City of Chaos -- a FK fic

EmilyH

MN Sci-fi Fan
Joined
Jun 3, 2001
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This was actually written last year, by popular demand. It is a prequel to Schanke's Return. It's PG-13.

City of Chaos

Part 1/9

I do not own the Forever Knight series, I'm merely borrowing the main characters for a while. Forever Knight is owned by Sony. I'm not making any money from this fan fiction. Zack, Matthew, Katerina, Marcus, Chang, Miss Jingle, Charlie and minor characters not recognizable from the series are my own creations.

By Emily M. Hanson

* * * * *

It was late November, 1999. Zack and Matthew Collins were eager to test the fake ID's they'd recently purchased over the internet. It was Zack's idea. He'd stumbled across the web site while "researching homework" - in other words, looking for a paper to download. Zack was squeaking by with C's. The only A he'd ever gotten was in gym class, and that was his freshman year. Matthew got A's in almost everything. He enjoyed his art classes the most. He was a bright student, though his brother sometimes called him a geek. At six-foot-one with wavy brown hair and blue eyes, neither twin looked like a nerd.

The bartender was so beautiful she might have been a vision, Matthew thought. A woman with her looks could easily have been a model or an actress. She was just under six feet tall with long dark hair and indigo eyes. She appeared to be in her late twenties. There was also a presence about her that Matthew couldn't put his finger on.

*She's hot, isn't she?* Zack's mental voice intruded into Matthew's thoughts.

The twins had a telepathic ability they'd never told anyone about. They could only communicate with each other through their mental link when they were within a few feet of one another. When they were farther apart, they could sense each other's emotions. It was a talent they'd just accepted like the fact that the sky was blue.

*Yeah,* Matthew replied.

Katerina watched the mortal twins with increasing fascination.

Telepathy of that degree was rare in vampires, and practically unheard of in humans. Unheard of until now, that is. It had been over a century since she'd brought across fledglings. Bringing two fledglings across would be an interesting challenge. As an Enforcer, she could use their powers to her advantage. By training them and allowing their skills to develop, Katerina could have the twins aid her in seeking out code breakers. No vampire who broke the code eluded the Enforcers for long, but it was always better if they were caught early.
Katerina smiled charmingly. "Can I get you both something to drink?"

"Yeah. I want a beer - uh, a Sam Adams," Zack said.

"Can I see your ID?" Katerina could tell that it was fake, and not a very good fake. "Thank you. I assume you are identical twins?" They nodded. "Then I will not need to see your brother's ID. What would you like to drink?"

"The same," Matthew said.

"Two Sam Adams, coming right up."

*See? I told you it would be easy,* Zack thought with a smug smile.

Matthew nodded in response.
Katerina set the drinks down. "Enjoy."

"I think she likes you," Zack said with a wink.

"Oh, no, she was looking at you."

The bartender smiled charmingly. "I have not seen you here before. Is this your first time here?"

"Yes," Zack replied. "And I definitely like what I see."

"Do you?" She applied a slight hypnotic suggestion. "Meet me out back in five minutes, when my shift is over. I cannot wait to see both of you."

* * * * *

Matthew and Zack waited outside. Katerina showed up, having changed out of her work clothes into a low-cut black dress. She was absolutely stunning. "I think we should go someplace more appropriate. There is a hotel several blocks away."

"Sounds good to me," Zack said.

Matthew nodded, too nervous to speak.

Katerina drove to the hotel. It wasn't the Radisson, but it was still good quality.

She took them to a Jacuzzi suite where red silk and satin dominated the room.

"Wow," Zack remarked. "This is definitely the lap of luxury."

"Yeah," Matthew remarked. The room looked so romantic, he'd have pegged it as a honeymoon suite, except for the two separate beds.

"I'm glad you like it," Katerina said seductively. "Come here, Matthew."

Her voice had taken on an ethereal quality. It was suddenly the only thing that mattered. Matthew took one step and then another. His legs felt like weights, but he lifted them for her. She was the most beautiful woman he'd ever seen. Matthew knew that he would do anything for her.

"Come closer to me."

It was impossible to resist. Matthew sat down next to Katerina on the bed. She kissed him passionately for a while. Then, her eyes turned golden and he felt something sharp pierce his neck. Faintly, Matthew heard Zack call his name, but he was too focused on Katerina to respond. Then darkness enveloped him.

Matthew found himself in a strange place, like a desert but with no heat. In fact, he couldn't feel anything except the ground beneath his feet. Then a door appeared, and a hooded figure came through. As the cloaked man approached, Matthew recognized Zack's face. "No, I am not your brother," said the mysterious stranger. "You chose to project his image."

"Who are you, then?"

"That is an excellent question. Some call me Death; others call me Fate. In the past, I have been called Anubis and Charon. I am whoever you wish me to be."

Zack recognized the names from a class he'd taken in mythology. They were associated with death and the journey into the Underworld. "What do you want from me?"

"I ask you to choose. You may go through only one of these doors. For most, this decision only comes once. If you choose to walk through the door leading back to Earth, your life will be drastically altered."

"What do you mean?"

The hooded figure's only response was, "You must choose."

Matthew looked at the door behind the hooded figure. There was a warm, welcoming light behind it. The other door held darkness. Two voices drifted up from it. With a shock, Matthew recognized Katerina and Zack.

"Wake up," his twin urged him. "Please, wake up."

"Matthew," Katerina called. Her tone was at first seductive, then nearly pleading. "Matthew, come to us! Please!"

"I choose that door," he said. The hooded figure bowed and disappeared. The strange desert began to fade into blackness.

* * * * *

Matthew groaned as he sat up. He had a splitting headache. Going to the bar with Zack seemed like a hazy dream. When he opened his eyes, the world was red. Blood red. Was this what the strange man meant? What had happened to him?

"You must drink," Katerina said, offering her wrist.

Two puncture marks were already there. Then he saw his brother. Zack had yellow eyes and long, sharp fangs that gleamed in the light of the bar's neon sign. The bartender was a vampire and so was Zack. The next logical step loomed before Matthew, but he didn't want to take it. Nearly panicking, the fledgling relaxed a little as Katerina shoved her wrist closer. First hunger overcame him. His mind reeled from the knowledge that he was sucking blood through fangs. Is this how I'm going to spend the rest of my life, probably forever? Matthew hoped that it wasn't all like the movies. Did vampires kill? Was that what he would become, a cold-blooded murderer?
*I am Katerina Seville,* she spoke through the twins' mental link, which now seemed a hundred times stronger. *I am your sire, your master, and you will obey me. Is that clear?*

"Yes," Matthew answered out loud, when he'd regained enough presence of mind. Licking blood from his lips, he asked, "Why did you choose us?"

*You and your brother have a gift. It is rare, and has become more powerful since you were brought across. In time, you will develop it.* Now, Katerina's smile was that of a parent to a child, rather than a woman to a man. *Come. I will teach you how to survive.*

She took the vampire fledglings to the bad part of town and had them kill a pickpocket and a wino. Zack was a natural hunter. He reveled in his kill. Matthew hated it, on the other hand. He reminded her of Nicholas de Brabant, whom she'd met two hundred years ago. Matthew's guilt was a match for that of the ex-Crusader. Katerina wondered if she'd made a mistake bringing both of them across. But the deed was done.

She took them to her apartment. The exhausted fledglings slept soundly on the floor. Katerina picked up the phone and called Aristotle to make arrangements. But before he answered, she felt the presence of another vampire nearby. It was Samuel, one of Marcus' lackeys. Marcus was one of four Enforcers on the council. He was a power-hungry bastard, paranoid and deluded about his role. The Elders had given him the third most formal and high-ranking position before that of council leader. It was also the most useless position. He had no real power, only a vote and the ability to call an emergency council session if he wished. Greater respect usually went along with that role, but in Marcus' case, it was greater disdain. The only reason he held any power at all was because of the Elders' respect for his sire. Marcus' sire was a 3,000 year old ancient named Li Chang, who had been offered and declined the position of council leader because of an intense dislike for politics. Rumor had it Li Chang was also a powerful sorcerer. No one dared to cross him. Katerina wasn't sure why Marcus would be interested in her.

The only thing she could think of was the fledglings. But she'd only just brought them across. Though the twins had far more potential than most fledglings, they were untrained and as helpless as newborns. Surely Marcus didn't view them as a threat already. "My master has had his eye on you for some time," Samuel said. "He knew that, sooner or later, you would make a move on him. By bringing these gifted fledglings across, you have made your intentions known."
Katerina shook her head. "They are not as gifted as you may think," she said, hoping to make him see them as less of a threat.

"Every vampire in this city, down to the lowliest fledgling and carouche, felt their power as you brought them across. To say your fledglings are not gifted is like saying we are merely mortal."
Shielding would be the first thing she taught them when she had a chance, Katerina thought. "Perhaps, but they are untrained."

"Therein lies the danger to my master. Whoever raises these fledglings will teach them to harness their power. My master wishes to ensure that their talent is not used against him."

"It won't be, I assure you."

Samuel smirked. "Do you really think I am that stupid? Marcus would not believe you. I have been sent to make certain there is no threat, and I will do just that." He produced a wooden stake.

Katerina stepped back and grabbed the nearest thing she could use as a weapon. It was a broom. Crude, yes, but any piece of wood would be effective. She broke off the end, giving it a jagged, pointy top. The two vampires circled the room. Finally, Samuel flew at her. Katerina dodged and swung the broom, missing him by a hairbreadth. He thrust the stake, intending to plunge it into her heart. But she spun around and Samuel's stake went through a vase.

Matthew woke at the sound. Sitting bolt upright, he saw his sire fighting another vampire. Shock, pain, and finally anger filled him. How could anyone harm Katerina? She was too beautiful for words. Rage boiled within him. The emotional storm brewing within the fledgling focused on Samuel, and he released the energy with a shout. Barely understanding what he'd done, Matthew saw Samuel stagger.

Marcus' lackey whirled around. The fledgling had gotten past his defenses! How was that possible? This ill-bred cur was inside his mind. Better to destroy him now, before he became a real adversary. Samuel advanced on Matthew with the stake. Zack woke up and realized his brother was in danger. He let loose his own psychic blast. Samuel dropped the stake as he doubled over in pain, and Katerina plunged the broom into him. Relieved that they were all right, she reached out with her sensed to make sure that no other vampires were nearby to surprise them.

* * * * *

End of part 1

City of Chaos

Part 2/9

By Emily M. Hanson

Standard disclaimers apply. See part 1 for details.

* * * * *
"You have both done exceedingly well this night," she said. "I am proud of you. Now, there is something I must teach you - how to shield your minds." Through the link, Katerina showed the fledglings the trick. They learned quickly, since it was much the same technique the twins used to block each other's unwanted thoughts. Katerina was amazed by how much they already knew.

"Can vampires really turn into bats?" Zack wanted to know.

"No, that is a myth created by Hollywood. We can fly, however. Allow me to demonstrate." Katerina rose several inches from the floor.

Matthew's jaw dropped. He'd never imagined that anyone could fly for real.

"This totally rocks!" Zack exclaimed, flying until he touched the ceiling with his head. Then he struck a dramatic pose from a movie scene. "I'm king of the world!"

Matthew laughed at his brother's antics, then flew up to join him. "You're right, this is pretty cool." He noticed that Samuel's body had disintegrated. "Check it out. Vampires really do turn to ashes."

"Yes," Katerina said. "We do. Few things can kill us, but you should know what they are. Stakes, of course, though any sharp wooden stick is effective. Fire and sunlight are also lethal. Garlic can poison us, and is lethal in very large doses. Curare can paralyze us, though it is only lethal to mortals. Vampire hunters often use curare in combination with other methods."

"What about crosses and holy water?" Matthew asked.

"Crosses will burn us if we touch them, though they will only make you feel ill if you're near them. Other holy objects can affect us, even if they are not associated with Christianity. It is not the religion itself, but the power inherent in such objects and the rites they are used for. Magic is very real and can be used against us. Now, you should both sleep. The sun will come up soon."

The next three nights passed by. Katerina taught the fledglings the basics, control above all else. They learned more quickly than she'd expected. On the fourth night, Katerina brought them to the Red Moon, LA's equivalent of the Raven. The décor was a bizarre mix of Gothic and Asian culture that seemed to work well. Black and gold Chinese dragons swirled around red wallpaper trim. The tables and chairs in the bar were antiques. Pewter candleholders in the shape of claws sat on the tables. The candles themselves were red and black. The room was so dimly lit that only someone with infrared vision could make his way through it without bumping into something. The band's music combined loud guitars and synthesizers with traditional Asian instruments. The result was an etherial, otherworldly sound that would have been out of place anywhere else. Three of the musicians were vampires. Two were mortal, or at least, they had heartbeats. There was something odd about them that neither of the twins could identify.

"We are not the only creatures of the night," Katerina said, startling them. "There are others."

Matthew felt like every eye was on him as he approached the bar. It was as though he were passing some sort of unwritten test. The intense scrutiny made him uncomfortable. He kept his eyes forward and his expression stoic, and a shield clamped down on his thoughts. Zack seemed to revel in the attention, grinning and exchanging a look with every pretty lady who glanced his way. It didn't matter that they might be a thousand years old.

Katerina ordered for them. "Two of your most fresh human selections. One house special."

The bartender nodded. He looked to be in his twenties, with curly dark hair and dark skin. "Coming right up."

Zack noticed that Katerina's drink contained alcohol - wine, to be exact. "Can I get a real drink?"

"No. Older vampires can tolerate alcohol, but it has a much more intoxicating effect on fledglings. Not to mention that it will also make you sick to your stomach."

Zack looked skeptical, but forgot about wanting alcohol as he swallowed his own drink. What beer or wine could possibly compare to blood? Its effects were more stimulating than soda pop packed with caffeine. There was nothing that he had ever eaten or drank as a mortal that could be its equal. Yet, strangely enough, Zack missed mortal food. Not just alcohol, but chocolate and pizza and chips . . . and everything. With a sigh, he gulped the drink and set the glass down. Matthew felt lost. He'd never fit in with the party scene as a mortal, and being a vampire didn't seem to make much of a difference. His brother was sure getting a lot of attention from attractive women. Not that he wasn't getting his share of glances, but Matthew didn't feel inclined to return any of them. The women who looked no older than twenty-one might well be five hundred years old or more. Who was he, to seek out their attention? They'd probably courted noblemen in their time.

"Katerina."

She turned around to see Li Chang standing behind her. The ancient vampire bowed in the traditional manner. She stood up and returned his greeting. "It is an honor to see you, master Chang." "Ah, these are your fledglings."
"Yes. This is Matthew and Zack Collins."

Matthew sensed the Asian vampire's power and was suddenly afraid. Who was he and what did he want? The fledgling's hands trembled and he set down his glass. Zack didn't seem afraid at all. In fact, he was grinning like a cocky idiot. Chang nodded at Matthew. "I see this one, at least, has some sense. Young man, do you have any idea how much power you have at your fingertips?"

The question took him by surprise. "Uh . . . Sir?"

"You managed to get past the defenses of a vampire five and a half centuries older than you. That is very remarkable. Do you know how many of us would kill for that sort of power?"

Matthew's mouth suddenly went dry.

"No, Sir," he stammered.

"It's probably good that you don't. Otherwise, you wouldn't get a day's worth of sleep. Katerina, dear, may I have a word?"

She nodded. They disappeared into a back room behind the bar.

Matthew sighed with relief now that the ancient vampire was gone. He turned his attention to his brother. "I wonder if I'll ever be that old someday?"

"Well, yeah, unless someone stakes you." Zack laughed. "Or you fry."

"Do you ever think about what the world is going to be like in a thousand years?" Zack shook his head.

"Probably like Star Trek."

"That's only in a few centuries."

"Yeah, so?"

Matthew shrugged. Having an interesting discussion with his brother seemed impossible. "Hey, can I have another drink?" He asked the bartender, who refilled his glass.

* * * * *

The conference room that was so lavish, you'd think it was inside a hotel. The Red Moon had a growing number of patrons, mortal and immortal, who preferred to conduct their business in a discreet place. It served that function very well.

Katerina and Li Chang sat around a mahogany conference table that could seat fifteen in plump leather chairs. There was a TV/VCR in front of the room.

Surround sound speakers were placed in every corner. There was even an intercom connected to the main bar. "I apologize for Marcus' behavior lately," Li Chang said. "He has been acting quite strangely. I did not expect him to go to such lengths."

"It's all right. I took care of Samuel."

"I will speak to Marcus tonight. You should not have been attacked in the first place, little cat."

She smiled. Li Chang had been a good friend of her sire, before Andrew's death two decades ago. "Thanks, but you don't have to."

"Nonsense. I will speak to him. Marcus has been overstepping his bounds lately. It is time I showed him who the master is."

Back in the bar, Matthew and Zack felt cold eyes piercing them like stakes. The vampire behind them wore a calculating expression. His features were a mixture of Greek and Italian. He was a tall, imposing figure. His face had a jagged look, like a sharp stone. The menacing vampire headed for the back room. The twins exchanged glances.

"I wonder what that was about?" Matthew asked.

Zack shrugged. "Who cares? Bartender, can I have a little more?"

Katerina started as the door banged open, making enough noise to distract the band's drummer enough to skip a beat.

"Marcus," Li Chang said.

"Master." He nodded at Chang and then glared at Katerina.

"You."

"I see that you have not improved your way with the ladies one bit," Chang remarked. "A little more politeness is in order, don't you think?"

Marcus growled. "I have no time for idle chatter."

"Very well. Heed my words, then. I will not have you making unfounded attacks. Do I make myself clear?"

"The attack was not unfounded. She wishes to usurp my authority."

"Ha!" Katerina exclaimed. "Not in a million years."

"You see?" Chang said. "She is no threat."

"And you believe her?" Marcus shook his head in disbelief. Truly, his sire was an old, doddering fool.

"I would take her word before that of an impetuous dunderhead. Go home, Marcus. Go home and forget about this whole mess you caused. Better yet, apologize to Katerina and her fledglings first."

Marcus whipped out a stake. "I think not."

Chang growled. "You dare challenge me? Foolish, stupid imbecile. I am seven hundred years your elder."

"And an old fool." Marcus rushed forward and plunged the stake into Katerina. Shocked at the outcome, for he'd been expecting Marcus to attack him, Chang flew at him.

Matthew and Zack felt their link with Katerina suddenly drop. It was as though she had never existed. They heard her scream and ran to the back room to find Katerina staked, Chang and Marcus grappling on the floor and their world shattered.

Katerina looked up. The light was fading from her eyes. "Run," she said, so softly that Matthew and Zack barely heard it.

*Run!* This time, she sent the command through their link. It was a compulsion that the fledglings had no choice but to obey. They ran for their lives, out of the Red Moon and out onto the streets of Los Angeles.

* * * * *

Marcus muttered something in an arcane language. This was something his sire had not taught him and would never expect. A white blast that crackled with electricity sprang from his finger and struck a surprised Chang in the chest, right where his heart was.

"You . . ." Whatever insult that had been on his master's lips died as he did. His body disintegrated, leaving behind a heap of clothes.

The fledglings were gone. With no one looking after them, sooner or later they would lose control. Then the enforcers would have to destroy them. Marcus smiled, feeling satisfied. He paid the bartender generously, making up for the fact that Katerina and the fledglings couldn't pay for their drinks now. The Red Moon shouldn't have to lose profit for their insolence. Besides, he had an interest in keeping the bar in business. Marcus had secretly put listening devices in the conference room, hidden in the speakers. It was how he'd found out Katerina and Chang were there. He headed for home. Now that the threat was eliminated, he could relax.

* * * * *

Red and orange streaks began to appear in the sky as Matthew and Zack stopped running. "The sun's coming up," Matthew said worriedly. He looked around and saw a manhole. "We'd better go down there."

Zack lifted it and they climbed into the foul-smelling darkness. After wandering for a while, the twins found an abandoned section of tunnels that had once been part of the sewer. Matthew and Zack fell asleep in a cold dark tunnel.

* * * * *

End of part 2

City of Chaos

Part 3/9

By Emily M. Hanson

Standard disclaimers apply. See part 1 for details.

* * * * *

A woman who appeared to be in her fifties approached the sleeping fledglings. She wore a dress that was so dingy, it was impossible to discern the color. She also wore an old jacket and grimy sneakers that had definitely seen better days. Her hair was black with streaks of gray and her eyes were dull and brown. Under her breath, she hummed a song that was too catchy to have been anything but an advertising jingle. "Hello, what have we here?" She blinked several times and cleared her throat. "Looks like a pair of boys to me, unless my eyes are going haywire again."

Scenting fresh blood nearby, Zack was the first to wake up.

His eyes started to glow red but he clamped down on his hunger. So there were homeless people living there. He hadn't really thought about them before. The realization hit Zack with full force that he and his brother were homeless, too. They couldn't go back to Katerina's place, not while Marcus was still around. And they couldn't go back to their human family, either.
The Jingle Lady had seen flecks of red appear in Zack's eyes, but thought it best to act as if she hadn't seen them. This boy was a strange one. "You must be new around here. Haven't seen you before."

Zack nodded as Matthew sat up. Running his hand through tousled hair, Matthew gaped at the homeless woman.

"Definitely new," Zack agreed, ignoring his brother.

"I'm Zack Collins and that's Matthew."

"You runaways, then?"

The twins nodded. That was the easiest explanation.

"Okay. I'll take you to the camp, then. Follow me."

*Be quiet,* Matthew thought to his growling stomach and followed the Jingle Lady. They went through a maze of twisting tunnels. Finally, they came to a section with tents and sleeping bags. Most of the tents had been patched by a variety of materials. Everything was surprisingly organized, with sleeping bags on one side of the area and tents on the other, all in orderly rows. A few bottles and cans had been placed into a cardboard box marked RECYCLING. Matthew didn't know what he'd been expecting, but it was nothing like this.

"This here is the camp," the Jingle Lady said. "We have a couple of extra sleeping bags. You'll have to trade for them." She stopped in front of a blue tent that had been patched with the front logo off a Rams sweatshirt. "Charlie Ray, are you home?"

A middle-aged African-American man poked his head out. "Why, if it isn't Miss Jingle. Who's that with you?"

"This is Matthew and Zack Collins. They're newbies. Ran away from home, they did."

"Ah." Charlie looked at the twins and extended a hand.

"Pleased to meet you." Zack shook hands with him first. Charlie saw an image of Zack with glowing red eyes and long, sharp fangs with some poor schmuck in his arms who looked very pale and had two neat little holes in his neck. A dark shadow fell across Zack and shifted, suggesting someone standing behind him. Charlie knew about vampires. He'd been on the streets for twenty years and had seen some strange things. He had a rudimentary psychic gift. It only worked when he touched someone, and even then not always. But when Charlie got impressions of a person, they were accurate. He got the impression that Zack was a fairly good guy, though he was known to have a temper. His temper had gotten even shorter after he'd been brought across. Now, he was unpredictable and prone to mood swings.
Matthew hesitantly shook Charlie's hand and felt a slight buzz that he assumed to be static electricity. "Uh, hi."

Charlie grinned. "Hi, yourself." He knew that Matthew was also a vampire, but had better control than his brother. This young man was easier to like. Charlie glimpsed him studying hard and looking at a recent high school transcript that contained all A's. There were brief images of Matthew in various school plays, always having a major speaking role, if not the male lead. Then there were the drawings and paintings, which flashed by quickly until they blurred together. Matthew was a talented art student as well. He didn't seem to enjoy being a vampire, but he was adapting to it.

"So," the Jingle Lady said, "you've met Charlie Ray. Let's keep moving."

She introduced them to everyone who was there, and told them about the ones who were gone for the day. A lot of them had jobs, the minimum-wage sort. That surprised Zack. He'd always assumed homeless people were lazy bums. Now that he was getting a more realistic picture, Zack realized they were nothing like the stereotype he was accustomed to. Matthew was absorbing every bit of information the Jingle Lady had, unlike his brother, who seemed to be acting like the country boy who goes to the city. Matthew asked a question every now and then. Where were the best places to get food and clothes? How to find money to pay for them? He realized the only job he could get was working the graveyard shift at a fast food place, and he'd have to wait a while before his parents stopped looking for him. For the next few months, Matthew and his brother would have to rely on the assistance of other people. That bothered him, but it didn't seem like there was anything he could do about it.

* * * * *

It was midnight on the sixth night after the twins had been brought across. Aristotle gazed at his computer monitor as he checked e-mail. He'd heard about Katerina's death and wondered what had happened to her fledglings. It was usual for a new master to contact him immediately and follow up on any new identities being processed. He wondered if they had just been abandoned. That happened far too often. He sent off a brief e-mail to a colleague in California, requesting information on the fledglings' whereabouts. Before writing them off, he wanted to know what had happened to them. A short time later, Aristotle received a reply. From: bldsckr23@privacyrules.com

To: aristotle@securemail.com

Re: LA fledglings Last I heard, Katerina and Marcus had it out and he won. A friend who was at the Red Moon that night tells me the fledglings ran like bats out of hell. No one has seen them since. Sorry I can't be of more assistance,
Jack

Can you give me any information on two fledglings named Zack and Matthew Collins? I believe they're twins. Their sire recently died.
I need to know where to find them.

Aristotle sighed. Maybe Nick could find out something with his resources.

He sent the former Crusader an e-mail and headed for the fridge.

* * * * *

It was a quiet night with not much to do except paperwork. The sound of e-mail arriving startled Nick, occupied by his monotonous task. Aristotle had sent him a message.

From: aristotle@securemail.com

To: knightn@toronto.police.ontario.ca

Subject: Los Angeles

I have two subjects who recently disappeared after their master's death. Business is pending and it would be for the best if they were found quickly. Do you have the time to look into it? The subjects are Matthew and Zack Collins. They were last seen at the Red Moon on November 29th. A fight broke out, resulting in two permanent deaths. The boys ran. They did not instigate the fight. Rather, it was started by the enforcer Marcus, bent on using them as pawns in his political games.

The Collins brothers are 18 with dark hair and blue eyes. They are also identical twins. From their master, I know that Zack sometimes has a temper and can be unpredictable, though he's normally pretty good. Matthew is intelligent and reserved, with a streak of kindness, but prone to feelings of guilt. They are also gifted with telepathic abilities far beyond the normal limits. If you do not have time, I understand. Please let me know either way.

Aristotle

"Real knowledge is to know the extent of one's ignorance." - Socrates

Nick gazed at the message. So two fledglings were abandoned and at least two vampires died in the bar fight, including their sire. Aristotle usually didn't bother looking for lost fledglings. Nick wondered what made it worth the computer genius' time to discover their whereabouts. He sent a brief message.

From: knightn@toronto.police.ontario.ca

To: aristotle@securemail.com

Re: Los Angeles I'll be glad to provide assistance.

Nick

>If you do not have time, I understand. Please let me know either way.
Aristotle took a long sip from his bottle of donated blood and read Knight's message. With Nick on the trail, the twins had a chance. Hopefully, he would find them before they got in trouble with the enforcers . . . or Marcus.

* * * * *

After exchanging much e-mail with a friend on the Los Angeles police force, Nick learned that Matthew and Zack were considered missing. They could be anywhere. The LA detective promised to keep an eye out, but being swamped with homicides, that was all he could do. Nick gave his work number and home number. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw Tracy looking with a puzzled expression on her face. Knight hung up and glanced at his partner. "What is it, Tracy?"

"Just wondering why you're taking on a missing person case."

"It's a favor for a friend. I'm not actually taking on another case, just doing some checking. The missing people are in the States."

"Oh."

Both detectives returned to their paperwork, wishing that things could pick up a little bit - and rejecting the wish a moment later, because it meant someone would have to be murdered.

* * * * *

Zack sank his fangs deeper and let the body fall as he sucked out the last drops of life. He felt his brother's thoughts of disgust. Matthew had taken to feeding from rats, not wanting anything to do with killing humans.

*Why do you still think it's wrong to kill them?* Zack thought. *We need to survive.*

*Vampires don't have to drink human blood.*

*You and I are not carouches!*

*No, but murder is wrong. That hasn't changed just because we're no longer human.*

"It's not murder, it's self-defense!" Zack shouted, not caring that it was out loud. "Besides, no one's going to miss that lady. She had no life."

"She had the life you stole," Matthew replied quietly. Zack glared at him. "It's our turn to get food for the mortals. I don't particularly care, but I guess we should keep them alive, if for no other reason then to have a food supply."

Matthew startled to growl, but let the sound die in his throat. Fighting wouldn't do any good. "Fine. Let's go."

* * * * *

End of part 3

City of Chaos

Part 4/9

By Emily M. Hanson

* * * * *

Chaos erupted. Frightened people fled up the stairs as their world turned into smoke and flames. Matthew jumped back when the chair beside him ignited. After a few moments of coughing from thick smoke, he remembered that breathing wasn't necessary for vampires. But fire could be lethal.

"We have to get out of here," Matthew said, desperately trying not to panic.

"No, really?" Zack replied. With vampire-enhanced vision, Matthew peered through the haze. The building's floors and furniture were constructed of wood. For mortals and vampires alike, it was a deathtrap. The door at the top of the stairs was in danger of becoming engulfed by flames, like everything else.

"My baby's in the nursery," a woman wailed. "Someone please, save her!"

"So is my little boy," a man shouted above the raucous.

"Where's the nursery?" Matthew asked.

"Down the hall, to the left," the woman stated and then coughed as Father Jones led her out of the building.

Matthew looked and saw the fire had almost engulfed the hallway. But someone had to rescue the kids. "Give me a hand," he told Zack. The twins raced down the hallway and into the nursery. A frightened girl who looked barely old enough to baby sit held a two- or three-month-old child in her arms. By her side, a toddler sucked on a large plastic toy, oblivious to the danger he was in.

"You're going to get us out, right?" The babysitter said shakily. "

Yes," Matthew said. "We will. What's your name?"

"Tina."

"All right, Tina. I'm Matthew. This is my brother, Zack. Just follow us, and you'll be fine." He picked up the toddler and headed for the exit. Tina began to cough. Matthew gave her his jacket to cover her head with. Zack picked her up. She still held onto the baby. They made it up the stairs, but the church lobby was engulfed in flames. There seemed to be no way out except over them. Fire engines wailed in the distance. A wooden cross standing in a corner suddenly toppled over, its base eaten by flames. Zack hissed and floated up. As Matthew also rose to a safe height, the toddler screamed. "Yeah, kid, I know how you feel," he muttered.

"Why are we moving up?" Tina asked suddenly, moving the jacket so she could see. "Oh ... my...God! What are you people?"

"Relax," Zack said. "We won't hurt you."

"Yeah, right." The girl crossed herself and shrieked when he vamped out. "You're demons! Let go of me!" She struggled and twisted in his arms. Zack tried to hypnotize her.

"Relax. I will not harm you. Please, just relax. All this is just a bad dream."

Tina felt sleepy, but shook it off. "No! Hail Mary . . ." While struggling, the girl lost her grip on the baby. She broke off her prayer with a wail. "Noooo!"

Moving in a blur, Matthew caught the child with one hand and saved it from a fiery fate. Tina heaved a sigh of relief. Tears streaked down her face.

"Oh, thank God. You caught her. Whatever you are, surely you're not demons. I'm sorry."

"It's okay," Zack replied wearily. "Let's get out of here."

Flying out of the blazing church, Matthew noticed reporters standing close by. A digital camera was pointed directly at the building's entrance. Suddenly, he had a sinking feeling that plummeted like a lead weight. Were they recording live? He couldn't tell, not having operated a camera like that before.

"We are standing with two very amazing young men," Anne said. "Their rescue was nothing short of miraculous. I'm not sure how they managed to pull it off, but one thing is certain. They are extraordinary individuals."

Setting Tina on solid ground, Zack was startled when she kissed him on the cheek. "Thank you for saving my life."

He felt heat rush into his face and wondered if vampires could blush. "No problem."

Anne wanted to ask a million questions, but as soon as the children were back with their parents, Matthew walked away.

"Hey, wait! Don't you want to be famous?" The reporter questioned him.

"No."

"How did you fly? Just answer that. Please?"

Matthew felt the blood drain from his face and grabbed his brother's arm. "Let's get out of here," he whispered.

"You both flew above the fire, and you have fangs. What are you two, some kind of real-life vampires?"

Zack looked frightened. "Uh, no, . . . we're from Mars, yeah. That's it. Mars."

Anne realized he was lying immediately. "You really are a vampire," she breathed.

Zack shook his head vigorously and shrank back from the camera. "No, you have to believe me!" Desperately, he tried to hypnotize her. "There are no such things as vampires."

The reporter shook off the lethargy she felt. "You're trying to mess with my mind. How . . . look, you have no reason to be frightened. No one is going to hurt you."

"The Enforcers..." Zack whispered, feeling dread wash over him.

"Who are they? Why are you afraid of them?"

"Never mind," he said quickly. Too quickly.

"The Enforcers scare you. Why? What rules do they enforce?"

"Only one," Matthew said. "The most important rule."

"And that is?"

He closed his eyes, feeling as though all hope was lost. It didn't matter now, anyway. The secret was out. "Never reveal yourself to a mortal."

Stunned, Anne digested what he'd told her.

"And you did that to save lives."
"Yes."

"At the risk of your own?" The twins nodded.
"Why?" Anne asked.

"Someone had to save those kids," Matthew said.

"There's something else that puzzles me. You're vampires. What were you doing in a church?"

"Getting food for some friends who just happen to be homeless."

"I think," Father Jones said, surprising everyone, "that I may be of assistance. There is a soup kitchen a few blocks down. I'm sure not everyone finished eating before that poor lost soul came with his bomb." Then, in a gesture that spoke volumes, the priest extended a hand to Matthew. "Come with us. I'm sure we'll find something for your friends."

The gaping vampire shook Father Jones' hand. "Th...thanks," he stammered.

Father Jones offered the same hand to Zack, who hesitantly returned the gesture.

"Good," the priest said. "Let's go."

It was pretty quiet in the soup kitchen, but a few volunteers still worked their shift. A TV was on in the corner, showing news coverage of the fire and a recap of the rescue. The food servers stared at the small crowd arriving. Quickly, it became clear who was in charge.

"Come on, people!" A petite woman with silver hair in a bun exclaimed. Though she was very kind, Bonnie knew how to give orders. "Josie, go in the back and get out some extra bowls and spoons. Dennis, we need bread. You know where it is. Kim, make more coffee. Johnny, go in the back and get some sausage."

Father Jones and the twins stood aside as everyone else filed in. Tina smiled over her shoulder as she walked past. Matthew and Zack caught snatches of conversations. One or two people were skeptical, but most really believed in vampires now. This wasn't going to go away.

Matthew sighed.

"What's troubling you, son?" The priest asked.

"I keep hoping to wake up and find out this was all just a bad dream."

"The fire?"

"This whole week."

The priest touched Matthew's shoulder. When they shook hands, he felt a slight buzz but dismissed it. Now, he wondered if it was more than just his imagination. The troubled young man looked up and Father Jones was struck by how frightened he seemed. "Let's find some food for your friends."

* * * * *

Afterward, Anne and Bruce headed back to the TV station.

The reporter leaned her head against the window as the cameraman drove. "You really think anyone will believe those kids are vampires?" Bruce asked.

"Mmm hmm," she replied drowsily. "Why not?"

"If I hadn't been there," he replied, "there's no way I'd believe it."

"Well, you were there."

"Yeah." Bruce pulled into their reserved parking spot.

On the way upstairs into the mixing booth, Anne thought she glimpsed a pair of yellow eyes peering from the dark shadows. When the reporter leaned over to get a better look, the eyes were gone. "Great," she admonished herself. "Now I'm seeing things."

"What did you see?" Bruce inquired.

"I thought I saw glow-in-the-dark eyes over there."

In response, the cameraman shrugged. They went upstairs and Bruce inserted the disk containing digital film into the main computer. He pressed several keys, including one that would upload the data to the internet. As they waited for the data to be processed, a heavy thud landed on the floor behind them.

"What the..." Bruce said and whirled around.

A menacing figure with glowing yellow eyes and long fangs advanced. "You will give me the disk now."

Bruce felt light-headed, but ignored the vampire. "No way!" He flipped a switch that controlled the main intercom. "Help, there's a crazy guy up here!"

The Enforcer snarled, grabbed Bruce and threw him against the wall. Anne screamed.

Meanwhile, in the news room which was broadcasting live, the sound of Bruce hitting the wall and Anne's yell interrupted the sports scores.

"What in blazes was that?" The reporter asked.

Quickly, Anne hit the live feed switch as the Enforcer started to come for her. The scene of a vampire attacking the reporter broke into the sports broadcast.

"No!" The Enforcer snarled. "Now you've done it! If nothing else, I will make sure you pay the price for breaking the code."

Anne screamed as the vampire swung his arm. Then, suddenly, a stake was sticking through his chest. Relieved, she watched as the Enforcer collapsed. Behind him was Li Chang. The ancient Asian vampire glanced at the pile of dust. "He won't bother you again."

"Thank you. Who are you?"

Chang helped Bruce stagger to his feet. The cameraman felt blood trickle down his swollen nose. "We need to talk."

"Of course. Bruce, are you okay?"

"I'b dust beed pummeled by a bampire. Do, I'b dot ogay," Bruce replied, wincing with pain as he spoke. "I dink by dose is broged."

"All right, I'm calling 911."

"Wait," Chang said. In an eerie low tone, he chanted something in a foreign language. A strange light appeared to swirl around Bruce for a moment, then was gone.

"My nose! You fixed my nose! But how?"

"Young man, as they say, you haven't seen anything yet." Chang smiled grimly.

* * * * *

End of part 4

City of Chaos

Part 5/9

By Emily M. Hanson

* * * * *

"Who are you?" Anne repeated as they left the room.

"My name is Li Chang. And yes, I am a vampire. The one who tried to kill you earlier is an Enforcer. They are supposed to enforce the code. Tonight, they have broken it. Well, actually, Marcus did."

"Marcus?"

"He was once my student. The twins you met earlier had a sire, the one who brought them across and was supposed to teach them everything. Marcus murdered her. He also attempted to kill me. Luckily, there are still a few tricks up my sleeve. I'm not the old fool my former fledgling thinks I am."

"How did Marcus break the code?"

"There have been murders all over the city. You will hear of them soon. Bodies drained of blood, with no attempt to disguise the method, left outside for anyone to see. Marcus has the Enforcers under his control now. They are going after anyone who might have seen the television broadcast, and any vampires who may have made the slightest infractions. He's also using magic. The police are inexperienced in dealing with the paranormal, but they will eventually realize that mortal weapons did not cause those deaths."

"What does Marcus want?"

"Power. Control. He wants everyone to fear him."

Anne shivered. "Well, it's working."

"We must find a way to stop Marcus. The elders have called a special counsel tonight. As the leader, I ask that you join us. My plan will require your assistance. I do not make this offer lightly. Until now, it has been forbidden to invite non-vampires to a Council session. But these dark times require drastic measures."

"Of course, I will come."

"Good. And you?" Chang directed his gaze at Bruce.

"Yeah. Wouldn't want to miss it."

"Excellent. The session starts at midnight. Call this number and I will send someone to take you there."

* * * * *

Lucien LaCroix was not happy about having to catch the first flight out of Toronto to Los Angeles. The first class accommodations did little to soothe his annoyance. At the airport, he was met by an old acquaintance, whom he had not seen in at least five centuries.

"Hello, LaCroix," Chang said.

LaCroix felt power emanating from the elder vampire, but ignored it. "Good evening."

"Los Angeles translates to the City of Angels," the Asian continued. He picked up the morning edition of the local paper. The headline read: CITY OF CHAOS. "I believe this is much more appropriate. Don't you agree?"

The story began: Los Angeles was beset by a wave of violence and bizarre serial killings last night. Dozens of bodies were found completely drained of blood, with two small holes on the victims' necks. Scores more were found inside bars and nightclubs, burned beyond recognition. No fragments of any explosives were discovered. Police are investigating to see whether any accelerants were used. Also last night, a cathedral known as Saint Mary's went up in flames, the result of a homemade bomb. The spectacular rescue of three children by two young-looking men who witnesses say are vampires is causing quite a stir. TV coverage leaves no doubt that the heroes are not entirely human. But their heroic actions showed more humanity than the serial killer - or killers - that plague the city of Los Angeles.

"What is going on, Chang?"

"The code has been broken. Marcus is responsible."

"That impudent whelp? He's threatening our existence!"

"Which is why I called an emergency session and dragged you all the way here. You're one of the Council members, in case you've forgotten."

"All right," LaCroix grudgingly acknowledged, "I suppose you had a good reason."

"Come on, there's a limo waiting for us."

* * * * *

Zack and Matthew headed underground, carrying sacks of food that Father Jones had given them. Suddenly, Matthew stopped in his tracks and sniffed the air. "Do you smell that?"

"The only thing I smell is this sausage, and it's making me sick."

"I'm getting a bad feeling."

Matthew sprinted through the dark tunnels until he found the camp. An Enforcer was there, clutching the jingle lady by her throat. He let her crumple to the ground like a rag doll.

"No!!!" The fledgling dropped the sack of groceries and aimed a psychic blast.

The Enforcer staggered and turned around with eyes glowing like red coals. "You," he snarled, "will die."

Zack vamped out. He attacked for the enemy vampire in a simple football-style rush, but the Enforcer quickly dodged and aimed his stake. Matthew shouted a warning and unleashed a psychic blast that caused his brother's opponent to stumble. Zack tackled the Enforcer and wrestled the stake away from him. Matthew let loose another psychic blast, effectively impairing the vampire's ability to fight. Then Zack plunged the stake into the Enforcer's heart.

Slowly, people came out of their tents. Charlie Ray was one of them. "You saved our skins," he said, "and I don't mean to sound ungrateful, but I think you'd better leave."

Zack looked like a lost little boy, and Matthew realized he probably did, too.

"Where?" Zack asked. "We can't go home."

"What about your sire?"

Wondering how much Charlie Ray knew, Matthew answered, "She's dead. Someone killed her."

"That explains a lot, but you can't stay here. You need to be with your own kind."

A few heads nodded in agreement. Realizing that staying was not an option, Matthew turned. "Let's go."

"No," Zack protested. "I want to stay here."

"We can't. Didn't you hear what Charlie just said? Come on."

Zack growled, "I don't want to leave."

Matthew sighed. "It isn't our decision. Let's go."

"No!"

Seeing that Zack's eyes were glowing yellow, the mortals near him backed away, ready to run if needed.

"Zack, listen to me," Matthew pleaded. "Charlie's right. There is no place for us here, not anymore."

Blood tears welled up in his brother's eyes. "I don't want to go. The Enforcers will find us if we leave."

"They'll find us here, too. Do you really want all these people to get hurt? Huh?"

Zack shook his head and mumbled, "No."

"I didn't think so. Come on."

Charlie sighed as the twins disappeared into the darkness. He hated doing this, but survival depended upon it. He hoped the young vampires would be all right.

* * * * *

The Council session was held inside a very fancy hotel, the type that visiting dignitaries and movie stars stayed in. Anne studied the expressions on the vampires' faces. Most were completely stoic. There were a few looks of disapproval, but no threatening glares or gestures. She wondered how old they all were. The realization that she stood in a room with nine immortal men and women who would not hesitate to have her for lunch was disconcerting.

LaCroix chuckled, seeing the emotions play across the mortal woman's face. To her credit, she didn't panic. But by the look in her eyes, the woman had just realized she was prey. "Relax, Miss Donovan. No one here is going to eat you for breakfast." As she relaxed, LaCroix added, "Lunch, on the other hand, is quickly approaching."

Anne stiffened and her heart raced. Whoever this guy was, he knew how to intimidate.

"You always did have a twisted sense of humor, Luscious," a woman who looked no more than thirty replied. Silvery-blonde hair tumbled down her shoulders and blue eyes twinkled mischievously. "Besides, it's rude to play with your food."

The reporter drew a sharp breath. Had she been wrong to trust Chang? Were these vampires going to descend upon her like vultures?

"I apologize for my teasing," the silver-haired vampiress said. "If Chang wants you here, that's enough to guarantee your safety."

Anne nodded. She had to trust them. There was no other choice. A moment later, Bruce walked in. He gaped at all the vampires in the room, then stood next to her. Chang entered shortly afterward and took his place at the head of the long oval table.

"Please, sit down. You are welcome here," Chang said.

Anne sat next to LaCroix. Oh, he enjoyed her unease. There was no question about that. But she refused to play his game and remained as calm as possible under the circumstances.

"We are gathered here tonight," the Asian vampire began, "because our secret has been uncovered. The blame belongs to Marcus of Athens. Under his command, the Enforcers are committing these senseless murders and leaving the bodies to be discovered. They have become no more than a pack of rabid dogs that must be put down. Certainly, the fledglings must share the blame, but if Marcus had not murdered their sire, they wouldn't have been at Saint Mary's in the first place."

Chang paused for effect. "There is no going back now. The public knows about us. Millions of people cannot be hypnotized, especially with empirical evidence. The only things we can do are to stop Marcus and the Enforcers, and try to control the damage they have done. This is where these two mortals come in. They can choose to emphasize the positive over the negative. Miss Donovan and Mr. Winters, will you help us?"

The vampires remained emotionless as statues. Anne shifted forward and her movement stirred the leaden air. "Yes," she answered.

Bruce replied, "Yeah."

"Good." Chang said. "The next thing we need to do is find the fledglings before Marcus does. They are an important part of my plan. The public recognizes them as heroes already. It is vital that mortals realize that vampires can do good, and not only think of the death and destruction caused by Marcus."

"How do you plan to stop Marcus?" LaCroix asked.

Everyone looked at the vampire who dared to speak out of turn.

"Stop any Enforcers you find from committing further acts of mayhem. Kill them if you must. Spread the word that if Marcus is found, he is not to be touched. Only inform me of his location. I will destroy him myself."

Those words sent a chill down Anne's spine. There was no doubt that he meant it. When the vampires began filing out the door, she let out a sigh of relief. LaCroix looked at her, plainly amused. "This night is only just beginning, Miss Donovan. I wouldn't relax yet, if I were you."

Chang waited until the rest were out, then laid a hand on her shoulder. "I cannot thank you enough for coming and agreeing to help. Your courage is remarkable."

Anne blushed. "Thanks."

"LaCroix is right. The night isn't over yet. I will call you and Mr. Winters when the time comes. Until then, go home and get some rest."

After the limo dropped Anne off outside her apartment, she sank into a recliner. Drooping eyelids closed and a blanket of darkness wrapped around her.

* * * * *

End of part 5

City of Chaos

Part 6/9

By Emily M. Hanson


* * * * *

In the bullpen, officers gathered around a TV set. At first, no one believed it, but as the scenes kept repeating, skepticism diminished. Captain Joe Reese stood in the back and watched his officers' reactions. Nick Knight's expressions ranged from shock to anger and finally fear. Then he put on his usual stone face. Reese tried to think of a time when his best detective had actually been afraid . . . certainly not recently. The others were stunned.

"Can you believe this?" Someone else remarked. "Vampires? I mean, next they'll be telling us there's life on Mars. Hey, Nick, what do you think?"
Inwardly, the blonde detective flinched as everyone turned to look at him. Outwardly, he appeared perfectly stoic.

"It's not real. It can't be."

"Au contraire," another officer said. "That's live TV. They're not faking anything."

"Don't you have a sun allergy, Knight?" Another officer asked.

"That doesn't mean anything."

"True. I remember hearing Schanke talk about you being allergic to garlic and pretty much every solid food there is. Now, that doesn't prove anything, either. Nor do some of the other stories I've heard. But, if I had to make a wager..."

"That's enough, Rogers," Reese snapped. Unless he was careful, this was going to turn into a witch-hunt. Vampire or not, Nick didn't deserve to be burned at the stake. "Back to work, people. Knight, I want to see you in my office."

A worried look briefly flashed across Nick's face. "Yes, Captain."

Knight sat down with an unreadable expression. A less well-trained officer might have compared him to a brick wall. But Reese knew him better. The detective was worried. That was evident by the way he tightly clasped his hands and moved as stiffly as one of the coroner's "patients."

"Relax, Detective. No one's going to burn you at the stake."

He smiled grimly. "Sure. After all, it's the twentieth century. People are more tolerant now, aren't they? The 1960's weren't that long ago, Captain. Neither was World War 2." Nick took a deep breath, surprised to find out that he was trembling on the outside. Maybe it was time Reese understood. "You don't know what it's like to have your life threatened because you're different from everyone else, or to worry about what might happen if people found out. I could lose everything. It happened once before, thankfully not permanently."

A shiver ran down the captain's spine. He realized if his detective had been around during the second world war, Knight's real age could be anywhere from one hundred to a thousand. "When did you lose everything, Nick?"

He closed his eyes. "The McCarthy era. At the time, I taught archaeology in the States. Another faculty member decided they didn't like my teaching methods and began snooping around. Bottles of cow blood were found in my refrigerator. No one bought the painting excuse. I went on trial and did the only possible thing to avoid breaking the code. I pretended to be a communist and left the country. There wasn't any other choice."

"What do you know about this news story?"

"Not much. A friend asked me to look into the disappearance of two young vampires whose sire was murdered. I contacted the LA police, and they came up with nothing. The twins on TV match their description."

"What do you think will happen?"

Nick shrugged. "That depends on who gets to them first. If the Enforcers do, they're as good as dead, unless there's a faction wanting them alive. Any number of Elders could be after them for their own purposes. It's a sticky situation."

"Who are the Elders?"

"Older, more powerful vampires."

"Do they have a lot of influence?"

Knight laughed. "That's a bit like asking if the mayor runs the city."

"Okay. Nick, your secret is safe with me. But I want to be sure I can count on you. I'm going to need your advice sooner or later."

Knight nodded as the radio on Reese's desk crackled to life. "This is 79-Fox, reporting a triple homicide outside the Raven. Repeat, a triple homicide outside the Raven. Requesting at least six more officers as backup. There's a riot breaking out here. Over." Before Lt. Mulligan switched over, the sound of breaking glass was heard inside her car. She screamed.

The dispatcher on the other end replied, "Are you okay? We'll send six more officers. Do you copy?" There was no response. "79-Fox, do you copy?" Hissing static filled the air. "79-Fox, are you out there?" The dispatcher cursed as no reply came.

Nick grimaced. "I'm going over there, Captain. It's a good thing Tracy's off tonight," he added as an afterthought. "I wouldn't want her walking into that melee'."

* * * * *

"Vachon!" Tracy shouted, trying to make herself heard over the din.

"Javier, where are you?"

She'd come to celebrate his birthday, which seemed like a good idea at first. About ten minutes ago, MTV stopped playing music videos and broadcasted the rescue in California. Many, including Vachon, shared Tracy's initial reaction.

"I don't believe it. There's no way fledglings could be that stupid. No way," he remarked.

"They must have lost their minds," Janette said from behind the bar. "Gone completely, totally, insane."

"Vachon," Tracy asked, "What are we going to do?"

"Go home. The Enforcers will be up in arms. Better yet, go to work. You'll be safer there."

"All the bullets in the world won't stop a ****ed-off Enforcer."

"No, but I'll feel better. Please?"

She caved in. "Okay."

Then one of the lights above the dance floor shattered and the fuse went out, plunging them into darkness. Someone screamed. There was a rush to get out as a fight erupted in the main bar. Tracy ducked as a vampire with glowing yellow eyes threw a poorly aimed punch at Vachon, who snarled and flung his attacker halfway across the room. In the confusion, no one noticed three mortals missing until it was too late.

"Tracy," Vachon shouted. "Are you okay?"

"Yes. I can't see a thing!"

"All right, hang on." He forced his way through the crowd and grabbed her arm. "This way."

They heard sirens approaching. Leaving the Raven, Tracy saw a squad car that had been broken into. The front and side windows were smashed. Beside the vehicle lay an officer, Lt. Karen Mulligan. There were two very obvious puncture wounds in the victim's neck. Tracy clenched her fists.

"Trace?" Vachon asked, concerned.

"Damn it, Javier. Karen was just doing her job. Why did she have to end up as someone's lunch?"

"I don't know." He replied, putting his arm around her. "She was just in the wrong place at the wrong time."

Suddenly, the officer sat up. "Detective Vetter?" Karen asked, wondering why her teeth felt sharper than usual and why she felt so cold. The detective's eyes were as large as hubcaps.

"What happened? Why are you looking at me like that?"
"Someone decided to have a bite. You were it."

"And they didn't quite finish," Vachon added, protectively drawing Tracy closer to him.

"That explains a few things. I don't suppose you have anything to eat, other than Detective Vetter? I'm hungry."

"Yeah. This way. Tracy, please stay here."

"No problem." Vachon led the new fledgling into the Raven as Nick pulled up in the caddy.

Knight got out and looked around, trying to make sense of the chaos. A golden-eyed vampire took swung at a police officer, shooting bullets into his opponent and gaping, as they had no effect. Miklos ducked as someone aimed a flame-thrower at him. A fledgling growled and bared his fangs as six mortals closed in on him. Nick closed his eyes for a moment and wished the nightmare would end. Then he stepped in front of the young vampire.

"Back off," Nick said in his most authoritative-cop voice to the mortals. "Kevin, what happened?"

"I came out of the Raven, and these guys were right behind me. Guess they needed a target."

"Okay. Go home." Nick turned to the nearest mortal and putting a slight whammy effect into his words, "You should go home, too. Sleep."

"Sleep," the guy muttered.

"Hey, what're you doing to him? Jimmy, snap out of it!"

"He's one of them," Jimmy realized, shaking off the hypnosis. "Get him!"

Six men advanced on Nick as the fledgling left. They were in their twenties and mostly athletic. Jimmy had a thin, wiry frame. He picked up a piece of wood from a garbage can and advanced as the others rushed the detective, tackling him to the ground.

Tracy saw her partner go down as she turned the corner. There were five guys on top of him, and one standing nearby, holding a broken piece of wood. She shouted, "Freeze! Police!"

With sheer force, Nick sat up, tumbling the guys on top of him to the ground. The young man holding the makeshift stake rammed it into his shoulder.

"Officer down!" Tracy shouted. Then a nearby cop fired a gun, hitting Knight's attacker as the detective doubled over in pain. "Nick!" Tracy yelled, rushing to her partner's side. "Oh, no." She winced at the sight of the wood in his arm.

Other cops came and started to haul his attackers away.

"Geez, that looks bad," Lt. Jeffries, another officer, remarked.

Nick groaned in response. His eyes were shut tight, but Tracy thought she glimpsed a reddish glow under them. No way. Her partner couldn't be a vampire. It didn't seem possible. He was too...Nick. On the other hand, she'd never seen him eat anything, and he had a sun allergy. Not to mention, why would anyone stake a normal human?

"Help me pull it out," she said. Together, they grasped the stake. "On three. One, two, three!"

Knight doubled over and gasped as the wooden weapon was freed. Nick massaged his sore arm, partly to cover up the fact that it was healing quickly.

"Are you okay?" Tracy asked.

"I'll live. Thanks." Nick opened his eyes and struggled to his feet. "I thought it was your night off."

"The universe decided I didn't need a vacation." Changing the subject, she said, "Lt. Mulligan survived."

"She did?"

"Yeah. Someone tried to drain her. Lt. Mulligan is a vampire now."

Lt. Jeffries' jaw dropped. "No way."

Even Nick looked shocked. "Did she say who attacked her?"

"No. Vachon took her inside the Raven." Tracy watched her partner carefully. "They went to get something to eat."

Nick went over to assist some officers having trouble restraining Miklos and another vampire. Three cops held the bartender, and two struggled with the fledgling putting up resistance. The younger vampire suddenly broke free of the officers' grasp and aimed a punch at Knight, moving so fast the mortals could barely see him.

"You bastard! If you hadn't made friends with that human coroner, none of this would have happened."

Nick grabbed the fledgling's wrist in mid-air. "You need to learn manners and respect. Attacking a police officer is a crime. I could have you prosecuted."

The younger vampire growled, flashing his fangs.

"Anthony," Miklos said, "Nick Knight has every right to throw you into a cell with a nice sunny view."

"You wouldn't!"

"Want to make a bet?" Nick responded. "Don't give these officers any more trouble."

The fledgling's shoulders slumped as the two cops cuffed him.

"Thanks, Knight," one officer said. "I don't know how you did that, but thanks."

Nick nodded. "Any time."

Anthony's thoughtless remark hit home. Was it possible the Raven had been targeted because of him? The possibility loomed like a cloud of darkness that was blacker than night. He found Janette standing across the street, watching.

"You will be discovered, Nicholas," she whispered so softly only a vampire could have heard. "I fear that the cat has escaped from its bag already."

"They may suspect, but Janette, they have no proof. Anthony thinks the Enforcers targeted the Raven."

"He is young and foolish. The fighting was started by two mortals who panicked when they saw the news. They have already been taken into police custody."

Nick felt relieved. At least, he did not have this to feel guilty about. "I'm glad you're okay."

"Nicholas, always the knight in shining armor. Yes, I am fine. I'm not certain that we will all survive the next few days, though. LaCroix went to California for an emergency Council meeting, presumably to deal with the Enforcers who have gone mad. Let us hope the madness does not cross the border into Toronto."

Knight nodded. That would be disastrous. The Council was well equipped to deal with the problem, but the Enforcers were also strong. They had never been defeated by any group of vampires before. Whatever the outcome was, it would be close.

* * * * *

End of part 6

City of Chaos

Part 7/9

By Emily M. Hanson

* * * * *

An hour before dawn, the Council hunted down the last remaining Enforcers. Thirteen Elders against 30 Enforcers were not bad odds, but the fight would be close. Rocky glared at the Council. More muscled than the others, his size was so intimidating that code-breakers often confessed at the mere sight of him. He rarely had to resort to using strength for coercion, but when he did, it was brutally effective. LaCroix, recovered from his earlier wound, noticed the indignant stare of the overly-built Enforcer. He knew Rocky by reputation, and wouldn't mind taking out the brute.

Chang's voice sliced the air. He wielded words like a katana, striking his opponents with cold efficiency. "Those who enforce the Code placed upon us in ancient times have broken it. Did you think we would look the other way? Your traitorous acts have condemned you. However, this Council will spare the lives of any who surrender now. They must remain in service to us unless and until we say otherwise."

The only responses he received were defiant sneers and threatening growls.

"Very well. This Council condemns you to face the ultimate penalty: permanent death."

Chang's words hung for several moments and no one moved. Then, a chanting voice broke the silence. A dark bolt of energy appeared out of nowhere, heading straight for the nearest Enforcer. He was caught in a swirling void that seemed to draw out his essence the way a black hole sucks in light. The Enforcer aged rapidly, becoming first an old man and then a dried-up skeleton within seconds. Finally, he crumbled into dust.

Shocked and angry, the remaining Enforcers retaliated. LaCroix avoided Rocky's punch, only to find himself facing a wiry-thin, red-haired female vampire. She executed a beautiful Tai-Kwon-Do move, twisting and then lashing out with her foot. Lucien moved faster than she'd expected, catching her foot in mid-air. He regretted having to stake her. Fools did not study martial arts; the instructor wouldn't tolerate them for long. His opponent was intelligent enough to wrest away from his grasp. She spun and kicked again, this time faster. LaCroix wasn't able to avoid her foot, but he did take advantage of his adversary's hesitation when she gave him a smug smile. Her shocked expression when he plunged the stake made it worth the effort. Lucien turned to face Rocky.

The Enforcer snarled, but it was a desperate threat from one who knows he has little chance of surviving. "Without us to enforce the Code, the Elders are nothing."

LaCroix threw back his head and laughed. "Truly, you are pathetic. Because of the Enforcers, the Code has become meaningless. Your existence is just as empty. Be grateful the Council has decided to end it."

Rocky growled and attacked with extended claws. He managed to draw blood, in a gash on LaCroix's arm. Enraged, the ancient vampire lashed out. His fist struck, but Rocky's bulk allowed him to shrug it off. Switching tactics, the general pulled out a needle filled with curare. The massive enforcer blinked. There was enough curare in that needle for ten vampires. It could paralyze him long enough for the brute to stake him. Rocky moved more quickly than it would have seemed possible, knocking the needle from the stunned Elder's hand. LaCroix snarled and lunged for his opponent's throat, squeezing until the Enforcer finally crumpled to the ground.

Intent on using the curare to finish the job, Lucien glanced down. The needle was gone! Then, he felt something very cold and sharp against his arm, and the piercing of his flesh. The ancient vampire spun around, hoping to get a good look at his attacker. But instead, all he saw was the pavement rushing up. Dimly, he was aware of Chang chanting. LaCroix wondered if Nicholas had been right about the afterlife, and if he would indeed go to hell, as Nicholas so frequently had wished. Then, there was nothing but blackness.

* * * * *

A bright light shone in his face. Lucien LaCroix only wanted it to go away, for the darkness was so much more welcoming. But the light did not disappear. The general tried to open his mouth and order whoever was causing him so much discomfort to leave. He barely had the strength to lift an eyelid.

"I think he's coming around," Madeline said.

The paramedic held her hand out, and someone gave her a blood pack. God, this man looked pale, even for a vampire. Considering what he'd just been through, it was a miracle he wasn't dead.

One of her colleagues shuddered. "There was enough curare in that needle to paralyze ten vampires, if that guy Chang wasn't lying."

Lucien forced his eyes open. Through a red haze, he saw terrified mortals backing away, all except Madeline, who held out the blood pack with a shaking hand. He tore the plastic bag away and drained it in less than a second. Finally, LaCroix found the strength to speak. "Give me another!"

Trembling, Madeline shoved another pack into the vampire's outstretched hand. With the worst of his hunger abated, Lucien forced himself to gain control. The pretty blonde woman certainly smelled tasty, but now was not the time for a fresh meal, not with the surrounding police cars and news reporters.

Madeline stared at the vampire, who suddenly looked human. Well, more human than he had before. His eyes were beautiful. What are you thinking? She asked herself. He's a vampire! God only knows how old he is, or what he'd do to you, given the chance. Pushing any romantic notions away, she offered him another blood pack.

LaCroix shook his head. "No, thank you. I have some at the hotel."

"Hotel?"

"Yes. I should go, it is nearly sunrise."

"You ought to be in a hospital."

"They won't be able to do anything for me. Blood is the only medicine I need. But your kindness will be remembered." Was it a curare-induced hallucination, or did the paramedic resemble Fleur? Probably the curare, LaCroix thought.

"Thank you, Mr....?"

"LaCroix. Lucien LaCroix."

"I'm Madeline Evanson."

Lucien nodded. " I really must go." He said, and launched himself into the sky that was becoming dangerously light.

Breath taken, Madeline gaped at the spot where the vampire had been, until someone tapped her shoulder.

"Maddy, we have a few more patients. They'll be needing transportation to the hospital soon."

"Right." She gathered her supplies.

* * * * *

At the hotel, Chang had prepared a conference room for the interview. The twins sat on one side of the table. Anne sat on the other. Bruce sat off to an angle. Li Chang was on the far end, out of camera view. Adjusting her microphone, Anne mentally ran through the questions she planned to ask.

"Relax, guys," Bruce told the twins. "You'll do fine."

Matthew nodded. Zack sat stiffly until his brother elbowed him. "Yeah, chill."

"I'm chillin'."

"Riiiight."

"We're on the air in ten seconds," Anne said. "Four, three, two, one. Hi, this is Anne Donovan with Channel 4 news. I am live here at the Hyatt, with two extraordinary young men. Tell me how you saved the lives of those children at Saint Mary's last night. How did you get them out of the building safely?"

"We carried them through the front door," Matthew answered.

"Yes, but the fire was in that part of the church. How did you manage to avoid the flames? Witnesses say they saw you hovering in the air. Are they right?"

Matthew swallowed a lump in his throat. This was it, the big moment. Taking a deep breath, he replied, "We can fly."

"You flew?" Anne managed to sound incredulous. "How?"

"We're vampires," Zack responded.

"Vampires? As in Count Dracula?"

The twins nodded. "So how old are you, really?"
"Eighteen," Matthew said.

"Isn't that a bit young for a vampire?" "That's why we're still fledglings."
"Wow. Uh, can you prove it?"

The twins exchanged glances. A moment later, they vamped out. Anne gasped. She'd steeled herself for this, but it still shocked her. Only the Enforcer had been scarier.

"Oh, my God," Anne heard Bruce whisper.

No doubt thousands of viewers were having the same reaction, that is, if they believed the scene was real. Hopefully, the papers had made it clear by now that vampires existed. If not, well, the world was about to get a rude awakening.

"Do your parents know about this?"

Fangs retracting, Matthew shook his head. "I think they'd stake us if they knew."

"Why did you rescue those kids?"

"It was the right thing to do."

"The right thing," Anne repeated, amazed. "You didn't do it for attention, or money?"

"We were hoping not to get attention," Zack answered. "It's against the Code."

"The Code?"

"Yeah. 'Thou shall not tell a mortal of thy existence.' That Code."

"But you took the risk anyway?"

Zack nodded.

"What happens to vampires who break the Code?"

"Usually permanent death."

"And you still saved those kids, knowing what it might cost?"

"Yes," Matthew replied. "Someone had to."

"Incredible. What are your impressions of the other events that happened last night? Some of your kind went totally out of control, killing mortals and vampires alike. According to the Star, the death toll is estimated to be at 300. Many were victims of arson, but at least 40 bodies were found drained of blood. What do you think about that?"

"The ones who did it broke the Code and were punished by our Elders," Matthew said.

"Elders?"

He nodded. "The ancient ones. They're thousands of years old."

"How were the code-breakers punished?"

"The Elders staked most of them. That's the usual way to kill a vampire, you know. The movies are partly right."

"And how do you feel about all of this?"

"What the Enforcers did was terribly wrong."

"Because everyone knows about it?"

"No. It was just wrong. Most vampires don't kill anymore except in self-defense, certainly not for food."

"You do drink blood, right?"

Matthew nodded. "Expired donated blood isn't difficult to come by. Neither is animal blood. My point is that we don't have to drain people for it."

"I see. I'm sure that everyone out there is wondering how much is accurate in films and stories. Do you have a reflection?"

Zack shook his head. "No, but the older ones do. There's a trick to it."

"Can you shape-shift and turn into a bat?"

"No."

"What about garlic? The sun? Crosses?" "Most vampires are allergic to those, and sharp wooden sticks, too."

"I see. Thank you. This has been very interesting."

"No problem."

"This concludes Channel 4's special interview. Morning news will now continue." Anne waited for Bruce to stop recording, then grinned excitedly. "We did it!"

"Yeah," Zack said. "Now can we get some sleep?"

Chang nodded. "I think you have earned enough rest."

As they headed into the hallway, the fledglings caught sight of two familiar people making their way through the hotel lobby. "Dad!" Zack exclaimed. "Mom!"

The vampire Elder stepped out of the conference room, just in time to see a middle-aged man and woman approach.

"Where have you two been? We were worried sick until we saw you on TV. What's all this vampire nonsense?"

"It's not nonsense, Dad," Matthew said seriously.

* * * * *

End of part 7

City of Chaos

Part 8/9

By Emily M. Hanson

* * * * *

"How is that possible?

" "Just watch, and please don't freak out." Zack rose off the floor several inches.

His father stared open-mouthed, and his mother gasped.

"Good heavens," she exclaimed. "You really are a vampire."

"Yeah. I am. So is Matthew."

"Who did this to you?" His father demanded, then glared at Chang. "I hope you had nothing to do with it."

The Elder shook his head. "The woman who brought them across was murdered. Her killer has since faced the penalty for his actions."

"What, eating garlic for a week?"

"No. Death. I punished him myself."

The twins' father looked sheepish. "Oh."

"In any case, Katerina had her reasons for bringing your sons across. They have unique talents, which you may not be aware of."

"Like what?"

Matthew gulped nervously. "Mom, Dad, we never told you this but Zack and I, we're linked."

"Of course. You're twins," his mother answered.

"No. It's more than that. We can read each other's mind, and have been able to since we were kids."

"Mind-reading?" She was shocked. "Why didn't you tell us?"

Matthew looked sheepish as he replied, "We just wanted to be normal kids. It was our secret. No one ever knew about it until now."

"We didn't want anyone to think we're freaks," Zack added.

"Oh, honey, I would never believe that, not for a second."

"Not even now?"

Zack's mother touched his shoulder gently. "We'll take you to a doctor. Maybe there's a cure."

Chang shook his head. "There is no known cure. I am over 3,000 years old, and would know if such a thing existed."

"Three millennia," the twins' father gasped. "Could my sons live that long?"

"Yes, it is certainly feasible. No vampire has yet died of old age. The oldest among us is believed to have walked the earth for 6,000 years, though even he isn't sure of that span."

In amazement, the twins gaped at each other, then at their parents.

"Now," Chang continued, "it is traditional among us for the young to have a mentor. Since their sire perished, someone will have to assume the responsibility that would have been hers. I'd like that very much. They are intelligent with a strong sense of morality, not to mention they need to be trained in their special abilities."

"Do we have any say in the matter?" Matthew's mother asked.

"Normally, you would not. However, as council leader, I'm offering a choice. They would learn as much as I have learned in 3,000 years. Others might hoard that knowledge, teaching them only the basics for survival. Some might be abusive. While abusing fledglings is frowned upon, a master can do as he or she wishes, so long as the fledgling does not die. Either allow me to teach your sons everything I know, or let me find another master for them."

"Why can't they just come home?"

"You would be taking a huge risk. They have not yet learned the control necessary to live in close quarters with humans for a time. A few days, perhaps, but not for a long while."

"Oh." Crestfallen, Matthew's mother turned to her husband.

"Well?"

"This guy knows what he's talking about. I say let them stay with him."

"As long as they can come home for a visit."

Chang bowed. "Your sons will be in good hands. They will be allowed to come home, occasionally, once I am sure they have enough control over their impulses. I give you my telephone number and address. Call anytime, day or night."

Teary eyed, the twins' mother nodded. "Thank you." Then, hugging the nearest son, she kissed him on the forehead. "Good bye, Zack. Take care."

"Bye, Mom."

After exchanging hugs with their parents, the twins headed to their rooms. It was now 5:30 am.

* * * * *

End of part 8

City of Chaos

Part 9

By Emily M. Hanson

* * * * *

Nick read the paper and sipped from a mug filled with cow blood. The headline read: "Vampires in Toronto."

The story continued, Police stepped in when fighting broke out at the Raven early this morning. Seventeen arrests were made; of those arrested, eight are suspected vampires. They are being held in cells separate from the rest. Among the injured officers was Lt. Karen Mulligan, bitten by a vampire and now recovering at home. She admitted that she is now a vampire. Det. Nick Knight was injured when someone shoved a piece of wood into his arm. He is also recovering at home.

Nick's phone rang a few moments later. It was Natalie. "Turn on the TV to CNN," she said.

He did. The fledglings' interview was being rebroadcast. With growing trepidation, the blonde vampire watched the twins reveal their secret to the world. "What about the Enforcers? Why haven't they done anything?"

"I don't know. I can't believe this is happening. I do know that LaCroix went to California for a Council meeting. Perhaps that has something to do with it."

"Wait, listen," Natalie said.

As the interview continued, it became clear that the Elders had destroyed the Enforcers for their code-breaking mayhem.

"Are you coming in to work tonight?"

"Yes. Reese knows, by the way."

"You told him?" "I didn't have much choice."
"Oh. Does anyone else know?"

"No, but I'm sure they suspect. Nat, what am I going to do? The commissioner might decide to fire me, and no one would object."

"You don't exactly need the job."

"True, but there might be serious repercussions from all this. I could lose everything--the loft, the foundation, even my life. For the first time in years, I'm frightened of something other than LaCroix."

"Fear is a very human emotion, Nick. The fact that you're feeling it now tells me a lot. I can't say that nothing bad will happen, but I will promise to stick by your side, no matter what."

"Thanks. That means a great deal to me."

"Bye, Nick." Nat yawned. "I need to sleep."
"Okay. I'll see you tonight."

* * * * *
Detective Knight walked into the bullpen and received a few curious glances, but nothing more. He opened his e-mail, expecting to find at least one note accusing him of being a vampire. There was nothing of the sort. Everything seemed normal. Nick started in on a stack of paperwork that had been neglected for a few days. Upon her arrival, Tracy was immediately approached by Detective Rogers.

"How would you like to get in on the latest pool?"

"Let me guess: it has do with my partner being a vampire or not."

"Yep." Lowering his voice, Rogers whispered, "So is he?"

"I've known a vampire before all this, and Nick isn't anything like him. But on the other hand, Knight's got certain mannerisms that would seem to indicate yes."
"Like?"

"Well, being so mysterious, for one thing. He hasn't told me a thing about his family or his past. I get the distinct feeling he's hiding something."

"But you don't know what?"

Tracy shook her head. "Nope. I'll tell you this. He can be old-fashioned sometimes. But that doesn't prove anything, either."

"Okay. So are you in?"

"Yeah. Ten dollars says he's a vampire."

"Great. Now, the second part has to do with his age. If you get the closest, you win."

"What if the no's are right?"

"Then they get to vote on a charity. What's your guess?"

She thought for a moment. Her partner could sometimes be very old-fashioned, compared to Vachon. "600."

"Okay. Thanks, Detective Vetter."

Tracy walked into the bullpen and found her partner hard at work. "I don't believe it! Nick Knight, doing paperwork? Is the world stopping yet?"

He glanced up. "Oh, hi, Trace."

"How's your arm?"

"Better than yesterday."

"That's good to hear." Tracy sat down and picked up a case file.

About halfway into the shift, the smell of pizza wafted from the break room. Nick had left his lunch in the fridge. He'd have to endure the smell of garlic to get it. With a resigned sigh, he got up and braced himself.

"Hey, Detective, why don't you join us for a bite?" One of the officers, a middle-aged Irishman named Jimmy O'Hare, said.

"I'll pass, thanks." Concentrating on not breathing in the garlic odor, Nick opened the refrigerator and found his thermos. That was as far as he got. The garlic smell was too much. Reflexively, he gagged.

"Knight, are you ok?" O'Hare asked.

Nick doubled over so the others wouldn't see the gold flecks in his eyes, or his fangs. He clamped a hand over his mouth and mumbled something that sounded negative.
Lieutenant Taylor muttered, "I should've told them to hold the damn garlic. Detective, do you need us to call 911?"

There was real concern in his voice. The vampire shook his head and instantly regretted it. The sudden motion made him extremely dizzy. He clutched his stomach and prayed that the contents wouldn't come up, as they threatened to do. He felt a strong hand on his shoulder and realized O'Hare was standing behind him. The Irishman placed something into Nick's hand. He realized it was his lunch.

"Come on. You obviously need fresh air," O'Hare said.

Again, Nick shook his head. He was afraid to open his eyes, because he knew they would be golden. All he could do was drink from the thermos and hope the cow blood helped. It did. Forcing the beast back, Nick opened his eyes, relieved to see with normal vision. "I'll live." He forced a smile. "I've survived much worse than smelly pizza, believe it or not."

"Like what," Lt. Taylor remarked, "the Black Plague?"

"How old do you think I am, Lt.?"

"Honestly, Knight, I have no idea. What is your age?"

"Older than you."

That drew a few chuckles, since the lieutenant was in his twenties. Nick escaped from the aromatic break room and sat down at his desk. The rest of the shift was quiet, but Detective Knight knew that the peaceful feeling wouldn't last. He wondered how long it would be before everyone knew his secret, and what would happen then.

* * * * *

THE END
 

Dru

I'm a princess
Joined
Aug 13, 2001
Messages
862
Oooh! Hey! I read this at fanfiction.net! I love this fic!!
 

EmilyH

MN Sci-fi Fan
Joined
Jun 3, 2001
Messages
356
Thanks!!!

I have more at my site...will post them here eventually. Figured I'd wait a few days between postings to give people time to read.
 

EmilyH

MN Sci-fi Fan
Joined
Jun 3, 2001
Messages
356
Since there is a brand new FK mini-forum (yippee, thanks Dave & HighlanderII), sequels to this fic will be posted there.
 

Highlander II

There can be only one!!
Staff member
Joined
Jun 6, 2001
Messages
8,607
Emily - do you want me to move this to FK, or would you rather it stayed here?
 

EmilyH

MN Sci-fi Fan
Joined
Jun 3, 2001
Messages
356
It would be nice if it was moved to the FK forum. Thanks for asking. :)
 

Highlander II

There can be only one!!
Staff member
Joined
Jun 6, 2001
Messages
8,607
All moved -

I left a redirect in case anyone goes hunting for it -
 
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