The truth of the dangers grow, and Jean-Claude tells of what might need doing.
Boris was reading the headlines and did not like what he was seeing. There was another mysterious hit, 12 runaway teens that could not remember much about the club proprietors, save that it was some kind of Goth vampire club that got out of hand, several bodies charred beyond recognition, but apparently dead before they were burned, a few were decapitated, some had broken necks, and one had a bullet to the head, and all with bad lacerations. The fire had removed any chance at fingerprints, but what they found odd was that one of the proprietors had two puncture marks on the neck. However, someone jokingly suggested vampires, but the forensics people said it must have had something to do with the nature of the club. Whatever the case, all they could assume is that someone had taken the law into their own hands and did all this, and left no trace of who or what he or she was. Yet, Boris had a decent idea of what happened. Whoever did this had an extensive knowledge of vampires, knowing that beheading or burning were the only ways to kill one, and in order to kill a g’hul, one had to make a wound so fatal that there would be no way the g’hul could heal up before he died. They were very clever about covering their tracks, so finding out who was behind all this was like trying to find the needle in the proverbial haystack. He put more thought to it, and then he began to wonder if this were vampires. Only they could have wiped the minds of those teens that he was looking eventually to recruit for use as a useful idiot army in the upcoming fight. It had been a great spying location and recruiting station before, well, what could be best described as the wrath of God, descended on the place. If he, or they, had not been vampires, those kids would have spilled the beans, and then been locked away in a mental institution for what they claimed. By the efficiency, he knew it could not be Marker. Then he remembered what Nikoli had said before he disappeared about the boy half-breed that got away. He wondered how a half-breed could have become so powerful. If he had revenge on his mind, there is no telling what may have happened. He had to do some research about this one, because, if things had been severe enough in his past, they may have tried to squash a cockroach, and created a monster. For now, he had to find out how many of his crew were left, who they could recruit, who was the blood cow, who was defending her, and how to stop this killer. If they could not, all this may be over before it started.
The next day, Karin met up with Maki, Yuriya, and Yukiko, and the four of them went on a shopping spree. It was during this time that they found out that, Yukiko was not exactly in the money, and that both her parents had to work to make ends meet. She knew they loved her dearly, but they could not be there as much as she would have liked, especially during the critical years of personality shaping that was adolescence. She started doing things that would garnish her parents’ attention, like the gothic punk scene, and subconsciously was looking to do more and more shocking things to get their attention. Psychologically, this would have been considered a primal scream for help. Well, the help came, but not they way she thought. She, at first, was still a little shy, wanting to stand off a bit, knowing what two of them were, but she got closer and closer as the day went on. The biggest help came by Maki. Being that she was the extrovert, and had a great ability to make friends, she was able to coax Yukiko out of her shell, and help to settle her about matters. They stopped for a small snack, and Maki pulled Yukiko aside to talk to her. “So, you having fun yet?” asked Maki.
“Some,” answered Yukiko, “but if you knew what I knew, I think you would be uneasy too. Worse, for…well…some people’s sakes, I have to keep quiet about what I know.”
“Oh, what’s that?” asked Maki “Is it the fact that Karin is a vampire that can walk in the sunlight and that Yuriya is a half human/half vampire?”
Yukiko looked at her stunned, trying to form words, “You…know…, but…I mean…how do you…doesn’t it…”
“Believe me,” said Maki, “it took a bit of getting used to myself. Karin and I have been friends for years, and I had no clue what she was. Neither did she, until she fully awakened as a vampire.”
“Awakened?” asked Yukiko, “What do you mean? I don’t get it.”
“Okay, here it goes,” said Maki, “Vampires are not made, they are born. They exist as humans at first, but as they get older, they begin to become more sensitive to the sunlight, and actually begin to hunger for blood. Because they grow up in a vampire family, they understand what happens. They are considered ‘adult’ when they make their first feed, and find out their blood preferences.”
“Blood preferences?” asked Yukiko, “Now I am confused!”
“I’ll explain in a minute,” she said, “Now, once that first feed happens, they are instantly transformed. If that happens during daylight hours, they must instantly get inside before they are fried. Once they have reached “adulthood,” They need to feed daily, but they only really need a pint or two to make it every day. Now, you passed me about blood preferences. Well, what that’s all about is the fact that blood is sometimes affected by emotions, and to a vampire, it is something that they can taste when they drink blood. If they’re able to find their blood preference, then, to them, it is the sweetest, most exhilarating taste. The byproduct of this is the fact that, whatever emotion they are attracted to, they siphon it off for a time. For example, the first time Karin’s kid sister fed, she found out that she was attracted to jealous young girls. Oddly enough, I was her first feed.”
“You mean she…she fed on you?” asked Yukiko.
“Yes, As a matter of fact,” said Maki, “at that time, I was feeling somewhat jealous for Karin and Kenta, because the boy that I liked wouldn’t even recognize me, and Karin hit it right off with the new guy. When she fed, she siphoned off that jealousy, helped me stay friends with her, and helped me come to grips with, and get close to, the one that I was seeking. Normally, a vampire will erase your memory after they feed, but, for some reason, her sister did not. Whatever the case, it was then I learned everything. However, because she is such a good friend, I kept silent.”
“But how is she able to be up in the day, and Yuriya too,” asked Yukiko.
“That’s for two different reasons,” answered Maki, “In Karin’s case, because there had been a severe drop in the vampire birth rate, Karin was a once in a thousand year event. Her blood can make vampires fertile, and she creates it to bring back the population. In Yuriya’s case, she is the offspring of a human and a vampire, as is Jean-Claude. However, they are a bit affected by the sunlight. As you see, Yuriya wears clothes that cover her skin well, and Jean-Claude uses sun block on exposed skin. They both wear tinted glasses. However, because of the mix, both are sterile. However, that might change by Karin here. That, yet, has not been tested. However, Yuriya and Jean-Claude, as well as Karin and Kenta having possible offspring, just might make things so that they can have children as well. Other than the blood feeding, and having to live at night, as well as some supernatural enhancements, they are just like us. Of course, they are nearly immortal, but they can die.”
Yukiko was letting all this sink in, and she realized how stupid some humans must be to conjure up so much error and myth in vampires. All of it was due to fear and ignorance. There was no other way to put it. However, by this point, Karin and Yuriya became curious about the conversation, and came over to listen. Karin Then asked, “So, has Maki been educating you?”
“I guess,” answered Yukiko, “it’s just so weird that she can speak about it so nonchalantly.”
“Don’t worry,” Said Karin, “I don’t bite…much!”
That got a big laugh from everyone at the table. “Seriously though,” said Karin, “You have nothing to worry about with us. Besides, knowing what we are, we’re some pretty good friends to have.”
“Come on,” Said Yuriya, “We’ve got shopping to do!”
With that, they hit the clothes stores, found Yukiko a completely new wardrobe, and spent some time in a day spa getting all girled up. In time, Yukiko was having so much fun, she even forgot who and what they were, and was able to enjoy herself. She had forgotten how fun it was to have a day with the girls. By this point, it was about three in the afternoon, and there was an important rugby match for the school that afternoon. However, because it was still daylight, Karin wondered how Jean-Claude would handle 80 minutes without his sunglasses. This was an important game for the school, because playoffs were riding on this game. If they could win, they could secure place in the playoffs, and have a great chance at bringing home the championship at the end of the season. At this, the girls decided to go attend the game.
At the game, and right before the start, Jean-Claude had a set of Ray-Bans still on his head, and waited until the very last moment to take them off. He tossed them to a young boy who was working as a water boy, and proceeded to play the game. He seemed to be doing OK, however, several times during the match, he had to stop and rub his eyes. Every time there was an injury or water break, the boy came out with the sunglasses, and he put them on. He played well enough; however, he was playing a little below that of which he was capable. Nonetheless, they were able to secure the win, and enter into the playoffs. After the game was over, he had his sunglasses back on, and he was sitting on the bench hunched over. Yuriya came over and asked what the problem was, and he said that he had a splitting headache. He tried to rise to his feet, but staggered a bit. She steadied him, and said, “come now, you know what happens when you keep those things off for too long.”
All Jean-Claude could say, was, “Please, Just help me home.”
As they walked, Karin was on one side, And Yuriya was on the other, helping to steady him as they walked home. He said, “It’s always hard on days like this. You would have thought I would’ve gotten used to this by now. However, I’ve got to keep up appearances, or people are going to ask questions. It would be hard for someone like me to explain why I do not participate in sports, and, of course, at this time of year, almost all sports are outside, and not everything is at night.”
“But baby,” said Yuriya, “Are you sure you have to do this? Couldn’t you just wait for the wintertime and participate in sports like that?”
“I guess,” he said, “but I have determined in my heart that I’m going to live as normal a life as possible. What I am is not going to be a handicap.”
As they walked, Yukiko just had to ask, “Um…what’s the whole deal with the sunglasses and everything?”
“Even though where half vampires,” said John Claude, “there is still some residuals left over from that side, genetically. I have to wear sun block and these sunglasses even on a cloudy day. However, because the eyes are more sensitive than everything else outside the body is, and because the vision of the vampire is better than the average mortal, our eyes are more sensitive to light. On top of that, if exposed too long, my eyes could burn right out of their sockets. It would take me two or three days to grow them back, and a lot of blood. There are Many advantages to being what I am, and yet, many drawbacks as well.”
The group walked slowly as Jean-Claude tried to regain his faculties. As they approached Kenta’s house, He was able to start walking under his own power. As they passed, Karin looked at the apartment complex and wondered how long it would be before Fumio had to know what was going on, And then how long it would be before they would have to bring them up to the house, Or wherever her father could find safe haven for them. Since most of the events took place the night before, Henry would have to be briefed on what happened, and then everyone would have to figure out what was the next step.
The Jean-Claude decided that he was going to take a short nap before the Markers awoke; And Karen fetched that day’s newspaper for her father. She wanted to have a look at it before her father did, so she could brace him for what he would read. Just as she suspected, the events in the club from the night before were front-page news. She took the time to read thoroughly through the article and to ensure that there was nothing that could possibly have exposed all of them for what they were. According to the article, the police were baffled at what was going on. The only witnesses claimed one thing, but the forensics was saying something else. The teens’ testimony claimed some kind of vampire cult, and there was enough there to concur somewhat with that statement. However, the evidence showed the marks of fatal combat in the back alley, and that the fight indeed must have spilled back into the club. However, who fought who for what reason was beyond them. There were no narcotics, the money was all there, nothing was taken, and it was not murder, because there was enough there to show that this happened during the fight. The rooms with the beds were intact, and what they found in there showed that the destruction of the club was no real loss, and that indeed there was something shady going on in there. Just what did go on in there, however, was unknown to them, and they wondered if they could ever find out. The most baffling thing of all was how the fire began to start with. It seems that it started after the fight was well underway. Second, the point of origin seemed to be one female with oddly elongated canine teeth. However, there was nothing on the body that showed any kind of substance on her that would have engulfed her in flames, and yet, it seemed her entire body ignited at once. It had to be written off to spontaneous combustion, but it was the oddest case that the fire marshal had ever seen. The bottom line was that this would probably be one that would never be solved, and create the kind of urban legends that would be believed more than the truth that would forever escape them. Karin let out a sigh of relief, knowing that there would be no way anything could be traced back to them. She was just finishing the article when her father entered. “What are you looking at?” asked Henry.
“How the press assessed last night’s events,” she said.
“I understand it got a bit hairy,” he said.
“That is an understatement, papa,” said Karin.
“Let me see that,” he said. He then took the paper, and Karin said, “The short version is that, there is enough to keep them busy for centuries, but not enough to say that any of our kind was involved. Jean-Claude covers his tracks well.”
Henry took all this in as he read silently. It was not so much what happened, as it was the severity that it all had to go to in order to resolve things. Henry thought for a moment, and then said, “Where were you in all this?”
“Out of most of the action,” she said, “When it got hot, Jean-Claude shooed me off with what he called a casualty of the situation, and told me to get her to safety.”
“I hope you do realize that you have to avoid danger,” said Henry, “You are too valuable to the vampires now. Your blood is needed. We cannot lose you! I cannot lose you.”
The last part caught Karin’s attention, because of the different kind of concern with which it was said. She understood that her father was saying that he would be greatly saddened to lose his daughter, whether or not she was valuable to someone else. She came up and hugged him, saying, “I love you, papa!”
“My, my, my,” said her mother, “Isn’t that touching?”
With that, she brought a slipper down on her head, asking, “Going into things like that? What were you thinking?”
Though her head stung, Karin knew that this was her mother’s way of saying that she was concerned. “Now, Calera,” said Henry, “She was only concerned about her classmate, dear. That would be no different than her running into a burning building to pull any one of us out.”
“That’s not the point, Henry!” she screamed, “She is marching into danger! That’s like asking to get killed.”
“There’s more to be concerned about than that,” said another voice from behind. It was Jean-Claude, holding an ice pack to his head. He then said, frankly, “We need to talk.”
In the living room, they all sat down, and Jean-Claude put forth his concern. He said, “They are searching for her, and fortunately, they have not figured out who it is yet. However, if we do not take an active hand to find out what is going on ourselves, no humanoid in this city is safe.”
Henry and Calera both stared at Jean-Claude, wondering what in the world it was about which he spoke. He continued, “Those three vampires that were killed last night are a part of the faction that I have been chasing.”
Calera shook her head, not believing what she was hearing. “We barely averted disaster the last time there was a battle over her.”
“That was over who would get what,” said Henry, “not about the things that he is concerned about.”
“Indeed,” concurred Jean-Claude, “That was over who would get her blood first, for what reasons, and so forth. This, however, is far worse. We are talking about urban legends amongst the vampire population that have been driving the ones that have been active in this city.”
“Which ones are those?” asked Karin.
“They are the ones that say that the blood of a blood maker is the key to godhood,” said Jean-Claude, “They spoke last night of you, not knowing that you were right under their nose.”
“What are you saying that they will do?” she asked, now quite scared.
“They will keep you like a cow, and milk you for the blood you create, so they can keep themselves in power,” he said, “They think your blood will turn them into super vampires. Of course, none of that is true. However, if they believe it bad enough, there is no telling what they would do. We have to act before they decide that concealing themselves would no longer be needed. If that happens, there are enough scared and paranoid humans out there who would call for the wholesale genocide of the vampire species.”
“Could that really happen?” asked Henry.
“Well, this is what I envision,” he said, “If they capture her, and they start doing their thing, thinking they are invincible, they will openly attack people. They may kill a lot of people, but they would be stopped. Then, vampires would be exposed, mass fear and panic would result, and what would happen would make the Salem witch trials look like a minor injustice, and make Hitler look like an amateur. That club was nothing compared to what we might have to face.”
The room filled with thunderous silence. After about a minute, Henry finally said, “What is the next step?”
“We have to find them before they find her,” said Jean-Claude, “and we also have to guarantee the safety of those closest to us. If they are able to trace things to Karin, then Kenta, Fumio, and Yuriya are all in danger. They would go after them, use them to get you all out in the open, take Karin, kill both you and them, and then the excrement hits the rotational cooling device.”
“What are you suggesting?” said Calera, she not being sure she liked where this was heading.
“Well, the girl we helped last night knows everything,” said Jean-Claude, “and that were only so she would not blow the lid off the thing. She may have to be concealed.”
“More humans!” screamed Calera, “Why don’t you just bring the mayor up here, or the emperor of Japan! Bring CNN while you’re at it!”
Jean-Claude smacked his forehead and rubbed is face from top to bottom. He then said, “Mom, I am not talking about that, what I am saying is the safety of only those who either know, or would need to know. This would include Fumio. If things progress with Kenta as I foresee them, then Fumio would find out eventually, especially if the 33% chance that their offspring would be full blood vampires turned out to be so. Besides, if they tried to get at Karin through Kenta, this would lead to the use of his mother. If we had to defend their household with her not there, and she comes back to a trashed apartment, what would Karin or Kenta say? It could not be a wild party, with blood all over the place and bodies. We have to tell her as soon as we can, and shelter them here at night when they would be safe. With her aware of things, she could keep her eyes open during the daytime, and she would be less likely to be snatched by a g’hul. If it were a burden, I have enough to pay for any of her expenses. You could use her as a live-in maid, something like that. All I know is that she would have to know. If it came to it, Yukiko would have to come. If it really came down to all-out war for Karin, you would have to call in the council, and more foot soldiers. This place would then have to become a fortress, because it would be the only safe haven we could provide for the local community. Sadly, it would have to be limited, because I know there is only so much room up here. However, that is a worst-case scenario. Yet, we would have to be prepared.”
“How would we avert this?” said Henry.
“We still have to tell Fumio,” said Jean-Claude, “but the only thing we can do is find them first, whose in charge, where they and their allies reside, and strike first—whittle them down to something we can get rid of discreetly.”
“That seems harsh,” said Calera.
“To quote George Orwell in one of his most public sayings,” said Jean-Claude, “If you discover your enemy wants to put a bomb in your mother’s house, you put one in his house first. As Sun-Tzu once said, an object of war is to turn a defensive into an offensive. Right now, we are on defense. We have to change that. The first chance we have to counterattack, we must take it.”
“What is the best way to tell this to Fumio without her going crazy?” asked Henry.
“Leave that to Karin and Yuriya,” said Jean-Claude, “I know that Karin has a rapport with her, I know that she could ease her into things.”
“Perhaps I could help,” said a new, quiet voice. Jean-Claude smiled and asked, “How long have you been listening, Corn Muffin?”
“I slipped in when you started talking,” she said, “I knew that something was up when I saw the newspaper, so I came in to listen. My life is on the line as well. I am in just as much danger, and I would like a say in how it is defended.”
“Thank you for the wake up call, Corn Muffin,” said Jean-Claude, “You are just as much a vampire and member of this family as anyone here. Yes, your life is valuable, too. Believe me, just as much as the rest of the family would say this, if so much as one hair on your head was out of place because of them, then what I shall do to them would end up being legendary, even in Hell.”
She came up and said, “I love you, Big Brother,” as she hugged him, and then she said, “But just let it be Karin and I with Kenta. I think we can make it happen.”
“Then we leave it to you,” said Henry.
“We shall go tomorrow night,” said Anjou, and it was settled. Anjou then said, “And now, if you will excuse me, I’m hungry, and I must go feed.”
“With all the trouble around, I’m coming with you;” said Jean-Claude, “Just let me get ready.”