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Cassandra 5

"Vampires…you little runts are vampires. How did this happen? Damn, I work for Vampires?"

Samson stood and paced the floor. The Leader sat behind his desk with a forlorn look on his face.

"Samson we hold you in highest honor. You are our protector. We are ashamed but it is not of our doing, if that is your thinking. We are turning or becoming – a genetic shift. So far it is just these here in this Lair. We have been sent here in exile. The main body hopes it is only an anomaly, but they fear it is a natural evolution. After all we live in caves and cannot bare the sunlight. We are naturally frail …we don't like to be called vampires. If you'll forgive me Samson, that’s derogatory… although the change…ummm…we were frail until..."

Samson turned and looked down on the Leader.

"Until what?"

"Last year one of ours turned from his screen, attacked his friend, tearing out his throat, and drinking his blood. We imprisoned him, realizing he was stronger, and had grown bigger and pinkish in appearance. Since then more insanity has shown up. We created a drug to help us with the urge, moved here…well, really, forced here, and took to drinking pig blood."

Benning got the connection immediately. "You little vamps are stealing the Keeps pigs…God no wonder they are pissed at you. There is nothing more those Keep fanatics would love to have happen is to find some hell-spawned bloodsuckers to kill on a Gala Saturday night. And my son is connected to you."

"Yes unfortunately true. He left, because he no longer felt safe sleeping, with us around. Ridiculous of coarse."

"Of coarse!" Benning stood and backed away.

Samson just stared at the Leader and rubbed his chin.

"What do you do with the meat?"

"We eat it with relish, cooked of course, and we even find vegetables tolerable." The Leader smiled. “Samson, we aren’t monsters.”

"Don't smile…so it seems to me you are lacking in nutrients. Blood builds your immune system and then you normalize for awhile." Samson started to hum a song under his breath.

The leader smiled again. "That’s the Monster Mash - I love that song. We found discs with a whole collection of ancient music. A lot of it is something called Hard Rock. Songs about demons and the devil…even vampires…stuff like that. We downloaded a whole huge file, on popular music, recorded before the Change. Very interesting."

"Yeah …you're getting stronger and bigger." Samson mussed.

"Its what's been happening." The leader relaxed. Samson was no longer listening, and no longer seemed a threat.

"I've got a plan." Samson looked over at Benning. "We don't have much time. I don’t think they want to kill your son. What they want is to attract, what they think are, Vampires. Killing the toothy Geeks gives their faith substance and legitimacy." Samson looked at the Leader.

"It would be my guess that Raul discovered more than you are telling…"

"I can assure you…"

"Shut up! You are lying like a rug. You have made an army of warrior vampires. And they are in this lair somewhere. You knew I was coming and you have hidden them from your superiors and accordingly me. And you plan to kill every one in the Keep and take all their pigs. That interferes with my plans and I won't have that. You are arrogant, because you think that your little monsters can overpower me, if you do your superiors will rain down hell on you. So you hide them from me. I should kill you all for your stupidity and then test myself, for fun, against these demons you have made. Or… we work together toward our mutual benefit. What will it be?"

The Leader smiled broadly exposing his long pointed canine fangs.

"I was hoping it would go this way. The way you sssuspected…" Benning made a disgusted face at the now unconcealed sibilance." …was never even consssidered by usss. It isss said that pride isss a sin, but we are prideful none the less. If we are to be what we have been made to be, then should we not make ourssselves an assset to our community. Our diversssity will be our strength…come let me show you our warrior pride."

The Leader stood and glided, an affectation that Samson did not miss, back to a recessed area in the back of the Leader's suites.

Samson spoke to the Leader's back. "Is there a period of coma associated with this metamorphosis?"

The Leader stopped dead in his tracks and turned menacingly. He spoke, but his voice was now lower, quieter and sinister.

"Yesss…it appearsss to be a virusss infection transmitted from a ssspore we found deep in the earth. The ssspore burstsss from a rippened fungi - we had hoped to ussse as a food sssource. It originally wasss lethal, but our scientistsss were able to alter it pathogenically. The drug did not, however, effect its transssformative qualitiesss. Whole blood isss a stabilizer, it actsss as a ressstoritive tonic.

"You are smarter, stronger, quicker and angry at your Community for banishing you, simply because you were sick, cursed, because you did not die. When all it would take is a small supply of donated whole blood to be a treasure to your kind, but instead you are feared, shunned and sent here to this wilderness. It was hoped that you would be hunted to extinction by a herd of zealots. There are no warriors. You all are the warriors, and in that backroom is Raul. I imagine he is well, but sedated. I also imagine that you have bled him a little, but often, because human blood, in some way, is superior to pig blood. You were going to let me see him and depending on my reaction, Benning and I would be allies, or overwhelmed, and put in the same position as Raul. How am I doing so far?"

Benning turned to Samson and whispered angrily, "I thing we need to find a new employer. You know, ones that live in the daylight."

"Our hearing and other senses are alssso much improved, Mr. Benning. I won't take offense, becaussse I know you think we killed your oldest ssson . We did not. He wasss one of the kindessst men I ever knew, and he wasss like a son to me. He underssstood our blight and showed usss a great heart. It wasss he who found another way into the Keep, we can not tolerate the fetid odor of the sssewer sssystem. He found an old mineshaft, and at its end wasss a sssteel door leading to the Keep. It isss not unlike the one that opensss to our Lair. The latch wasss on the mine side, ssso those in the Keep gave it little notice. We were able to sssneak in and acquire a great many pigs. He wasss caught, as wasss a few of our own. They were executed, as witchesss and demonsss, to the perversssse glory of their religion. Please forgive us our mistakesss. The business about the Sheriff's daughter wasss a ssspin to have you both come to usss. Both your sons were here and were trying to help us. Asss to what is behind those doors…Come!"

“Where are my boys?” Benning charged and Samson caught him and held him.

“Patience old son- we will soon find out,”

“I’m ssso sssory for the pain of your grief. As I said - your oldest is gone at the hands of the Sheriff…”

He turned and opened the door. In the low light both Samson and Benning could see a row of beds, with clean linen and blankets, and in each sleeping people with what looked like IV lines running from their arms. Electric monitors peeped quietly and cast a green light on the faces of each 'patient'.

"Your son, Raul, Mr. Benning came here to avenge the death of hisss brother. When we told him the truth - he wasss of course angry with usss. But in time he became tolerant and it wasss he who suggested what you now sssee. We kidnapped thossse who would kill usss, and we use their blood to keep usss hale and fit. After a bit, we infect them ssso they become usss. Your son thought it a delightful irony. Againssst our advice, he went into the Keep to kill the Judge and the Sheriff. Father Benning both your sssons are heroes to us, it wasss we who put the bounty on the Judge and the Sheriff. Your son wasss captured, Mr. Benning, and we have failed to free him. Many have died cruelly at their handsss, for the trying. You are our most honored hero, Sssamson Reed…" The Leader bowed deep to the waist."…I know you sssuspected the truth all along, but played me until I revealed it. Forgive me. Your firmness and decisive action made me fear you. If you did not find usss worthy - we knew you would kill usss. It is your way."

Samson looked long into the face of the Leader before he spoke.

"No more lies…If we do this right, I can do away with the Judge and the Sheriff, and keep the Keep in constant fear of ya-all. After I leave, it will be up to you to keep the balance between you and them. It will always be an eye for an eye, but it can be managed. Do you understand?" The Leader nodded. “Now I need Raul for my own business and you… come up with a name for your new race, it will give you legitimacy… get rid of the vampire thing…your people are going to help me."

"It will be our honor Sssir!" The leader smiled, and out in the great hall hoorays and cheers could be heard.

Benning turned toward the din then back to the leader and asked,"Telepathy?"

"Empathy… Dear Father Benning. Hope and empathy."


ken lehnig(c)2009



------
Why is doing what you love the hardest thing to do? Is it because failing what you thought defined you would be too devastating a thing from which to recover? If so, we stay where mere accident has left us.


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