Excerpt from Mortal Death: Book I
“You can’t possibly be serious.”
“I am. As a heart attack. I’m telling you to stay home.”
“I can’t. Every employee has to be there. If you’re breathing, you’d better drag your sorry ass outta bed, because it is an honor to meet one so high up on the food chain, not to mention our boss and the owner of the casino.”
“Bitch, I’m tellin’ you to stay the fuck home. There are other jobs. You don’t have to kiss nasty vamp ass to get ahead, you know.”
“Goddamn it, Nico, not everyone can be as fortunate as you and work for the Russians or the French. Hell, I’d settle for working for anyone human at this point, but I don’t have a choice, and you damn well know it. So get the hell out of my way and let me go to work.”
I eyed my brother angrily, knowing he was tempted to try his warlock shit on me, but he finally relented and slumped down on the sofa in defeat.
He was very good looking, even if he was angry.
Our world had changed, yet it had stayed the same. My favorite French quote was now even more apt: Plus ça change, plus ça la même chose. Or, if one is more partial to Italian, Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa proclaims in The Leopard: “If we want things to stay as they are, everything must change.” Yes, that quote works too.
I guess life isn’t much different now than it was ten years ago, back in 2010. The only difference is that just a select few knew about vampires then, and vampires hadn’t yet received their rights.
They were crafty motherfuckers, you have to give them that much. They launched their platform and tied it inextricably to homosexual rights. Can you believe that shit? Yep, they equated themselves with gays and said their civil rights were being “trampled upon”. Who had been eating whom all these centuries? Last time I checked, vamps never gave a damn about humans except as a food source. But, like most homosexuals, they were highly intelligent, wealthy and a select minority. They thrived. They were able to grease the wheels and buy politicians, and fifty years after the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was passed, the Civil Rights Act of 2014 was a shoe-in; Congress passed the bill 401 to 99 and the Senate 98 to 2 (the two senators who hadn’t agreed didn’t live to see the year 2015). The law extended full civil rights, including marriage, to homosexuals and to vampires. Now the gay rights, I can understand—they’re human. Vampires, well, let’s just say something is definitely rotten in the state of Denmark. I mean that in a Shakespearean way, not in an “I have something against Danes” way.
No one could understand how they accomplished it, but they did. There they were, the twenty dead motherfuckers who make up The International Vampire Council, smiling with the President of the United States of America (this was before we joined the Anglophone Union due to trade issues, a crippled U.S. economy and immigration from “less desirable nations”) as he signed the bill into law. They looked so odd, with their waxy skin and slightly elongated canines. You could almost imagine their fangs unsheathed, almost see all of the blood they must have shed over the centuries. Oh, it was disgusting, but like a car crash, or an old episode of The X-Factor, you were transfixed, or at least I was.
So, what is my beef with vamps, you ask?
They are sexy, aren’t they? We’ve seen the movies and the television shows, we know what they are and all about their plight. We understand their issues with us and we know their legends, and how grotesquely old they can become. We know they aren’t all killers; that they can decide to feed on us and allow us to live. We know all about their skills of persuasion, how they can hypnotize us to make us do what they want, or make us forget we have been bitten at all. We know vampire concubines take Vitamin B-12 and hope and pray their blood isn’t so sweet or alluring that a vamp accidentally kills them one night in the middle of a sex act.
I admit it: I am a live-and-let-live type. I wouldn’t have shit against the bloodsucking undead if they hadn’t killed my father and kidnapped my mother. Yeah, she is now one of the undead, too. She was very valuable. Besides being a witch, she knew a lot of shit about vampires. She was also a cold-hearted bitch who was fucking a vampire on the side while still with our father. We weren’t sure exactly what happened to our father. Her lover was sent to ground for murdering a very “valuable” human and my mom was made into a vampire for her troubles. Unfortunately, she couldn’t take us with her, so my brother and I became orphans at the age of ten.
A nice set up, eh?
Nico and I kept in contact, despite what happened to us once we were taken in by the system, also known as the Children’s Protection Agency. My brother was good-looking, innocuous and charismatic—he was adopted immediately. Me? I was mouthy with an attitude, plus I looked too “ethnic.” I stayed in the system. Nicolas was a child prodigy with a photographic memory and an IQ of nearly 200, and thus provided a very good education and graduated from Stanford Business School. I wasn’t so lucky; for True Blood fans, I’m the Jason Stackhouse to my brother’s Sookie.
Don’t get me wrong, I am considered good-looking, sexy, and get my fair share of complimentary looks from both sides of the sexual aisle. I might have looked too ethnic growing up, but as an adult it turns out I am pretty desirable after all. I have skin the color of caramel, a perpetual tan that never fades and only darkens if I am in the sun. My eyes are dark and my sable-brown, cherry highlighted hair is curly—a flat iron is my best friend. It is probably one of my most arresting traits; I like my hair because I can change it to look like a white girl with a deep tan, or I can keep it curly and instantly look like the mulatto I am. I inherited my father’s French nose and fine bone structure, along with my mother’s blend of African, Native American and Irish features, blessing me with high cheekbones and bee-stung lips.
My brother could be a dead ringer for a young Vin Diesel. He has a full head of beautiful dark brown hair that he chooses to shave off. He looks yummy as a baldy, but I would prefer him with hair. His eyes are his most alluring trait—gray-green, they complement his masculine nose, etched facial structure, and generous mouth. He is tall, almost 6’2, and slim yet athletic at one hundred and eighty-five pounds.
I would like to think I have a lovely shape, too, but at 5’3 and one hundred and thirty pounds, I have a little “junk in my trunk.” Hence why I am a dealer at Transylvania Hotel, Casino & Spa instead of a cocktail waitress. Transylvania, you get it? The vamps love irony, too bad they don’t actually get it.
My specialty is poker, but I don’t like dealing in the high stakes rooms (too many Asian vamps congregate there, and they are willing to pay for anything). I insulted a customer one night and ended up at the Let It Ride table for my troubles. I get a steady stream of customers, but my table closes early so I only work thirty hours per week, technically part-time, and I don’t have to deal with vamps, thank God.
The Let It Ride table is a fun derivative of poker in which you don’t actually play against other players but against the House itself. Anything with two cards higher than 10’s in your three cards is a winner, and you can win even more depending on what the House is holding. The odds are too much in favor of the mark, as we call gamblers, and thus the reason the game isn’t open more than six hours per day, five days per week. I work Tuesday through Saturday, with Sundays and Mondays off. As I am the only Let It Ride dealer at Transylvania, the table is closed otherwise.
Unfortunately, tonight, on what usually is my night off, I have to go in. No choice, as the owner of Transylvania Casino, Mikkel Damgaard, is gracing us with his presence. It couldn’t have been Saturday night, oh no—he was too busy having his waxy white ass kissed at the ultra-posh, seven-star Damgaard Hotel, Spa & Casino, which sits on the most lucrative real estate on Las Vegas Boulevard, also known as The Strip. Transylvania is nothing, a five-star, pseudo-palace of a hotel located in Summerlin, a very opulent and beautiful suburb of Las Vegas, but a suburb all the same.
I should inform you now, that most of the gaming industry is controlled by vamps, as is the pharmaceutical industry. They chased out the mob and the corporations (fear of death will do that to us mere mortals) around the same time they got their civil rights and proceeded to take over. Whatever hold the Americans and Europeans had on the pharmaceutical industry was pretty much wiped out during the stock crash of 2019, the year Vamp Pharmaceuticals came out with cures for every kind of cancer and HIV/AIDS. They were able to ruin Pfizer, Johnson & Johnson, Eli Lily, GlaxoSmithKline, et al, because their cures were dirt cheap for developing countries (they damn near gave ’em away in most of Africa, Asia, Central and South America) while competitively priced in high-income countries. They managed to sink most of the pharmacy giants even before their cures for the common cold, erectile dysfunctions, and vaccinations for every known communicable disease hit the market. It’s kind of hard to discriminate against an entire race of creatures who were not only giving you drugs to help you live, but drugs to get you high as well.
Once the Prohibition Repeal of 2018 was enacted, and the ATF became the NATF—the Bureau of Narcotics, Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms—vamps decided to make legal, synthetic forms of all street drugs. Nothing became as popular as vampire blood or “VA neg,” as it’s called on the streets. Contrary to what you may have heard, it’s not a psychedelic at all, but it is a stimulant that not only gives you enormous amounts of energy and a sex drive that is out of this world, but it also heightens your senses to a level you wouldn’t believe. You can get a prescription, but the best stuff comes straight from the source—a vampire lover, if you have one—or is found on the streets, where it comes in powder form. It looks like red cocaine (due to being mixed with aspirin) and you snort it.
Instead of dealing with “crack babies,” hospitals were faced with VA-neg-addicted babies until Vamp Pharmaceutical came up with a nice little cure-all for that too, with no side effects. They began and ended an epidemic within the same year.
I know what you’re thinking: the bastards have taken over the world, but they’re wealthy and part of mainstream society—how bad can they truly be? They even came up with the nifty idea of blood banks, where humans who can’t afford medical treatment can be cured for free in return for a few pints of blood. Vamps have an endless supply of real human blood to feed on, and they have saved humanity from the brink of destruction at the same time.
Believe me when I tell you they aren’t doing it to be altruistic. They couldn’t give a damn about us; they have been complaining for years about the quality of human blood and how far it has slipped down the food chain. Their “magic” cures for humans were to help them, not us. They wanted better tasting blood. Imagine being stuck in a world full of Budweiser when you remember what Beck’s, Heineken and Carlsberg taste like. The unique flavors of Belgian and German lagers, the subtle differences between Swedish and Danish, or Mexican and Chilean beer. Well, that’s where vampires found themselves in the early part of the twenty-first century. Human blood tasted like shit. We were polluting our environment, low-income countries were experiencing industrial revolutions, and everything had gone from sugar to shit. They had to expose themselves to help us or face their own extinction.
Vampires were committing suicide en masse or going to ground. They no longer wanted to live. They found themselves in the same existentialist crisis humans had endured during the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. Blood had no taste, and humans would soon be extinct at the rate they were destroying their own environment. Mother Earth heaved from too many souls aboard and shitty health to boot. What could the vamps possibly do?
Well, for one, the oldest twenty, who hadn’t gone to ground, decided to stop the war with the humans and become part of society. They became politicians, bureaucrats, and company owners, stockholders and taxpayers. The International Vampire Council officially helped with the creation of the new G6 (or Global Six as it is known). Once the European and African Unions fell apart in the second decade of the twenty-first century, the IVC personally aided the formation of new inter-country and continental unions.
The Anglophone Union (AU) is part of the Global Six, and is still ruled by the United States, albeit tentatively. Unfortunately, Americans aren’t citizens of the U.S. anymore, but of the AU, which consists of the States, all the former Providences of Canada (except Québec), New Zealand, Australia, England, Wales, Scotland, Israel and a united Ireland. The other members of the G6 include the Francophone Union (FU members include France and its former colonies like St. Martin and Guadalupe, Québec, the French-speaking part of Switzerland, formerly Belgian Wallonia and Monaco); the Great Nordic Regional Union (GNRU members include the almighty Germany, Austria, all the rest of Switzerland, the formerly Belgian Flanders, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, Liechtenstein, and the entire Scandinavian region of Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Finland and Iceland); Japan (mostly controlled by centuries-old Japanese vampires, who were quietly converting as much of the population as possible to prevent the dreaded race-mixing); China (the new “old powerhouse,” due to the manufacturing of cheap but inferior goods) and India (technology kings supreme).
Despite the vampires’ sphere of influence, the world is still a hot mess. It’s biblical how fucked up things are, but life has never been smooth sailing—we live in the world of the twenty-four hour news cycle, where television and computers are updated every microsecond. That is a lot of news to ingest. People get their kicks from their eReaders (“dead tree” books are so 2010), 300 terabyte computers and 80 terabyte iPods—yes, they’re still around, just more compact than ever, as are cell phones and laptops. The pesky devices can fit in your handbag, and with the push of a button they can become full use, life-size devices. Advances in technology have included iPad and eReader devices that use the same technology of the now defunct laptop, not like those old monochrome Kindles we had when I was growing up. Those used to be the shit—I do remember that much.
Okay, so now that you know more about what the world is currently like, I can tell you what my brother and I were fighting about. He doesn’t want me to go to work tonight because he has a “bad feeling.” What the hell does that mean? I have no idea, as he’s the warlock, not me. I didn’t get any special abilities from either of our parents. I’m not a mathematical wizard like Dad and I’m not a witch like Mom. Nope, all the good shit went to Nico—and all I’m left with is well, the crappy throwaway genes. There is absolutely nothing special about me whatsoever.
I’m smart but not super smart like my brother. I do have common sense, which isn’t so common, as we all know. I should realize my brother would never warn me about anything (let alone call me a bitch) unless it was serious and he truly did fear for my life. Unfortunately, I am barely hanging on at the moment. I am living with him and Drake (his boyfriend) because my ex and I broke up. I can’t afford a place of my own so I have no choice. I am trying to save up but it’s hard and life hasn’t exactly gotten easier.
Now that all these stupid Unions were created in the world, it’s not just American idiots competing for the same tired ass jobs. You have your fellow Canucks, English, Welsh, Scots, Aussies, Kiwis, Irish and Israelis to worry about too. Yes, we can travel to anywhere in the Union but let’s face it: most people don’t have wanderlust. Though we are part of this grand Union, the vast majority of us have stayed put in the countries we grew up in. The only thing I have in common with a chick from Sydney or Manchester or Edmonton is we all speak English, full stop. We can still even tell which part of the Union fellow citizens come from because there has been no blending of peoples...most have stayed right where their ancestors have lived for hundreds of years. To be honest, the only people doing the moving are vampires and low income immigrants who now have residency permits and can work anywhere in the Union. The dream about “freedom of movement”, the same tired ass line used to justify the former European Union and our current one, is a just that, a joke and a dream.
My problems were my own and to put it succinctly, I couldn’t really blame anyone but myself. How nice it would have been for me to lay my issues at the feet of my mother, the jacked up system or even vampires, but at the end of the day, I am an adult and have been for the past ten years, according to the state of Nevada at least. If I still don’t have my feet firmly on the ground, no one is at fault but me.
I suppose my pragmatism is what stopped my brother from using his powers against me. He knew that above all, I could take care of myself. I am a lot of things but self-loathing and suicidal aren’t in the picture. If I knew of any real danger to my person, I would have listened to his warnings but I know myself better than him and in the end, he had to concede to this fact.
“Just watch yourself tonight, okay? I would die if anything happened to you,” Nicolas whispered.
“Will do, little brother,” I responded sarcastically.
“Who you callin’ little? You’re only older than me by forty minutes!”
“Yes but that’s forty minutes I have been in this world longer than you. What did I tell you about respectin’ your elders?”
“Whatever. Just watch your ass, all right?”
“I promise I will.”
Excerpt from Better off Immortal
1 January, 2021
Greetings friends, enemies, frenemies, those who I have not yet met in life or death and everyone in between. This is the second novel in The Vamp Saga appropriately titled Better Off Dead. Very hip if I don’t mind saying so myself seeing as I am the one who came up with the moniker.
As you may or may not know, you can read these novels as standalones or follow the series religiously. Would you listen if I politely tell you to skip Mortal Death: Book I altogether as there is a lot of whining, a gluttony of unnecessary melodrama and Manon acts like a straight up Mary Sue? Seriously, how believable is it for some drop dead gorgeous man with plenty of money to sweep down and rescue a mere Let It Ride dealer? Close to as possible as me cutting off my own nut sack and making a meal out of them.
Sorry I haven’t introduced myself, but you will learn about me soon enough. All you need to know is that I was never mentioned in the first book so that is a major sore point for me as well. I am extremely important on this journey and I was completely ignored. Then again, my father didn’t invite me to Las Vegas either so why would you know about me?
This letter is a simply an introduction to let you know you are about to enter a world you could only dream you’d been warned about in Death Wish. I won’t continue for very much longer lest I bore you, as I have required the unfortunate reputation of being “long winded”. Can you imagine? The horror and for God’s sake, I am strictly a hetero man but I see nothing wrong with indulging in the delicious acts of female lives.
One last bit of advice: throw away all the “knowledge” you think you’ve learned about supernatural creatures. Nine times of out ten, most of them are half-truths, myths or flat out lies. And remember to let go of that mortal coil. Our world is much different from yours and what would be considered an extreme act of depravity for a human to indulge in merely is a vampire or Day Walker or Lycan’s way (a.k.a. werewolf) of warming up.
Enjoy, don’t forget I warned you, and although you are under no obligation to finish this book, I have a feeling you will and you’ll enjoy every decadent second of it.
Zahara walked with the authority that her Presidential position allotted her. She strolled past the two werewolf guards and directly to the crypt. It was the latest in technology, made from impenetrable metal and required an iris scan before the impossibly heavy doors would allow entry. She stared into the iris-scan machine, which worked quietly and efficiently. Moments later, she was inside the dark crypt which was only lit by several well placed low-wattage bulbs meant to mimic the intimacy of candles but without the fire hazard.
She was a beautiful woman, a representation of youth forever with her dusky complexion, long, black hair arranged in a tasteful chignon, yellow-brown eyes, Roman-shaped nose, cheekbones most women would murder their newborn children to possess and a full, kissable mouth.
Dressed to the nines as usual, she wore a vintage, pale pink Chanel suit, matching Yves Saint Laurent Tribute stiletto pumps which made her look every inch the regal and superior position the International Vampire Council had allotted to her. It was currently her title now but however much longer she would hold on to it would eventually fall under The Council’s discretion.
If she had a beating heart, it would have pounded itself right out of her chest. She was so close, yet so far away from her maker. Her breath caught in her throat. Her body, however, continued onward toward her journey to the coffin.
It was exquisite, made from Baccarat crystal and gold. The casket itself weighed a ton but it had not been moved in centuries; not since Her Highness had been transferred from Mikkel’s château just inside the boundaries of
to one of the most exclusive banks in Ile-de-France
and one of the few which had a crypt. Geneva
She would be safe here, free from harm. Regardless how much it cost the IVC to protect her and to lease this space, it was worth it. The only priority was keeping Her Highness in one piece until the day came when she could rise to power and claim that which belonged to her.
Zahara looked forlornly at the mummy and felt herself grow angrier by the second. That bitch, Manon, and that Judas of a traitor, Mikkel, ought to be dragged down here and made to bleed out over Her Highnesses’ mouthpiece until they were drained of every last drop of their blood. That should allow their royal Queen the ability to become a Day Walker and when it was all said and done, she deserved the ability and power to sit at the top of the food chain, whereas those two murderous traitors did not.
Mikkel thought he was so intelligent and crafty; between his duplicitous behavior and the way he acted like that whore was the best thing since sliced bread. He should be thoroughly ashamed of himself; he’d married a blood relative, after all.
So have you, a voice inside her whispered but she bid it to be silent. It was true; as the maker and wife of Kristoff Damgaard, he was a relative, albeit a distant one and they had very little DNA in common.
Mikkel’s sin was that much greater because Manon was closer linked to him than what was legally sanctioned for Council members. If they only knew...but to tell would be the death of her and after two thousand years, she still wasn’t ready to go. She’d never been to ground because she feared death more than anything in the world. She needed to live and to be alive, even if she was technically dead. She needed to see life as it changed, shaped, morphed into something completely different from her childhood, which seemed life-years away. What was she on about? Her childhood was actually life years away and many, many lifetimes upon that.
Zahara knew part of her reasoning for wanting them dead was simple jealousy. Mikkel was a fabulous lover; true, he wasn’t Kristoff, but he was very good and quite skilled in the lovemaking department. Now that he’d taken a wife, she could no longer sleep with him on demand. She would first have to make sure it was copacetic with that cunt, which didn’t sit well with her. Why should she have to ask anyone’s permission to do anything at her age?
There was also the small technicality that Mikkel was repulsed by her. He hated to touch her; to make love to her. Something about her turned his very stomach. She could only deduce it was a sliver of his humanity which still resented her for turning his brother, who in turn made him. Had that not happened, he’d have been dead hundreds of years ago but he would always curse her and blame her for his fate in life as a vampire.
Correction: Day Walker.
He was no longer a mere vampire. He was superior to her in every way, as was his bitch wife, unfortunately. Although she hated to think about this harsh fact, it was true. She couldn’t overpower them and to be honest, she wouldn’t ever attempt to. She had more immediate worries to think about, like her impending suspension from the IVC, along with Geoff, Filipp and Anastasiya. They had only been doing what was just and correct, yet they were still punished by those Frog ass-kissers, Hervé and Irene. Well, one technical Frog…the other was just a wannabe who had spent so many years in France she might as well be French even if she wasn’t ethnically French.
“Madame President, your presence is required,” a male voice announced reverentially.
Zahara turned to see one of the werewolf guards—his name escaped her but his accent was Swiss German, so perhaps it was Hans or Jürgen or one of those hard-to-pronounce Teutonic names—and smiled condescendingly.
“One moment, please. Can you wait outside? I would like to spend a few more moments with my Highness.”
The guard nodded affirmatively and exited the room.
Good doggy, Zahara thought coldly.
She placed her hands on the coffin and although she had no wish to leave marks, she couldn’t help the feeling of overwhelming desire which had swelled into the heart of her body.
“Just a little while longer, my Queen. I will be back for you with their heads on a plate and soon, you will be able to feel the gentle kiss of sunlight on your skin. It is only a matter of time.”
She kissed the coffin, gathered her composure and walked out, followed by the werewolf guards as the double doors closed behind her with a resounding thud.
* * *
Hervé and Irene sat next to one another in a grand and opulent former palace in Geneva which had been transformed into the Global Six government offices.
Although physical opposites—Hervé with his light brown hair, alabaster skin, typical Northern French features and steel blue eyes while Irene possessed classically Scandinavian features despite her skin being the color of rich mocha and her eyes, a deep amber-brown—they were more alike than different in terms of the philosophical and political outlook on vampire life along with the powerful positions they held within the IVC.
Though Zahara was President, most of The Council looked toward Irene and Hervé for moral guidance. The President, currently held under the leadership of the volatile old vampire might as well have been a figurehead position as far as most of the twenty-member Council was concerned.
The G-6 Conference had yet to start but they had purposefully arrived early just to talk shop. Something needed to be done about the rogues in their midst. The IVC was a legitimate and civilized organization; since when did members decide to play vigilantes and try to murder one another over silly blood feuds and supremacy? The behavior had to be brought under control lest the whole organization be dragged down along with it.
“Seriously, what can we do?” Irene asked. “Zahara is President but her behavior...the attempted murder of Mikkel and Manon. We cannot allow her to get away with such madness. Imagine the implications if she goes unpunished.”
Hervé sipped from his Sang Pur. “Believe me, I have thought about this and at the moment, I truly don’t know what to do. She is so out of control. Perhaps we should give some thought to resurrecting Kristoff. I am against it under normal circumstances of course, but even though she is his maker he’s the only one who could truly control her.”
“I think that will lead to nothing but trouble. Kristoff knows too much about Manon’s true heritage. He’s always been a live wire. It is not our place to interfere with a matter that has nothing to do with the IVC.”
“You don’t think Manon’s paternity has anything to do with the IVC? My God...”
“It’s a bit too late to be asking for His help.” Irene stood and grabbed her second Sang Pur. She was particularly thirsty today. “Right or wrong, that truly is Mikkel and Manon’s issue to work out. He must have his reasons for not telling her and who are we to second guess his motives? It’s obvious he loves her very much and they are truly perfect for one another.”
“Good grief, Irene, they are prototypes and we can never forget that. Manon needs to be studied and that is going to be an outright mess. Mengele will begin his testing and Mikkel will blow a gasket. He will hate for her to be in pain. These kinds of emotions—we as vampires were never supposed to feel them. I don’t know which is worse...the fact that they are Day Walkers or their emotions. They are much closer to human beings in an emotional capacity than we are. Hasn’t that ever given you food for thought?”
“Of course it has, Hervé. Their range of emotions is a bit frightening as we are supposed to be so cold and detached. I sometimes miss that aspect of my humanity, but at the same time, it colors the situation and takes away from the big picture. We will be asked to do something very barbaric today and I don’t think either one of them truly has the capacity to stand it. That is not only a problem but an issue. This isn’t about how we feel about humanity...this is merely about shedding the herd and making room for vampire growth...cementing our hold on the mortals and letting them know who’s in charge of whom.”
“True. The big picture is all that matters. Humans and slaughter have been synonymous for decades, centuries. We cannot change this; we can only make it that much more humane. It isn’t like we’re sending anyone to the gas chamber. Regardless, we will hear them out and pretend to contemplate our answer. It is never a good idea to show our hand right away. We can never allow letting our guard down around the humans.”
“Agreed,” Irene mused softly, “but in the meantime, we will gauge their behavior. If Geoff, Anastasiya, Filipp and Zahara can control themselves and show an air of leadership, we shan’t punish them too harshly. After all, they were only doing what all of us were thinking but were too chickenshit to act upon due to our own fears.”
“’Tis true but I would have never pulled a stunt like that. I have known from the beginning they were both stronger than we could ever be. I treasure my life as much as you treasure yours. I have no wish to meet my maker at this point in my life.”
Irene turned toward Hervé and laughed out loud. “Neither do I, my love. Neither do I.”
It was a sheer revelation to arrive in the beautiful Swiss city of
I had never been out of the United States before, let alone anywhere else in the AU, but I found myself in a whole other world.
was located, technically, in the FU but we were only a stone’s through from the
GNRU. To think, I was paying for purchases with FU franc but I also had GNRU
mark-crowns as well. Mikkel had business in Geneva shortly after the
conference before we would head directly to Denmark . France
It was so exciting to be in another place, another city. The weather was of no surprise; by the morning we’d left Vegas, the calm autumn-like temps had turned blistery cold. There was a high of thirty-two degrees the afternoon we left
and we arrived in Las
Vegas to temps of twenty-eight degrees. Geneva
The weather was perfect for fur coats and leather boots, sweater tunics, velvet leggings and luxurious Hermès silk scarves. I was in fashion heaven. High fashion was made for autumn-winter and Mikkel had made it his life’s mission that I would be well-prepared for the season.
The afternoon we arrived, there were personal shoppers from some of the top fashion houses in Europe. They were there to take my measurements before they opened up their catalogues to me. Money wasn’t an issue. I dropped more money in one afternoon than I’d made in my entire lifetime of working, and I’d had a steady job since the age of sixteen.
How could I ever regret the decision to become Mikkel’s bride when he treated me like a princess? I couldn’t have asked for a better spouse. He was absolutely perfect; well, not quite, but as close to perfection as a Day Walker could get.
Although he held my hand and truly tried to be cheerful and make an effort to see my smile, the sadness and despondency radiating from his body was palpable to me.
“My love, what is wrong?” I finally inquired.
We sat in the back of a stretch limousine in the sheer height of luxury but Mikkel didn’t seem to give it much thought at all.
“I’m sorry. It’s me and this goddamn G-6 conference. I know what it is about and although I should have been completely honest with you, I truly don’t see how that will change anything. The discussions you will hear today might color your whole feelings of what you consider the best aspects of mortals. I just hate you have to approach such a situation this way without the opportunity to know everything that’s going on.”
I looked at Mikkel longingly. “Why don’t you enlighten me?”
“I could…but it’s best you hear it for yourself. Can you promise me something? Regardless what happens, will you please keep your temper in check? You might hear some very emotional issues being discussed and now is the time to steel yourself.”
“What exactly are you trying to say? Do you think I won’t be able to handle the G-6 Conference? I’m tougher than I look, Mikk. I am not going to embarrass the IVC and I promise to keep my mouth shut. There is no way I would risk The Council, regardless what I hear discussed—do you understand me?”
He took my hand into his and kissed it gently. “I’m sorry I doubted you. I have not been looking forward to this and knowing what comes next afterwards, well...I just feel so useless at the moment.”
“We can get through this like we have overcome every other opposition in our lives: together, standing side-by-side. Do you understand that? I will always be here for you and you will always be here for me. There is nothing that is strong enough to break us. Stop it with all the sentimental talk this instant. We’ll be fine, all right?”
“Yes, my love.”
I smiled before I kissed his warm soft lips. I would need that just to keep myself steady during the long boring conference, which, unfortunately, awaited us.
* * *
We sat next to Irene and Hervé, who both looked like they each had swallowed a canary. The members of the IVC were on one side of a long elaborate conference table while the leaders and representatives of the G-6 sat opposite of us.
I could tell from their looks of derision and apprehension most of them equated doing business with us on The Council as the equivalent of making a deal with the devil. Unfortunately, mortals had grown so drunk on their own omnipotence and power, they preferred not to do the wet work anymore. If they could outsource it, they would and that is where we, as members of the IVC, came into the picture. The humans had a growing problem and they expected us to come up with a plan, impose the necessary action and sweep it all under the rug. I was learning more quickly than I would have imagined that human beings were all the same. They’d placed so much emphasis on their physical and cultural differences, they couldn’t see how pathetically alike they truly were and this was the biggest joke of all.
How could I become emotional at this Conference? To even suggest such a thing was laughable at best and delusional at worst. Mortals simply weren’t worth my pity.
The Chancellor of Germany, Wilhelm Hüher-Schwartzekopf, was busy giving the latest crime statistics of his country and the general picture of what living in modern GNRU was like. It didn’t sound much different from the States or the AU to be honest. There were “no-go” areas for the Fire Department and the Police; some areas were basically lawless zones where crime had spiraled so completely out of control, no self-respecting citizen would be caught dead there; crime was worse in the eastern part of the country than the western part, and particularly bad in areas with high-immigrant populations.
“What is it you expect us to do, Herr Chancellor?” I inquired.
Several members of the IVC—particularly Zahara, Geoff, Filipp and Anastasiya—gave me withering looks of outrage.
“I’m sorry, Frau Damgaard, forgive me for going into such detail.”
“You have no need to be sorry, mein Herr. The G-6 called this meeting to order because you need our help. I don’t mean to diminish your issues when they are in fact all our issues. The vampire community is just as concerned about crime and lawlessness as the mortal community. We realize the need for law and order.
“It’s been difficult for all of you, particularly the European countries affected. You aren’t immigrant countries by nature, not like my homeland of the
or United States , New Zealand and Canada . We
understand the strain rampant immigration from less desirable parts of the
world has caused for your once-great nations. Add a prolonged recession,
massive cuts to the welfare states and pensions pushed well out of ordinary
citizens’ reach and you’re sitting on a powder keg. We either try to solve this
issue now or the proletariats will solve it the only way they know how: civil
The Chancellor’s eyes were watering but his German resolve held and he smiled slightly. “No one wants this to go where it must but...we can’t do what you can to our fellow human beings.”
“Of course you can,” Irene spoke up authoritatively. “It’s been done before and has successfully been dealt with in nations like Russia, Rwanda, the former Yugoslavia, your nation of Germany, Poland, the Darfur region in Sudan...your pitiful human nature simply doesn’t have the stomach for it now and we understand and do not judge you.”
The Prime Minister of England and the President of the
looked at one another before
addressing us directly. United
“This has to be done quietly. There can be no way this must be traced back to the G-6,” Prime Minister Campbell explained softly.
“The citizens would be outraged. There are a lot of people out there who are itching for a race war and this is exactly what we are trying to prevent,” President Smith-Alrawi continued haltingly, then sipped from her glass of Evian.
“As are we,” Mikkel responded dryly. “The issue we have spoken of will never leak outside these walls. Not only that, but we will guarantee you whatever actions we take to...thin the herd, so to speak, will appear random. Your God kills indiscriminately, President, and so shall we.”
President Herveaux-Mugabe of France looked ruffled and less than cool and collected in her designer wear. “What exactly do you have planned? If it is...an outbreak, surely you have the supplies needed to cure the people in society who count, non?”
“You need not worry about that, President. We assure you whatever we as the IVC decide to do, it will be controlled and only affect the poorest of citizens,” Zahara expressed with thinly-disguised distaste.
“Very well then,” Hervé announced. “This meeting is adjourned until this afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. The IVC will discuss our options and let you know what shall be done. Thank you.”
All the head leaders of the free—and not so free—parts of the world filed out and left us alone with our thoughts and one another.
“It must be a pandemic of some kind,” I spoke up. “Anything else will look highly suspicious. The mortal community wouldn’t hesitate to throw us under the bus at any given opportunity. They would if they ever suspected us of any wrongdoing.”
“How do we get around the role Vamp Pharmaceuticals would partake in this endeavor? We have always been fair to the Western world, as well as low-income nations. How could we claim rationing of supplies and not having enough products to meet up with demand?” Klaus inquired reluctantly.
“Let me think about that,” Chiyoko said. “This is definitely something I am going to have to discuss with Dr. Mengele. He is the disease expert.”
William sat up as he poured a Sang Pur. “Something about this whole situation doesn’t sit right with me. I realize mortals are our intellectual and physical inferiors, but to slaughter them like dogs? I don’t like it.”
“I second that,” Dominique responded with firm conviction in her voice. “I just think this is some sort of dirty trick the humans are playing to have something against us. This could lead us into a place we would rather not go.”
“Like what for instance?” Geoff asked. “They’re paying us a shitload of money, and keeping Her Highness in the lifestyle to which she has become accustomed isn’t exactly cheap. We need the infusion of income.”
Irene finished her Sang Pur and opened another. “Dominique has a point. How do we know this isn’t a trap? A decision like this could lead to World War III.”
“Agreed,” Mikkel began. “We have to believe that if there is a section of the vampire community which is preparing for war—and believe me, there is—then there has to be a section of the human community which is doing the same thing. All they need is something like this to get out and it will be an all-out war against the ‘blood suckers’ as they like to call us. They would slaughter us in numbers we haven’t seen since the Holy Wars and the Spanish Inquisition. This whole unknown part about our particular situation scares me beyond what I can express in words.”
“You’re a Day Walker, why should you be scared?” Siobhán wondered. “What are the chances you can actually be slaughtered?”
“That may be true, but I was a vampire for almost thirteen hundred years while I have been a Day Walker for about a month. You do the math and ask yourself what side do you think I am on?”
“That’s the equivalent of asking a new vampire if they feel any semblance of a mortal coil. Of course they would but the thirst wins out in the end,” Maartje explained rationally.
“Are you questioning our loyalty to the cause?” I asked. “I was merely half-vampire my entire life and now I am a Day Walker. They would slaughter us right along with vampires. Do you think we would somehow go unscathed just because of our special status?”
“No, but there might be the chance you aren’t so easy to kill so they would save you for last. You know that old saying, ‘an hour of life is still life’?” Filipp murmured.
“Or in our case an hour of dead is still dead,” Colwyn commented in a snarky tone. “We’re Day Walkers’ food source. If all the vampires died out, they would starve to death. How does that help them?”
“Exactly,” Andrine said boldly. “Whatever this...pandemic is, we will have to be willing to take some losses on our side as well. It will only seem fair.”
“I’m not catching your drift,” Anastasiya remarked. “What do you mean by our side?”
“The supernatural community—not vampires per se.”
“There is a virus Dr. Mengele and I have been working on for months. It coincides with a new pill we plan to release to the vampire community,” Chiyoko responded, albeit in a reluctant manner.
“What is it?” I asked.
“It is a plague to wipe out the Lycan community. We have decided with the advent of Day Walkers, they have outlived their usefulness. They are more trouble than they are worth. We might as well rid the earth of their kind. The pill allows vampires the temporary ability to day walk. That means we have to order our current vampire enforcers to guard us during the day with the help of this ‘temporary pill’. We can then rid ourselves of the Lycan, also known as the werewolf community, and many stray humans—we kill two birds with one stone.”
“Absolutely brilliant,” Aidan exclaimed. “I haven’t been this excited in a long time. Just think of a world without those animals. It’s fantastic. Well done, Chiyoko.”
“How far have you gotten with this research?” Mikkel asked her.
“As far as we can get without Day Walker blood. You said you were willing to make the sacrifice and now is the time to do your part. The Day Walker blood is the key not only to the werewolf plague, but also the temporary Day Walker drug. It is essential you play your role.”
I nodded my head. “I am willing to do that, Chiyoko. The most important aspect of this plan is that it does not lead back to us. This is tantamount; everything else can be argued away, don’t you agree?”
Chiyoko smiled at me. “Absolutely.
Excerpt from Immortal Lair
If there was anything about Zahara which could be considered an asset, no one could accuse her of not having a sense of humor.
Although President of the IVC, she didn’t take her position too seriously and considered it a bit silly to sweat about the little things in life.
A beautiful woman who appeared to be no more than her early twenties though her fashion sense and the way she carried herself belied her youthful appearance—she possessed dusky skin, liquid brown eyes, perfect cheekbones, a feminine Roman nose and slightly full lips. Her face was lightly made up and her petite, slim body was clothed in a black Versace cocktail dress and matching Manolo Blahnik stilettos.
She was just several days away from a very important meeting in Las Vegas yet there she was stuck in the city of London. It wasn’t all bad: she had an excellent companion and one who was bound to keep her busy, at least for a few days.
Ludvig Neville-Zhukov was quite the adversary indeed, especially when one considered his more than adequate bedroom skills.
He was good looking with his mother’s gorgeous French features yet milk-white skin, pale blue eyes and dark brown hair which had been inherited from his father.
As a genetically modified vampire—GenMods for short—he was not raised with his parents but rather in a lab where he was nothing but a freak who was continuously studied, poked and prodded. They were an arch prototype and were supposed to eventually lead the top of the vampire food chain but something had gone wrong.
Zahara was no scientist but a vampire that was damn near indestructible yet had no self-control and a sociopath personality wouldn’t lead the vampire community anywhere but into the ground.
The creatures were given their freedom and the secret of the GenMods was buried in vampire lore and turned into a good old fashioned urban legend to scare the gullible mortals. As far as they were concerned, Ludvig and his kind didn’t exist.
It was easy for them to hide amongst vampires as they looked more or less like other vamps with one small problem: regardless their ethnicity, they lost all pigment in their skin to the point of becoming albinos and their eyes were in a constant pale state regardless whether they were aroused or not.
The situation could have been a nightmare but as GenMods weren’t exactly daytime creatures, many of the tell-tale signs were overlooked by most except the fellow vamps of their community.
GenMods were ostracized, declared persons no regular vamp would fraternize with and thus they self-segregated. Although they often resided in the same cities and countries as other vamps, they had their own places to congregate and tended to mix amongst themselves.
Zahara was a live and let live type. One of the people she loved most in the world was a woman and her husband’s sister, Andrine. Labels didn’t bother her—rather the people who threw them around so foolishly did however.
She’d met him at his favorite table at his favorite pub GenMod vamps erroneously named Bloody Tuesday, as if that were the only day of the week vamps—genetically modified or not—got their drink on.
He drank a GenMod Bloody Mary which was a mixture of Sang Pur, Hpnotiq and Grey Goose vodka.
She ordered a plain old Sang Pur O Negative as like most run-of-the-mill vamps, she could not tolerate alcohol without a certain designed vamp pill and besides, Zahara had always gotten off on good old fashioned violence any day of the week. It was definitely her drug of choice and one she enjoyed quite thoroughly.
“Well, hello, beautiful,” Ludvig greeted coolly. “What brings you to this shit hole, President?”
Zahara laughed out loud before she sipped from the Sang Pur which had quickly been delivered and set before her on the scarred wood table. “You, of course.”
A dark eyebrow shot up curiously. “Why, may I ask? Don’t you have some sort of shindig coming up in Vegas next week?”
“Actually, I’m supposed to leave in a few days.” She brushed a lock of hair from her face. “Do you know what is going on and why this is taking place at all? Mikkel has finally found Manon and I think he wants to marry her.”
Ludvig sniggered out loud, highly amused by the situation at hand. “What do you mean he wants to marry her? He doesn’t know her and even knowing what we know about her heritage, it might just be for nothing. There is absolutely nothing special about half-breeds and I wish the Council would do something about them being fawned over all the time.”
Zahara swigged from her Sang Pur. “No, she’s different. I can feel it. She can change everything and that is why I need your help.”
“My help with what exactly?”
“How much would it cost to have her assassinated?”
She slammed the bottle down on the table. “Will you stop repeating me like a goddamn parrot? Yes, assassinated. You won’t be able to do it in Vegas as that is too risky and I can’t have the Council seeing you and I together in any shape or form. If they knew we were talking, I could lose my position. You people are supposed to stay hidden and on the outskirts of our society. I can’t be contradictory and be seen with you if there is an uneasy truce between the vamps and the GenMods.”
Ludvig glared at her with icy blue eyes though his fangs did not emerge from his eye-teeth. “Listen, as much as I would like to help you, I’m not hurting for money. Dominique and Filipp set me up with a nice little trust fund before they realized I would never be the son they were promised by that freak, Mengele. However, if I could barter for your services, perhaps we can work something out...” he trailed off.
“What is it exactly you want? I’m not a fucking mind reader—well, at least not with GenMods.”
He smiled slightly. “This skin disease we suffer from...it’s annoying and brings a lot of attention to us. If there was some way to reverse it or perhaps just give us some pigmentation, I have some very fierce warriors who would jump at the chance of killing this Manon bitch. Of course it would have to be on European territory. We can’t risk going to the Americas. I would think the reason would be obvious.”
She smiled back in return. “I’m not sure we should be discussing a situation like that here out in the open. I realize this is a vamp establishment but there are certain…things I need to tell you and I don’t want the whole world to know.”
Ludvig nodded wordlessly. “It can wait. Right now, I need some female company and you…what are you in the mood for?”
“It makes no difference as they will serve as nothing but an evening snack. I have my companion here in the City. I will call her as soon as we get back to your place.”
His eyes shined coldly. “Let me guess: Andrine? How do we know this won’t get back to Mikkel? The last thing I need is for him to know about our plan—”
“Don’t worry about that. She and Mikkel aren’t that close so she isn’t going to tell him anything. She might be his sister but she shares no love loss for her brother. The only person she really misses is Kristoff. I think we all do except that son of a bitch.”
“Well, it looks like there are no feelings of loyalty there even though he has been here for you all this time…sexually, that is.”
“It certainly wasn’t because he thought he was doing me any favors. He would rather be with anyone other than me.”
“Okay, enough with the pity party. I’m not good with people feeling sorry for themselves and I abhor it even more when those types of feelings are shown in front of me.”
Zahara finished her Sang Pur and stood. “Let’s go then.”
“Fine,” Ludvig responded before he finished his Bloody Mary and set the empty glass on the scarred wood.
He could remember very little about his childhood but he clearly remembered it being in a place where a laboratory was nearby. It seemed like a normal child’s room, albeit, one he shared with Evald, the genetic offspring of Andrine Damgaard and Klaus Engel.
They were both GenMods and once the hated Mengele discovered there were “issues” with the prototype, they were locked away without any contact with their parents.
He and Evald had been best friends for as long as they could remember. Where as Ludvig possessed a brutal handsomeness, even as a child and it was obvious his looks would follow him into adulthood, Evald was beautiful in an almost ethereal and girlish way.
He possessed soft flaxen blond hair and the most gorgeous blue-gray eyes, gorgeous features and pale, milky-white skin.
Where as Ludvig looked sickly with such pale skin Evald’s seemed to suit him and the fine blue veins which could be seen underneath the delicate flesh.
This was a bad evening—they both knew that. It was testing day, experimentation day. They would be cut up and bloodied before the end of the night; a few Rhesus monkeys would be provided to them to feed off before they would both be locked back into their prison.
“We can try to escape,” Ludvig finally said in a voice which filled the silence albeit reluctantly.
Evald looked up at him. They were both thirteen years of age in vampire years but they looked like grown men. Vampire children grew much faster than human children. Why they needed to wait until they were eighteen to be able to hunt on their own made no sense. They could both defend themselves and besides, they were a new prototype. If anyone could survive the wilderness, it would be them.
Ludvig sat next to Evald and slipped an arm around his neck. “I know you are afraid of Mengele but he won’t do anything to you. I promise.”
“I know but I am actually worried more about you than I am worried about myself.”
“And why is that? If anyone can take the hard knocks, you know it is I. Evald, Mengele holds a very special…kinship with you. You’re one of his favorites. If anything goes wrong, promise me you’ll make sure I am the one at fault. I tricked you and you had no idea. This way, you won’t face Mengele’s wrath.”
Evald glanced at his best friend with frightened blue eyes before he nodded his head.
“I love you so much…you will never know how much I adore you. Promise me once we get out of here we will never be apart,” Evald admonished softly.
Ludvig kissed his lips quickly and pressed their foreheads against one another. “We won’t. I promise.”
“Taking a trip down memory lane?” Andrine wondered out loud though she failed to greet Ludvig with anything other than a cursory nod.
Ludvig sat on the sofa and snaked a hand around his mortal companion, a vapid-looking blonde with an awful Cockney accent and although she swore she was of age, she was tall with the body of a pubescent boy.
“Not particularly. I was just thinking about Evald, that’s all.”
Andrine sat across from him and slipped an arm around Zahara’s waist. She was a gorgeous woman with perfect features, platinum blonde hair, and intoxicating blue eyes. She looked like she was in her mid-twenties though she was well over one thousand years old.
“Tell me, how is he? I haven’t heard from him in ages.”
“Well, he’s still inseparable with Zed, unfortunately.”
“Now there is a name I haven’t heard in awhile,” Zahara mused coldly. “How is my son? Is he still wreaking havoc in Bruges?”
Ludvig poured himself a shot of Grey Goose and downed it quickly. “Don’t you or Mikkel call him at all?”
“Zed is an accident both Zahara and Mikkel would like to forget exists. Remember, all of you lot were designed in test tubes. Chiyoko thought it would be a laugh to combine Zahara’s egg with Mikkel’s sperm, the same way she paired one of my eggs with Klaus’ sperm. Very few of you GenMods were actually wanted by your genetic parents. Consider yourself lucky you came from a union that was true and binding and lasting. Dominique and Filipp were devastated when they found out they couldn’t keep you,” Andrine explained calmly.
“Point taken. The fact is Zed and Evald have left Bruges and are now in Amsterdam. He wants us to live a life of sheer debauchery and on top of that, he desires a polyamorous relationship. Call me old fashioned but I don’t want to fuck Zed and I don’t want to be in a relationship with him. I’ve always adored Evald but if he has taken Zed as a life mate then there is nothing left between us and our relationship is as dead as we are.”
Zahara stood and grabbed another Sang Pur before she flopped back onto the sofa. “Where are all your high-brow morals getting you? You’re here in London, absolutely miserable; meanwhile, he’s gone any way and won’t be coming back. Wouldn’t it just be easier to accept the polyamorous relationship and take it for what it is worth? It won’t be forever. Soon, Evald will be tired of it and he will have to choose. You’re making this into a much bigger deal than it has to be.”
“Perhaps but then again you wanted a favor from me and I am underneath no obligation to fulfill it if the only thing you’re going to do is bring me grief. You might want to think before you speak.”
“And please don’t allow yourself to forget you are in the presence of greatness,” Andrine purred, emphasizing a Danish accent she’d never bothered to lose. “We were around killing and fucking before you were even thought about being made in that Petri dish by Mengele. I thought you said there would be some entertainment—I’m starving and what I want isn’t in a bottle of Sang Pur.”
Ludvig followed their stares to his female companion for the night. “Don’t worry, I keep my promises. I’ll have my friend there call up a few mortal acquaintances and your appetite will be sated.”
“Too late,” Zahara murmured before she stood and walked over to the skinny bleached blonde.
Her movements were subtle yet predatory at the same time. The human morsel never knew what hit her as Zahara crouched in for the kill. Her eyes paled and her fangs unsheathed; the blonde tried to get away but she was too slow.
“He can’t save you.” She grabbed the blonde’s wrists and sank her fangs into her jugular without pretense or hesitation.
The blood rushed into her mouth and Zahara kept her lips pressed down, slowly feeling life as it drained from her body. Once she had her fill, she threw the blonde to the ground and walked over to Andrine. They kissed each other passionately as Ludvig ran over to the blonde.
“She isn’t dead! She can still be saved!”
Andrine broke the kiss with Zahara and looked at the young man with dead blue eyes. “Well, then save her.”
“If I save her then she’ll turn into a GenMod—surely you know that!”
“We know everything there is to know about you, Ludvig,” Zahara murmured as she tore open Andrine’s expensive blouse and began to devour her breasts.
He was at a loss. Should he watch the show? It was a great show after all with these two beautiful women locked together in a bewitching embrace, all long limbs and soft female parts—or should he save Xanadu? He couldn’t believe that was her name for surely English people wouldn’t use such wacky names to christen their offspring.
Ludvig did what he knew he must and only prayed he was making the right decision as he bit down into his wrist and allowed the warm blood to flood his dying companion’s mouth.
He hadn’t made a GenMod ever and surely this was the right time after all, he needed a companion too and since Evald had made himself unavailable, this one would have to do.