?” He asked.
         “We’re in Devon, England.” She replied.
         “After I talk to the DuFrons, I’ll come to you. I’m going to need your help to find Julian.”
         “You’ll be welcome, Keller.” She replied.

         Wilma Bankey was not happy at all. After breaking the news about Julian DuFron, Keller had requested a flight to London to visit the DuFrons and she was opposed bitterly. She’d been along when Keller had last encountered the mad doctor, and supposedly destroyed him. If, indeed, he’d returned he was likely to be more dangerous than ever.
         “Keller, we can’t protect you over there. I can’t even call on my colleagues for help because I can’t reveal your secrets. What am I supposed to do?”
         “I understand what you’re saying, Wilma, and I’ll just have to look after myself.”
         “Well,” She said glumly, “that makes me feel a lot better.”
         Hoping to divert her thoughts away he changed the subject.
         “Has Gabriel come up with anything?”
         “Yes, since you mentioned this DuFron, I had him do some checking on Van Horn’s phone records. Of course, there is no one by the name of DuFron anywhere, he’s changed it, but the fact that he is obsessed with medical experiments does help us find him. There are several places that do the kind of study DuFron was involved in and we are making discrete inquiries. I hope to have something for you in a day or so. Won’t you at least postpone your trip until we have something solid for you to go on?”
         “Wilma, DuFron’s chylder hate him as much as we do. He tortured and abused them for centuries and turned them into monsters. I’m sure Andre will help me all he can.”
         “I’m glad you’re sure, Keller, I’m not so certain. What if he’s able to exert the same power over them he always had and turn them to his side?”
         “I have Alsaya and her colleagues using their powers to check that also. Don’t worry, I’m going to find him and destroy him this time, once and for all.”
         “Let’s hope so, Keller,” She said, “let’s hope so.”

         Reuben turned his head from side to side to loosen his taut neck muscles. They’d been at it for hours, searching the multitude of thoughts and voices for any sign of Julian DuFron. He smiled as Alsaya presented him with a steaming cup of coffee.
         “Thank you, Alsaya. I needed this.” He said, sipping the dark brew through his straw.
         “Have you come up with anything, Reuben?” She asked.
         “Nothing solid, but I did detect something. There is a clinic in Basil, Switzerland. They do plastic surgery and also some genetic research there.”
         He took a long sip of coffee.
         “One of the young doctors there had an image in his mind that resembled DuFron. It may be nothing but then it might be the break we’ve been hoping for.”
         She went to the desk for paper and pen.
         “Give me the information and I’ll send it along.”
         “Alsaya, it was just a momentary image, it may mean nothing. Perhaps we should wait…”
         “Reuben,” She replied, “There is no time to spare. Wilma Bankey’s people are discrete enough not to give us away, and they have the resources to do some snooping without being found out.”
         His worried face made her smile.
         “Don’t worry, old friend, if it’s nothing, no harm done, and if it is what we are looking for, we’re ahead of the game.”
         He gave her the information and she went off to phone Wilma.
         Reuben sipped more coffee.
         “I hope you’re right, old girl.” He mumbled.

         The lights went down and the slender young man sat at the piano and began to play.
         Andre DuFron did not perform publicly. As Kindred, he felt it too risky to expose himself. Instead, he played for small gatherings like the one tonight. He did whatever was necessary to be able to play. The piano was the thing he loved above all others, except, perhaps for his small family, and his brother Martine.
         Despite his own centuries of age, DuFron’s family was less than a century old. He’d begun to gather chylder after he and Martine had broken free of their elder, Julian DuFron. For decades they’d existed in silence for fear that the old monster would find them.
         He looked down at his beautiful white hands. They weren’t really his, DuFron had taken them from a young woman he’d murdered and grafted them onto his wrists. This was done so that Andre, with his incredible talent for music would have the proper hands to play, all for the amusement of the elder DuFron. It had worked, Andre’s playing was flawless, but his young life had been destroyed in the process.
         Off in the wings stood his brother and body guard, Martine. Instead of beautiful hands, DuFron had given him massive arms, legs and chest, as well as steel implants over his heart and rib cage, while limiting his intellect. Simple and childlike, but immensely powerful and nearly indestructible, Martine had emerged from surgery as the perfect guard for the Kindred family.
         For centuries, Andre and Martine had done their elder’s bidding, even assisting in his horrible experiments, until finally they rebelled. Martine, spurred on by Andre, had attacked DuFron and broken nearly every bone in his body. Once the old one was helpless they could have destroyed him utterly, but Andre was unable to give the order. Along with the girl’s hands, he apparently had inherited her emotions as well. He hadn’t the heart for it. They’d sealed DuFron in a marble tomb and left him there for eternity, only to have him escape.
         Afterward, they’d hidden all over Europe until Keller had at last destroyed their tormentor, or at least they’d thought so. Now they were again in danger, only they didn’t know it.
         He finished his playing and stood, soaking in the thunderous applause of his audience. A broad grin crossed his handsome face. It faded as he saw Keller standing in the aisle. They were friends and kept in touch over the years, but to see Keller unannounced could only mean trouble.
         An usher appeared and conducted Keller backstage to Andre’s dressing room. As he reached form the door, he was seized by powerful arms and lifted off the floor.
         “Martine!” He gasped, and the big man set him down gently.
         He seldom spoke, and when he did it was very childlike. DuFron had made sure to limit his intelligence so as to limit the chance that he might someday rebel. Neither DuFron, nor Keller was any match for the enormous Kindred.
         “I am glad to see you, Keller.” Martine said slowly in his small voice.
         “No more than I am to see you, old friend.” Keller said, “How are your cats?”
         Martine’s small round face lit up.
         “I had babies, Keller!” He said excitedly. “I have five more kitties now.”
         “Isabelle’s grandchildren?” Keller asked. He’d given Martine one of his own cats, Isabelle, as a present.
         “Yes, yes!” The big man chuckled, “Isabelle and Benny made babies!”
         “I shall be eager to see them.” Keller said.
         The dressing room door opened and Andre invited them in.
         He shook Keller’s hand warmly, sparing him a bone crushing hug like he’d received from Martine.
         “Keller, as glad as I am to see you, I sense all is not well.” He said softly, “What have you come to tell me?”
         “It’s Julian, Andre, we think he’s back.”
         Lights swam in the young man’s eyes and he fainted dead away.

(to be continued)

The Rescue: Part Fourteen - HAPPY THANKSGIVING! Another Short Story Post: Continuing from the last post! This was NOT written by me! All credits go to writer Kimber (KimbersPlace4320@aol.com). Enjoy!) The Rescue: Part Fourteen          The doctor’s smock and mask were spattered with blood and his gloved hands were scarlet with it. He leaned over the writhing form on the table, then turned as his assistant appeared in the operating theater.          “Come in, Franz. I’m nearly done with her.”          The young man approached the table with some reluctance, he did not share the doctor’s love of surgery and he was somewhat sickened by blood and gore.          “You see, Franz, while the new born fledgling is in the state of metamorphosis into a blood drinker, her body is producing hormones, changing her flesh from mortal to immortal. In a few days her wounds will be completely healed and the limbs I modified and replaced will be hers, part of her body like she was born with them.”          He grabbed the girl on the table by her chin, and looked into her blood red eyes. They rolled back in her head and she moaned.          “This process is never ending. It continues as long as the blood drinker walks, finally altering the flesh completely into something far superior.”           Long, red strips covered the fledgling’s arms and legs and there was an “I” shaped cut from her breastbone to her pubis and from right to left. All were expertly sewn together, and appeared to be healing.          “Remarkable, isn’t it, Franz? No one but I, in all our history, has made use of this power.”          His eyes glazed over as they sometimes did and he was lost in his mind for a few moments.          “Herr Doctor,” Franz said finally. “William Van Horn has reached his destination. No one will be able to track him down.”          “Excellent!” The doctor said, looking into the girl’s tear stained face as he turned her head from one side to the other. “Everything is going perfectly. Make the call, Franz, put step two into operation. It is time we rid ourselves of William Van Horn”          He waved a gloved hand to dismiss the assistant.          “Go do as I say, and don’t worry, my young friend. The plan will work perfectly, and we’ll be ready.”          His glazed eyes scanned his creation on the table.          “She’ll be ready as well, now go.”          Gabriel gulped the last of his coffee and fought back the fatigue. He barely looked around as Wilma Bankey came up behind him.          “Anything yet, Dear?”          He sat back, rubbed his eyes.          “Not yet, Ms. Bankey, but I’ve got some things in the works.”          She patted his shoulder.          “Maybe you should get some rest. There’s time…”          “No, Ms. Bankey, there is no time. Our friend is in danger.”          She smiled.          “I’ll send for more coffee.”                   Keller took Sophie aside into another small basement room. This one was furnished with several large chairs and a small bar. Sophie could not help but be surprised at how many bars there were in the manor.          “Now,” Keller said, “what is the reason you tried to escape from here?”          Her mind poured over a series of excuses, but she realized he wouldn’t buy any of them, so she told the truth. Huntresse Manor was too well protected for a private residence and she suspected something more was involved here. She felt like a prisoner and she didn’t want to know any more. It is unwise she said, to take on the secrets of dangerous people.          “You are not our prisoner, Sophie, ” Keller replied, “in fact you are free to go anytime you wish.”          “I am?” She said.          “Absolutely.” Keller answered and picked up the house phone.          “Raoul, Sophie is going to be leaving us, see that a car is available to her, please and send someone to help her pack.”          “Just like that?” She said.          “Just like that, Sophie. We brought you here to protect you, not to imprison you. The fact that you were damn near killed should tell you something. I am sorry to say we won’t be able to offer you the same level of protection.”          She could tell he was angry, and also a bit hurt.          “I’m sorry, Professor.” She said quietly.          “Don’t be.” He said, “You may pack your things and go anytime.”          And he left the room.          They’d been at it for hours, Alsaya, Reuben and Robert Beaumont. Their minds reached out to others and they to still others until a web formed, covering much of the earth. All minds directed to sensing a certain presence.          It was far from an infallible skill. To say it was hit or miss would be charitable, but they had to try. First Alsaya, then the others had become aware of a presence involved in the attacks on Keller. She felt it as a familiar, yet unknown mentality, a puppet master directing a performance of his creations.          She blew out the breath she’d been holding as she focused and stood.          “I need a drink, gentlemen, and so do you. We’ve been at this for hours, and I have not gotten any closer to our target.”          Robert stretched, yawned.          “I agree,” He said, “we are wearing ourselves out and getting nowhere.”          He joined her at the small table that held several bottles of liquor.          Reuben turned his chair by use of the small control made especially to fit the stump of his right arm.          “I’ll have one too, please.” He said, “make it a stiff one.”          Alsaya poured him a glass of Irish whiskey which she knew he preferred and set it in the cup holder on his wheel chair. She slipped in a straw and he gulped down a healthy swig.          “Ahhh!” He said, “That’s better.”          He leaned down and took another slug of the whiskey.          “Now then,” He said, “I think I caught something.”          He smiled as he saw their eyes sharpen.          “It isn’t much, but I do sense that he has a connection to you, Alsaya. I saw something in his presence that reminded me of your aura, which is unmistakable. Could he be one of your Chylder?”          She shook her head.          “No, my only existing Chylde is Lorenz. The rest were all destroyed over the years, and the only one who could put together something like this was Julian DuFron, and I destroyed him myself.”          She staggered as if she’d been struck by a blow. Into her mind it popped like a burst of light. In her mind’s eyes she saw his face, the strong chin, striking blue eyes and gleaming white hair. There could be no doubt, it was him. Julian DuFron! Yes, that was the presence she felt.          “No, good Gods no!” She said, clutching at Robert Beaumont’s arm as he steadied her. “It can’t be! It can’t!”          William Van Horn strolled out onto the terrace high above the white sand beach. His hotel room overlooked the ocean. Later, after the sun dipped a bit, he would go walk the beach and dig his toes into the sand.          He always kept out of the direct sun, although he was old enough to have a great deal of immunity to its rays. It was just a foible of his, a phobia he reasoned. Long years of fearing the sun had left him a bit afraid of it even now. He strolled to the small bar in the corner of his suite and fixed himself a large Scotch.          There was a knock at the door, and he turned to answer it.          As he opened the door, there was a hiss of compressed air and he felt agonizing pain in his chest. He looked down to see a wooden shaft protruding from his rib cage. He staggered back and slumped onto the floor. The shaft had paralyzed him, he realized that after five hundred years he was about to face final death. In some ways he welcomed it.          His body began to smolder as he looked up into the face of his assassin.          “The Doctor….” he started to say.          “Yes, the doctor sends his regards, Mr. Van Horn.” The man answered and walked out of the room, leaving the now smoking body to burn. (to be continued)

The Rescue: Part Fourteen - HAPPY THANKSGIVING!

Another Short Story Post: Continuing from the last post! This was NOT written by me! All credits go to writer Kimber (KimbersPlace4320@aol.com).

Enjoy!)

The Rescue: Part Fourteen


         The doctor’s smock and mask were spattered with blood and his gloved hands were scarlet with it. He leaned over the writhing form on the table, then turned as his assistant appeared in the operating theater.
         “Come in, Franz. I’m nearly done with her.”
         The young man approached the table with some reluctance, he did not share the doctor’s love of surgery and he was somewhat sickened by blood and gore.
         “You see, Franz, while the new born fledgling is in the state of metamorphosis into a blood drinker, her body is producing hormones, changing her flesh from mortal to immortal. In a few days her wounds will be completely healed and the limbs I modified and replaced will be hers, part of her body like she was born with them.”
         He grabbed the girl on the table by her chin, and looked into her blood red eyes. They rolled back in her head and she moaned.
         “This process is never ending. It continues as long as the blood drinker walks, finally altering the flesh completely into something far superior.”
          Long, red strips covered the fledgling’s arms and legs and there was an “I” shaped cut from her breastbone to her pubis and from right to left. All were expertly sewn together, and appeared to be healing.
         “Remarkable, isn’t it, Franz? No one but I, in all our history, has made use of this power.”
         His eyes glazed over as they sometimes did and he was lost in his mind for a few moments.
         “Herr Doctor,” Franz said finally. “William Van Horn has reached his destination. No one will be able to track him down.”
         “Excellent!” The doctor said, looking into the girl’s tear stained face as he turned her head from one side to the other. “Everything is going perfectly. Make the call, Franz, put step two into operation. It is time we rid ourselves of William Van Horn”
         He waved a gloved hand to dismiss the assistant.
         “Go do as I say, and don’t worry, my young friend. The plan will work perfectly, and we’ll be ready.”
         His glazed eyes scanned his creation on the table.
         “She’ll be ready as well, now go.”

         Gabriel gulped the last of his coffee and fought back the fatigue. He barely looked around as Wilma Bankey came up behind him.
         “Anything yet, Dear?”
         He sat back, rubbed his eyes.
         “Not yet, Ms. Bankey, but I’ve got some things in the works.”
         She patted his shoulder.
         “Maybe you should get some rest. There’s time…”
         “No, Ms. Bankey, there is no time. Our friend is in danger.”
         She smiled.
         “I’ll send for more coffee.”
        
         Keller took Sophie aside into another small basement room. This one was furnished with several large chairs and a small bar. Sophie could not help but be surprised at how many bars there were in the manor.
         “Now,” Keller said, “what is the reason you tried to escape from here?”
         Her mind poured over a series of excuses, but she realized he wouldn’t buy any of them, so she told the truth. Huntresse Manor was too well protected for a private residence and she suspected something more was involved here. She felt like a prisoner and she didn’t want to know any more. It is unwise she said, to take on the secrets of dangerous people.
         “You are not our prisoner, Sophie, ” Keller replied, “in fact you are free to go anytime you wish.”
         “I am?” She said.
         “Absolutely.” Keller answered and picked up the house phone.
         “Raoul, Sophie is going to be leaving us, see that a car is available to her, please and send someone to help her pack.”
         “Just like that?” She said.
         “Just like that, Sophie. We brought you here to protect you, not to imprison you. The fact that you were damn near killed should tell you something. I am sorry to say we won’t be able to offer you the same level of protection.”
         She could tell he was angry, and also a bit hurt.
         “I’m sorry, Professor.” She said quietly.
         “Don’t be.” He said, “You may pack your things and go anytime.”
         And he left the room.

         They’d been at it for hours, Alsaya, Reuben and Robert Beaumont. Their minds reached out to others and they to still others until a web formed, covering much of the earth. All minds directed to sensing a certain presence.
         It was far from an infallible skill. To say it was hit or miss would be charitable, but they had to try. First Alsaya, then the others had become aware of a presence involved in the attacks on Keller. She felt it as a familiar, yet unknown mentality, a puppet master directing a performance of his creations.
         She blew out the breath she’d been holding as she focused and stood.
         “I need a drink, gentlemen, and so do you. We’ve been at this for hours, and I have not gotten any closer to our target.”
         Robert stretched, yawned.
         “I agree,” He said, “we are wearing ourselves out and getting nowhere.”
         He joined her at the small table that held several bottles of liquor.
         Reuben turned his chair by use of the small control made especially to fit the stump of his right arm.
         “I’ll have one too, please.” He said, “make it a stiff one.”
         Alsaya poured him a glass of Irish whiskey which she knew he preferred and set it in the cup holder on his wheel chair. She slipped in a straw and he gulped down a healthy swig.
         “Ahhh!” He said, “That’s better.”
         He leaned down and took another slug of the whiskey.
         “Now then,” He said, “I think I caught something.”
         He smiled as he saw their eyes sharpen.
         “It isn’t much, but I do sense that he has a connection to you, Alsaya. I saw something in his presence that reminded me of your aura, which is unmistakable. Could he be one of your Chylder?”
         She shook her head.
         “No, my only existing Chylde is Lorenz. The rest were all destroyed over the years, and the only one who could put together something like this was Julian DuFron, and I destroyed him myself.”
         She staggered as if she’d been struck by a blow. Into her mind it popped like a burst of light. In her mind’s eyes she saw his face, the strong chin, striking blue eyes and gleaming white hair. There could be no doubt, it was him. Julian DuFron! Yes, that was the presence she felt.
         “No, good Gods no!” She said, clutching at Robert Beaumont’s arm as he steadied her. “It can’t be! It can’t!”

         William Van Horn strolled out onto the terrace high above the white sand beach. His hotel room overlooked the ocean. Later, after the sun dipped a bit, he would go walk the beach and dig his toes into the sand.
         He always kept out of the direct sun, although he was old enough to have a great deal of immunity to its rays. It was just a foible of his, a phobia he reasoned. Long years of fearing the sun had left him a bit afraid of it even now. He strolled to the small bar in the corner of his suite and fixed himself a large Scotch.
         There was a knock at the door, and he turned to answer it.
         As he opened the door, there was a hiss of compressed air and he felt agonizing pain in his chest. He looked down to see a wooden shaft protruding from his rib cage. He staggered back and slumped onto the floor. The shaft had paralyzed him, he realized that after five hundred years he was about to face final death. In some ways he welcomed it.
         His body began to smolder as he looked up into the face of his assassin.
         “The Doctor….” he started to say.
         “Yes, the doctor sends his regards, Mr. Van Horn.” The man answered and walked out of the room, leaving the now smoking body to burn.

(to be continued)

The Rescue: Part Thirteen Another Short Story Post: Continuing from the last post! This was NOT written by me! All credits go to writer Kimber (KimbersPlace4320@aol.com). Enjoy!) The Rescue: Part Thirteen          After hours of waiting and pleading, Ramon Navarro at last heard the cell door unlock. He managed a smile as Professor James P. Keller entered, followed by Raoul..          “Good evening, Professor.” He said thickly.          Keller slowly removed his suit jacket and hung it on a nearby hanger. He pulled a stainless steel chair up in front of his captive and sat, lit a cigarette. Raoul merely hovered in the background, huge and menacing.          “I must say, your disguise as the old nun was brilliant, Professor.” Navarro went on nervously. “Where did you get your training?”          “Hollywood.” Keller answered, “I spent nearly a year at Universal Studios learning the craft.”           Navarro’s eyes flicked to the many instruments of torture that hung from the tiled walls.          “There’s no need for unpleasantness, Professor. I have been an inquisitor also, I know no one can hold out forever.”          “And, you are ready to talk?” Keller asked.          The helpless man nodded. He was uncertain, Keller was not giving anything away.          “First of all,” Keller began, “if you lie to me you’ll regret it, but not for long.”          He paused a moment to let that sink in.          “Now, who were you trying to kill? Me or the girl?”          “I was hired,” Navarro replied, “to assassinate you, the bomb was for that purpose.”          “Then why the girl?” Keller pressed.          A dark, cold look passed across Ramon’s face.          “I lost my temper when I saw her.” He growled.          Raoul handed Keller a manilla folder and he read through it. It was a complete dossier, assembled by Wilma Bankey and Gabriel.          “You have poor impulse control, Navarro.” He said, still scanning the pages of the dossier. “You sacrificed your mission for the sake of revenge.”          He peered over the page at Navarro.          “Not very professional.”          Despite the circumstances, Ramon felt the anger rising inside him.          “All right, Keller, you have me, say what you will, I still got the girl.”          Keller smiled and nodded to Raoul, who stepped out of the room.          “Who are you working for, Navarro?”          “You already know.” Ramon answered, “William Van Horn.”          Keller puffed his cigarette.          “Did he ever mention a partner? Anyone in it with him?”          “No,” Ramon answered, “he hardly told me anything at all, only that I was to assassinate you.”          Another drag on the cigarette.          “Did you know about Washington?”          “No, not until I was told to kill him.”          “And William provided you with a way into the parking deck?”          “He had someone make sure I had an excuse to get in.”          A bead of sweat appeared on Ramon’s forehead.          “Someone?”          “He made a call and it was arranged.”          Keller sat back, smiled.          “And you didn’t even make a guess who that might have been?”          There was no use trying to conceal anything from this man, Ramon realized.          “He spoke a foreign language, German I think.”          He swallowed hard, looked into Keller’s cold green eyes.          “I speak a little. He said something about Switzerland.”          Keller leaned closer.          “Switzerland? Are you sure?”          Ramon nodded.          “Yes, I’m sure.”          Keller stood as Raoul stepped back into the room. Behind him was Sophie Skelton!          Navarro’s eyes nearly popped out.          “She was dead! I saw the explosion!”          “You saw an explosion, Navarro,” Keller said, “but this young lady wasn’t in the car. With all the security we have here did you honestly think you could sneak a bomb in here? The dogs sniffed it out and Raoul called me with a plan.”          He chuckled.          “By the way, you didn’t get my Cadillac either.”          “Nein, we blew up an old Ford.” Raoul said.          Once outside he got the big man aside.          “Call Wilma, she can pick him up whenever she’s ready.” He said.          Then he turned to Sophie, who stood silent, still dazed from the near death experience.          “Young lady, we need to talk.” He said.                   Robert Beaumont and Alsaya strolled through the hedge maze on his estate. It was late evening and the air was cool and fresh off the nearby moors.          “How long has it been since we walked here, Alsaya?” Beaumont asked.          She smiled prettily.          “More years than I care to count, Robert. Too long.”          He took her hand.          “I always loved you, Alsaya since the first day I saw you.”          A blush colored her pale cheek.          “I saw you first, Robert. I saw you fight Glatius in the Coliseum.”          He grinned, shook his head.          “Hard to believe I was ever that man, Alsaya.”          He looked down at his hands, soft and white in the moonlight.          “They no longer know the feel of a sword or ax. I can’t even do Jijininku any more.”          She squeezed his hand.          “You have no need to, Robert, few of us do now. We are not the creatures we once were.”          “Some work at them, Alsaya.” He replied. “Azaiah always did, and your friend Keller does.”          “They are the protectors, Robert. Always among us, unchosen and often unknowing.” She said. “They do what they must so that we might exist in peace.”          She turned to look into his eyes.          “As you do. If it wasn’t for you and the council, our kind would still be in chaos.”          He lifted her hand and kissed it.          “You always could make me feel better about myself.” He said, “Even when old Glatius beat the tar out of me.”          Her striking blue eyes bored into his.          “Robert, what about the fight now? How do you think the council are leaning?”          He shrugged.          “It’s hard to say. Some were always with us, and we made a few converts, but we still have not reached all. Don’t forget, some have long memories. Any who might hold a grudge against you or I or Reuben might go against us for spite.          “Malvado, of course, is an ally of William’s.”          He stopped for a moment, pondered.          “You know, Alsaya, I have occasionally suspected that Malvado and William shared a secret. I felt the presence of another connected to them.”          Robert Beaumont was one of those Kindred with the second sight, the ability to catch traces of random thoughts and actions in his mind. It was a trait shared by many Kindred, including Alsaya and Reuben.            “It’s odd you mention, Robert. Lately, I, too have felt a presence, familiar yet beyond my memory. Perhaps, it is connected to this.”          “We should speak to Reuben, Alsaya. His powers are greater than either of ours.”          “Yes,” She replied, “let’s.”          Reuben was parked on a back veranda watching the stars and using his incredible mind to stay in contact with the stream of thought that coursed about the mansion.          He smiled as Robert and Alsaya approached.          Quietly and quickly Alsaya filled him in.          “Do you feel anything about Malvado and William Van Horn, Reuben?” She asked.          He was unable to close his eyes, the lids had been burned away, but he had learned to focus his mind and block out what he saw around him. Beaumont Manor and the vast grounds and gardens disappeared and his vision was blank. He remained so for some time, and finally turned to Alsaya,          Blood sweat dampened his brow and Alsaya dabbed it away with her handkerchief.          “You were right, my friends.” Reuben said finally. “There is someone else in this.”          He shook his head and his mind cleared a bit more.          “I can’t tell who it is, but they’re powerful, and they’re Kindred. That much I can tell.”          “Perhaps we should have a chat with Malvado?” Robert said.          “No.” Alsaya replied, “We don’t want to give away what we know, and we’d have to. It is more to our advantage to discover this silent partner is. Otherwise, we cannot save Keller.” (to be continued)

The Rescue: Part Thirteen

Another Short Story Post: Continuing from the last post! This was NOT written by me! All credits go to writer Kimber (KimbersPlace4320@aol.com).

Enjoy!)

The Rescue: Part Thirteen


         After hours of waiting and pleading, Ramon Navarro at last heard the cell door unlock. He managed a smile as Professor James P. Keller entered, followed by Raoul..
         “Good evening, Professor.” He said thickly.
         Keller slowly removed his suit jacket and hung it on a nearby hanger. He pulled a stainless steel chair up in front of his captive and sat, lit a cigarette. Raoul merely hovered in the background, huge and menacing.
         “I must say, your disguise as the old nun was brilliant, Professor.” Navarro went on nervously. “Where did you get your training?”
         “Hollywood.” Keller answered, “I spent nearly a year at Universal Studios learning the craft.”
          Navarro’s eyes flicked to the many instruments of torture that hung from the tiled walls.
         “There’s no need for unpleasantness, Professor. I have been an inquisitor also, I know no one can hold out forever.”
         “And, you are ready to talk?” Keller asked.
         The helpless man nodded. He was uncertain, Keller was not giving anything away.
         “First of all,” Keller began, “if you lie to me you’ll regret it, but not for long.”
         He paused a moment to let that sink in.
         “Now, who were you trying to kill? Me or the girl?”
         “I was hired,” Navarro replied, “to assassinate you, the bomb was for that purpose.”
         “Then why the girl?” Keller pressed.
         A dark, cold look passed across Ramon’s face.
         “I lost my temper when I saw her.” He growled.
         Raoul handed Keller a manilla folder and he read through it. It was a complete dossier, assembled by Wilma Bankey and Gabriel.
         “You have poor impulse control, Navarro.” He said, still scanning the pages of the dossier. “You sacrificed your mission for the sake of revenge.”
         He peered over the page at Navarro.
         “Not very professional.”
         Despite the circumstances, Ramon felt the anger rising inside him.
         “All right, Keller, you have me, say what you will, I still got the girl.”
         Keller smiled and nodded to Raoul, who stepped out of the room.
         “Who are you working for, Navarro?”
         “You already know.” Ramon answered, “William Van Horn.”
         Keller puffed his cigarette.
         “Did he ever mention a partner? Anyone in it with him?”
         “No,” Ramon answered, “he hardly told me anything at all, only that I was to assassinate you.”
         Another drag on the cigarette.
         “Did you know about Washington?”
         “No, not until I was told to kill him.”
         “And William provided you with a way into the parking deck?”
         “He had someone make sure I had an excuse to get in.”
         A bead of sweat appeared on Ramon’s forehead.
         “Someone?”
         “He made a call and it was arranged.”
         Keller sat back, smiled.
         “And you didn’t even make a guess who that might have been?”
         There was no use trying to conceal anything from this man, Ramon realized.
         “He spoke a foreign language, German I think.”
         He swallowed hard, looked into Keller’s cold green eyes.
         “I speak a little. He said something about Switzerland.”
         Keller leaned closer.
         “Switzerland? Are you sure?”
         Ramon nodded.
         “Yes, I’m sure.”
         Keller stood as Raoul stepped back into the room. Behind him was Sophie Skelton!
         Navarro’s eyes nearly popped out.
         “She was dead! I saw the explosion!”
         “You saw an explosion, Navarro,” Keller said, “but this young lady wasn’t in the car. With all the security we have here did you honestly think you could sneak a bomb in here? The dogs sniffed it out and Raoul called me with a plan.”
         He chuckled.
         “By the way, you didn’t get my Cadillac either.”
         “Nein, we blew up an old Ford.” Raoul said.
         Once outside he got the big man aside.
         “Call Wilma, she can pick him up whenever she’s ready.” He said.
         Then he turned to Sophie, who stood silent, still dazed from the near death experience.
         “Young lady, we need to talk.” He said.
        
         Robert Beaumont and Alsaya strolled through the hedge maze on his estate. It was late evening and the air was cool and fresh off the nearby moors.
         “How long has it been since we walked here, Alsaya?” Beaumont asked.
         She smiled prettily.
         “More years than I care to count, Robert. Too long.”
         He took her hand.
         “I always loved you, Alsaya since the first day I saw you.”
         A blush colored her pale cheek.
         “I saw you first, Robert. I saw you fight Glatius in the Coliseum.”
         He grinned, shook his head.
         “Hard to believe I was ever that man, Alsaya.”
         He looked down at his hands, soft and white in the moonlight.
         “They no longer know the feel of a sword or ax. I can’t even do Jijininku any more.”
         She squeezed his hand.
         “You have no need to, Robert, few of us do now. We are not the creatures we once were.”
         “Some work at them, Alsaya.” He replied. “Azaiah always did, and your friend Keller does.”
         “They are the protectors, Robert. Always among us, unchosen and often unknowing.” She said. “They do what they must so that we might exist in peace.”
         She turned to look into his eyes.
         “As you do. If it wasn’t for you and the council, our kind would still be in chaos.”
         He lifted her hand and kissed it.
         “You always could make me feel better about myself.” He said, “Even when old Glatius beat the tar out of me.”
         Her striking blue eyes bored into his.
         “Robert, what about the fight now? How do you think the council are leaning?”
         He shrugged.
         “It’s hard to say. Some were always with us, and we made a few converts, but we still have not reached all. Don’t forget, some have long memories. Any who might hold a grudge against you or I or Reuben might go against us for spite.
         “Malvado, of course, is an ally of William’s.”
         He stopped for a moment, pondered.
         “You know, Alsaya, I have occasionally suspected that Malvado and William shared a secret. I felt the presence of another connected to them.”
         Robert Beaumont was one of those Kindred with the second sight, the ability to catch traces of random thoughts and actions in his mind. It was a trait shared by many Kindred, including Alsaya and Reuben.  
         “It’s odd you mention, Robert. Lately, I, too have felt a presence, familiar yet beyond my memory. Perhaps, it is connected to this.”
         “We should speak to Reuben, Alsaya. His powers are greater than either of ours.”
         “Yes,” She replied, “let’s.”
         Reuben was parked on a back veranda watching the stars and using his incredible mind to stay in contact with the stream of thought that coursed about the mansion.
         He smiled as Robert and Alsaya approached.
         Quietly and quickly Alsaya filled him in.
         “Do you feel anything about Malvado and William Van Horn, Reuben?” She asked.
         He was unable to close his eyes, the lids had been burned away, but he had learned to focus his mind and block out what he saw around him. Beaumont Manor and the vast grounds and gardens disappeared and his vision was blank. He remained so for some time, and finally turned to Alsaya,
         Blood sweat dampened his brow and Alsaya dabbed it away with her handkerchief.
         “You were right, my friends.” Reuben said finally. “There is someone else in this.”
         He shook his head and his mind cleared a bit more.
         “I can’t tell who it is, but they’re powerful, and they’re Kindred. That much I can tell.”
         “Perhaps we should have a chat with Malvado?” Robert said.
         “No.” Alsaya replied, “We don’t want to give away what we know, and we’d have to. It is more to our advantage to discover this silent partner is. Otherwise, we cannot save Keller.”

(to be continued)

The Rescue : Part Twelve (Another Short Story Post: Continuing from the last post! This was NOT written by me! All credits go to writer Kimber (KimbersPlace4320@aol.com). Enjoy!) The Rescue: Part Twelve          Ramon sat uncomfortably on a stainless steel stool in the cold basement of Huntresse Manor. He was in a concrete room, soundproofed and secure, where Professor Keller liked to do interrogations. His wrists were cuffed behind him and his legs were bound at the ankles by shackles which were attached to the stool which, in turn, was bolted to the floor. With a slight shudder, he noticed a large drain in the center of the room. He’d done many interrogations himself, and he knew what sort of fluids had gone down that dark hole in the floor.          For hours he’d balanced his aching body on the hard seat and his back ached. It was all part of the softening up process he knew. He was also aware that this could go on for days, and be followed by extreme physical and mental tortures. His mind raced as he pondered his next move.          To talk, of course, would ruin his reputation among his clients, and it was on shaky ground already. However, not to talk would be difficult or impossible. If the professor and his staff were as good as they ought to be, he’d eventually talk anyway, and by that time he may be beyond total recovery. No, there was no doubt. He could not avoid talking, the question was how much and when.          If they left his mind intact enough, he might get away with half truths or even disinformation…          No, he thought, who am I kidding?          He was a master interrogator and he knew he was sunk. His best option was clear.          “Okay!” He shouted, “I’m ready to talk!”          Nothing moved and there was no sound.          Robert Beaumont stood patiently until all the assembled Kindred were silent.          At last he spoke,          “Distinguished friends, welcome.” He began, “You all know why we are here. We must decide if our law has been broken and if so, how is the infraction to be punished?”          He paused and looked around the table. Ancient faces looked back at him, some smiling, some glaring, but all hiding their thoughts.          “As you know, we here review the case of Professor James Keller and William Van Horn. William is well known to most of us, and the professor is less so. Please, do not let that sway your decision.”          Another pause as he let his words sink in.          “It is not against our law to attack our own kind. We have, after all, battled over territory for eons. This is part of our peculiar culture.” He said, “That is not what we decide here.”          “It is against our law, “He continued, “to hinder one of our kind when he or she has been sent on a task that affects us all, such as the affair of the vampire child.”          He turned slightly and indicated Alsaya and beside her, Reuben.          “Two of our oldest friends come before us today to accuse William Van Horn of hindering Professor Keller  in his mission to destroy the child.”          He straightened his back a bit, almost like coming to attention.          “I can tell you now, that Professor Keller was assigned to this by Reuben, with my consent and that of this council, although the professor was not so advised at the time.          “He succeeded in this mission. It is charged he did so despite William Van Horn’s interference and that William’s interference was for his personal gain.”          The silence was total as he spoke, but the air was filled with mental conversation.          “I first must ask, who stands for Professor Keller?”          “We do, Reuben and I.” Alsaya replied quietly. Reuben nodded his acquiescence.          “I ask now who stands for William Van Horn?”          A tall, white haired Kindred stood.          “I am Salvatore Malvado,” He said, “in his absence, I stand for William Van Horn.” He said.          Malvado was an ancient who had lived for centuries in various parts of Spain, seldom leaving it except to do Council business. He was an old comrade and close friend of William Van Horn.          Beaumont returned to stand behind his chair.          “Since all concerned are represented, I declare these proceedings open.”          He looked to Alsaya.          “It is customary for the accuser to speak first, Alsaya.” Beaumont said.          “I yield first statement to Reuben.” She said, “It was he who first brought news of the child to us.”          She sat again and Reuben leaned closer to the table so that his harsh whisper of a voice might be heard.          “I, along with Benjamin and Melvina, was sent by this council to Professor James Keller.          “We chose the professor, because, unlike us, he retains his fighting skills and he has wide experience in handling delicate matters for his government and certain private interests.”          He stopped to compose himself. The terrible fire damage had affected more than his body. His mind would be a long time recovering also.          “William Van Horn was made aware of the child as a courtesy, but he chose to try and capture her for himself and his interests.”          “That’s not true!” Malvado shouted. “William has only ever served the interests of our kind!”           “Is that what you call what he did?” Reuben hissed.          “Gentlemen!” Robert Beaumont snapped. “Reuben must be allowed to make his statement, Senor Malvado, and then you may question him.”          Malvado bowed slightly.          “You are correct, of course, Lord Robert, forgive me.” He said and took his seat again.          Beaumont gave Reuben the nod and he continued.          “Van Horn hired Russian mercenaries and pursued the child’s mother and later Keller and Lorenz DiVitalian to get her. Once he had the mother, he imprisoned and drugged her, all in the attempt to get the child.”          He paused, looked down at his ruined body.          “I was a casualty of the battle that ensued with the monster Mirok. Had Keller been allowed to perform and do his duty, we could have avoided it and destroyed Mirok before things got so out of hand.”          He coughed slightly and signaled he was through.          “Senor Malvado, have you any questions for Reuben?”          Malvado stood.          “Thank you, Lord Beaumont. Reuben, is it not true that Professor Keller destroyed several dozens of fellow Kindred during the course of this adventure?”          “Yes,” Reuben replied, “in self defense. Those Kindred were under the direct command of William Van Horn.”          “Have you any proof of that?” Malvado asked.          “It is well known…” Reuben began.          “It is not known to me.” Malvado interrupted, “nor to those assembled here. No one here saw William Van Horn hire any mercenaries or give them any orders to attack Professor Keller. Isn’t that true?”          Reuben’s scorched eyes burnt and his body ached, but he remained strong.          “No one here saw it, but there is one, a Kindred not involved here, who was there. She has been sent for.”          Robert Beaumont held up a hand.          “Reuben, we have certain time considerations, as you know. I was not aware of a witness yet to come. Why is she not here?”          “We had difficulty locating her, Robert. I beg your indulgence.”          “It was specified that all parties to this matter were to be present.” Malvado said.          Beaumont pondered.          “Normally, I would be inclined to agree with Senor Malvado. You were aware that all were to be present.          “However, this is an extremely delicate matter and deserves a bit of lee way. I will allow your witness to testify, as long as he or she is here within twenty-four hours.”          He flicked an eye to Malvado, who gave no sign of the frustration he felt.          “Further questions, Senor?”          Malvado shook back his mane of thick white hair.          “Reuben, did you at any time see William Van Horn at all, and were you in fact harmed by him in any way?”          “No,” Reuben answered, “I did not see William, and I was not harmed by him.”          “If you did not see William at all, then you surely did not see him hinder or in any way harm Professor Keller either did you?”          “No,” Reuben said again.          “I have no other questions, Lord Beaumont.” Malvado said, pleased with his victory.          Beaumont turned to Alsaya.          “Alsaya, have you anything to add?”          She stood.          “Yes, Lord Beaumont, I have.”          “Proceed.” Beaumont replied.          “Throughout the affair of the child, there was a constant mental communication between dozens of Kindred who were able to receive it, I among them. It was clear from the images and thoughts of the child’s mother, of Professor Keller, and of William Van Horn and his henchmen what was truly taking place. It was obvious from the…”          “Forgive me, Senora Alsaya.” Malvado interrupted, “you received this all as a mental message?”          “That mental message led us eventually to the child and the combined power of those minds was able to destroy Mirok.”          “I ask you, as I asked Reuben. Alsaya, did you actually see William Van horn. Did you witness him doing any harm to anyone, Professor Keller, the child or its mother?”          “No,” She said, “I did not.”          “Well then, how are we to credit your evidence?”          “Look around you, Senor Malvado. There are several at this very table who also received the messages.”          Around the table several nodded that they had indeed received the messages and more messages still flew through the air.          “Did any of you, anyone, see William Van Horn do anything he is accused of?”          Eyes were downcast and silence reigned.          “That,” Malvado said, “answers my question. Thank you, Senora.”          Robert Beaumont looked about at the faces around the table. There was doubt among them. True, most of them knew William Van Horn had broken the law and gone against the council, but it would take proof to make them move.          “Senor Malvado, do you care to make a statement before we proceed?”           “I will be brief.” Malvado said. “William Van Horn has given many years of dedicated service to our kind. Neither I, nor any other around this table has ever known him to act against Kindred interests.          “As you know, William, like many of us, is a pragmatist. He does what he feels must be done. In this case, as in all matters, he did what he felt was necessary for the good of our kind.”          He sat back, confident. It would be very difficult prove any of this against William and he knew it well.          “Reuben, would you care to ask any questions of Senor Malvado before we recess to await your witness?” Beaumont asked.          “Not at this time, thank you, Lord Beaumont.”          “Very well then.” Beaumont said, “We are recessed until tomorrow evening.” (to be continued)

The Rescue : Part Twelve

(Another Short Story Post: Continuing from the last post! This was NOT written by me! All credits go to writer Kimber (KimbersPlace4320@aol.com).

Enjoy!)

The Rescue: Part Twelve


         Ramon sat uncomfortably on a stainless steel stool in the cold basement of Huntresse Manor. He was in a concrete room, soundproofed and secure, where Professor Keller liked to do interrogations. His wrists were cuffed behind him and his legs were bound at the ankles by shackles which were attached to the stool which, in turn, was bolted to the floor. With a slight shudder, he noticed a large drain in the center of the room. He’d done many interrogations himself, and he knew what sort of fluids had gone down that dark hole in the floor.
         For hours he’d balanced his aching body on the hard seat and his back ached. It was all part of the softening up process he knew. He was also aware that this could go on for days, and be followed by extreme physical and mental tortures. His mind raced as he pondered his next move.
         To talk, of course, would ruin his reputation among his clients, and it was on shaky ground already. However, not to talk would be difficult or impossible. If the professor and his staff were as good as they ought to be, he’d eventually talk anyway, and by that time he may be beyond total recovery. No, there was no doubt. He could not avoid talking, the question was how much and when.
         If they left his mind intact enough, he might get away with half truths or even disinformation…
         No, he thought, who am I kidding?
         He was a master interrogator and he knew he was sunk. His best option was clear.
         “Okay!” He shouted, “I’m ready to talk!”
         Nothing moved and there was no sound.

         Robert Beaumont stood patiently until all the assembled Kindred were silent.
         At last he spoke,
         “Distinguished friends, welcome.” He began, “You all know why we are here. We must decide if our law has been broken and if so, how is the infraction to be punished?”
         He paused and looked around the table. Ancient faces looked back at him, some smiling, some glaring, but all hiding their thoughts.
         “As you know, we here review the case of Professor James Keller and William Van Horn. William is well known to most of us, and the professor is less so. Please, do not let that sway your decision.”
         Another pause as he let his words sink in.
         “It is not against our law to attack our own kind. We have, after all, battled over territory for eons. This is part of our peculiar culture.” He said, “That is not what we decide here.”
         “It is against our law, “He continued, “to hinder one of our kind when he or she has been sent on a task that affects us all, such as the affair of the vampire child.”
         He turned slightly and indicated Alsaya and beside her, Reuben.
         “Two of our oldest friends come before us today to accuse William Van Horn of hindering Professor Keller  in his mission to destroy the child.”
         He straightened his back a bit, almost like coming to attention.
         “I can tell you now, that Professor Keller was assigned to this by Reuben, with my consent and that of this council, although the professor was not so advised at the time.
         “He succeeded in this mission. It is charged he did so despite William Van Horn’s interference and that William’s interference was for his personal gain.”
         The silence was total as he spoke, but the air was filled with mental conversation.
         “I first must ask, who stands for Professor Keller?”
         “We do, Reuben and I.” Alsaya replied quietly. Reuben nodded his acquiescence.
         “I ask now who stands for William Van Horn?”
         A tall, white haired Kindred stood.
         “I am Salvatore Malvado,” He said, “in his absence, I stand for William Van Horn.” He said.
         Malvado was an ancient who had lived for centuries in various parts of Spain, seldom leaving it except to do Council business. He was an old comrade and close friend of William Van Horn.
         Beaumont returned to stand behind his chair.
         “Since all concerned are represented, I declare these proceedings open.”
         He looked to Alsaya.
         “It is customary for the accuser to speak first, Alsaya.” Beaumont said.
         “I yield first statement to Reuben.” She said, “It was he who first brought news of the child to us.”
         She sat again and Reuben leaned closer to the table so that his harsh whisper of a voice might be heard.
         “I, along with Benjamin and Melvina, was sent by this council to Professor James Keller.
         “We chose the professor, because, unlike us, he retains his fighting skills and he has wide experience in handling delicate matters for his government and certain private interests.”
         He stopped to compose himself. The terrible fire damage had affected more than his body. His mind would be a long time recovering also.
         “William Van Horn was made aware of the child as a courtesy, but he chose to try and capture her for himself and his interests.”
         “That’s not true!” Malvado shouted. “William has only ever served the interests of our kind!” 
         “Is that what you call what he did?” Reuben hissed.
         “Gentlemen!” Robert Beaumont snapped. “Reuben must be allowed to make his statement, Senor Malvado, and then you may question him.”
         Malvado bowed slightly.
         “You are correct, of course, Lord Robert, forgive me.” He said and took his seat again.
         Beaumont gave Reuben the nod and he continued.
         “Van Horn hired Russian mercenaries and pursued the child’s mother and later Keller and Lorenz DiVitalian to get her. Once he had the mother, he imprisoned and drugged her, all in the attempt to get the child.”
         He paused, looked down at his ruined body.
         “I was a casualty of the battle that ensued with the monster Mirok. Had Keller been allowed to perform and do his duty, we could have avoided it and destroyed Mirok before things got so out of hand.”
         He coughed slightly and signaled he was through.
         “Senor Malvado, have you any questions for Reuben?”
         Malvado stood.
         “Thank you, Lord Beaumont. Reuben, is it not true that Professor Keller destroyed several dozens of fellow Kindred during the course of this adventure?”
         “Yes,” Reuben replied, “in self defense. Those Kindred were under the direct command of William Van Horn.”
         “Have you any proof of that?” Malvado asked.
         “It is well known…” Reuben began.
         “It is not known to me.” Malvado interrupted, “nor to those assembled here. No one here saw William Van Horn hire any mercenaries or give them any orders to attack Professor Keller. Isn’t that true?”
         Reuben’s scorched eyes burnt and his body ached, but he remained strong.
         “No one here saw it, but there is one, a Kindred not involved here, who was there. She has been sent for.”
         Robert Beaumont held up a hand.
         “Reuben, we have certain time considerations, as you know. I was not aware of a witness yet to come. Why is she not here?”
         “We had difficulty locating her, Robert. I beg your indulgence.”
         “It was specified that all parties to this matter were to be present.” Malvado said.
         Beaumont pondered.
         “Normally, I would be inclined to agree with Senor Malvado. You were aware that all were to be present.
         “However, this is an extremely delicate matter and deserves a bit of lee way. I will allow your witness to testify, as long as he or she is here within twenty-four hours.”
         He flicked an eye to Malvado, who gave no sign of the frustration he felt.
         “Further questions, Senor?”
         Malvado shook back his mane of thick white hair.
         “Reuben, did you at any time see William Van Horn at all, and were you in fact harmed by him in any way?”
         “No,” Reuben answered, “I did not see William, and I was not harmed by him.”
         “If you did not see William at all, then you surely did not see him hinder or in any way harm Professor Keller either did you?”
         “No,” Reuben said again.
         “I have no other questions, Lord Beaumont.” Malvado said, pleased with his victory.
         Beaumont turned to Alsaya.
         “Alsaya, have you anything to add?”
         She stood.
         “Yes, Lord Beaumont, I have.”
         “Proceed.” Beaumont replied.
         “Throughout the affair of the child, there was a constant mental communication between dozens of Kindred who were able to receive it, I among them. It was clear from the images and thoughts of the child’s mother, of Professor Keller, and of William Van Horn and his henchmen what was truly taking place. It was obvious from the…”
         “Forgive me, Senora Alsaya.” Malvado interrupted, “you received this all as a mental message?”
         “That mental message led us eventually to the child and the combined power of those minds was able to destroy Mirok.”
         “I ask you, as I asked Reuben. Alsaya, did you actually see William Van horn. Did you witness him doing any harm to anyone, Professor Keller, the child or its mother?”
         “No,” She said, “I did not.”
         “Well then, how are we to credit your evidence?”
         “Look around you, Senor Malvado. There are several at this very table who also received the messages.”
         Around the table several nodded that they had indeed received the messages and more messages still flew through the air.
         “Did any of you, anyone, see William Van Horn do anything he is accused of?”
         Eyes were downcast and silence reigned.
         “That,” Malvado said, “answers my question. Thank you, Senora.”
         Robert Beaumont looked about at the faces around the table. There was doubt among them. True, most of them knew William Van Horn had broken the law and gone against the council, but it would take proof to make them move.
         “Senor Malvado, do you care to make a statement before we proceed?”
          “I will be brief.” Malvado said. “William Van Horn has given many years of dedicated service to our kind. Neither I, nor any other around this table has ever known him to act against Kindred interests.
         “As you know, William, like many of us, is a pragmatist. He does what he feels must be done. In this case, as in all matters, he did what he felt was necessary for the good of our kind.”
         He sat back, confident. It would be very difficult prove any of this against William and he knew it well.
         “Reuben, would you care to ask any questions of Senor Malvado before we recess to await your witness?” Beaumont asked.
         “Not at this time, thank you, Lord Beaumont.”
         “Very well then.” Beaumont said, “We are recessed until tomorrow evening.”

(to be continued)

The Rescue: Part Eleven (Another Short Story Post: Continuing from the last post! This was NOT written by me! All credits go to writer Kimber (KimbersPlace4320@aol.com). Enjoy!) The Rescue: Part Eleven          William Van Horn packed his bags. It was time to disappear for a while and let Keller search for him. Of course, what Keller would find was a trap, a cleverly arranged death trap, from which even he could not escape. He tugged the bell pull and a servant appeared to carry the bags down to the waiting car. William had already made his travel arrangements.          As he sat in the back of the limo sipping an excellent single malt Scotch, he had to smile. This was actually fun, a sort of grown up version of a kid’s game, hide and seek.          “Come and get me if you can, James.” He murmured to himself.          Ramon wiped an arm across his sweaty brow. He had forgotten how hard it was to make a real living. Honest Bob Delacroix paid better than minimum wage but he expected one to earn it. They worked eight hour shifts, often with mandatory over time, in the heat of Isle Voletta’s relentless summer sun. That, coupled with the constant humidity and the steam from the car wash, made working here very uncomfortable. Ramon returned home each night soaked with sweat and soap and car wax, only to collapse in his bed and await the next day.          Tuesday seemed like any other day. Ramon was soaked with car wash water and sweat by ten in the morning, and the day promised to be a scorcher.          Then his heart leapt.          Into the lot pulled Keller’s chauffeur driving the Cadillac. As always he went into the office and chatted with Honest Bob’s secretary, and as usual Keller’s car got the full treatment. What was not usual was the small device Ramon retrieved from his lunch bag and attached to the underside of the big car’s passenger compartment.          The device was state of the art; Ramon had used all his skill. Unlike the one he’d placed on Washington’s car, this one had a remote detonator. Ramon had to be sure who was driving before he set it off.          As he watched the car glide away, he smiled. Everything was now in place; it had gone smooth as silk. Now all he needed to do was keep an eye on Huntresse Manor and wait for Keller. The man was as good as dead.          Still smiling, he removed his rubber apron and went into the office. There he strode past the secretary and right into Honest Bob’s office.          “Mr. Delacroix, I must resign.” He said. “You have been good to me, but my Mama is ill back in Ecuador and I must return home to care for her.”          Honest Bob was as round as he was tall. He wore a cowboy hat and a rhinestone studded jacket for his TV commercials, but today his suit coat was an ugly plaid, and his balding pate was bare. He sucked briefly on his cigar.          “Well Ramon, I’m sorry to see you go. You been a good man for me. I hope Mama gets well real soon, and maybe you’ll come back to work for me again.”          “No fucking way, Mr. Delacroix.” Ramon said, and chuckling to himself at the man’s startled expression, he left.          Back at his motel he had dry clothes and a bottle. He’d slip into both when he got there.          Sophie sprinted around the vast courtyard of Huntresse Manor on her daily jog. She’d hatched a plan to escape from the manor but it required split second timing, and she’d have to be in shape.          She’d made good progress recovering since the Kellers had rescued her, but her body had been pushed to its limits by Navarro, and it would take time to completely get over it, physically and mentally. She ran every morning, while the air was still cool, and it was helping. It was going to be her ticket out. Sophie had decided to escape Huntresse Manor.          When she’d first started jogging she’d gotten permission from Raoul, but the guards were still somewhat put off their routine by it, now they hardly noticed her. The first part of her plan was a success. Now onto the hard part.          Doing a little spying, she’d found out that the cook used fresh produce bought every other day in Isle Voletta. When Professor Keller was out of town, she took one of his Cadillacs. This, she learned, was by arrangement with Keller. No one would dare touch his car without permission. Well, that was exactly what she was going to do.          Fifteen minutes earlier, she’d watched the cook leave the manor and get into Keller’s car; she was off to Isle Voletta to shop. Sophie knew that it normally took her an hour to get what she needed and return. Quickly, she donned her sweats and began her jog. Now, everything was a matter of timing.          Then, there was a slight metallic creak as the main gates swung open and the cook cruised through. She pulled into the small parking area. It was time.          Sophie timed her course to end up at the side of the car as the cook emerged. Quickly she grabbed the pudgy woman by the shirt front and swung her to the ground. She snatched the keys from her hand and hopped into the car. The engine of the Cadillac was carefully maintained and perfectly tuned and it started at once.          Slamming her foot to the floor, Sophie backed out of the parking spot and swung around. She shifted into drive and the big car raced toward the open gates. She would be free in seconds.          Keller settled into his seat. Wilma had arranged for the company jet to fly him back home. Once there, he’d start his search for William Van Horn. He would do so reluctantly; he admired William for his peacekeeping abilities, and had hoped he’d have been a better loser in the Vampire Child affair.          William’s territory was the East Coast, but he spent nearly all his time at his home in the Hudson Valley. From there it was a short helicopter ride to New York City when the need arose.          Surely William would have anticipated that he would find out, and he would be well prepared, this wasn’t going to be easy. Unfortunately, he was left without a choice. William would never relent, so Keller’s very existence depended on this.          He glanced up, smiled, as the flight attendant handed him a large bourbon. No, this would not be easy.          Evening fell quickly in the English countryside. Alsaya watched through the magnificent lead glass windows across the vast lawn of Beaumont Manor. Down below, cars were beginning to arrive. The counselors were gathering. They were almost all true ancients, all had walked for more than five hundred years and all were set in their ways. For the most part they were quite happy not to disturb the status quo by taking any action. Convincing them to indict a member of the North American council would not be easy.          She had allies, of course. Robert Beaumont was on her side, as was Reuben. After all, it was Reuben who’d started them in this to begin with. It he who sought out Keller to find the vampire child and to beat William Van Horn to it. There were others, as well, who were strict adherents to Kindred law; they would need only to see that William had violated it in some way.          Even if they agreed with her position, it would be difficult to get them to act, however. These were beings that were used to settling disputes by political means. Yes, they were potentially dangerous immortal monsters, but they had long since gained the ability to survive on pure human emotion rather than having to drink living blood, and, like Reuben, had forgotten even their old fighting skills. It was unlikely that they would choose a violent conclusion now.          She came down the broad staircase and stopped short. Before her was Reuben, and the sight of him startled even her.          Reuben had been severely burned by the monster Mirok and he had still not fully recovered. Kindred, of course, regenerate any non fatal wound but at different rates depending on the type of damage. Fire and sun were the most damaging. It would take decades for Reuben to be fully himself again.          His eyes were hideous, swollen and blackened slits in his yellowed and charred face. Amazingly, he had regained his sight, but he was unable to close his eyes as the lids were burnt away, as was his nose and his lips. Strangely, and horribly, his hair had returned to normal at once, so now he appeared as a scorched skeleton with thick, dark brown hair.  The effect was shocking to say the least.          He sat in a wheelchair, his arms and legs had been completely destroyed, and now they were raw stumps. In years to come, they would regenerate until he was completely healed.          “Hello Reuben.” She said and bent to gently kiss his leathery yellow cheek.            His devastated face was no longer capable of physically smiling but his voice carried that warmth.          “Hello, Alsaya. You’re looking well.” He rasped, his voice like a dry branch rubbing against another.          “You’re looking better than last I saw you, Reuben.” She said, “Your recuperative powers are immense.”          “A little faster would be better.” He said, “I’d like to use my arms and legs again.”          “You will, my old friend, and when you do we’ll go to Paris and stroll the banks of the Seine like we used to.”          A tiny spot of red, a blood tear formed in the corner of one monstrous eye.          “I’ll look forward to it.” He replied.          “Everyone!”          They all turned to Robert Beaumont, who threw open the doors to the enormous dining hall. Here a long conference table had been set up.          “We are ready to begin.” He said.          Alsaya looked down to Reuben.          “Good luck.” He said.          “To us both.” She replied.                          Ramon’s clothing was dry and his stomach was full when he returned to his vantage point to observe Huntresse Manor. He’d had a few drinks waiting for it to get dark enough and was nicely buzzing as he crawled through the undergrowth and settled in behind his favorite tree to watch.  He would be fairly comfortable in his hiding place and he had a perfect view of the front gates. At the first sight of Keller, he’d press the button on his remote and that would be that.          He’d been there for several hours; it was just fully light and promised to be a clear sunny day. He saw Keller’s car leave but knew it was the cook. She made her round every day, and this usually meant that Keller was not home as yet. Well, he had nothing better to do but watch American television in his room, so he decided to stay. He had a thermos of coffee and some sandwiches and it was nice and cool back under the cypress trees, unlike the relentlessly beating heat of the Louisiana sun.          Another hour passed and he saw the cook returning. She pulled up to the gates, which swung open for her and she passed through. Ramon grabbed his thermos to pour a cup of coffee.          He stiffened. There was some kind of commotion at the manor. He heard tires screech and saw Keller’s car swing back and shoot toward the gates. By reflex his hand found the small remote and flicked the safety off. Ramon squinted his eyes to see who was driving the big car.          It slid through the gates, which were closing. It was a tight fit and a piece of chrome was ripped off the side of the Cadillac. The car swerved onto the road and shot off toward Isle Voletta.          Ramon’s eyes grew wide as he saw who was driving. He gasped in shock, and then the rage took over.          It was that bitch that had started all this trouble for him! His reputation was already suffering; several of his best clients were no longer answering his calls. Because of her, he had to do menial assassinations again. A black rage descended over him and he clenched his teeth.          Long years before, his family had sent him to a psychologist who warned them that their son was prone to fits of rage so intense he could lose all sense of what he was doing. It came over him now.          “Bitch!” He screamed, “No one does that to me!”          Blind with anger he pressed the tiny button and the Cadillac was instantly engulfed in a burst of flame and smoke.          By now the guards were streaming out of the gates after the car. Seeing it explode, they turned their attention to the woods, and Ramon, who suddenly realized what he had done. He turned and raced through the trees toward his motel.          Thorny shrubs tore at his legs and slapped him in the face as he sprinted ahead of his pursuers. He ran face first through an enormous spider’s web and was nearly blinded. Frantically, he sped up, rubbing his face to get the sticky web out of his mouth and eyes. He raced up a small hump in the ground and down the other side, and something hit him in the chest like a solid brick wall.          Raoul stepped out from behind a tree and stomped a huge foot onto the helpless man’s chest. He’d raced ahead and waited for Ramon to flee past him.          He held up a hand as the other guards caught up.          “Someone get some cuffs on him.” He said, “I want him brought to the house. There are some questions I want to ask.”          He turned to another man who came puffing up from behind. This man acted as their medical officer.          “The girl?” Raoul asked.          The man lowered his eyes and shook his head, no.          “Herr Keller is not going to be pleased.” Raoul said. (to be continued)

The Rescue: Part Eleven

(Another Short Story Post: Continuing from the last post! This was NOT written by me! All credits go to writer Kimber (KimbersPlace4320@aol.com).

Enjoy!)

The Rescue: Part Eleven


         William Van Horn packed his bags. It was time to disappear for a while and let Keller search for him. Of course, what Keller would find was a trap, a cleverly arranged death trap, from which even he could not escape. He tugged the bell pull and a servant appeared to carry the bags down to the waiting car. William had already made his travel arrangements.
         As he sat in the back of the limo sipping an excellent single malt Scotch, he had to smile. This was actually fun, a sort of grown up version of a kid’s game, hide and seek.
         “Come and get me if you can, James.” He murmured to himself.

         Ramon wiped an arm across his sweaty brow. He had forgotten how hard it was to make a real living. Honest Bob Delacroix paid better than minimum wage but he expected one to earn it. They worked eight hour shifts, often with mandatory over time, in the heat of Isle Voletta’s relentless summer sun. That, coupled with the constant humidity and the steam from the car wash, made working here very uncomfortable. Ramon returned home each night soaked with sweat and soap and car wax, only to collapse in his bed and await the next day.
         Tuesday seemed like any other day. Ramon was soaked with car wash water and sweat by ten in the morning, and the day promised to be a scorcher.
         Then his heart leapt.
         Into the lot pulled Keller’s chauffeur driving the Cadillac. As always he went into the office and chatted with Honest Bob’s secretary, and as usual Keller’s car got the full treatment. What was not usual was the small device Ramon retrieved from his lunch bag and attached to the underside of the big car’s passenger compartment.
         The device was state of the art; Ramon had used all his skill. Unlike the one he’d placed on Washington’s car, this one had a remote detonator. Ramon had to be sure who was driving before he set it off.
         As he watched the car glide away, he smiled. Everything was now in place; it had gone smooth as silk. Now all he needed to do was keep an eye on Huntresse Manor and wait for Keller. The man was as good as dead.
         Still smiling, he removed his rubber apron and went into the office. There he strode past the secretary and right into Honest Bob’s office.
         “Mr. Delacroix, I must resign.” He said. “You have been good to me, but my Mama is ill back in Ecuador and I must return home to care for her.”
         Honest Bob was as round as he was tall. He wore a cowboy hat and a rhinestone studded jacket for his TV commercials, but today his suit coat was an ugly plaid, and his balding pate was bare. He sucked briefly on his cigar.
         “Well Ramon, I’m sorry to see you go. You been a good man for me. I hope Mama gets well real soon, and maybe you’ll come back to work for me again.”
         “No fucking way, Mr. Delacroix.” Ramon said, and chuckling to himself at the man’s startled expression, he left.
         Back at his motel he had dry clothes and a bottle. He’d slip into both when he got there.

         Sophie sprinted around the vast courtyard of Huntresse Manor on her daily jog. She’d hatched a plan to escape from the manor but it required split second timing, and she’d have to be in shape.
         She’d made good progress recovering since the Kellers had rescued her, but her body had been pushed to its limits by Navarro, and it would take time to completely get over it, physically and mentally. She ran every morning, while the air was still cool, and it was helping. It was going to be her ticket out. Sophie had decided to escape Huntresse Manor.
         When she’d first started jogging she’d gotten permission from Raoul, but the guards were still somewhat put off their routine by it, now they hardly noticed her. The first part of her plan was a success. Now onto the hard part.
         Doing a little spying, she’d found out that the cook used fresh produce bought every other day in Isle Voletta. When Professor Keller was out of town, she took one of his Cadillacs. This, she learned, was by arrangement with Keller. No one would dare touch his car without permission. Well, that was exactly what she was going to do.
         Fifteen minutes earlier, she’d watched the cook leave the manor and get into Keller’s car; she was off to Isle Voletta to shop. Sophie knew that it normally took her an hour to get what she needed and return. Quickly, she donned her sweats and began her jog. Now, everything was a matter of timing.
         Then, there was a slight metallic creak as the main gates swung open and the cook cruised through. She pulled into the small parking area. It was time.
         Sophie timed her course to end up at the side of the car as the cook emerged. Quickly she grabbed the pudgy woman by the shirt front and swung her to the ground. She snatched the keys from her hand and hopped into the car. The engine of the Cadillac was carefully maintained and perfectly tuned and it started at once.
         Slamming her foot to the floor, Sophie backed out of the parking spot and swung around. She shifted into drive and the big car raced toward the open gates. She would be free in seconds.

         Keller settled into his seat. Wilma had arranged for the company jet to fly him back home. Once there, he’d start his search for William Van Horn. He would do so reluctantly; he admired William for his peacekeeping abilities, and had hoped he’d have been a better loser in the Vampire Child affair.
         William’s territory was the East Coast, but he spent nearly all his time at his home in the Hudson Valley. From there it was a short helicopter ride to New York City when the need arose.
         Surely William would have anticipated that he would find out, and he would be well prepared, this wasn’t going to be easy. Unfortunately, he was left without a choice. William would never relent, so Keller’s very existence depended on this.
         He glanced up, smiled, as the flight attendant handed him a large bourbon. No, this would not be easy.

         Evening fell quickly in the English countryside. Alsaya watched through the magnificent lead glass windows across the vast lawn of Beaumont Manor. Down below, cars were beginning to arrive. The counselors were gathering. They were almost all true ancients, all had walked for more than five hundred years and all were set in their ways. For the most part they were quite happy not to disturb the status quo by taking any action. Convincing them to indict a member of the North American council would not be easy.
         She had allies, of course. Robert Beaumont was on her side, as was Reuben. After all, it was Reuben who’d started them in this to begin with. It he who sought out Keller to find the vampire child and to beat William Van Horn to it. There were others, as well, who were strict adherents to Kindred law; they would need only to see that William had violated it in some way.
         Even if they agreed with her position, it would be difficult to get them to act, however. These were beings that were used to settling disputes by political means. Yes, they were potentially dangerous immortal monsters, but they had long since gained the ability to survive on pure human emotion rather than having to drink living blood, and, like Reuben, had forgotten even their old fighting skills. It was unlikely that they would choose a violent conclusion now.
         She came down the broad staircase and stopped short. Before her was Reuben, and the sight of him startled even her.
         Reuben had been severely burned by the monster Mirok and he had still not fully recovered. Kindred, of course, regenerate any non fatal wound but at different rates depending on the type of damage. Fire and sun were the most damaging. It would take decades for Reuben to be fully himself again.
         His eyes were hideous, swollen and blackened slits in his yellowed and charred face. Amazingly, he had regained his sight, but he was unable to close his eyes as the lids were burnt away, as was his nose and his lips. Strangely, and horribly, his hair had returned to normal at once, so now he appeared as a scorched skeleton with thick, dark brown hair.  The effect was shocking to say the least.
         He sat in a wheelchair, his arms and legs had been completely destroyed, and now they were raw stumps. In years to come, they would regenerate until he was completely healed.
         “Hello Reuben.” She said and bent to gently kiss his leathery yellow cheek.  
         His devastated face was no longer capable of physically smiling but his voice carried that warmth.
         “Hello, Alsaya. You’re looking well.” He rasped, his voice like a dry branch rubbing against another.
         “You’re looking better than last I saw you, Reuben.” She said, “Your recuperative powers are immense.”
         “A little faster would be better.” He said, “I’d like to use my arms and legs again.”
         “You will, my old friend, and when you do we’ll go to Paris and stroll the banks of the Seine like we used to.”
         A tiny spot of red, a blood tear formed in the corner of one monstrous eye.
         “I’ll look forward to it.” He replied.
         “Everyone!”
         They all turned to Robert Beaumont, who threw open the doors to the enormous dining hall. Here a long conference table had been set up.
         “We are ready to begin.” He said.
         Alsaya looked down to Reuben.
         “Good luck.” He said.
         “To us both.” She replied.                

         Ramon’s clothing was dry and his stomach was full when he returned to his vantage point to observe Huntresse Manor. He’d had a few drinks waiting for it to get dark enough and was nicely buzzing as he crawled through the undergrowth and settled in behind his favorite tree to watch.  He would be fairly comfortable in his hiding place and he had a perfect view of the front gates. At the first sight of Keller, he’d press the button on his remote and that would be that.
         He’d been there for several hours; it was just fully light and promised to be a clear sunny day. He saw Keller’s car leave but knew it was the cook. She made her round every day, and this usually meant that Keller was not home as yet. Well, he had nothing better to do but watch American television in his room, so he decided to stay. He had a thermos of coffee and some sandwiches and it was nice and cool back under the cypress trees, unlike the relentlessly beating heat of the Louisiana sun.
         Another hour passed and he saw the cook returning. She pulled up to the gates, which swung open for her and she passed through. Ramon grabbed his thermos to pour a cup of coffee.
         He stiffened. There was some kind of commotion at the manor. He heard tires screech and saw Keller’s car swing back and shoot toward the gates. By reflex his hand found the small remote and flicked the safety off. Ramon squinted his eyes to see who was driving the big car.
         It slid through the gates, which were closing. It was a tight fit and a piece of chrome was ripped off the side of the Cadillac. The car swerved onto the road and shot off toward Isle Voletta.
         Ramon’s eyes grew wide as he saw who was driving. He gasped in shock, and then the rage took over.
         It was that bitch that had started all this trouble for him! His reputation was already suffering; several of his best clients were no longer answering his calls. Because of her, he had to do menial assassinations again. A black rage descended over him and he clenched his teeth.
         Long years before, his family had sent him to a psychologist who warned them that their son was prone to fits of rage so intense he could lose all sense of what he was doing. It came over him now.
         “Bitch!” He screamed, “No one does that to me!”
         Blind with anger he pressed the tiny button and the Cadillac was instantly engulfed in a burst of flame and smoke.
         By now the guards were streaming out of the gates after the car. Seeing it explode, they turned their attention to the woods, and Ramon, who suddenly realized what he had done. He turned and raced through the trees toward his motel.
         Thorny shrubs tore at his legs and slapped him in the face as he sprinted ahead of his pursuers. He ran face first through an enormous spider’s web and was nearly blinded. Frantically, he sped up, rubbing his face to get the sticky web out of his mouth and eyes. He raced up a small hump in the ground and down the other side, and something hit him in the chest like a solid brick wall.
         Raoul stepped out from behind a tree and stomped a huge foot onto the helpless man’s chest. He’d raced ahead and waited for Ramon to flee past him.
         He held up a hand as the other guards caught up.
         “Someone get some cuffs on him.” He said, “I want him brought to the house. There are some questions I want to ask.”
         He turned to another man who came puffing up from behind. This man acted as their medical officer.
         “The girl?” Raoul asked.
         The man lowered his eyes and shook his head, no.
         “Herr Keller is not going to be pleased.” Raoul said.

(to be continued)

The Rescue: Part Ten (Another Short Story Post: Continuing from the last post! This was NOT written by me! All credits go to writer Kimber (KimbersPlace4320@aol.com). Enjoy!) The Rescue: Part Ten          Alsaya stepped from the airplane at Heathrow Airport. Age had given her enormous powers, including the ability to travel vast distance in an instant through the power of her mind, but this always left her shaken. She much preferred the mortal way of traveling and used it in all but the most dire of emergencies.          Keller had asked her to convey to the European Kindred what was happening back in the States, and to invoke their law against William Van Horn. As he was confident that he could destroy Van Horn, he had asked her to take a little time and let things develop. The further along Van Horn’s plot had gone, the easier it would be for the ancient and powerful counselors to sense it, and act.          As she entered the terminal, three young men approached her.          “Lady Alsaya.” One of them said, “We have been asked to meet you and escort you to your destination.”          He waved a hand and the others moved off to collect her baggage. In moments she was in a car speeding through London.          “We are honored to receive one of your importance, My Lady.” The young spokesman said. “As you know, most of us are quite young in the blood.”          “I am honored, to be so honored.” She replied simply, and earned a grin from her companion.          Outside of the city, they took country roads until they reached a genuine English country manor. The estate belonged to the Beaumont family, and had been in the family since the time of William the Conqueror. Originally named De Beaumont, the progenitor of the family had helped the Norman king to conquer England, and in return had been made Baron of a huge estate. Time had reduced the property to several hundred acres, the rest having been sub-divided and sold to other noble families.          The Manor house was enormous. Made of stone quarried from the estate, it had dozens of large, well appointed rooms, which now served as headquarters for the European Council of the Kindred, and a refuge which the mortal world had not penetrated.          They pulled up in front of the massive building and several servants emerged to carry her baggage. Behind them came Robert Beaumont, current owner and Baron and an old Kindred. It was he who had fought to bring William to the throne, and shortly afterward he became the first of his family to be brought into the blood.          Unlike most of the alternate forms of humankind, Robert Beaumont had not been forced to resort to disappearing and reemerging as another when he had lived too long to be a mortal. Money and political connections allowed him to continue in his capacity. True, every fifty or so years, the staff was replaced by new, unsuspecting butlers and maids, grooms and groundskeepers. The exiting personnel were handsomely paid and sent into retirement on the Continent, having been thoroughly brainwashed to remember nothing that could compromise their former master.          “Alsaya!” The Baron exclaimed, warmly kissing her hand. “How long has it been?”          She rewarded him with a smile.          “Far longer than either of us would care to remember, Robert.”          He grinned.          “Please, come inside and welcome, old friend.”          She entered the magnificent foyer of the manor and looked about. Nothing had changed since she’d last visited, some eighty years before.          “My butler will show you to your suite, Alsaya, where you may freshen up.” Beaumont said, ” The others have been informed of your arrival and will be here this evening.”          He smiled and whispered.          “Not all, unfortunately, are able to tolerate the sun long enough to travel here, but after nightfall they will appear.”          “Thank you, Robert.” She said, and kissed his cheek.          Her suite would have rivaled the best in any London hotel. Expansive and brilliantly decorated, it still kept some of the old world charm of its youth, while having been updated by electric lights, functioning bathroom, and even television. Yes, she would be very comfortable here. She only hoped she could accomplish her purpose here and return home to her Lorenz, who was unable to accompany her. He had his hands full with his play ground.          She smiled. Play ground, a place for children, yes that was where he belonged. Simple and loving, he’d be tortured in the most horrible ways conceivable and then buried alive essentially for a thousand years. He was happiest now watching the children play, and sometimes joining in their games. “Uncle Lorenz” was known throughout Isle Voletta by the children and their parents alike as a gentle and fun loving participant in their games, and a fearsome protector against drug dealers and thugs who might prey upon his little charges. Word spread through the community. No child would ever face any danger from them as long as Uncle Lorenz walked. She missed him already.          Slowly she unpacked her things, choosing a simple gauze dress to appear before the Council.            Would they take action against Van Horn or would they choose to remain uninvolved. Either way they were playing into Keller’s hands. If they were not for him, they would at least not be against him. No matter what happened, tonight would be a night to remember.          Raoul checked in on Sophie and escorted her to breakfast. He sat and sipped a cup of coffee as she ate.          Sophie, despite her gratitude at being rescued and protected, was not comfortable here. She was fed, yet at mealtime, her only companion was the massive Major Domo. Keller, of course, was still in Washington, and Dallas was deeply involved in her businesses. Aside from Raoul there was little company for the girl.          It wasn’t loneliness, something was amiss here. Never had she been in a private residence that was so well protected as this one. Armed guards with dogs patrolled endlessly and every move she made was observed.          “Raoul, are politics around here so rough that Professor Keller must live in a vault?” She asked.          The big blonde man set his coffee cup down.          “No, Fraulein, but as you know, being a government agent is fraught with perils of all kinds. The Professor Keller has been involved for many years in espionage and has made powerful enemies. One of them is currently trying to destroy him.”          He let his piercing blue gaze drift to the window, and the sky beyond.          “I wish he was here where I could keep an eye on him.”          She couldn’t help but smile at the big man’s concern.          “How did you and he get together?” She asked.          He gave her a rare smile.          “I tried to kill him, and then he attempted to kill me. We both failed. Later, those I worked for double crossed me, and the Professor saved my life and got me out of East Germany. Since then I have been his friend and protector.”          “You were an agent also?”          Another smile.          “Yes, I worked for the STAAPO, the East German State Police and intelligence service.”          “A spy.” She said, grinning.          “An assassin, Fraulein.” He said, “A good one, I thought, until I faced the Herr Professor and failed for the first time.”          “Professor Keller is a very hard man to kill.” Sophie said.          Raoul sipped his coffee.          “You have no idea.”          “Raoul, how long do you think I’ll have to stay here?”          “Fraulein, you are in grave danger, even here. It may be some little time before it is again safe enough for you to leave us.”          Later, she took a walk about the grounds, watched, she was sure, by the omnipresent video security, and made her mind up. As grateful as she was to the Kellers, she had to escape from here. She was a highly trained agent and perfectly capable, she told herself, of taking charge of her own safety. She broke into a jog. She’d better stay in shape if she was going to break out of this place.          He looked out the wide picture window at the Alps Mountains. So beautiful and cold, he thought, rather like life.          Reaching behind him, he pressed an intercom button and a young man all in white stepped in the room.          “Yes, Herr Doctor?”          He turned, pushed back a lock of pure white hair.          “Franz, has the company aircraft returned from Berlin?”          The young man nodded.          “It has, Herr Doctor.”          “Excellent!” He replied, “Have the pilot prepare a fight plan for New York City and ready the plane to depart tomorrow evening, please.”          The young man’s face wrinkled,          “But Herr Doctor, you have not left the clinic since…”          The older man stopped him with a hard glance.          “Do as I say, Franz. There is business I must attend to.”          The young man stiffened, nodded.          “It will be so, Herr Doctor.”          He watched the attendant go, knowing that he would immediately relay the encounter to Dr. Probst. No matter, he would do what must be done, then he would return and he and the good doctor would continue with their work.          His estimate was fifteen minutes for Dr. Probst to appear. He was mistaken, it took only eight minutes.          “Come in, Doctor. I’ve been expecting you.” He said, beckoning his visitor to a chair before his broad, glass and steel desk.          Dr. Probst was portly and balding, with a massive brow and eyes that took in everything, a born scientist. Reluctantly, he took the seat.          “I do not think it is wise for you to leave us yet. This vengeance of yours…”          “Is what I exist for!” He countered explosively.          He turned back to the stark view of the mountains.          “You cannot imagine, even with a mind like yours, what it was like, Probst. To be destroyed, to go into darkness only to awaken as a…. a…”          “My dear Doctor,” Probst said, “I do sympathize with you, and I agree, you have a right to your revenge, but I reiterate, let those we hired take care of it. They are more than capable.”          He leaned closer,          “They have followed your plan perfectly up until now, have they not? It’s too risky for you to get involved directly.”          “Risky? What can threaten me now?” He spat, “I’ve returned from oblivion itself!”          “With my help!” Probst replied. “My help and my wisdom. Won’t you avail yourself of that wisdom now?”          He pondered for a moment. Everything Probst said was true.          Yes, Probst was right. Best to let things develop, for now.          He nodded and walked to a small cabinet where he produced a bottle of old Napoleon brandy.          “Come, my friend. We’ll have a drink to celebrate your wisdom, and then you may tell Franz to cancel my travel arrangements.”          (to be continued)

The Rescue: Part Ten

(Another Short Story Post: Continuing from the last post! This was NOT written by me! All credits go to writer Kimber (KimbersPlace4320@aol.com).

Enjoy!)

The Rescue: Part Ten


         Alsaya stepped from the airplane at Heathrow Airport. Age had given her enormous powers, including the ability to travel vast distance in an instant through the power of her mind, but this always left her shaken. She much preferred the mortal way of traveling and used it in all but the most dire of emergencies.
         Keller had asked her to convey to the European Kindred what was happening back in the States, and to invoke their law against William Van Horn. As he was confident that he could destroy Van Horn, he had asked her to take a little time and let things develop. The further along Van Horn’s plot had gone, the easier it would be for the ancient and powerful counselors to sense it, and act.
         As she entered the terminal, three young men approached her.
         “Lady Alsaya.” One of them said, “We have been asked to meet you and escort you to your destination.”
         He waved a hand and the others moved off to collect her baggage. In moments she was in a car speeding through London.
         “We are honored to receive one of your importance, My Lady.” The young spokesman said. “As you know, most of us are quite young in the blood.”
         “I am honored, to be so honored.” She replied simply, and earned a grin from her companion.
         Outside of the city, they took country roads until they reached a genuine English country manor. The estate belonged to the Beaumont family, and had been in the family since the time of William the Conqueror. Originally named De Beaumont, the progenitor of the family had helped the Norman king to conquer England, and in return had been made Baron of a huge estate. Time had reduced the property to several hundred acres, the rest having been sub-divided and sold to other noble families.
         The Manor house was enormous. Made of stone quarried from the estate, it had dozens of large, well appointed rooms, which now served as headquarters for the European Council of the Kindred, and a refuge which the mortal world had not penetrated.
         They pulled up in front of the massive building and several servants emerged to carry her baggage. Behind them came Robert Beaumont, current owner and Baron and an old Kindred. It was he who had fought to bring William to the throne, and shortly afterward he became the first of his family to be brought into the blood.
         Unlike most of the alternate forms of humankind, Robert Beaumont had not been forced to resort to disappearing and reemerging as another when he had lived too long to be a mortal. Money and political connections allowed him to continue in his capacity. True, every fifty or so years, the staff was replaced by new, unsuspecting butlers and maids, grooms and groundskeepers. The exiting personnel were handsomely paid and sent into retirement on the Continent, having been thoroughly brainwashed to remember nothing that could compromise their former master.
         “Alsaya!” The Baron exclaimed, warmly kissing her hand. “How long has it been?”
         She rewarded him with a smile.
         “Far longer than either of us would care to remember, Robert.”
         He grinned.
         “Please, come inside and welcome, old friend.”
         She entered the magnificent foyer of the manor and looked about. Nothing had changed since she’d last visited, some eighty years before.
         “My butler will show you to your suite, Alsaya, where you may freshen up.” Beaumont said, ” The others have been informed of your arrival and will be here this evening.”
         He smiled and whispered.
         “Not all, unfortunately, are able to tolerate the sun long enough to travel here, but after nightfall they will appear.”
         “Thank you, Robert.” She said, and kissed his cheek.
         Her suite would have rivaled the best in any London hotel. Expansive and brilliantly decorated, it still kept some of the old world charm of its youth, while having been updated by electric lights, functioning bathroom, and even television. Yes, she would be very comfortable here. She only hoped she could accomplish her purpose here and return home to her Lorenz, who was unable to accompany her. He had his hands full with his play ground.
         She smiled. Play ground, a place for children, yes that was where he belonged. Simple and loving, he’d be tortured in the most horrible ways conceivable and then buried alive essentially for a thousand years. He was happiest now watching the children play, and sometimes joining in their games. “Uncle Lorenz” was known throughout Isle Voletta by the children and their parents alike as a gentle and fun loving participant in their games, and a fearsome protector against drug dealers and thugs who might prey upon his little charges. Word spread through the community. No child would ever face any danger from them as long as Uncle Lorenz walked. She missed him already.
         Slowly she unpacked her things, choosing a simple gauze dress to appear before the Council.  
         Would they take action against Van Horn or would they choose to remain uninvolved. Either way they were playing into Keller’s hands. If they were not for him, they would at least not be against him. No matter what happened, tonight would be a night to remember.

         Raoul checked in on Sophie and escorted her to breakfast. He sat and sipped a cup of coffee as she ate.
         Sophie, despite her gratitude at being rescued and protected, was not comfortable here. She was fed, yet at mealtime, her only companion was the massive Major Domo. Keller, of course, was still in Washington, and Dallas was deeply involved in her businesses. Aside from Raoul there was little company for the girl.
         It wasn’t loneliness, something was amiss here. Never had she been in a private residence that was so well protected as this one. Armed guards with dogs patrolled endlessly and every move she made was observed.
         “Raoul, are politics around here so rough that Professor Keller must live in a vault?” She asked.
         The big blonde man set his coffee cup down.
         “No, Fraulein, but as you know, being a government agent is fraught with perils of all kinds. The Professor Keller has been involved for many years in espionage and has made powerful enemies. One of them is currently trying to destroy him.”
         He let his piercing blue gaze drift to the window, and the sky beyond.
         “I wish he was here where I could keep an eye on him.”
         She couldn’t help but smile at the big man’s concern.
         “How did you and he get together?” She asked.
         He gave her a rare smile.
         “I tried to kill him, and then he attempted to kill me. We both failed. Later, those I worked for double crossed me, and the Professor saved my life and got me out of East Germany. Since then I have been his friend and protector.”
         “You were an agent also?”
         Another smile.
         “Yes, I worked for the STAAPO, the East German State Police and intelligence service.”
         “A spy.” She said, grinning.
         “An assassin, Fraulein.” He said, “A good one, I thought, until I faced the Herr Professor and failed for the first time.”
         “Professor Keller is a very hard man to kill.” Sophie said.
         Raoul sipped his coffee.
         “You have no idea.”
         “Raoul, how long do you think I’ll have to stay here?”
         “Fraulein, you are in grave danger, even here. It may be some little time before it is again safe enough for you to leave us.”
         Later, she took a walk about the grounds, watched, she was sure, by the omnipresent video security, and made her mind up. As grateful as she was to the Kellers, she had to escape from here. She was a highly trained agent and perfectly capable, she told herself, of taking charge of her own safety. She broke into a jog. She’d better stay in shape if she was going to break out of this place.

         He looked out the wide picture window at the Alps Mountains. So beautiful and cold, he thought, rather like life.
         Reaching behind him, he pressed an intercom button and a young man all in white stepped in the room.
         “Yes, Herr Doctor?”
         He turned, pushed back a lock of pure white hair.
         “Franz, has the company aircraft returned from Berlin?”
         The young man nodded.
         “It has, Herr Doctor.”
         “Excellent!” He replied, “Have the pilot prepare a fight plan for New York City and ready the plane to depart tomorrow evening, please.”
         The young man’s face wrinkled,
         “But Herr Doctor, you have not left the clinic since…”
         The older man stopped him with a hard glance.
         “Do as I say, Franz. There is business I must attend to.”
         The young man stiffened, nodded.
         “It will be so, Herr Doctor.”
         He watched the attendant go, knowing that he would immediately relay the encounter to Dr. Probst. No matter, he would do what must be done, then he would return and he and the good doctor would continue with their work.
         His estimate was fifteen minutes for Dr. Probst to appear. He was mistaken, it took only eight minutes.
         “Come in, Doctor. I’ve been expecting you.” He said, beckoning his visitor to a chair before his broad, glass and steel desk.
         Dr. Probst was portly and balding, with a massive brow and eyes that took in everything, a born scientist. Reluctantly, he took the seat.
         “I do not think it is wise for you to leave us yet. This vengeance of yours…”
         “Is what I exist for!” He countered explosively.
         He turned back to the stark view of the mountains.
         “You cannot imagine, even with a mind like yours, what it was like, Probst. To be destroyed, to go into darkness only to awaken as a…. a…”
         “My dear Doctor,” Probst said, “I do sympathize with you, and I agree, you have a right to your revenge, but I reiterate, let those we hired take care of it. They are more than capable.”
         He leaned closer,
         “They have followed your plan perfectly up until now, have they not? It’s too risky for you to get involved directly.”
         “Risky? What can threaten me now?” He spat, “I’ve returned from oblivion itself!”
         “With my help!” Probst replied. “My help and my wisdom. Won’t you avail yourself of that wisdom now?”
         He pondered for a moment. Everything Probst said was true.
         Yes, Probst was right. Best to let things develop, for now.
         He nodded and walked to a small cabinet where he produced a bottle of old Napoleon brandy.
         “Come, my friend. We’ll have a drink to celebrate your wisdom, and then you may tell Franz to cancel my travel arrangements.”
        

(to be continued)