GFD: Executive Order

 


“GFD: Executive Order”


They didn’t even bother to warn them.

Why not warn them?

They probably would have packed themselves in to the back of this mini convoy of soldiers regardless. They were human. They were young. All gung ho about being selected for this mission without truly understanding what they were getting themselves into.

Me? I knew.

I knew the legends were true. I knew he was real.

As one of the few vampires invited along in this squadron of neophytes…I was told to keep my mouth shut, and my mind focused. But that wasn’t easy. Not while I was sitting in the back of a jeep with a bunch of young faces that I knew I’d never see again after tonight.

They bantered back and forth with one another, laughing it up as though we were going off to some controlled area campsite for a weekend game of paintball. But…like I said….they had no idea.

“We move in tonight, bag this sonofabitch, and I’ll have enough cash to get me, my baby girl, and my wife, safeguarded for the next two YEARS!” One of the soldiers said to his teammates. His Southern twang enhanced by the width of his smile. “That’s gonna make me sleep real easy for a long time to come. I may even stop volunteering for goofy little operations like this for a while. They messed up, offering me a payload THIS big.”

“Just make sure you stake the right bloodsucker, Miller!” Said his friend, nodding in my direction. “We want to keep a few vamps on our side, don’t we, fellas? Never know when one of them might decide that he’s hungry for a late night snack. Safeguard mark or not!”

They found the teasing humorous, but I didn’t. In fact, the anxiety had been building since I left headquarters. I hadn’t seen him in years. Hadn’t spoken to him. Hadn’t even been following the rumors of his return to the surface of these city streets in these past few months. And yet…here I was…now given the order to take him out. Permanently.

I was hoping it would never come to this. I prayed that he would learn his lesson and leave this obsession of his alone. But he couldn’t. He refused. And when the time comes…I’ll do what needs to be done. To protect us all. The Elders know what they’re doing. Certain betrayals cannot be tolerated, and he crossed the line.

That’s all there is to it.

I was sitting alone, even with all the soldiers surrounding me, and I concentrated my efforts on simply cleaning my shivs. Hoping that they would bring me the luck I needed to complete the task at hand.

The other soldiers didn’t seem to understand my somber mood at all.

“Hey, Diego…” One of them asked me, “Why are you even wasting your time spit shining those little metal knitting needles for? You’re never going to get the chance to use them, dawg!” He stood up to show me the minor arsenal of weapons on his belt, “I’ve got this! I’ve got THIS! I’ve got two of these! I’m locked and loaded, baby! A few blades of my own, extra clips on the belt, and I’ve even got a couple of explosives on me, in case our target is feeling a bit frisky tonight! Hehehe! Relax! This is going to be a walk in the park for us! Dog Pound Soldiers! WOOF!!!” He shouted proudly, the other men in the jeep returning the bark in unison. “I don’t know why they thought we needed your kind to help us hunt down ONE troublemaker in a dark chop shop, anyway! If you ask me, it’s overkill!

I chuckled quietly to myself. But I didn’t make eye contact.

One of the other soldiers asked me, “What’s that about? You’ve been about as quiet as a scared rat in a room full of snakes since we got the order. With a codename like ‘Jackpot’, I figured you’d be 100 percent fortune and good luck without a care in the world. What’s with you tonight? You don’t think we can handle this?”

“No.” I said quietly. “No, I don’t.”

Another cocky soldier said, “He’s just got the jitters. That’s all. Figure that…a vampire, afraid to die! Don’t worry, baby cuddles! We’ll be here to keep you safe!” He laughed.

I stopped polishing the shiv in my lap, and looked up at his smug expression. “You’re not here to keep me safe…” I told him. “You’re here to provide me a distraction.” Looking around at everyone in the back of the truck, I let them in on the secret. “You’re all just here as an addition to the chaos. Nothing more. Fodder…strategically placed to hopefully give ‘my kind’ the opportunity we need to get the job done. Many of you are going to end up in critical condition at the nearest hospital before dawn. Some of you…may not be coming home at all.”

“Is that your expert opinion?” One of the soldiers smirked.

“That is the reality of the situation. I suggest you don’t go into this with any delusions of this being an easy win. It won’t be. And that mentality will only lead you straight to a pine box. So make peace with whatever God you believe in and walk into this battle with your strongest instincts twelve steps ahead of you. Do that…and you just might survive this.”

There were three…maybe four…soldiers in our group that heard what I had just explained to them, and I watched their smiles dim as the blood ran out of their faces. They could tell that this wasn’t just me being paranoid. I was preparing them for what was coming.

And what was coming…was horror and blood.

“C’mon, Jackpot…level with us, huh? This is just another fang-boy with an ego trip, right? I mean, we heard this ‘Comicality’ guy doesn’t even exist. He’s just something that your kind made up in order to have stories to tell around campfires and junk. Right? He’s like…the vampire ‘boogie man’. He’s not real. This is some guy in a dark cape who thought he was big shit, and now we’re going in to teach him otherwise. Period.” Miller said. “I mean…am I right? I don’t even know why Elder Masato felt the need to go after this guy. We’ve got four TRUCKS full of guys. All of us armed to the teeth. Seems a bit extreme.”

Lowering my head and going back to polishing my shivs, I said, “When we reach our destination…and you’re lost in the darkness, the shadows surrounding you and closing in from every side…you’re going to wish that we had brought more. A lot more.” Humans. They simply don’t understand.

“So…you’re saying he’s real? This guy is the real deal?” Miller asked teasingly. “Woooo doggie! You hear that, boys? If that’s the case, then I want to bag this fucker myself! Masato’s gonna pay me a BIG bonus this time! It’ll be like catching Bigfoot or the Loch Ness Monster!” I watched them grin and give each other high fives over the joke, but as we neared our destination…a feeling of guilt had already begun to take hold of me. Comicality won’t allow himself to be taken. Not yet.

As we were informed to prepare for our departure, I told them, “When we arrive…he’ll be waiting. Any ideas about the ‘element of surprise’? Toss them right out of your head. He will be ready for us.” Then I stood up and said, “Let me tell you all…before you run into this building expecting to find some mixed up vampire pretending to be something greater than what he is…I want to remind you that the two teams before you have failed. Many have had to pay with their lives. Don’t trust your eyes in the darkness. Don’t expect your safeguard marks to protect you. Don’t expect your human skills or reflexes to be enough to defend you against an attack. They won’t be.” I took the semi-automatic from the soldier sitting beside me. “And THIS??? This is not your friend. Not tonight. It’s a toy. In your world, this might intimidate a target. In darkness, all this weapon is really good for is making a lot of noise. So, I repeat…this is NOT your friend! Don’t think that you can put any real faith in your artillery to save you. It won’t. At best…you’ll wound him enough to slow him down. That’s your job. You saturate him with as many physical wounds as you can…and then you stand aside to let one of US handle it. If you think you’re going to nab a kill shot on your own…let me assure you…you will NOT.”

Miller sneered, “You know…maybe you vamps get off on your own hype and stay up nights, afraid of your own fairy tales…but this guy is just gonna turn out to be your average, run of the mill, bloodsucker. Just like all the others. We’re not buying the legend, buddy boy. Not at all. So if you’re trying to spook us, just stop. It ain’t workin’…”

Moving closer to look at Miller, face to face, I said, “I’m not trying to scare you. I’m trying to keep you alive, soldier.” Looking at the others, I let them know, “The ONE advantage that you have in this fight is the fact that Comicality isn’t malicious enough to want to hurt a single one of you. But, make no mistake…he is consumed by an ideal that he feels is more important than your very lives. And WE are the ones stirring up the hornet’s nest in this scenario. If he thinks, even for a moment, that he has to take your life in order to continue his ‘work’…in order to fulfill the prophecies contained in his scriptures…he will NOT hesitate to do so! If you want to live through the night…you keep your distance. You take your shots when you can, and you box him in so that I can get close enough to execute our final option. Is that understood?”

They still didn’t believe me. The few success they’ve shared with the lesser vampires they’ve gone after in the past have made them arrogant. They’re not thinking about why there were so many humans enlisted for this operation. They’re not thinking about why Masato offered them such a ridiculous amount of money to volunteer. Their overconfidence was something that I couldn’t break. And that means that I’ll have to be quick tonight. Com will mow them down much faster than expected. I’m sure of it.

When the convoy came to a halt, I began to change my breathing. Hoping to calm the few nervous twitches within me. I closed my eyes and tried to remember my training. Hopefully, Com will listen to me. Hopefully I can talk some sense into him. Otherwise, this is going to be a serious bloodbath.

They parked outside of the perimeter sent to us once Comicality had been located. The highest ranking soldiers took strategic points to survey they area. Night vision goggles, padded footsteps, and silent hand signals…all for the sake of maintaining a stealthy approach. It was all for show, though. As I said…he already knew we were coming.

The other two vampires sent to assist me gave me a nod to let them know that they were ready. We didn’t need any artificial equipment to see in the dark, or to hear the near silent footsteps of our enemy. Our objective was to move in, disable, and terminate. Our orders sounded so simple…

The soldiers began to surround the building on all sides. It was a giant garage of sorts. A place for the city’s criminal element to bring a horde of stolen cars and disassemble them for parts. It was almost the size of a private jet hangar. Dark. Dusty. Covered in cobwebs and scrap metal. As we approached the main entrance, one of the other vampire hunters asked, “How many do we have working with us?”

“Thirty six foot soldiers. Two squad leaders. And us…”

“How much time will that buy us?”

I said, “If we’re lucky? Between five and ten minutes.”

The other hunter said, “We don’t have enough, do we?”

“Concentrate on your objective. Nothing else. We’ll just have to make it enough.”

As we entered the warehouse, even my heightened senses had to adjust to the darkness. The place was bigger than I had expected. Three levels of platforms and stairs lining the walls. Plenty of shadows for Com to hide in. Knowing him, chances are he won’t draw first blood. He’ll remain masked by the darkness for as long as possible. An unspoken warning for us to simply leave him alone. To not force his hand. I’m almost certain that one of our soldiers will do exactly that. And it is then that bodies will begin to drop to the cold concrete below.

The other two hunters split up to cover more area on their own. I continued forward. My ears were reaching out, hoping to detect some kind of movement before it was too late for me to react. All I could hear was the clumsy footsteps of the soldiers we brought with us. They were alert, professional, highly skilled…but sadly mistaken if they thought for one minute that they could catch a vampire unaware. Not like this.

The silence was deafening. The tension…making it hard to breathe.

He was here. I could sense it. I could feel it.

“Moving forward on the left and right.” Came one voice over the communicator.

“Team Two, taking the second level…” Came another.

Elevated positions won’t give them any advantage in this fight. They’ll only have further to fall.

And then…out of the corner of my eye…a quick flash of darkness. Quick as a blink. Without so much as a whisper, or a slight disturbance in the air from the movement alone.

And it was then that I noticed the soldier to my left on the far side of the room…was no longer standing there.

The only trace left of him were a pair of footprints in the dust. They just came to a stop…and then vanished. As if he had been snatched out of existence. I saw the movement of a few cobwebs in the spot where he was standing. And I prepared myself for things to rapidly get worse.

“Johnson. What do you see?” Came a voice on the communicator. “Johnson? What’s your 20?” No answer. “Johnson. Come in, Johnsoooooaaaggghhhhh!!!” The radio went dead right after that.

So it begins.

I quickened my pace, hoping to stay out of any open areas. Concentrate, Diego. Focus.

“I have visual! I repeat, I have…AHHHHHH!!!!!” A few rounds of automatic fire were heard, but I assumed it was just a muscle reflex. He was already gone.

The noise alerted the others and caused them to fix their attention on that area, but Comicality didn’t remain still for more than a few seconds at a time. Before any of the soldiers could react, I heard them screaming from all different sides of the warehouse. Some of them firing wildly…blindly…and hitting nothing at all.

The radio contact between us all had simply transformed into a chaotic jumble of panic and fear.

“Where did he go??? What the fuck is going on???”

“Jones??? Marshall??? Where is everybody???”

“It’s the SHADOWS!!!! They’re ALIVE!!!”

“Move, move, move!!! Over there! No…no wait!!! Over there!!! I can’t see a damn thing!”

“This is Squad Leader One! Maintain your positions and focus all fire on…Ah! AHHHHH!!!!!”

“Squad Leader!!! Come in, Squad Leader!!!!”

“We’re FUCKED! We are so FUCKED!!!”

I turned off the radio. It wouldn’t do me any further good tonight. As my eyes scanned the room and I tried to control my breathing, I saw small bursts of light from the end of gun barrels, attempting foolishly to battle the darkness itself. Where are you, Com? Show yourself. Step out of the shadows and let’s bring this madness to an end.

I saw two more soldiers make the mistake of running out into the open. I didn’t have time to war them. The shadows reached down from above like dark tendrils and ensnared them both in its icy tangle of pain and loss. Their minds were overcome with the suffering of it all…and it snatched them up, right off of their feet…enveloping them in the pitch black obscurity above. They barely had a chance to scream.

Our meager forces scrambled to get their backs against the walls of the old place, trying to ration their ammo now that they were thinking straight. then that I heard one of my vampire assistants fighting on the level up above me. A well trained hunter indeed. One of the best in his order. But before I could pinpoint his exact location and move up to help him…I heard the sound of snapping bones. And the vampire fell from the upper level and down on the floor in front of me. Both of his kneecaps had been broken. Almost bent backwards. Comicality hadn’t killed him. I don’t think he had killed anyone yet. But he broke them down to the point of being completely incapacitated and useless for the rest of this mission.

He was running scared. Defending himself, and no more. That may be used to my advantage. Having him hold back was the only way to catch him off guard.

I tended to the vampire for a moment and dragged him to the side of the room to lean him up against the wall. He grimaced, “…Too fast. I couldn’t even see him moving…”

“Shhhh…it’s alright. We still have men left. Don’t worry. I’ll finish this.” I told him.

I hurried towards the sound of the most recent gunshots, but I was always too late. He was gone by the time I got there. And then…seven soldiers were able to lock onto him….and the hail of gunfire was legendary. I’m sure he took some damage, but it wasn’t enough. Not nearly. Scratches and fleshwounds at most.

In the center of the chop shop, I caught my first sight of Comicality in years. Now completely covered in shadows…consumed by them. I could almost hear the screams from where I was standing. So much misery. So much heartache. So much pain. And yet…he wielded it like a weapon. He embraced it as a way to keep him strong, where most would have collapsed under the weight of it all.

The soldiers….they doubted his existence. But they believe now.

They believe now.

Like a whirling cyclone, I watched the shadows flitter from one helpless soldier to another. Breaking wrists, ankles, ribs…brutal, but strategic. I watched as the dark mass swooped down upon them and dodged every bullet being fired in his direction. They were so confused. So dazzled by the speed of it all. And the noise in the room began to fade, as they fell victim to his attacks. One by one. Then two by two. And once my second vampire assistant was taken out of the mission by pinned to the wall with a sharp metal pipe…missing his heart by mere inches…I found myself becoming more and more alone to face the creature before me.

I sped around the room, hoping to find him with his back turned long enough to provide me a golden opportunity to strike. But no matter what I did to chase him, he was able to strike out at the remaining soldiers and allude me at the same time.

The screams became more horrific as Comicality found himself being pushed harder to fight those trying to assault him. How much longer would he restrain himself before his instincts began truly shedding blood? I’m almost out of time. I have to strike! And I have to strike NOW!!!

Following the cries of the squad on the upper level, I bounded up the steps and managed to catch sight of the wildly scattered shadows dispatching our men in the most efficient ways possible.

Shivs drawn, I leapt forward…

Almost as if in slow motion…Comicality’s eyes met mine…and there was a slight pause as he recognized me from his past. But the pause was not enough for me to puncture his heart. He pun to the side and avoided my bladed weapon, now engaging me in a full on hand-to-hand confrontation that began to make my arms and legs sore within the first few blows. He was stronger than I remembered. More focused. He must really ‘believe’ this time. He wouldn’t fight with such a determined fury if he didn’t.

Ugh!!! I took a rather harsh kick to the gut, and a sharp punch to the kidneys. Sloppy. I had forgotten how bewildering the movement of shadows could be. I attempted to fight back, I think I got in a few shots myself, but they were mostly based on luck. Possibly on his growing fatigue. But before I could lunge forward again, a harsh kick connected with my abdomen, and I was knocked off of the second level and fell with a thud down below. A huge cloud of dust choking me as I tried to regain my breath.

There were very few voices left in the warehouse around me. Thirty six foot soldiers. Two squad leaders. Three vampire hunters. All rendered helpless…

We didn’t even last the ten minutes I was hoping for.

The area was dark. Quiet. And I struggled to get to my feet. I listened to figure out if any of our teams were still functional. But I heard nothing but low toned groans and whimpers of agony. It quickly became clear that…I was the last man standing here. And barely standing at that.

My eyes searched the room. I saw nothing. Heard nothing. But I knew this wasn’t over. Not yet.

Reaching into the sealed pockets of the satchel I kept with me at all times, I grabbed two handfuls of silver coins. Their edges, filed down to a bladed edge. And I carefully stepped into the open center of the warehouse…tossing them to the floor in front of me. And then behind me. I knew that Comicality would hear the sound of the metal coins hitting the floor…but subtlety wasn’t the name of the game anymore, was it? I tossed down another handful of coins on the floor, and I stood in the middle of them…readying myself for what was sure to come next.

That’s when I saw the gentle movement of a few cobwebs in front of me. They were moving away from me…which meant….the swift and silent movements causing them to do so…were coming from behind.

“All those years of writing has made you soft, Comicality. Your usual tricks have gotten old.” I didn’t dare turn around. Not yet. The disturbing his of those murky shadows were already wrapped around him so tightly that any imbalance in his emotional state might very well rip me to shreds.

With a deep and dark voice, he said, “The Circle Nocturnus was sadly mistaken if they thought sending you here was going to make any difference in the result of tonight’s events.”

“Come now, Comicality. You may be a warrior….but you’re no murderer. We all know that.” I slowly put my shivs back into the sheathe on my hip, and I held my hands up….slowly turning around to face him. I had forgotten just how terrifying this false form of his could be. “You’re actually quite fortunate that it was Masato that sent out the order. Little Piotr wanted to torture and maim you for a long long time before letting you pass on. I don’t know what kind of history you two had together, but he is not happy with you at all.” Seeing a stillness in him, I said, “It’s good to finally reconnect with you again….old friend. I only wish it was under better circumstances.”

“You wasted your time coming here tonight.” He said. “And you endangered the lives of people who have no idea why they’re doing what they’re doing.”

“Orders are orders, Com. We do what we’re told and that’s the beginning and the end of it. It’s a pity you never learned that lesson yourself.”

“I’m willing to answer for what I’ve done. I’ve already given the Circle my terms of surrender. I’ll turn myself in. Calmly. Quietly. But I MUST finish the scriptures first. They have to allow me to finish my work…”

“The Circle Nocturnus does NOT appreciate being given the terms on anything. You know that.” I told him, hoping to keep him occupied long enough to think of a new way to attack. “This disobedience will not stand, Com. The Elders in this sector have spoken. You have to be put down.”

“So this is what you’ve been reduced to, Diego? A pawn on the Elder’s chessboard?” Com stepped closer, and I felt the tension build up within me as I tried to prepare to defend myself. “You know what’s coming….don’t you?” He asked.

“Com….”

“You KNOW it. All of the scriptures have predicted it. The psychics have seen the signs. All that has been foretold is finally coming to light. This fragile alliance between our kind and the humans won’t last. Remember your teachings, Diego. Master Zen brought us both into the knowledge and awareness of what was possible if we only…”

“ENOUGH!” I said. “Master Zen is DEAD! And this…this obsession of yours is a fairy tale, Com. Can’t you see that? This…this universal love and understanding and acceptance….this bonding of daylight and darkness…it’s all a DREAM. A foolish dream. Look at the world today. Look at ‘reality’. No one is searching for salvation. Or redemption. Or honor. There are no rewards given for being pure of heart. Those are all ideals of the past, Com. The OLD world. They don’t exist anymore. This era is different. People take and take and TAKE and that’s all there is. Like jackals scrambling for scraps at the corpse of some dead animal. And then they simply go looking for more. You would risk ALL we have accomplished over the teachings in some dusty old tomes written by vampires long gone from this world? The Vampire Dawn is a MYTH! When will you realize that?”

“Maybe you lost your faith in the word, Diego. But I never lost mine.” He said, and it was then that I tried to launch a surprise attack upon him that might bring this conversation to an end.

Using my extra, I raised my hand and caused a large collection of bladed coins to suddenly jump up off of the floor and fly in Comicality’s direction at top speed! Unfortunately, he was too fast, and as the sparks from the coins hitting metal briefly lit up spot where he was standing, he was quick to melt back into the shadows. I missed my opportunity. He’ll be more cautious than ever now. Best to keep him talking.

“You were misled somewhere along the way. You began thinking that you had a choice.” I told him, looking all around me for some kind of movement. “The Elders aren’t forgiving about these things, Com. You know that. Did you really think they wouldn’t find out? Did you really think you’d be able to save him?”

From the darkness, I heard, “They’re afraid of the Dawn. They’re afraid of what it might mean. What it might bring with it. A world of people who think for themselves. Who recognize love. A world where people are able to see beyond the limitations of what the vampire Elders and their human politicians can control. It’s been long enough, Diego. They’re brainwashed reign over the masses is almost at an end…and it terrifies them.”

Finding his location, I mentally thrust another shrapnel scatter of coins in his direction, and he was able to dodge them, moving forward for us to lock hands and trade another few blows before we parted ways again. I allowed my bladed coins to hover around me in a slow spinning circle. I can’t let him get the jump on me. I can’t.

“You have forgotten your place in the order, Comicality. They came to you for your expertise. Not for your loyalty to old forgotten fables. Your scriptures were cherished among many others. They assumed that you could be of some help.” I said. Where is he? Where??? “Your job was the same as mine. Have you FORGOTTEN that???” I called out. “FIND the potential threats…and neutralize them! THAT was your job! And you kept him a secret all this time!”

“The boy isn’t a threat! He hasn’t been allowed to mature!”

“He’s not SUPPOSED to be allowed to mature!!!” I shouted, and forced more coins to lash out towards a row of windows that I thought I saw Com’s silhouette in front of. None of them connected. The glass was shattered, but I ended up drawing the coins back to me once again. Tricky. Very tricky. “Already, the boy may be too strong. Do you have any idea what you’ve done? Any idea how dangerous he may become once his power is fully realized?”

“It’s not his power that makes him strong, Diego. It’s his heart. I’ve looked into his heart, and I can assure you…he is the chosen one.”

“There IS no ‘chosen one’! No Vampire Mimic! No great savior, no prophet, no angel of light! Only death! Death and blood and fury! By keeping the boy from us you may have doomed us all.” I said. “No one, LEAST of all a halflife, can endure that level of torture and suffering without it corrupting him completely from the inside out. The tragedies, the abuse, the heartache, that it takes to create an extra of this magnitude in darkness is simply too much for one young boy to handle.”

“I believe in him.” Com said.

“It will drive him completely MAD! You know it will! I’ve heard rumors of how he’s already losing control. I’ve seen the destruction he’s left behind. The life that he led in daylight is full of nothing but pain, and betrayal, and regret! And once he understands the limitless potential that he has at his fingertips…he’s going to strike back at the world with a vengeance the likes that we have never seen! NONE of us will be safe! Human OR vampire!”

“That’s just what the Elders have taught you, Diego. To keep you distant. To keep you afraid. But when you search your true feelings, you know that isn’t true.” I heard the voice from over my shoulder, and instantly spun around to deliver a kick to his jaw! Com’s shadows reached out for me, wrapping themselves around my forearms, but I was able to struggle my way out of them. I slid the coins across the floor and I know that I cut his arms and legs with them this time. But before I could reach my shivs…he was gone again.

“Dammit, Com! Stop with this mystery bullshit and let’s end this!” I shouted.

“The boy will find what he needs to overcome all that has happened to him in time. He will reach an understanding that will turn the tide…and pave the way for him to make us all believe in miracles again. You’ll see.”

“And what of his sire?” I said. “What will your ‘angel’ become…when the only thing he loves and cares about in this world…is ‘gone’? Do you really believe in your precious scriptures so much…that you think he’ll be able to survive such a merciless heartbreak? He won’t. He’ll turn on you, Com. He’ll turn on all of us. ‘Love’ is the ONLY thing holding that boy together right now. The ONLY thing that gives him purpose! Keeps him balanced! And once that love has been ripped away from him…there won’t be another dawn for any of us.”

“We’ll just have to see, won’t we? Let the cards fall where they may.” He said, and suddenly, he BURST forth from the darkness and we began to battle violently while I fought to keep my balance! I was surprised that I was able to keep up with him as well as I did, but it had been years since we had even had a friendly sparring much, much less a fight for our lives.

Between my bladed coins and his rapidly swirling shadows, it was hard for either one of us to get a visible advantage in the conflict. And then…he sped backwards and I saw him grab a hold of one of the soldiers in the warehouse who had apparently avoided being hurt badly enough to remain still. It was Miller. The same soldier from the back of the convoy. And Com had his hand on his throat, holding him from behind…ready to make the simple twist to break his neck if it came to that.

“Don’t force my hand, Diego!” Com yelled…and with a thought…I allowed my ‘Jackpot’ coins to slowly lower themselves to the floor again.

“Please….P-P-Please….” Miller stuttered helplessly. I saw the safeguard mark on his neck…I thought about what he said about his family…and much like Com…I wasn’t much of a murderer either. Not unless the situation called for it.

This was a situation that called for it.

“Easy, Com…”

“The scriptures aren’t finished yet.” He said. “Tell Masato and the rest of the Circle to stop dismembering young vampires and let me do what I was meant to do. The boy is NOT a threat! He’ll find his way. He’ll discover his own strength, in his own time. And when he does…it’ll be a better day for all of us.” He looked me directly in the eye, and he said, “You need to believe again, Diego. You need to believe.” And he pushed Miller forward so hard that his feet nearly left the ground and he was thrust into my arms.

By the time I could shake myself free of the distraction…he was gone. Just gone. I couldn’t feel his presence anymore. We had missed our one chance to bring him in. But something about that last moment of eye contact stuck with me.

I don’t think I had ever seen a passionate rage in him like that. Not in all the decades that we had known each other. It was a complete abandonment of his duties to the Elders…and yet, a literal loyalty to what Master Zen had taught us. I don’t think he’s crazy this time. I think he actually believes this boy is the ‘chosen one’. And as far fetched as it seems…I almost want to believe it too.

“He’s real! He’s fuckin’ REAL!!!” Miller shuddered, nearly catatonic from the experience.

I guess we all got our proof in miracles tonight…

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