Oz was contacted… they couldn’t risk the covens or the demon resistance members direct and they knew Oz’s band was touring again. He would likely use cyber cafes or hotel provided systems after their initial SMS request to make contact. And from there all the resistance would be warned. The Emails and SMS’s were bounced through three or four sites, the messages short, cryptic, encrypted and understood by the receivers.
Within the first day the family knew that several covens and a number of vampire clans were already on the move, scattering the members of their groups or simply finding safer havens. The exact nature of the coming Initiative attacks was unknown, but their intent was.
The word was that the Initiative had ‘enlisted’ a fair number of demons whose self interest overthrew any sense of interspecies loyalty. They had captured, chipped and ‘experimented on’ Asian and African wiccans and a few vampires here and there after successful raids. They had also done the same to a handful of Slayers and demons.
It was also apparent that their demon captives had been allowed to ‘escape’, seeking out the resistance groups and liberal thinkers for protection all over the world. It was soon discovered however, that the pattern was the same the ‘escapees’ had unknowingly been implanted with tracers and enough plastic explosive to blow up a bus and half a city block.
It would be a suicide mission for any of the ‘Trojan horses’, but that was irrelevant to the Initiative. The individuals were all ‘expendable’ and the explosives detonated from a distance. The intent was to search and destroy in a massive sweep across all countries using their infiltrators wherever they were unable to simply invade suspected strongholds.
Opinion was shifting against the Initiative’s manifesto and there was a small window of opportunity to complete the annihilation before the population of the world turned on them en masse. A number of nations had amnesties in place, while others had already banned the capture and killing of demons as a blanket policy. In ‘demon friendly’ countries, the only Initiative groups left were now vigilante or extremist groups (and the majority relied on clandestine activities or the ‘sympathies’ of certain magistrates to continue their activities without prosecution).
The resistance had been wondering at what strategy was to be used. It was a large Vampire clan in Turkey who discovered it first.
Within hours of Sam’s warning they had tested the three Initiative ‘escapees’ who arrived at their various nests. Thankfully the shrewd and quite brilliant, High Master (Dr) Constantine Raiza was a trained medical specialist before turning, and had kept up not only his own skills but had access to medical facilities and had a habit of turning top surgeons and researchers as his Childer. Ironically many continued to practice after their turning … Access to human blood was a definite advantage, and when it wasn’t bagged, Dr Con encouraged his clans to be ‘discerning’ when making kills.
The three escapees were unable to explain the ease of their departure from their jails. Dr Con suspected tracers and implants but it was the MRI that revealed the rest – they had discovered the explosives. For the three in their care, he and his team were able to remove all but the chip with surgery, but few other resistance groups had such skills. His clinic was ‘surprisingly busy’ in the following few days as those that could made their way to him. There was a limit however. Too much activity would draw too much attention.
The resistance began pooling their resources to find another way.
For the resistance, trust was always a problem, but they did have resources, and now that they knew… The word went out. Within days it seemed that globally the majority of the ‘infiltrators’ were identified. The demons who were ‘suspect’ due to their beliefs, generally showed their hand very quickly and many were already known so that was of little consequence. Easier were the ones who had been tormented. The chips were detectable by scarring and could be removed or left. The tracers were hard to find but had to be taken out… even if by crude methods.
Sadly in the ensuing five days, the family learned that at least seven of the implanted vampires greeted the sun, and four wiccans had taken their own lives rather than risk others. They would not be able to help the human looking individuals who were just ‘running’ – nor any innocents who good heartedly might have taken them in. Without resistance help they would die…
It might have been deadly for all but they had one advantage. It was *not* a terror campaign. It seemed the tracers were to be used in conjunction with the final attack. If detonating the infiltrators had been random, their ability to counter it would have been compromised. Thankfully the arrogance of the Initiative meant that in the countries where they had support, there was a date announced to the governments, just two days after Sam’s visions (Fortunate as the problem was that Sam’s visions did not come with a date or time indication). This was to be an all out assault in all regions tarting with detonations and finishing with a deadly sweep in the ensuing two months with shoot to kill instructions. It was to be genocide on an unprecedented scale.
Xander looked in on the sleeping Robbie… the three little ones knew he was safe, most demons could feel it if there was a dangerous intruder… the mismatch of aura and forced training, or the underlying mal-intent. They had been lucky so many times… he dearly hoped not too many.
Christopher cried for “Maaam” and Elsbeth began to whimper too. Xander squeezed his mate’s hand and attended their children while Spike wandered over to continue to monitor Sam. The others were taking a break in their suite.
It was Eddie who eventually spoke, “We are so happy now, I just can’t lose them Jon…. I can’t lose you… Not family… not again! If they find us, remember the old plan? You have to promise kill them and me…. Remember you *promised*!”
Jon smiled but the smile was filled with pain, as was their link, “And it won’t be that hard if we have to now… not you and I at least…”
Eddie stared quizzically at his mate then realized almost thankfully, “If you die, I die at the same moment…. Mated pair.” then whispered as he kissed his partner’s shaking hands, “Sire and Xan are the same my love… ”
“But Darling-heart… I just know I… can’t … not with the little ones … I really… we need to find a way to get them to safety … I just don’t think… I could ever… Oh Eddie… and then Sire and Xan… and their…” He trailed off. Eddie felt it through the link and stood quietly embracing his partner… there were no words. The children were sleeping. Jon gazed at them for a time then simply collapsed to sit on the floor, knees pulled to his chest and remained there with his face in his hands.
Eddie had let his partner fall and could see the crimson drops falling on the floor from underneath the pale fingers, then felt the absolute distress through their mating link. They wouldn’t lose again… he just knew somehow the family would survive, and he sent that feeling through the link but knew that nothing he could say would make it better.
He checked the children then took two thick rugs from the one of the bunks and tugged his partner to standing.
He led his lovely vampire outside. It was a clear night and bitterly cold, but they lay between the two warm layers under the stars and made love… desperately at first but then gently, adoringly, and as though it was their last night on Earth. In the end, both exhausted, they shared their tears and reassurances, speaking quietly and stroking each other. Jon crept back into their familial bed just as the sun began to rise, while Eddie returned from their evening of necessary comfort, and took over the vigil with Sam, and continued the Email monitoring.
Robbie, Sam and the five children were happily playing on a huge picnic rug on the other side of the ‘swing’ tree. Elsbeth and Christopher were just crawling, and quite happy to compete with Sam’s Missy as one of their blue cousins rolled a ball in a game of ‘fetch’ for them. Missy, infinitely faster seemed to ‘let them win’.
The two would no doubt inherit their father’s darker locks as they matured… but for now, the fair fuzz was growing into real hair and their first tooth had arrived simultaneously, to the distress of Jessie who was the first to be ‘bitten’ and hair tugged at the same time, by Elsbeth as usual!... Spike had his suspicions… Elsbeth was too good at that ‘stuff’ not to know, and seemed to grin when he chastised her while prizing her tiny hand from her cousin’s abused fur!.
Elsbeth had apparently been Spike’s ‘fault’ so had extraordinary ocean blue eyes, while Christopher had a most unusual emerald green with streaks of brown ‘spokes’ leading to an outer deep green ‘rim’, a perfect combination of his parentage. They were equally treasured.
Sam was lying on an old sun bed with his head on a pillow, covered by a rather tatty crocheted comforter and looking very pale. Xander did notice him smile as the little folks all decided that Robbie was ‘fair game’ and abandoned their games to descend en masse to climb all over his reclining figure. The children (even the little ones) were rewarded by a hearty laugh and inevitable ‘tickling’ by the big man. The peels of small children’s laughter and excited barking of the dog were easily heard back in the house.
Xander stood by the shaded bedroom window and stared sadly.
His partner sidled up behind him, slid cool arms around the slim torso and licked the mating mark on his neck. Xander shivered, but the only thing Spike felt through the link was sadness.
“Penny for your thoughts luv.” Spike felt the unneeded breath and heard the sigh.
“C’mon pet, better out than in.” He waited, then addressed Xander in a Sire’s tone, as his Childe rather than his Mate, “I will help, but you must tell me Childe.” There was still no response.
Xander yipped as his Sire’s fangs buried themselves deep into his neck and took stolen blood. The fledgling vampire began to feel vaguely dizzy and his legs seemed to simply… give out. Spike sank to the floor with him and held him in a loving hug. Weakened, Spike knew Xander would be more compliant.
“Now tell me pet… I know the whole ‘massacre’ bloody Initiative worry is all there but figure that’s not what’s hurtin’ you right now. Tell your old Sire here… what is it that’s got you in such a state?” He felt the hitched sob and waited.
Xander rolled in Spike’s embrace and now half on his knees, he hugged Spike around the waist, buried his head against the cool torso. The comfort allowed it, and quiet tears were interspersed with the explanation, “Oh Sire… I missthesun!!!… I sh..shouldn’t… b… but I really do… I miss the sun! an….nd w…watch… ching them… ours… an…nd not being there… ‘s hard… And what if they a…attack us is in the day?…. We… we’ll be dust and they’ll… Oh I’m sorry Sire… I’m… ss….orry… I just feel….” The younger vampire trailed off.
Spike knew the feeling of loss and frustration as well, but needed to be strong for the new Vampire, so simply held on and offered his neck. Xander raised himself and bit down hard to be immediately comforted. Sire’s blood… Mate’s blood… the love, and the empathy through the strong connection. He calmed and withdrew his fangs but continued to lick the wound rhythmically for some time.
Eventually Spike stood his partner up and led him back to their bed. The licking had done it to both of them, and despite the distress, they were highly aroused. Spike began by gently stroking his mate’s thick hair with one hand, (taking off the eye patch in the process), while caressing his Mate to full hardness with his other hand through the denim of Xander’s pants.
As the shadows elongated, all the vampires emerged silently. They observed a scene that would suit all of them until the end of days. Sam was up and pottering around, cleaning up the kitchen. The Sire stopped them at the door to appreciate the moment. They were all so worried about what was to come, that it was small pleasures and quiet moments that mattered even more.
It was apparent that the littlest cousins had been fed by Robbie recently (he volunteered often… enamored by the pretty blonde haired children with their broad single toothed grins and wide eyes). To date his technique ‘needed some work’, generally resulting in many smiles from the little ones and a rather attractive ‘splatter painting’ of all the surrounds, and inevitable special finger effects in various colors and textures as dropped food was rubbed liberally onto the background ‘canvas’ by tiny hands. But some food did seem to make it to the intended destination as the children were healthy and happy.
The large new ranch style kitchen, with all its cupboards and new style appliances, was still a little unfamiliar to the elderly gent, and his audience smiled as he grumbled about who had ‘put the serving dishes *there*’, and ‘new fandangled door handles’. The family eating area at the end of the kitchen was substantial and tiled, and wonderful when it came to cleaning up after the ‘fabulous five’. He mopped it swiftly and easily.
Despite all the threats, from outside, and the challenges of ‘boring daily life on the farm’, Sam really was truly happy for the first time he could remember. He had been ‘Grampa Sam’ for so long now that he simply could not imagine his life without the children … or his lovely boys. His visions were back and debilitating, but he knew why and had support.
His observers saw the older man reach over to spend a moment patting his loyal Missy. She had been waiting patiently on her mat by their ‘new’ back door as always, but had moved to her master as she felt his need for comfort. The vampires watching the scene had no idea just what passed between the two, but they caught a few words as he tried to convey to his loyal hound how proud and thankful he was of his family. They saw Missy lick his hand as though to concur with the words, and the old man sighed a barely audible ‘Yeah’.
The three had intended to keep out of his way and silently fix something to eat before setting out to do their own daily tasks. Instead each quietly took a few seconds to acknowledge their elder with a soft touch, a pat or a hug. Sam simply sighed and reciprocated with a smile. It always seemed to be the calm before the storm for their lot … but all that meant was that the calm was… to be savored.
The following afternoon the family enlisted the help of the Margaret and Brenda (their lovely teenage neighbors) to watch the babies and toddlers who were all taking their nap. The girls had strict instructions not to answer the phone or door unless the number was recognized or it was their parents knocking.
The family and the senior D’ Azpuras investigated the complex network of escape routes that Spike and Jon had developed over the months… Robbie was bent almost double so as not to hit his head in the tunnel and was heard to say, “Looks like someone fought for the other side in ‘Nam’! This is brilliant!”
Spike (who was in the lead) paused in his tracks and responded, “ Master Vampire mate! Catacombs of Rome (Ok wasn’t there for the building, but used ‘em during the war), Sewers of London or any bloody city, castles always do the escape routes.” He saw the incredulous looks on his family and friends faces, “Oh come on people!... Hands up who hasn’t been in the underground of one city or another? Saved millions in the World War II and the bloody Swiss have got a whole network through the mountains ready when that human lot all decide to push the big red button. And now we’ve got our own.” Jon grinned, it was his accomplishment too. And his partner was the only one of the group – apart from Missy - who hardly had to bend.
None of the little network of tunnels was particularly long, but all took them to places where they might ‘slip away’. Xander grinned as he noted the tiny home made periscopes at three points, giving view back to the farm and remember the giggles about ‘Hogan’s Heroes’ when he was asked to make them. The trapdoor exits were perfect however, technology courtesy of one Vampire Harris, as was the scaffolding that held them.
Never had the family been more thankful of their ‘paranoia’ and back on the surface they spoke earnestly with the D’Aspuras regarding strategy. They would not abandon their kind neighbors and they now had the danger dates.
They had all been ‘passed’ by the Initiative before, but they did expect another visit. It was decided that the D’Azpuras would be on a ‘trip’ (happily ensconced in Chateau d’ Sam for the dangerous weeks. And both parents would occasionally log in via a site in Hawaii). Sounded wonderful Nic’s employees!
They all worried, and the issue of the explosive implants had not been resolved… An SMS late on the sixth afternoon that simply read, “Dawn” changed everything.
After The Fall: 29