The Lucky Ones
It was surprisingly easy for David and I to slip Jenna out of the hospital undetected. We loaded her up in the SUV and were soon back on the highway. David turned on a heavy metal station to cover up the sounds of Jenna’s grunt and groans as we traveled throughout the night.
“How much farther?” I asked as the sound of the music was beginning to get on my nerves after four hours of listening to steady heavy metal songs. “I’m not sure how much longer I can stand this shit.”
“We’re almost to the Poconos,” David replied with a brief chuckle. “We’ll set out on foot in about another fifty miles. Lulu has already been notified of our eta. She’ll have a room ready for Jenna to finish the change in.”
“Good,” I said quietly.
I glanced back at the blonde-haired girl. She had been my best friend as we grew up. Now, she was going to be my best friend in Death. I felt better about letting her make the choice instead of me making it for her, and it had helped me learn a new aspect of my abilities.
“So,” David began hesitantly. “Do you want to talk about your little mind trick that you worked back there?”
“It’s kind of hard to explain, honestly.” I told the Hunter. “Plus, I’m not positive I could tell you how I did it.”
“What did you do?”
“I put an image of a room within her mind, and I went in and talked to her.” I explained even though I wasn’t quite certain that’s what I had done. “You know what happened after that.”
“Were you really in her mind?”
“I think so,” I said as a chill went down my spine. I could still feel all of her emotions as if I was still connected with her. I shook my head to clear my mind of all of her fears. There was something more important I needed to think about. “How do I get my brother back, David?”
Mr. Hunter hesitated before he finally answered me.
“I’m not sure, Evan.” The man said quietly. “From what I understand, there are still a few more events that need to play out before any definite plan can be put in place.”
“What does that mean?” I demanded in confusion. “I’m getting tired of all of these riddles.”
“You’re not the only one, Evan.” David said. I could tell that he was dodging my question, but I decided to let it go for the time being. The man clearly had more to tell me. “You’re going to have to give it time, Evan. We’re playing by somebody else’s rules in this game.”
I groaned in defeat.
“You’re just going to have to trust me, Evan.” David explained. “There’s not much that I can tell you.”
“What are you capable of telling me, David?” I clenched my teeth to hold back the frustrated growl. “I really need to know what I’m up against.”
David sighed in defeat.
“All I can tell you is that you’re going to change a total of four people before the first battle takes place,” David said. “So far, you’ve made two new vampires.”
“Who are the other two?” I asked in a hushed whisper.
“Nobody knows for certain, Evan.” The man stated in a soft voice. “I know that your life has been full of challenges.”
“That’s an understatement,” I muttered under my breath.
David chuckled lightly before he continued.
“There is an end to all of this, though.”
“How long until we get there?” I asked quietly.
“We’ve still got a way to go before we wind up at the end of this journey, Evan.” The Hunter told me with a reassuring smile. “The obstacles that we face are just going to get more difficult with each one. It’s not an easy path that we’re on. Especially for you.”
I frowned and turned my attention back to the road. Mr. Hunter had given me more information than anybody else. Now, I knew that I was going to have to change two more people into vampires before I even had a chance of rescuing my little brother. Jenna cried out again, and I couldn’t help but cringe at the sound and the memories of my own change that it brought back.
“How long do you think she’ll be under for?”
“How long did it take you to go through the change?” David asked.
“Eight days,” I replied with a shrug. “It took Tatum nearly six days to finish the process.”
David looked thoughtful for a moment.
“Well, we can assume that it will be anywhere between four and ten days for the time being.” Mr. Hunter said. “Other species of vampires take between three days and three weeks. I think it just matters on the species. With you being a new species, I think we’re just going to have to go through a trial and error phase. We have time to figure out these little differences between you and Arella.”
“Like being able to walk around in the sunlight?”
“We’re getting close to the safe house,” David stated after a few more minutes of silence. “We need to find somewhere to stash this vehicle.”
I glanced towards the road ahead and saw a break in the trees coming up on our right.
“There,” I said as I pointed towards the clearing.
“Works for me,” David stated before he parked the truck.
We made sure that the SUV was covered with brush to keep anybody from seeing it from the road in case we weren’t able to retrieve it for a while. I carried Jenna’s twitching body over my shoulder as we ran off into the thick forest; the sound of her racing heartbeat set my teeth on edge.
‘I’m sorry, Jenna.’ I thought sadly.
I screamed as the fire slowly worked its way through my body. It started in just my hand, but then there was more fire in the side of my neck, and that moved up into my head before the fire continued to spread with every beat of my heart. It felt like somebody had doused me in gasoline and had decided to set me ablaze. Even the breath in my lungs felt like white hot fire.
I wanted the torture to end! I had screamed so much that I didn’t have a voice to call out for someone to kill me; for someone to just end the torment I was going through. There was no relief. All I could do was endure as the fire burned me to a charred crisp. I opened my eyes long enough to see bright sunlight streaming into a vehicle, but the pain of the light and the burning in my eyes was too much for me to stand. There was no black smoke filling the vehicle, though. There was only the feeling of intense pain.
I tried to think about what had happened, but everything was a blur in my head as the fire seemed to burn even hotter. I screamed out again, and I heard someone cringe.
‘Why won’t they just kill me?’ I wanted to ask them. I wanted to beg them to kill me; provide me with that one simple end to all of this pain. ‘Why am I even burning?’
“It’ll be okay, Jenna.” The voice was strangely familiar. I had heard it before, but the fire wouldn’t let me see around it. The burning wouldn’t let me know who it was that I was hearing. “I promise. When this is all over, you will be stronger than you ever were before. Ethan is going to be very jealous when he finds out.”
‘Evan!’ The mention of Ethan’s name brought back the memory of Ethan being taken. The same memory where I had been stuck watching as the puddle of blood beneath me had grown larger. ‘If I’m hearing Evan, does this mean I am dying? Is that why everything is going to be okay?’
I vaguely remembered a white room where Evan and I had sat across from each other, but it didn’t seem real. It didn’t seem possible. Evan had been dead since January. We had spoken…
How long ago had that been? Days? Hours?
Nothing seemed real as I continued to be a prisoner within my own burning flesh.
How much longer would I continue to burn?
The sun was just beginning to set when we finally made our way to Lulu’s Hideaway. David was running in front of me, while I carried Jenna on my back with her twitching arms across my shoulders. He stopped as we reached the opposite side of the road from the motel and scowled darkly. Three black SUVs were sitting in the parking lot, and there were several men going through all of the rooms. Inside the lobby, I could see four men standing near the counter with a gun pointed at Leonard. His eyes were filled with fear as he kept his hands up where the Agents could see them. David pushed me back out of sight before the Agents outside could see us.
“What’s going on?” I asked quietly as I sat Jenna on the ground in front of me and put my hand over her mouth to silence her cries of pain.
“I’m not sure,” David replied. “Those are government vehicles, Evan. I think Director Croft may have found the location of the safe house.”
“Shit,” I muttered. “What do we do?”
“We have no choice but to wait, Evan.” David said grimly. “Lauren has plenty of safeguards in place to keep the humans from finding the actual bunker. I’m almost positive that she’s watching everything.”
A sudden gun shot from within the motel made David fall silent, and I held my breath as I waited to see what was going to happen next. The four men came out of the motel and got into the awaiting SUVs while the men that were searching the rooms did the same. The guards that were standing watch were the last ones to get into the vehicles before each of the vehicles threw stones from the parking lot as they spun their tires to get away.
I picked up Jenna and ran across the road with David beside me. David held the door for me as I stepped into the building with my new offspring. I laid her against one of the walls before I turned to hear groans of pain coming from behind the counter. I turned to see David looking at me apprehensively and I suddenly understood that these was going to be one of those choices that I had to make on my own.
“I’m going to go check on Lulu,” David stated. He turned for the hidden door that led downstairs when it suddenly burst open. Lulu came running out; her eyes scanned the room until she saw the figure lying on the ground behind the counter. I followed behind her slowly as she knelt down and took Leonard’s body into her arms. He gasped for breath as she held him against her chest, and I could tell that they were both in pain. There was only one way for me to help them. I glanced back to see Jenna lying against the wall as my venom ran through her body before I turned back to Lulu and Leonard. I moved around the counter and kneeled beside the woman. There were tears in her eyes as she turned her gaze to me.
“I shouldn’t have left him alone,” she whimpered quietly. “I promised him that I would always be there to protect him, Evan. I promised him.”
Leonard’s eyes were a deep brown color as I gazed down at his face. He was pale and I could hear his heartbeat beginning to falter in its journey. The moment had come. . .
“Lady Lauren?” I said her name in a near whisper.
Lulu looked at me and I could see the pleading look in her red eyes. She needed me to save Leonard.
“I’ll do it,” I said before I moved over to the other side of his body. I took his arm and stroked the back of his hand reassuringly before I brought his wrist up to my lips. “Don’t scream, Leonard. This is a bad time for me to be doing this.”
Leonard’s eyes went wide, and he gasped slightly as my teeth sunk into the tender flesh of his wrist. The blood squirted into my mouth and it took all the control I had to not gulp it down thirstily. No, Leonard had to live. Lauren would never forgive me if I killed her beloved.
‘He’s not her beloved anymore, Evan.’ A strange voice told me in the back of my mind. ‘He’s ours now.’
After Leonard and Jenna were put in the same room for the duration of their changes, I went to spend time with Tatum and Dylan. Tatum rushed into my arms the moment he saw me and sobbed happily.
“Don’t ever scare me like that again, Father!” Tatum demanded in a choked voice. “I saw that fucking mutt push you through the wood, and it took everything I had not to jump out after you! I can’t go on without you, Evan. You’re my everything!”
“I’m sorry, Tatum.” I told him as I held him tightly against me. “Why didn’t you see it, though?”
“I don’t know, Evan.” Tatum said. “The visions don’t just come to me; it’s more like whispers in a dream.”
“You’ve completely lost me, Tatum.” I replied. “Whispers in a dream?”
“I don’t really know how to explain it. I was watching Dylan,” Tatum said as he moved to my side and looked at our friend. “There was so many possibilities playing out, and I was only focused on the ones that involved somebody hurting Dylan. It doesn’t work like Felix’s power, Father. He sees the outlook of events as an entirety. My vision mostly takes place in the here and now.” Tatum sighed in frustration. “Are you even beginning to understand?”
“I think so,” I said with a grin. “I’m sure that I’ll understand it better when you use it more.”
“I’ve been practicing trying to focus on more than one person at a time, but it’s difficult due to all of the possibilities intertwining.”
“You’re one of the smartest people I know, Tatum.” I told him proudly. “I’m certain you’ll find a way to split your mind in two before you even realize it.”
Tatum’s red eyes went wide for a moment before he suddenly hugged me tightly.
“Thanks, Evan.” Tatum said before he backed away from me.
Jon came to find me the next morning as I sat outside to watch the sun rise over the trees to the east.
“Was it them?” I asked the werewolf as he sat down next to me in the dew-covered grass.
“No,” he said. I glanced at him suspiciously. “I would never lie to someone in my Pack, Evan. It wasn’t Croft.”
“Lulu is furious.”
“My sister has every right to be furious, Evan.” Jon stated calmly. “She’s lost the man she loved; her home has been invaded by humans; and now she’s being pulled into a battle that she doesn’t want to be involved in.”
“I sort of feel her pain,” I said absently.
“Sorry,” he muttered. “I didn’t mean it like that, Evan.”
“I know, Jon.” I said before I bumped my shoulder into his own. “So, what else do you have to tell me about the agency involved with today’s attack?”
“It wasn’t even the CIA, Evan.” Jon told me. “It was the Department of Homeland Security.”
“How many fucking people know about us, Jon?”
“More than I’d like,” he admitted. “But it’s the only way for us to do what we need to do, right now.”
“Wait a minute,” I suddenly realized something about Arella. “The Mother, it was her that revealed our existence, wasn’t it?”
Jon nodded solemnly.
“That’s why my father resents the Alliance so much, Evan.”
“I see,” I said. “So, what do we do now?”
“Agent Croft wants us to go to HQ,” Jon said. “We’ll be back in a few days.”
I couldn’t stop the frown from forming on my face.
“I don’t like this, Jon.”
“Neither do I, Evan.” The werewolf said quietly. “I don’t like it at all.”
“Lulu should move the safe house while we’re gone. . .”
“That won’t be necessary,” Jon informed me. “Apparently, the President has already removed Homeland Security from the case.”
“What’s to stop them from disobeying?”
“Money,” Jon said. “Plus, it’s their job to do what the President says.”
“Fine,” I finally agreed to the meeting after considering it for the next hour as we sat there together in silence. “Let’s leave once everybody is awake for the night.”
Tatum and Dylan were staying behind at the motel to help Lulu keep an eye on the two newborns if they awoke before Jon and I returned from Section-9. The members of the Alliance had returned to their own homes the moment Jon had returned with the news about the newborn army. There were preparations to be made for the coming battle. Each Elder had gone to gather their own forces. There was no telling how large Sonya was going to make her army before we had a chance to take her down.
“Agent Croft has been calling for three days straight, Evan.” Jon warned me as we pulled up outside of the old prison. The Section-9 Headquarters had been buried beneath the prison to help keep the anonymity of the agency in the area. Plus, it was easier to move armored cars in and out of a prison than it was an office building. “He’s worried that we’ve ran out on him.”
“I really don’t trust him,” I admitted. “He used to sit in the observation room and watch me for hours while the glass was mirrored.”
“How did you know it was him, then?”
I tapped my ear and Jon chuckled.
“Too bad he didn’t reveal any secrets when he was in that room,” the werewolf said.
“Who’s to say he didn’t, Jon?” I asked with a smug grin.
Jon chuckled as we waited for the guard to let us inside.
Once the gates to the prison finally slid open, Jon pulled forward and showed his ID to the guard. The guard gave us an odd look which I waved off as the fact that my eyes were red as blood and watched as Jon followed the drive to the side of the building. We stopped outside of a different entrance than the normal access tunnel that we used to enter the building and neither of us was surprised to find Director Croft or my uncle waiting for us inside of the doors.
“It’s good to finally see you, gentlemen.” Agent Croft said with a slight sneer in his voice.
“We ran into a little trouble in Philadelphia, Director Croft.” Jon informed the man in an even tone.
“The gang violence?”
“It’s not gang violence,” Jon said. “It’s an army of newborn vampires.”
Agent Croft frowned thoughtfully for a moment.
“It seems that it’s time to put my next plan into action,” Croft stated matter-of-factly.
“I’m not sure that’s a good idea, Director Croft.” Uncle Mason protested. “You have no idea how he’s going to react to this.”
“There’s only one way to find out, Doctor Mason.” Croft said as if he was reminding my uncle of his position. The man smiled at me. “Come with me, Evan. There’s something I need to show you downstairs. Meet me in my office, Jon. I want a full report on this newborn army.”
Jon nodded absently as my Uncle Mason looked at me with fear in his eyes. He kept glancing between the Director and me, and his heart was beating erratically. For a brief moment, I considered going to talk with my uncle instead, but my sense of duty prevailed upon me to go with Croft.
I followed the man into an elevator and held my breath as the doors slid closed. His scent filled the small room, and it took everything I had not to lunge out and kill him. My thoughts were filled with the desire to drain the eggplant shaped man dry and how good his blood would taste as it filled my mouth. Finally, the doors slid open and I could breathe again. In front of us was a small waiting room where two armed guards stood. Beyond them was a long hallway lined with solid steel doors. I could hear multiple heartbeats coming from the hallway and I realized that I was in one of the cell blocks.
“What is this, Director Croft?” I asked, my voice sounding raspy from the thirst I was feeling. I had bitten two people in a row and didn’t drain either of them. The monster within me was practically begging me to end the life of the CIA Director, to be followed by the guards surrounding us before I started in on the prisoners. “I’m not really in the frame of mind for games at the moment.”
“The future of Section-9,” the man replied pleasantly as he motioned me to keep moving forward. I had just stepped beyond the edge of the hallway when a door slammed shut behind me. I turned quickly and grabbed the metal bars that the door was made of. I yelped with pain and let go when a surge of electricity jolted through my body.
“What the fuck are you doing, Croft?” I demanded with a growl.
“I’m ensuring my success, Evan.” Director Croft stated with a sneer. “Without your cooperation, the entire plan is pointless. You were the only person out of hundreds that survived the injection of the serum, and it’s been proven that you can create more vampires that are just like you.”
“You want me to create an army for you?” I asked in disbelief.
“Essentially,” the man stated with a smug grin.
“What do I get out of this if I help you?”
“You get your freedom,” Croft responded quickly. “And, I’ll make sure that Ethan is well taken care of financially for the remainder of his life.”
I stared at Al Croft in disbelief as I began to loathe the man. He was blackmailing me into creating him an army of vampires. I made up my mind at that moment. I would never do what he wanted.
“Don’t come to any rash decisions, Evan.” Croft warned me. “I would hate for something to happen to your little brother.”
I was stunned into silence by his words. The eggplant shaped man grinned smugly, and I growled angrily. Croft quickly backed away from my cage and disappeared into the elevator.
“You have no idea what you have done,” I muttered as the elevator doors slipped closed behind him.
I took a moment to examine the room that was my new prison. There were the bars that separated me from the main room, but there was also a barred door closed over the hallway behind me. There were no windows, and the only light was coming from fluorescent lights evenly spaced along the walls. I could hear eleven different heartbeats as I studied the room, and they were all coming from the cell block. I glanced at the gate and decided against trying to see if I could break through it. I didn’t like the idea of getting shocked again like I had a moment before. It may not have incapacitated me, but it was very painful.
Deciding that there was no effective way out of the oversized cell, I gave up and slumped against the brick wall with a huff of discontent. Then, I heard a familiar sounding voice coming from down the hallway.
“It’s been a few days, Evan.”
“Marcel?” I asked in a stunned voice.
“Did you miss me, Evan?” Marcel asked with a dark chuckle.
“Not even a little, traitor.” I stated in disgust.
“If you only knew the entire truth, Evan.” Marcel stated. “There are reasons that I have done what I did.”
“I’m listening,” I said. “It’s not like I have anything better to do.”
“Neither do I, Evan.” Marcel replied. “Neither do I…”