Death Has No Dominion

Death Has No Dominion

Status: In Progress

Genre: Thrillers


Status: In Progress

Genre: Thrillers


Hand to sword he serves his king. Brothers in blood and conquest they bend and shape the world to their collective will. From the ashes of a brutal civil war they built an empire, and their hand-picked tyrants, rule without mercy or pity. A kingdom with no borders, it exists within every continent, country, and city across the globe. Hand to sword he stands with his king. Once defenders and protectors, their disillusionment became disdain then hate. They embraced the predator and declared humanity a means to end, chattel to do with as they wish. At war with their ancient enemy they are unaware of the threat that lurks in the shadows. Loyal to the light, their brethren rose from the ashes and swore to defend humanity from the Thirty Tyrants and their world order. A rebellion, pitting evil against evil has raged for over two hundred years. On one fateful night three people are drawn into this world, one from the top, the other from the bottom, and the third as a means to an end. A soldier, a thief, and a librarian set on their paths to a collision with the Thirty Tyrants, their Hand, and his King.


Hand to sword he serves his king. Brothers in blood and conquest they bend and shape the world to their collective will. From the ashes of a brutal civil war they built an empire, and their hand-picked tyrants, rule without mercy or pity. A kingdom with no borders, it exists within every continent, country, and city across the globe.
Hand to sword he stands with his king. Once defenders and protectors, their disillusionment became disdain then hate. They embraced the predator and declared humanity a means to end, chattel to do with as they wish.
At war with their ancient enemy they are unaware of the threat that lurks in the shadows. Loyal to the light, their brethren rose from the ashes and swore to defend humanity from the Thirty Tyrants and their world order. A rebellion, pitting evil against evil has raged for over two hundred years.
On one fateful night three people are drawn into this world, one from the top, the other from the bottom, and the third as a means to an end. A soldier, a thief, and a librarian set on their paths to a collision with the Thirty Tyrants, their Hand, and his King.

Chapter8 (v.1) - Chapter Eight

Author Chapter Note

“Apathy is the glove in which evil slips its hand.”<br /> Anonymous<br /> <br /> <br /> “Remember upon the conduct of each depends the fate of us all.”<br /> Alexander the Great<br />

Chapter Content - ver.1

Submitted: December 08, 2016

Reads: 266

A A A | A A A

Chapter Content - ver.1

Submitted: December 08, 2016



  She wasn’t alone. If she didn’t know better, Serena would have thought her imagination was getting the best of her. But she did know better. He was hunting his prey. He played upon the instinctual fear of the dark all human beings share, letting the anticipation of the attack from out of the blackness heighten her anxiety until it was a full fledge panic. But she didn‘t panic, she couldn‘t allow herself too. Down that road lay insanity. She fought back, refusing to let him get the best of her.

The silence stretched on, neither of them making a sound. To her right there the barest hint of movement, but in a room like this, he may as well have shouted. She was sure to act as though she hadn’t heard anything. Instead, she opened her eyes and focused her attention towards the landing. Turning slightly to the left, she rested her arm on her leg, rattling the chain. She felt the air change, and rolled. Bringing her arm up with as much force as she could, she backhanded him across the jaw with the manacle. He stumbled into the wall, landing half on half off the mattress next to her head. She scrambled away, getting ready for the next attack. Her wrist twinged in pain, and her shoulder hurt, but she still felt a momentary rush from getting the best of him.

It was just that, momentary. The chain was jerked hard, and his hand locked onto her wrist, dragging her back. Spinning her around, he wrapped a hand around her throat. His chest was heaving against her back, and heat simmered along his skin. The instinct to tear his hand away was overwhelming, but she stayed as still as she could. She was afraid if she fought him anymore he’d kill her. If his fingers tightening periodically around her throat were any indication, he was considering it.

“Are you proud of yourself?” he hissed.

He grasped her neck more firmly, just a touch, but it made it impossible for her to answer.

“What? I can’t understand you.” He loosened his grip and said, “I’m assuming you were trying to apologize for bashing me in the face with the manacle. Please, don’t let me stop you.”

“I was unaware that I wasn’t allowed to defend myself against these sneak attacks,” she breathed. “It never bothered you before. Since I actually landed a blow this time I’m in trouble? That hardly seems fair.”

“Is there anything about me that gives you the impression I’m fair? Coming from you, of all people, that’s ludicrous.”

“So I’m not supposed to defend myself? I thought you liked that.”

“Never assume you know what I do and don’t like. Now, I want you to say I’m sorry and I will not do it again.”


“Excuse me?” he said, turning her around.

“No,” she breathed.

“Say it.” 

She refused to respond, and he stood abruptly, heading for the door. She was surprised he was leaving, but she was mistaken. The light came on, and he walked back in with his chair. Taking a seat, he patiently waited for her eyes to adjust. Once again the room was silent. Serena was terrified, she knew she should have apologized, but the more he insisted, the angrier she got. Feeling his hand wrapped around her throat, and once again being shown how powerless she was, had the opposite effect than he‘d intended. She had always had a problem with authority, and he was no exception. She knew he wouldn’t wait for long, so she took a deep breath and lifted her head up.

He was sitting with his arms crossed, watching her. She was satisfied to see the giant bruise on his jaw, there appeared to be a few small cuts as well.

“I blame myself. Amused by your defiance I allowed it to continue. So naturally, you came to believe you have a choice in how matters proceed.” He leaned forward clasping his hands together, and said pointedly, “You don’t. You have no choices here, no rights, nothing. You live because I choose to keep you alive. I have allowed you to fight back because it’s been entertaining, yes. But this,” he pointed to the bruise, which already looked smaller, “is unacceptable. Since I am taking most of blame, I‘m going to let it go. Just this once. But I‘m warning you, if you ever injure me again, in any way, I will flay your back. Do you understand?”

Serena nodded, feeling as though she’d just dodged a bullet. He stood up and turned to leave. As he reached for the chair she said, “So I should stop defending myself then?”

She couldn’t help it, he brought out the worst in her. David stopped and looked back at her, his eyebrow raised. Putting his hands in his pockets, he regarded her sternly, but she could see he was fighting a smile.

“I’m bored with this game,” he said smoothly. “But don’t worry, I’ll come up with another.”





Ben looked out the window trying not glance over his shoulder.

“They are drugged, restrained, and contained,” Diana said, without looking up from her book. “Relax, we still have an hour before we land.”

Saul looked up from the graphic novel he was reading and grinned. “This isn’t some cheesy Hollywood film Ben. The bad guys aren’t getting loose because the good guys, us, in case you’re wondering, missed something obvious. They aren’t getting free and killing us all, then taking over the plane and nose diving it into the ground. They aren’t going to walk away without a scratch as the fires consume all the evidence.”

“You’ve thought this through,” he replied.

“No, I’ve just seen that movie, multiple times,” Saul said, laughing.

Ben smiled in spite of himself. While Diana was calm, efficient, and great at her job, she kept her distance. Saul was warm and friendly with everyone, and Ben no longer thought of him as a colleague, he was a friend. Closing his eyes he tried to rest, but before long he was glancing over his shoulder again, much to the amusement of Saul.



Landing at a small air strip outside of London, Ben looked out the window confused. “What about customs?”

“Did you want to declare our cargo?” Saul asked.

“This air strip isn’t far from home,” Diana replied, ignoring Saul. “We control it and it’s safe from prying eyes. London Heathrow is not.”

Ben was still getting used to all the ins and outs of the Covenant. Their power and influence didn’t rival the Thirty’s, but the fact they could fly into England without going through official channels said a lot. As the plane pulled into the hanger, he saw a vampire standing by a car waiting. Her warm brown eyes were the same hue as her skin.

When Saul walked up with his arms spread wide, her face split into an engaging grin, which her slightly plump frame only made warmer.

“I‘ve missed you so much sweetheart,” she said hugging Saul, who lifted her off ground. Her northern accent and kind eyes, coupled with her bright smile, were instantly appealing. Right away Ben knew he liked her. She laughed, and when Saul put her down, she wrapped her arms around Diana, who obviously wasn’t a hugger, but she smiled in spite of herself and whispered in the woman’s ear. Letting Diana go, she turned to him smiling, and held her hand out. “You must be Ben. I’ve heard good things.” When he grasped her hand, her smile grew and she gave him a hug. “I’m Nora,” she said, and he could’ve sworn there was catch in her voice. But when she pulled back, her smile was as bright as before. “It’s a pleasure to meet you.”

“You too,” he replied, grinning.

Two men opened the back of the truck, and Ben followed them to the plane, watching as they removed the cargo and loaded each of the vampires into the truck, only relaxing when the doors were shut and locked. Turning around, he was confronted by Nora. “Did they give you any trouble on the plane?” she asked.

Ben was startled, and caught her glance behind him. Looking over his shoulder, he saw Saul standing there straight faced. Shaking his head, he chuckled under his breath. “I swear,” he muttered, and Saul laughed.

“I’m sorry sweetheart,” Nora said, smiling. “I couldn’t help it. Saul brings out the worst in me.”

“I’d say the best in you,” Saul said looking injured.

The four of them got into Nora’s car, and drove toward the Covenant’s central British facility. There were safe houses in the major cities, and London did include offices. But Mary was in the country, and that‘s who they were taking the vampires too. Saul and Nora talked and laughed in the front, while Diana kept quiet, occasionally shaking her head at some comment of Saul’s. They hadn’t been driving more than fifteen minutes when Nora slowed, turning down a drive. The sign on the left read, The Dixon Foundation School of Agricultural Sciences.

“What’s the Dixon Foundation?” he asked.

“It’s a small, but well respected organization, dedicated to helping men and women whose lives have left them broken, penniless, and alone. We have people here from all over the world, who’ve come to learn skills that will improve their lives, therefore improving the lives of others.”

“Are they all vampires?”

“Not all,” Nora replied smiling, “but quite a few.”

The property was vast, with lush vegetation and well-kept grounds. They drove past a gate house, and Nora waved to the guard inside. A hundred yards further down road they drove between two old stone cottages with groundskeepers trimming bushes. They surreptitiously watched the car as it passed. A circular drive lined with thick green bushes and rows of flowers, took them past an administration building with a classic brick and peaked roof hall. There were two large buildings to either side, set slightly behind the main one, both in the same style. Turning onto a side road, they passed more buildings, all sizes and shapes, as well as greenhouses. They drove for quite a ways through multi-cropped fields, eventually going through a gate to the foundation’s scientific research center. Three modern looking, interconnected buildings, were surrounded by what looked like average farm style fencing. They parked in a side lot, while the truck pulled around back to unload their cargo.

“This place is huge,” Ben said, getting out of the car.

“The Dixon Foundation is well funded,” Saul said, smiling.

As they entered the center building, a vampire who appeared to be in his late fifties, with brown and mostly grey hair, walked up in jeans and a white shirt.

“Professor Saunders,” Saul said brightly. “I thought you were teaching in the States.”

“I am,” he replied. “But I’m taking a semester in England. It’s good to get back to my roots now and again.”

If he grew up in England it was impossible to tell, he sounded like he was from the Midwestern U.S. The way he was looking at Saul, with his head tilted slightly back, reminded Ben of a teacher he used to have in high school. He always seemed to know what was going on when his back was turned.

“Ben, this is Richard Saunders, corruptor of young minds,” Saul said grinning.

He shook Ben’s hand. “Everyone calls me Tom.” Looking back at Saul he said, “I spoke with John, and Colson is transitioning very well. In fact he‘s itching to take another crack at the Order‘s network.”

Saul looked overwhelmed for a moment, and nodded in thanks.

“This is your first experience with how a vampire is made correct?” Tom asked.

“Since coming on board everything feels like a first,” Ben replied.

“I know the feeling,” Tom said, grinning. “Diana, Mary is waiting for you. Saul, why don’t you and I show Ben a bit of what we do here.”

Diana left with Nora, while Tom and Saul took him through a set of double doors. Down the hall, on either side were windows into labs, with people working, many hunched over microscopes or sitting at computers. Taking him into a room with a large flat screen on one wall, Tom walked over to a computer, and suddenly there were three brain scans on the screen.

Ben looked at Saul curiously, and he said, “Cole. The one on the left was six months ago, the one in the middle was taken the day after he was turned. The one on the right was taken yesterday.” 

“Is it me, or does his brain look slightly larger?” he asked.

Tom smiled in approval. “Yes it is.”


The skull enlarges. It’s infinitesimal but it’s enough to allow the brain to grow,” Tom replied.

Ben looked at them both stupefied. “That has to be excruciating,” he said finally.

“It is,” Saul said. “Which is why it happens while a vampire is unconscious. When you wake up, your head is pounding from the pain, and your brain is on fire, along with the rest of your body.”

“The bigger the brain, the more fuel needed to energize it,” Ben mumbled. Tom looked at him with an eyebrow raised and he said, “I read occasionally.”

Saul grinned and said, “The bigger brain is one of the driving needs for blood, yes. If you look at Cole’s scan from yesterday, you’ll see the amygdala, known as the fight or flight center of the brain, is larger. It drives emotional impulses, and is already larger in men than it is in women, which is why men can sometimes have shorter fuses. Vampire’s fuses are even shorter. We have a tendency to react hard, fast and violently. The prefrontal cortex, you’ll notice, hasn’t changed at all. It’s considered by some to be the CEO of the brain, it makes decisions and inhibits rash behavior.” 

“His brain has gotten more active,” Ben said. “Will that continue?”

“Cole was already an incredibly intelligent young man, “Tom replied. “He will continue to get smarter, as long as he keeps on his present course; which is man who loves to learn and challenge himself. Our senses are enhanced, and as long as you train your mind and build upon what the blood has given you, you will be able to recall any memory at will with perfect clarity. There are vampires who don’t bother learning new skills, who don’t work their minds, and they rarely rise above who they were. Many of the hierarchy’s enforcers are such vampires, recruited for their already existing apathetic and brutal tendencies. Except for those enforcers of higher rank, they are incredibly smart and particularly vicious.”

Tom pressed a button and only Cole’s scan from the day before was left, while two others appeared. All three were very different, with areas of the brain larger and shrunken in each.

“Cole’s prefrontal cortex hasn’t changed,” Ben said. “But the brain in the middle has shrunk. Why?”

“That scan was taken of one of the vampires you brought with you. He’s been an enforcer for around fifty years now. That rash behavior is honed into a weapon to intimidate and control. The frontal lobe is smaller, the connections aren’t as strong. There is less grey matter here,” Tom said pointing at the scan, “and around the temporal lobes. These areas of the brain effect moral behavior. Damage to these areas, or the shrinkage that you’re seeing, is a direct link with a lack of empathy, poor response to fear and distress, and a lack of guilt. Add that to the enlargement of the amygdala and the DPN, which detects territorial defense, fear, and aggression, and you’ve got the brain of a psychopath.”

“What about this scan?” Ben asked. “The prefrontal cortex in this one is larger and the amygdala looks about the same as Cole’s.”

“That is a scan of Nora’s brain,” Saul said, smiling. “She’s been a vampire for a long time, and she’s one of the kindest, most compassionate people I’ve ever met. She runs the Dixon Foundation, and takes a personal interest in every single person who comes on this property. Men and women who’ve experienced pain and degradation the likes of which most people cannot imagine find their best friend in Nora. She heals their hearts and minds, giving them the love and understanding they need to find their way. It’s amazing what she does here.”

“You see these areas here?” Tom asked. “How bright they are? You know those gut feelings women get? Well they’re grounded in biology, and they get stronger when a woman becomes a vampire. Nora has incredibly great instincts.”

“So does Mary,” Saul added. “I have yet to see them fail her.”

“All of these things have an effect on what kind of vampire you become, but with the right people around you, guiding you through the process, this,” Tom said pointing to the center scan, “can be avoided. When a person wakes up a vampire the need for blood is like nothing else. You can’t conceive of how hungry you are. When you start drinking blood, instantly the pain subsides, and dopamine and serotonin levels spike. The more you drink the more you want. The act of hunting gives your body a surge of endorphins, couple that with the dopamine and serotonin and you feel an incredible high. It drives vampires to kill, to look at humans as nothing more than prey, and what you see in the center is what your brain becomes.”

Ben looked between the two of them and shook his head. “So vampires are naturally vicious sadistic killers, and all of you are the aberration. Or is that wrong?”

“We are predators Ben,” Saul replied. “But we aren’t an aberration. Vampires of the hierarchy can feel empathy. They choose when and who they‘re going to empathize with, and it‘s rarely a human. Guilt and shame over the crimes they’ve committed can hit a vampire hard and suddenly. One of the gifts or curse, depending on who you speak with, is that our brains are malleable. The brain scan in the center could change, he could rewire his brain, if he chose to do so. It would be difficult but not impossible.”

“There is a bit of a debate among us as to why this can happen,” Tom said thoughtfully. “Some think the brain is trying to right itself, trying to return to its pre-vampire state. Others think it’s trying to balance itself, chemically and so forth. The surges of guilt and shame have been known to drive vampires to suicide. Only five years ago one of the Thirty killed himself. They covered it up, but not before we learned the truth. The last thing the hierarchy wants their people to learn, is that one of their leaders got a crisis of conscience. It doesn’t look good, goes against their whole Tyrant belief system.”

“That’s why I don’t believe we are the aberration, as you put it,” Saul said. “Somewhere inside a vampire is a remnant of their humanity. Those among the Covenant, and a good majority of women do not become apathetic killers.”

“Why the majority of women?”

“Testosterone plays a major role in how a vampire evolves,” Tom replied.

“But I thought science had proven testosterone doesn’t actually make men more violent,” Ben said.

Tom smiled approvingly. “To a certain extent, but becoming a vampire enhances the domineering effect testosterone has on men and women. The driving need to be the alpha dog, coupled with the changes in the brain, and the chemical surges, create a more violent vampire male. Generally speaking of course, I’m about as violent a puppy.”

Saul laughed and said, “A cranky puppy. Testosterone levels are naturally lower in women, and while they feel the competition and drive to dominate, it isn’t nearly as severe. That’s why a good portion of women keep a connection with their humanity. Only about thirty percent of them come through the transformation with the vicious predilections of their male counterparts.”

“Thirty percent. What about men?”

“There was a time you could almost say the same,” Tom replied. “But over the years it became more of a fifty-fifty chance. These days it’s more of a seventy thirty chance that a man will follow in the footsteps of his psychopathic brethren. Remember, it has to do with the kind of people they recruit, and the kind of people they allow others to make.”

“Genetics can also play a role,” Saul said. “Take berserkers, for centuries the aberration was a mystery. One in every hundred vampires mutates into a berserker, and only in recent years have we discovered why.”

Ben looked at him curiously, thinking of the berserkers. They were more beast than men.

“Neanderthal DNA.” Saul said.

“Seriously?” Ben asked amazed.

Scientists have been tracking human genetic history and they’ve found threads of Neanderthal DNA throughout the world. Our own research has pinpointed that genetic marker within every berserker we tested. The hierarchy has found the same link. No vampire among us has Neanderthal DNA either.” 

“Have you ever heard of the warrior gene?” Tom asked.

Ben snorted, and shaking his head said, “There was a soldier who snapped. He killed a family, all of which were on their knees, not a weapon in sight. He claimed he was predisposed to kill because of the warrior gene. Thankfully, they didn’t buy it and he was thrown in prison.”

“While genetics can predispose people to violence and sociopathic behavior; the endless nature vs. nurture debate,” Tom said shaking his head, “nurture wins, in most cases. However, those genetic predispositions, can turn a well-adjusted man or woman into a complete psychopath when they become a vampire.”

“They really want people to be psychopaths? That’s insane.”

“These are men who declared vampires the higher species. They do not want their people, any of them, to feel compassion or empathy for their victims. You don’t empathize with the lesser species. If you do, that demonstrates doubt in the vampire ideal of superiority.”

“How do they get around the fact that vampires aren’t born, they’re made?”

“Approval from the hierarchy is required for every vampire made,” Saul said. “They decide whether or not a person is worthy. Now the Thirty can turn whomever they want, but even then they don’t make the decision lightly. Valmont and Rourke wouldn’t approve if they did. And women aren’t allowed to make vampires at all.”

“Why not?”

“It goes back to the lie they told to win the war,” Tom said.

Tom’s phone started ringing and he stepped out into the hall. Ben looked at Saul and said, “What lie?”

“I’ll let Mary and Tom tell you that,” Saul replied. “They fought hard to stop the hierarchy from imposing those lies on vampire society. But as I told you-”

“Yeah, Valmont and Rourke, exceptional men,” Ben said shaking his head. “My question is, if they are such exceptional men, why this kind of society?”




“Does your head hurt yet?” Diana asked, as he got into the back of the jeep.

“A little,” Ben replied. “So Saul, I noticed you didn’t show me my brain scan. Is there something I should know?”

Saul looked sheepishly at the ground and said, “I was hoping you wouldn’t notice.”

Diana shoved him saying, “Stop it. You’re scan is normal Ben, none of the indicators of a psychopath.”

He smiled and said, “Good to know. Thanks.”

They pulled up to what looked like a large hanger. Around thirty people were inside training with various weaponry, in different areas of the hanger.

“Recruits?” he asked.

“Some are new recruits,” Diana said. “Many are those who’ve been liberated or rescued. Vampires are very good at breaking a person. We give them the tools they need to take control of their lives back. Many become part of the Covenant. After what they experience as property, the need to stop it from happening to another brings them on board. Most will never be able to go home; after all big brother is always watching.”

“I thought everyone began their training in Jerusalem.”

“Those recruited for leadership positions do,” Saul said. 

Ben looked at them both, and after a moment said, “You mean not everyone gets such intense training from those clearly at the top of their chosen field in the organization?”

Diana shook her head fighting a smile, and Saul said, “See, and you said he was idiot.”

“No,” she replied. “I said you were both idiots.”

“Diana,” Nora said walking up. “We received a request for assistance. Malcolm has some runaways for us, three girls and two boys.”

“When?” Diana asked.


Diana nodded, and turned to Ben, regarding him thoughtfully for moment. “I have another first for you.”



Saul and Diana were quiet as they drove through the countryside. Everything was the deepest most vibrant shades of green. It was such a drastic difference from the desert. Pulling up to the ruins of an old castle, he noticed a country house on a hill about half a mile away. Diana got out of the van and picked her way through the ruins, disappearing inside.

“There are people in vampire society that do what they can to help those on the bottom rung,” Saul said. “They don’t know each other personally, all contact is done through landline phones and post cards. All cell phones, computers and anything that leaves a trace is avoided. We know their names, but they do not know us. Nora set up this underground railroad herself years ago, and we’ve managed to rescue quite a few runaways.”

Diana stepped out of the castle shaking her head. She looked toward the hill and came over to the driver’s side of the van. “Something’s wrong,” she said to Saul. “They are always waiting for us.”

They stared at one another for a long moment and then glanced at Ben.

“We need to know if he’s been compromised,” Diana said.

Saul got out of the van and said, “I don’t suppose you’d be fine waiting here?”

“Someone has to watch your backs,” he replied.

“That’s what I figured,” Saul said.

Keeping to the trees, they made their way up the hill, and around a greenhouse and two sheds, until they were behind an old dilapidated stone cottage. Through the walls they had a good shot of the front of the house.

“Nadine,” Diana said under her breath.

A black sedan was parked in front of the house, with a blue van right behind it. Standing in front the house was a woman dressed all in black, with hair so blond it was almost white. She was facing an older looking man, with salt and pepper hair, who was blocking the entrance to his house. Even from where they were Ben could see the tension in the woman, the threat. Standing by the van were three hulking men and another woman watching the confrontation, and they were all vampires.

He glanced at Saul who said, “Nadine Wells, their top enforcer, nasty piece of work.”

Another black sedan pulled up, and a man who appeared to be in his thirties, with blond hair almost as white as the woman’s got out of the back. Ben noticed the fine cut of his suit, and everything appeared to shine it looked so new. Looking around the property, he shook his head slightly and stood before Malcolm.

“Not good,” Saul muttered, exchanging glances with Diana.

“I have to say Malcolm,” the blond haired man said, “when Nadine came to me with your treason I found it hard to believe. Law and order are what hold a society together. How many times did you say that to me growing up?”

“Laws that hold a society together shouldn’t tear apart the souls of its citizens,” Malcolm replied.

The blond man nodded, and the four enforcers disappeared inside, while Nadine smiled smugly. Screams split the air, and the runaways were dragged from the house.

“Joshua this isn’t right,” Malcolm pleaded. “Look at them. What if that was your brother or your sister?”

Joshua glanced at their captives and said, “But they’re not Malcolm. The law is the law.” 

One of the young women struggled, and twisted herself out of the hold the enforcer had her in. Running to Joshua, she fell to her knees. “Please, its hell. I can’t go back.”

He looked at her coldly, and an enforcer pulled her to her feet.

“I declare my right to plead my case to the king!” she yelled, her eyes glued to Joshua.

He shook his head saying, “You should have done that before you ran away.”

“But I only just found out I could!”

“Ignorance of the law doesn’t mean you get to bypass it,” he replied. “Load them into the van.”

“No!” she screamed. “Don’t send me back. Please, I can’t take it anymore. Please Mr. Ayers. Please!”

Malcolm stepped forward slipping a hand into his pocket. Just as the runaways were about to be loaded into the van, several small explosions rocked the property, shattering the glass of the greenhouse. A noxious smoke enveloped the yard, and screams erupted from the runaways.

“Go!” Malcolm yelled. “Run!”

“Shit,” Saul muttered. “Diana.”

She disappeared silently around the cottage. They could hear the muffled yells of the vampires searching for the runaways. Suddenly one of the young men materialized out of the haze. When he got close enough to see them, he froze, terrified.

Ben stepped forward holding up his hands. “We we’re the ones coming to get you from Malcolm.”

The young man looked over his shoulder and then nodded. Ben turned to Saul and stopped. Reacting instinctually, he dropped to his knee, and turned sweeping the leg of the enforcer who‘d come up behind them. As he fell, Ben grabbed a thick jagged branch, and drove it into his heart.

Saul was looking at him approvingly, and said, “Smart thinking, now it just looks like…” He looked at the runaway questioningly. 

“Maurice,” the young man said.

“Now it just looks like Maurice got the jump on him.”

They started moving silently through the trees toward the ruins. Suddenly Diana appeared, carrying an unconscious girl over her shoulder.


They all dropped to the ground, and saw the girl who’d begged Joshua for mercy, breaking away from two of the enforcers. The noxious smoke had dissipated enough to see the other boy and girl subdued, while Malcolm was on his knees, hands behind his back, in front of Joshua. The girl ran towards the trees incredibly fast, coming right at them. A shot rang out, and she fell to the ground wailing.

Nadine walked up, holstering her gun. “Pathetic,” she said. “Suck it up little girl. I survived my ten years, in fact, I found my power. My Baltasar made me stronger, better. I’m grateful for what he helped me discover about myself. Watch, listen, and focus, and if you’re strong enough you will one day have the power I do.”

“I don’t want to be anything like you!” the girl shouted. “You psychotic fucking bitch! Why would I want to be a lap dog for them? Power. You’re a fucking thing, broken and twisted-”

Nadine’s eyes turned black, and the girl was silenced, a hole in her chest. Smiling, she wiped her bloody hand on the girl’s clothes.

“Temper Nadine,” Joshua said.

Licking the last bit of blood from her fingers, she said, “There’s plenty more like this one, and her whining was grating on my nerves.”

Grabbing the girl’s arm, she dragged her across the yard, and threw her into the house. The other two runaways were forced into the van, while Malcolm was put in Joshua’s car. Joshua stood looking at the house for a moment, then nodding to Nadine he got in the car. 

Ben was tapped on the shoulder, and they picked their way down the hill towards the castle. “Find the other two!” Nadine yelled, and they picked up the pace.

They reached the van, and as Maurice got in he said, “Let me take her. When she wakes up, she won’t panic if I’ve got her.”

Diana carefully handed the girl to Maurice, and shut the door. As they drove away a plume of smoke rose from the house.

“They’re burning it,” Saul said.

“I guess Malcolm won’t be coming home then,” Diana muttered.

“Poor Becka,” Maurice said. “At least it was quick.”

“I’m sorry,” Ben said.

“She knew what she was doing,” Maurice said, looking down at the girl in his arms. “Death was the better option. Now she’s free.” 



Ben was sitting on a bench, staring out at the rows of vegetables. Nora sat down next to him, and looked out at the fields not saying a word. 

“How are the two we managed to rescue?” he asked.

“Maurice, is doing well, considering, in fact he’s already expressed an interest in joining us. The girl has been so thoroughly terrorized, the only one she trusts is Maurice. They were both owned by the same vampire, along with the other girl who was killed.”

Ben rested his elbows on his knees, picking out every person walking around the fields. All of them were men and women liberated from similar hells by the Covenant. He kept seeing the girl screaming, begging not to be sent back. It brought back memories of other faces full of anguish and horror, faces that haunted him day and night for years. “I’m a soldier,” he said finally. “I’ve seen the depths to which humanity can sink. There were times I couldn’t sleep because of what I’d see when I closed my eyes. It cost me...” He shook his head and rubbed his eyes. “I was there, and I couldn‘t do anything. When Malcolm said, what if they were your brother or sister, Ayers’s response was they’re not. They didn’t matter, they were nothing to him. What did the girl mean when she declared her right to plead her case to the king?”

Nora took a deep breath and said, “A loophole to the ten years of bondage women have to endure under vampire law. If you declare your right to be heard by the king, the vampire who made you has no choice, he has to let you see Alexander or David. If he doesn’t, they will kill him, it’s the law. The issue is finding out you have that right, most never know until after their ten years are over.”

“What happens when they see Valmont?”

“Alexander and David release almost every one of the women who reach them,” Mary said sitting down. “They are deemed safe to be on their own, and granted full rights of citizenship. No one can touch them. Violence against women isn‘t tolerated, once they‘re full citizens that is.”

“Almost every one?”

“It’s rare that they don’t,” Mary replied. “So you can understand why most vampires keep the loophole to themselves. There is no law stating they have to inform women of their right. I think it demonstrates clearly that Alexander and David know the bonding decade is wrong. But it doesn’t mean they step in and help anyone. Whether they agree with, or approve, of how a woman is treated during her ten years of bondage makes no difference. As you heard Joshua say, the law is the law.”

“I’m guessing humans don’t even have that recourse.”

“They are slaves,” she said. “As David puts it, a means to an end, nothing more.”

“Convenient. This has to end.”

“We agree,” Mary replied.

“Her pleas didn’t faze him at all,” he muttered. 

“That’s Joshua,” Nora said. “While there are many vampires more vicious, there are few that are as cold. He follows the laws of the Tyrants to the letter. There are no extenuating circumstances or justifiable reasons. Joshua will listen, then cut your head off. He models himself after David, the coldest of them all. Even Alexander has a reputation for being more merciful. You see, David holds himself to the highest standards, and expects everyone else to do the same. If one of their people doesn’t measure up, he kills them, without hesitation or remorse. He makes examples of them. Thankfully for most vampires and humans alike, the chances of meeting him are slim to none. We fall into that category. But if you ever find yourself in a room with David Rourke, look for the nearest exit and get out quick. Deadly is an understatement.”




© Copyright 2018 Lucinda Paige. All rights reserved.


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