Notes 1: The characters from Forever Knight belong to Sony Tri-Star. The characters from Xena Warrior Princess belong to StudiosUSA and Renaissance Studios. The characters from Mutant X and the Hulk belong to Marvel and Tribune. The characters from Smallville belong to DC Comics and the WB. The characters from Dark Angel and Gene RoddenberryÍs Andromeda belong to their copyright holders. The Thompson Twins sung "Who Can Stop the Rain?" on their "Into the Gap" album. All other characters are fictitious and belong to me. Thanks to Emily and Jarvinia for beta reading. Please send comments to email@example.com.
Note 2: The events in the flashback sequence in this story were originally written in "Flight of Desperation" (Dubois 1.36September 1989), "Enforcement Matters" and "Hearts of Darkness".
[QueenÍs Hut, Amazon Village, c. 85 AD]
Gabrielle, Bard-Queen of the Amazons, writes
For most of us, welcoming our Russian friends ushered in a new understanding of international cooperation, one that will increase with DavidÍs newest students upon their arrival. Yet, for him, Karen, and the Russians, that understanding comes at a price, as we will hear of their heartache and the dark battle that almost plunged the world into war. And with that news, a situation will bring heartache for some and joy for others.
[Tucson, October, 2005]
Lana Lang-Kent writes
In the week since Major Ursus and Darkstar have appeared, the Professor and MikaÍs mom have been very depressed. I sensed that thereÍs something to do with the Child in all of this mess. But the story we received from the Faerie Empress startled us to say the least.
Chapter 1 [New SanctuaryOne week following events in "On the Brink"]
Adam watched grimly as the students set about their exercises. He noted deficiencies in the practice run in the dojo and shook his head.
Despite their care, the groupÍs reflexes lagged; their attention wasnÍt there. They seemed distracted. Mika had problems listening to Martin, Kayla, and Maria. Clark failed to heed simple orders. Lana let details go. Chloe, Pete, Samantha, and Sebastian werenÍt faring any better.
Finally, he hit the red button on the console, canceling the group exercise.
The teenagers looked anxiously at him.
"What is it, Dr. Kane?" Martin inquired.
Adam took a deep breath, exhaling and pressing the sides of his nose with his fingers. "Are you all okay?"
"WeÍre a little stressed over school starting again, I guess," Chloe told him.
"Is that all?" Emma wondered, entering the area.
The students all looked at each other and saw the anxiousness in each otherÍs eyes.
Finally, Lana suggested, "I think weÍre all concerned about Professor Dubois. HeÍs been moodier than usual."
"HeÍs always moody, Lana," Adam countered.
"No, wait a minute, Adam," the psionic interjected. "ThereÍs something else going on with him and our two newcomers."
The geneticist glanced at her. "What do you mean?"
"Excuse me, Dr. Kane," Clark cut in. "Remember the arguments between Professor Dubois and Major Ursus? They were both on each other about a fight from a long time ago."
Adam keyed a sequence, scanning through DaveÍs file. However, he found nothing of note. "ThereÍs nothing there."
Emma glanced skeptically at him. "Are you sure, Adam?"
"Positive. ItÍs a clean slate between his grandmotherÍs funeral and the Cairo standoff," the geneticist told him. "While you were all over in Mongolia, I ran a background check for any conflicts between Dave and our Soviet friends. Nothing."
"Ten years without anything?" Max remarked. "ThatÍs too long for our boy."
Chloe scratched her head, feeling the journalistic muse needling her. ThereÍs something weird about this. I wonder if Lex or Dr. Miles would know anything? Somehow, this is a deep mystery. A smile spread across her face.
Lana glanced at her anxiously. "Uh, Chloe?"
"What?" the reporter wondered.
"YouÍre not thinking what I think you are, are you?" the former cheerleader wondered.
"IÍm not thinking about anything, guys," Chloe assured them.
Clark sighed, knowing differently. "YouÍre going to want to pursue this. Come on, youÍre Chloe, fearlessreckless reporter in search of the Truth in all of its forms."
"Reckless? As if you have room to talk, Farm Boy?" the blonde spitfire retorted. "I seem to remember a few times where you ran into a meteor rock without looking!"
"Chloe, come on," Lana interceded. "He was trying to save one or both of us on those occasions. Both of you need to be careful. I donÍt know if we should be rooting around in Professor DuboisÍ past. Given what we know already, I donÍt think weÍre going to want to find out about it."
"Something worse than what we know already?" Brennan muttered. "Man that would suck." As he said that, the electrical mutant glanced at their newest membersÍ rooms, wondering what roleif anythey played in those events.
Unbeknownst to the others, Darkstar had overheard their conversation. The past comes back to haunt us. We should have known that after the arguments from last week. She frowned and shook her head. She was enjoying her time with Mutant X and didnÍt want anything to endanger her role with the team. Walking down the hall, she knocked on MikhailÍs door.
"Da?" he asked.
"Mikhail, itÍs Laynia," she replied. "May I come in?"
He opened the door, allowing her into his room. Seeing the worried expression on her face, he inquired, "What is it?"
"The young ones suspect, Mikhail," she told him. Her eye swept across his chamber, taking in all of his possessions. "I see you have your room back to the way it was in St. Petersburg."
"Yes," he replied. "A touch of home is nice, isnÍt it? David was very gracious in helping mealmost falling over himself to do so." He released a deep breath before continuing, "Almost to try and bury the past before this happened." He stared at a Communist Party poster on the wall. "You know that Nicholas, the Canadian bartender, and the coroner still remember."
She nodded. "Indeed. They are all here."
"They are?" he queried, feeling anxious. "Will they keep their silence?"
"They promised to do so, but I think itÍs time for us to tell the story. Mikhail, for DavidÍs sake as well as for the students, we need to let them know."
He scoffed. "Ah yes, how the Cold War almost ended with a nuclear holocaust." In his mindÍs eye, he could still see the ChildÍs dark tempest slamming everything in its path while cutting a swath through Red Square. "ItÍs ironic, isnÍt it?"
"What is?" she asked, looking curiously at him.
"That our medievalist friend has no idea of what he did to Mother Russia. He canÍt remember," he stated, pouring a shot of vodka and taking a sip from it. "Drink?"
"Nyet," she declined. "Mikhail, heÍs torn. The Other was in control. The Party provoked him with their ill-conceived raid. Then there was your challenge." She quirked her eyebrow at him. "I warned you at the time, remember?"
He shrugged. "It was reckless. I figured he was a normal American. Who knew?"
"Who knew indeed?" she agreed, seeing memories of her own. She recalled the Child growing stronger from the Darkforce and the opposition from the Soviet armed forces. "Just as we underestimated the Hulk."
"One made from science; the other from sorcery," he concurred, applying what they had learned over the past week from the SanctuaryÍs database. "May those two never meet, Laynia."
"I leave it to you, then," she told him, walking toward the door. "IÍm going to Tucson tonight. Care to come with me?"
"Yes. ItÍs time to speak with Nicholas. What of his companion? The one called LaCroix?" he inquired, seeking facts.
"I donÍt know," she declared. "For now, Nicholas is our link. It is with him that we speak first."
He nodded. "Come for me when youÍre ready, then."
"Very well," she concluded, leaving the room, leaving him to his thoughts.
After she left, the major contemplated that coming conversation. I doubt that the others will be able to handle the truth.
Chapter 3 [Halls End, Ruthwen]
Dave walked out of the council hall, shaking his head. The discussions had grown heated between him and the counselors on several points, including the poor. His predecessor, Harokin, had ignored them. Ferali tried to remedy the situation, but it had proved too big for him.
The current ruler had visited with those people, teleporting to several places to observe the situation firsthand. The squalor frustrated him, making him determined to ram reform past the old guard in the chamber. Despite the legislation passed during that session, he still felt depressed.
"What is it, David?" a voice wondered.
The professor turned to see Rev Bem approach him. "Rev, whatÍs up?"
"You argued a good case in there. However, youÍre depressed. Is everything all right?" the Magog priest asked.
"You know me. Moody as always," Dave told him.
"I would say different," Rev debated somberly, his eyes analyzing the ruler. "Even with your darkness, your demeanor is usually more upbeat. There is something eating at you."
The historian gazed out the window, surveying the skyline and the Dark Realm far off in the distance. "Three former enemies showed up. I know weÍve met, but as usual, I have no memory of it."
"Yes. The Child will know. The question is how do you find out?"
Dave shrugged. "I donÍt know if I want to. From what I understand, this happened right after my mentorÍs death. It was also the point where Karen Montoya and I broke up."
"Ah," Rev realized. "The answer may be right there. You just need to trust in yourself."
Dave glowered. "Now I know why Dylan gets infuriated with you sometimes."
"I just give insight. Trust in the Way to lead you further," the priest insisted. "Trust in yourself." With that, he turned and walked away toward his quarters.
Dave shook his head. "I wish the Russians wouldnÍt bring a loaded situation with them every time they show up." With that, he opened a portal, disappearing from view.
Chapter 4 [Faerie Realm]
The Faerie Empress stood before her watch portal, observing the events on Earth and the Inner Realms with concern. Unlike everyone else, she did remember the sequence of events leading to the near meltdown. I agree with you, Mikhail Ursus, the young ones will have difficulty with the events in the story. And how would Lana Kent take the account of PaulineÍs death?
"Already events fall into place, donÍt they?" Grimwilkin inquired.
She watched the elderly wizard appear to her left. "They do, Grimwilkin. Already, questions are being asked."
"And we will have to answer them," he urged. "Begging your pardon, Milady, they have to know the facts. Already the Russians reveal things, unraveling your work. Would you rather tell the story or let the details emerge on their own?"
She glared at him, her eyes narrowing into slits. "IÍd rather they wouldnÍt find out at all."
He shook his head. "Sometimes things donÍt work out the way weÍd like."
She watched the portal for a minute longer, not believing this turn of events. "Outer Earth should not know how close it came to a holocaust."
"Only certain ones would know. The vampires have kept their word, have they not?" he countered. "Besides, David needs to know. Already the seeds of doubt eat at him and the Child will not tell him why."
"What would you have me do, then?" she demanded.
"Tell them all," he advised. "Adam Kane already has part of the puzzle. The mutants hold other pieces. A suggestion if I may?" Seeing her nod, he continued, "Tell it in your cathedral. That way, you can keep the knowledge secure."
She nodded. "Very well. IÍll send for Deirdre immediately. Soon, the story will be told for better or worse."
He bowed and vanished into the mists.
Soon, the truth will be known. May the goddess be merciful on us all.
Chapter 5 [El Gato Negro]
About 10:00, Darkstar and Ursus entered the vampire club and took in their surroundings, not knowing what to expect. After the flight down from Sanctuary, they found the place quickly. The Gothic look left them both cold, to say the least.
"Can I help you both?" Nick asked from behind them.
The two Russians turned to find the archaeology professor standing behind them with a suspicious look on his face.
"Professor Miles," Darkstar greeted. "We came for a drink and to speak with you."
Nick nodded. "IÍve kept the secret if thatÍs what you mean, and so have Janette and LaCroix."
"And what of your fellow immortal, Roxilana? Has she?" Ursus wondered.
"She wouldnÍt," the Elder countered. "You both have already said more than she ever would." Then his eyes shot toward the door.
"What is it?" she wondered.
"The students are here looking for answers as well," Nick told them. "And LaCroixÍs already found them. Order what youÍd like from the bar. IÍll be back with them in a minute." With that, he zipped away, disappearing in a blur.
The two visitors eyed the door for a minute before deciding to follow his advice.
[Street in front of the bar]
Lana and Chloe walked down the block, hustling toward the Gato. For the latterÍs part, she couldnÍt resist a good mystery. Lana, on the other hand, accompanied her friend to keep her out of trouble.
"I really wish we had Clark and Lex with us, Chloe," Lana wished.
"Come on, Lana, theyÍd tell us to stay away from this one," Chloe retorted.
The former cheerleader glanced around them. Something lurked out there in the darkness. "WhoÍs there?"
"What?" the reporter asked.
"ThereÍs someone watching us," Lana insisted.
"Intriguing," a confident voice remarked from just behind them. LaCroix stepped into the light. "Whatever are you doing here?"
"WeÍre looking for something. And you?" Chloe responded.
"This is a Community area and I am a member of that body. You, on the other hand, shouldnÍt be nosing around in matters which donÍt concern you," the Roman remarked.
"It concerns Professor Dubois and weÍre worried about him," Chloe insisted.
The General smirked. "Ah yes. Well, I donÍt think heÍd want you to know everything either." His eyes glinted yellow.
Chloe "radiated on" and tensed. "IÍm not easy to get rid of."
"You are stubborn. Still, that trick wonÍt save you," LaCroix hissed.
Nick alighted between him and the girls. "Stop this!"
"YouÍre failing as Elder, Nicholas. Already, the mortals probe into Community affairs."
"These two are under my protection. Besides, they will keep what they learn to themselves," the former Crusader asserted. "They are also under the ChildÍs protection. Harm them and youÍll answer to him as well."
LaCroix growled. "And now youÍre delivering his threats, Nicholas? Oh, how trite." He glared at the two students. "One day, you two will find something truly dangerous. At that point, nobody will be able to help you."
"We help each other," Nick asserted, staring the older vampire down. "Meantime, letÍs go and get something to drink, all right?"
Lana and Chloe nodded, following NickÍs lead.
LaCroix shook his head before taking off into the night, heading for KRAN and his radio show.
Nick ushered Lana and Chloe over to where Ursus and Darkstar waited for them.
"WhatÍs this?" Darkstar asked.
"We wanted some questions answered," Chloe replied.
"Actually, she wanted to snoop. IÍm trying to keep her out of trouble," Lana clarified, giving her friend a knowing look. "I figured asking Professor Miles would be the safest route."
Nick shook his head. "There are things that need to remain unsaid."
"Oh come on! Not you too! What is this?" Chloe demanded, rolling her eyes.
Placing two Diet Pepsis in front of them, Janette declared, "I agree with Nicolas. Some things need to be kept under wraps."
"LaCroix said it was a vampire thing," Chloe indicating, ignoring JanetteÍs point.
"I agree with our hosts," Ursus told them. "Do you know the story of PandoraÍs box?"
"She received a box from the gods. Apparently, she opened it, releasing hope in the process. So what?" Chloe wondered.
"I think what theyÍre saying is that we might not like what we find," Lana answered.
"Exactly," Darkstar replied while taking a sip from her glass.
At that moment, Cybelle walked through the door and joined them at the bar. "Everyone, good evening."
"Cybelle, can I get you anything?" Janette queried.
"No thank you. Actually, you all need to come at once. The Faerie Empress wishes your company."
The group stared at the high priestess anxiously.
"Who?" Darkstar inquired.
"The Faerie Empress is the goddessÍ representative and Holder of the Hidden Truths," Cybelle explained. "Tonight, she will answer the question hanging before you all."
"You mean she wants to tell us?" Lana gasped.
"It is for her to do so," Nick indicated.
"Janette, can you have someone tend bar? Lucius and Divia are waiting in the EmpressÍ cathedral. Meantime, Genaria and Deirdre are collecting the others," Cybelle requested.
"Oui," the lady of the night agreed, signaling for Vachon to step over. "Vachon, keep an eye on things here?"
"Sorry about the short notice," Nick added. "We had something come up."
The former conquistador looked at them all. After a minuteÍs hesitation, he agreed, "LetÍs hope we donÍt get any weird requests."
"You shouldnÍt," Janette guessed, stepping out from behind the bar.
"Thank you," Cybelle expressed, opening the portal. "Step through if you would. Time grows short."
The others did so without hesitation, knowing the importance of the gathering to come.
Chapter 6 [Dubois Condo]
Dave shuffled the studentsÍ papers in front of him, considering the grades. A little lower than usual. I hope theyÍre okay. At that moment, he heard a knock at the door.
"IÍve got it," Angie told him, answering the door. "Karen? Mika? What is it?"
"Sorry, Angie, I wanted to talk," Karen apologized. "ItÍs about the past. Is Dave busy?"
"For you? Come on," the oncologist assured her, ushering them inside. "WhatÍs wrong?"
He walked into the room, feeling the vibrations coming from his sister and niece. "Darkstar and Ursa Major. Our last run-inÍs bothering you."
Karen trembled fearfully. "Yes. Dave, IÍm sorryI donÍt trust them."
He embraced her tightly. "ItÍs all right. From what little I remember, I canÍt say I blame you."
"Why? What happened?" Mika wondered. "We were just about to ask you. Auntie, what is it?"
Angie shook her head. "I donÍt know myself." Glancing through the window, she saw Clark and Lex walking up to the door. "We have company." She opened the door. "Hi, guys."
"Have you seen Lana and Chloe?" Clark wondered.
"IsnÍt it late for them to be out?" Dave asked.
"Well, we havenÍt seen them since we returned from Sanctuary," Lex explained. "Chloe got this idea to do some investigating and"
Dave shot his wife an anxious look before telling them, "I can guess that sheÍs going to get in trouble and take Lana with her. Come on." He started for the door. "WeÍll talk with Nick." Then he stopped cold in his tracks. "Deirdre?"
On cue, the mist portal appeared in the corner, allowing his daughter to step into the room. "I donÍt know how you do that, Papa. Still, IÍm here to bring you to the Faerie Realms. The Empress wishes to speak to all of you."
"All of us?" Mika inquired. "Dee-Dee, what is it?"
"It concerns Papa, Aunt Karen, and our Russian friends, Mika. Tonight, sheÍll tell the story," the priestess noted.
The nurse rubbed her brotherÍs shoulder, remembering the events in question. "Are you sure thatÍs a good idea?"
"She wishes to tell us before the secret comes totally out," Deirdre continued. "Aunt Karen, I know that the events are painful for you, but they do need to know."
"I know, Deirdre, still this is going to be tough for all of us," her mother surmised. Thankfully, FrancescaÍs out with the twins.
"Before we go, we do need to find our wives," Lex interjected.
"CybelleÍs already done so. They were at the El Gato Negro," Deirdre assured them. "Step through the portal. Genaria goes to Sanctuary to get Mutant X. Soon, the truth will be known." With a wave of her hands, the portal reappeared. After the others entered it, she followed hastily, sealing them in.
Adam sipped on a cup of coffee, analyzing Mutant XÍs latest test runs in the dojo. They need work on certain things. Their reactions are just a hair off. At that moment, he saw Jesse hustling over toward him. "WhatÍs wrong?" he asked.
Jesse scratched his head, trying to get the puzzled look off his face. "YouÍve got to hear this, Adam. One of the priestesses just showed up in the living area and she wants us to go with her."
The geneticist shook his head. Despite his security, the priestesses had demonstrated that they could bypass even the best of his safeguards. I wish I could grasp how they do that portal trick. "What is it?"
"Apparently, itÍs related to Laynia and Mikhailthe situation between them and Dave," the density mutant revealed. "Come on!"
Adam hustled out of the room, leading Jesse toward the living area. Once there, he saw the team already assembled and waiting for him along with an unfamiliar priestess. "Excuse me, you are?"
"Forgive my intrusion. IÍm Genaria. The Faerie Empress wishes to speak with you all and fill in the gap concerning your friends," Genaria explained.
"I knew there was something," Max groused.
"Hey, itÍs probably not his fault," Emma argued, jumping to the medievalistÍs defense.
"Still, do we want to know?" Shalimar wondered, looking at Brennan and recalling his words from earlier in the day.
"The Empress wishes you to know. That is all you should need," Genaria declared, opening a portal. "Please come with me."
The quintet looked at their leader expectantly.
Adam nodded, signaling them to follow the priestess. After they had done so, he asked, "Why is it that the truth is revealed now?"
"Who can say? IÍm sorry, Adam Kane, for the cryptic message. IÍm but a messenger in this affair. Soon though, you will have your answers. I can promise you that much."
The geneticist shrugged, guessing that response would be the best response under the circumstances and stepped through the portal.
Genaria followed closely behind, sealing the portal behind them.
Chapter 7 [Cathedral of Crystal, Faerie Realms]
As the group assembled in the crystalline structure, they wondered about the the nature of the EmpressÍ summons. Knowing that she didnÍt ask guests to appear on a whim, they waited for her appearance and her message.
Once in the cathedral, Lex and Clark found Chloe and Lana. Sitting with them in the corner, they caught up on the events of that evening.
The vampires consulted with each other, wondering who had broken the pact between their community and the priestesses. Finding out that they had kept their silence, they wondered who would have done so.
Dave sat in the front, trying to recall the events in question. As always, a red haze hung over his vision. Come on, cough them up.
["Make me," the Child challenged.]
["The Empress is going to tell the story anyhow. Come on," the professor pointed out.]
["Goodie fer her. Brace yerself. ItÍs gonna be a bumpy ride," the Dark One scoffed.]
What now? Dave put his face in his hands, wondering what he was going to see next.
"Come on, Dave, itÍs going to be okay," Angie advised.
"He knows that something happened," Karen disagreed. "And he needs the rest of the story."
"If he can take it," LaCroix challenged.
"Back off," Cybelle ordered, stepping between the Roman Elder and her siblings. "ThereÍs no fighting here. Besides, you are the last one who should be criticizing him since you instigated the whole thing!"
"Only part of it, Cybelle," the Empress pointed out, as she entered the cathedral. "Many had a role to play."
"What is this?" Adam wondered. "What does this have to do with him? With us?"
The elf-queen nodded. "Those are fair questions, Adam Kane. The affair was one of three series of events occurring at the same time: the meteor shower, the enforcement of vampire security, and Soviet legal matters." She looked around the cathedral at the assembled throng. "Everyone has a piece of the puzzle."
"What?" Lex asked. "Pardon me, but we werenÍt involved back here."
"True, but the events starting in Smallville did come to a head in Cambridge on that dark night. While Smallville reeled from the meteors, the Enforcers attacked and the Soviets plotted," the Empress revealed. "And it started just after Pauline had comforted you, Lana Kent."
"Me?" Lana wondered. "What did I do?"
"You did nothing to be ashamed of, my dear. Rather, it was LaCroix who had set things in motion. Relax your minds. ItÍs time to let the story be told." With that, she waved her hands, filling the entire chamber with mist.
(A/N: Yes, I am moving the meteor shower up one year to coincide with the events in the DC. This is an AU after all.)
Lana sat in her auntÍs flower shop without a care in the world. After all, she was the fairy princess decked out in her white finery, a crown resting on her head, and a magic wand, which could grant wishes to people. As the customers came in, she would wave her wand and hope to grant their best wish.
Most of all, she remembered the nice red-haired lady who had just left the store. She was so sad. I hope her wish was granted.
Just then, Nell came over and smiled at her. "Momma and Daddy are back! LetÍs go say hi!"
"Yeah!" the pint-sized princess agreed, hopping off her stool. I get my wish too! She ran out the front door and saw her parents just getting out of their truck. "Hi!"
Laura Lang waved at her daughter. SheÍs so beautiful! "Hi, Sweetie!"
Lewis, her husband, started to hustle across the street toward her.
And then, the Apparition appeareda glowing white woman with long hair, an evil grin, and intense eyes.
"Lana, what is it?" Nell asked, looking around.
"Glowy woman!" the little girl retorted, pointing at the spirit.
"What are you talking about, Dear? ThereÍs nobody there except for Momma and Daddy," her aunt tried to sooth.
"No! SheÍs there!" Lana protested. "Momma! Daddy!"
Lewis looked at Laura, hesitating for just a second.
Lichtenfeld took advantage of that hesitation, pointing to the sky. While she was imprisoned, her avatar could make use of the spell already in place. Already the deadly emerald hail fell in and around the town. She brought a stone to Earth, smashing into the pavement.
Right on top of her parents.
Lana screamed; her eyes wet with tears.
"Remember, Little One," the witch scoffed. "There are no happy endings. Such are the province of fools." With that, she vanished into thin air, laughing maniacally.
Before her aunt hustled her away, the last thing the little girl remembered was a camera flash.
Lana sniffled in her bed. All of her dreams were crushed. Her fairy magic couldnÍt save the people she cared for the most. Why did they leave me? DonÍt they love me?
Then a wisp of smoke appeared in the corner of the room. What? I should call Auntie. "Who there?"
The mists formed into a portal, allowing a brunette woman clad in green to step into the room. She looked around. The witch was here somehow. Curse her. I thought we had imprisoned her in Rowenshire. Compose yourself. This girl has too much on her mind already. "Goodness me," she said. "Such a pretty room!" She walked over and sat down by the bed. "Lana?"
The little girl nodded. "Yeah. I shouldnÍt talk to you. YouÍre a stranger."
The priestess shrugged. "Well, that is true, I guess. Your senses are sharp, Child. My name is Pauline and I hate to see little girls hurting."
"Can you bring my Momma and Daddy back?" Lana asked sadly.
Pauline sighed. "No, Lana. Even I cannot do that. I want to assure you that they love you very, very much. But they canÍt come back."
"Why not?" the little girl protested, not understanding why she had been left alone.
"There is evil in the world, Little One, but there is good too. Can you try to sleep for me, Dear One?" Pauline requested, pulling the covers up to LanaÍs chin. "The Wicked Witch is gone." She hummed a lullaby.
Slowly, the little girlÍs eyes closed and she drifted off to sleep.
Pauline stood and cast a spell. You will not remember the Witch, Little One, until you are ready to do so. Know this, Lana Lang, that you are not alone in your pain for another child close by shares it with you on this night. You two will be friends and more, shaping this world and several others with your bond. Sprinkling dust on the sleeping girlÍs brow, she smiled. You are a special one and we will watch you always.
Having completed this ritual, she stepped through the portal and vanished.
[Cambridge, MASamuelsohn Residence]
Pauline emerged from the mists in the bedroom she shared with her husband. Between his work and her rituals, their relationship proved complex. However, they supported each other in everything. I donÍt think I could do this with any man other than Tony. After removing her robes, she showered and walked out into the living room.
Tony rushed up to her. "Thank God youÍre back! I was worried!"
"Tony, what is it?" she wondered.
He held up his cell phone. "I received a threatening call concerning that scroll I found in the Balkans. You need to get out of here, Pauline!"
"I can take care of myself," she pointed out. "Who did you just call?"
"David Dubois. He can take it," he told her. "I hope his plane gets in and he gets here in time."
She shook her head. "Tony, donÍt bring him into this! His darknessheÍll explode if confronted with vampires!"
"HeÍs got mood swings, Pauline. I think we can count on him," he debated.
"You fool! The darkness in him is more than that! HeÍs cursed. Bad enough the witch struck once tonight. Now you play into her hands once more," she revealed. Then feeling a vibration from the kitchen, she told him, "Go to the study. I need to check something."
He nodded, trying to take in what she had just told him.
Pauline made her way into the kitchen, following the vibrations into the area. "By the goddess, I feel you. Come out, scum!"
"Interesting, woman, you are one of the accursed order, arenÍt you?" a man replied as he stepped into view. He wore fifteenth century clothes and glared at her through glowing yellow eyes. "Now youÍll have to die."
She shook her head and warned pointedly, "Leave now before you unleash the evil approaching here!"
"I know of the curse in the manuscripts your husband stole, woman," he pointed out, motioning behind her.
Before she could react, two more vampires seized her. "What?"
"WerenÍt ready for that, were you?" the first vampire scoffed. "Now youÍll die."
"Know something before you kill me, vampire. Tonight, youÍve signed your own ends. Dead you are now. But the one who comes will send your souls to Hell once and for all! Tony, help me!"
The leader growled and grasped the sides of her head. With one motion, he snapped her neck, killing her instantly. "SheÍs gone. Now we deal with the pest himself." Still, he wondered what she had meant and how she had cursed them.
Tony Samuelsohn hurriedly poured over the notes spread across the oak desk in his study. Something in these memoirs was unnerving people. But what was it? And what would happen to him and his wife, Pauline, because of it?
Suddenly, he heard a crash coming from the kitchen. "Pauline?" he called.
"Tony! Help me!" she wailed.
Rising from his chair, he heard her scream once more. "No!" he realized and ran toward the kitchen. There, he found his wife lying motionlessly on the floor. He frantically felt her wrist for a pulse. He noticed that her head was turned at an awkward angle signifying that someone had broken her neck.
"Samuelsohn," a dark voice beckoned.
The professor turned to see a strange man standing directly behind him...or what seemed to be a man at least. The visitor's eyes glowed crimson and his fangs glistened in the moonlight.
"You were warned," the intruder continued. "Now, you will be disposed of." He signaled with his right hand.
Suddenly, Samuelsohn felt his arms being restrained. From nowhere, a medium-built Oriental man and a Caucasian male held him fast. "What?"
"You are going to die," the leader smiled coldly and bent over the professor's neck, his fangs descending toward the target.
Suddenly, the screeching of tires on the asphalt in front of the house grabbed the intruder's attention. He turned his head toward the window. "Han! Deal with it!" he ordered.
The Oriental nodded and strolled through the front door.
"Now, you die," the vampire hissed.
Dave screeched his car to a halt in front of his mentor's Cambridge home. The young man shook his head fearfully. When his relations with his father had deteriorated, Dave had found support with his advisor and Mrs. Samuelsohn. When he had needed a helping hand, they had been there for him. Now, it was time to return the favor. Crawling into the back seat, he found his bow and quiver full of shafts. While several shafts didn't have tips, their sharpened edges would have to suffice. "Hang on, Doc!" he pleaded and bolted toward the house.
About halfway there, a figure dropped out of the sky, alighting in front of him. The Oriental figure was of medium-build with long raven-black hair which he wore braided down his back. His clean-shaven face was pale, his eyes glowed blood-red, and his fangs glistened in the moonlight. By all of the signs, he was a vampire.
"You should not have come. Now you die," Wu Han asserted.
Dave shook his head frantically. The figure in front of him inspired terror. His pulse quickened, his breathing grew shallow. "What have you done with Dr. Samuelsohn?" he demanded, albeit more forcefully than he felt.
The Asian vampire growled, "By now, he is dead. Do not worry. I will send you to meet him!"
That statement, meant as a preliminary threat, proved a provocative turning point. For, at that moment, Dave's spasms began anew. "Over...mah dead...body," he protested.
Han snarled, "Parents should have taught brat better!" Before Dave could react, the Enforcer backhanded the young man, sending him into the massive oak behind him.
The graduate student sighed fretfully. Pain wracked his body. Frigid icy daggers stabbed at his brain. He hadn't felt like this since his father had done the same to him. His father...Dave had sworn that nobody would touch him like that again. "Daddy Dearest" From deep inside of his head, a terrible roar echoed. Then he screamed like an ancient banshee, allowing his pain to permeate the night air for all to feel. Whereas the pain had stopped before, now there was no going back.
The attacker stopped as his senses detected this transformation. Somehow, the latter's aura changed and a darker threat was surfacing. No matter, the interloper would be dead in another minute....
Suddenly, the young man's left eye snapped open and a giant leer spread across his face. "AhÍm free!!!" He screamed malevolently and turned on Han. "YaÍre dead!" The open eye started to glow and from nowhere, a blast hit the Enforcer.
Han landed across the lawn, bruised by the energy pulse, and admittedly, unnerved by the other's transformation. Somehow, this young man was more than he appeared on the surface. No matter, the Code demanded his death and, as an Enforcer, Han was obligated to carry it out.
"Ah hope ya ainÍt done yet," the Child chuckled, focusing on his scattered shafts. Once again, the energy flowed through him and outward.
As if they had a mind of their own, the projectiles levitated into the air and flung themselves faster than even a vampire's senses could follow. With cold precision, two stakes pierced his shoulders, pinning him to the house behind him.
The Dark One advanced on his nocturnal adversary menacingly. "NothinÍ to say? Too bad!" With that, he sent the third missile through the vampireÍs chest. "Now fer yer buddies." After grabbing several of the remaining shafts, he stalked purposefully through the open door.
From the darkness, another voice challenged, "What? Where is Wu Han?"
The Child glowered, reporting in a much lower tone than before, "The China-BoyÍs a pig sticker now. YaÍre next!" He turned to face the Caucasian Enforcer. After slamming the vampire into the wall with a burst, he staked this opponent as well.
Feeling the dark energy coursing through him, he frowned. Two scumbags down, one to go.
"Asshole," he hissed and entered the living room. Lying in front of him was the professor, painfully shuddering.
"D...David?" the elder man whispered.
"Not Big Bro," the Child informed him and looked around. Someone else was in the room with them. Somehow, he could sense the other presence, but couldn't react before something hard hit him across the back of his head. "WHAT THE HELL?" He turned to see another Caucasian vampire dressed in what appeared to be fifteenth century Burgundian fashion who glowered at him. "And what are yaÍll, a HallÍween reject?"
"No," the lead Enforcer responded. "I am Bertrand du Dijon, and I am your death!" Even as he did so, he scrutinized this opponent. The witch knew of this oneÍs coming after all. I should kill him now.
The Child grinned wickedly. "Big words, Peacock. YaÍll just gonna talk or what?"
"You wish a fight?"
The Child sighed, "Nah, Ah just wanna be yer pal. Course Ah wanna fight, Dipshit! Mon!" Focusing, his hands started to glow. "Too slow!" With that, he slammed Dijon with a pulse.
The latter fell backward, his arm reaching into the fireplace and catching fire. Dijon screamed painfully as he ripped the flaming sleeve off, and threw it onto the floor. Unfortunately, the arm was badly burned, and the Persian rug was going up in smoke as well. Springing to his feet, he gave another look to the Child. This one is powerful. But IÍll kill him for that!
"Aw, Mustard BoyÍs hurtinÍ," the Dark One ridiculed. "Is that all ya got?"
Dijon tensed, only to hear a siren approaching them. The mortal authorities. "Damn them!" he hissed. To make matters worse, the whole room was ablaze. He would need to deal with this insolent mortal at another point. "Another time!" he cursed and took off through the open window.
The Child scowled at this act of apparent cowardice. "Good riddance!" But from within the recesses of his brain, his instincts guided him into his mentor's study. Somehow, in the midst of the thick, cloying smoke and blistering heat, he located his professor's desk. Looking at the pile of manuscripts on Samuelsohn's desk, he decided to save as many as possible. Working quickly, he managed to get the desk cleared as well as flinging the contents of the adjoining case and the packing tube through the open window. By then, the flames burst into the area. "The old man!" he growled and rushed into the living room. By now, the inferno had consumed the room and threatened the bodies of the professor and his wife. Somehow, the Child focused on them, causing them to float out the shattered window and touch down lightly on the lawn. Then, seeing that he couldnÍt do anything else for the house, he rushed out through the window himself.
"D...David?" the professor inquired weakly. "There is something Ineedtotellyou."
"AhÍll tell "im," the student replied cryptically.
"You...You must keep going. Don't...Don't stop for anything," the dying man insisted. "Promise me."
The Child nodded. "We...Ah...promise."
Samuelsohn smiled warmly. "You...were always...my favorite student. Make...me...proud." Then he closed his eyes and passed away.
"Hey," the Dark One pushed. "YaÍll canÍt leave us!" He grasped his mentor's shoulders and shook him hard. Then, perhaps realizing that there was nothing more that he could do, he set the elder man's head gently on the grass, and stood up slowly. With tears streaming down his face, the student looked up into the overcast evening and made a vow. "Mustard Boy, AhÍll kill yaÍll fer this! Count on it!!" he bellowed angrily. With that, he took the mahogany tube and valise with the precious Balkan manuscripts and secured them.
"Dave!" he heard a voice call through the darkness.
Hearing the newcomer, the Child took a deep breath and let Dave back out.
He turned, trying to suppress the tremors passing through his body and the lightheadedness. "Karen?"
"Yeah, somehow I got a flight home tonight! Come on!" his girlfriend urged, taking his arm. "Can you drive?"
"II think so," he gasped, sucking in a deep breath. "Karen, Dr. S. is dead."
"What?" she asked, staring at him. With her mutant abilities, she scanned his mind and brushed across her worst nightmare: the Child growling at her; its essence now completely formed. My God. What will we do now? How can I deal with him now? She panicked for a second before pulling herself together. "Come on. IÍm sorry, Dave, but the cops are almost here!"
He nodded, pulling her toward their cars. "Right behind you. Although, I donÍt know how weÍll evade them."
At that moment, a thick fog billowed across the scene, obscuring everything behind them. Unbelievably, the mists parted, giving them a clear path through the cover.
Not knowing what to think, the two students ran to their cars and raced away from the scene.
What is this? What happened to me? He continued to wrack his mind for answers as he followed her down the expressway toward Scituate.
Onto Part 2
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