The first thing they had to do was to stage the "rescue" of Jean-Claude Makka. They went back to the building, and used the bats to slip in as the authorities investigated. They found some of the clothes that the twin towers were wearing and tore them up a bit. They put them on Jean-Claude, and then placed him in one of their cells. Because he was all sweaty, they could believe that he had been in there for a few days. When the authorities found him, they instantly started to render aid. When they asked him what had happened, he mentioned that Draco had mob connections, and that his goons had been by Karin's restaurant some weeks back to try to play the extortion game. The building's security had chased them off, but they had kidnapped him on his walk as payback for his actions against them. He said that he had been fed, because they needed him alive, but that things were not good. Of course, the news people were all over this and his image was being beamed all over the news circuit. They asked him about the gunfire, and he said that a rival family not pleased with his actions somehow snuck into the building and taken care of things. He was not sure of his fate, and he was not certain if there could have ever been a way to know. With that, (and once the doctors were satisfied that he was okay,) he went home, followed by the news crews. Yuriya had been called ahead of time about what had happened, and she acted like the grateful wife to see his husband return. They embraced and kissed to the applause of the patrons, and then the Hand came up and said, "Okay, guys, let's break it up! They have to have some time!"
"A word, please, Mr. Makka," said one of the pressmen, but they were just shoved out the door. The Makkas and the Usuis went to their respective apartments, but Jean-Claude was silent the whole way. Once they got into the apartment, Jean-Claude broke down and started to cry. Yuriya said,"Honey what's wrong..." but he cut in and said, "Baby, hold me!"
They sat on the couch as he buried his head into her chest and began to cry with abandon. Yuriya did not understand why he was crying so much, but she also knew that this was not the time to ask questions. She just held him tight and rocked him back and forth, and the twins managed to slip in and joined in the embrace.
In the Usui apartment, Fumio greeted the return of the couple and her granddaughter warmly. Fumio then said, "Thanks to Chiyuki and Elda, I have a better perspective on things. It's going to be awkward for atime, but at least we can be together for a long, long time."
He hugged and kissed his mother, and then she asked him,"Have you had a chance to talk to Karin, then?"
Karin cocked her head at this, and he said, "Honey, let's go into the living room, because what I have to tell you is something I need to hear your yes or no on."
They did so, and as they sat, Kenta said, "Baby, I've been thinking, and I talked this over with Fumio and Elda. They don't think it too bad an idea, but I need to know how you feel about what I have to say."
"Well, could you be a bit vaguer?" asked Karin sarcastically.
"Well, ever since what happened to mother happened, I looked at you, her, and Kannon, and I began to wonder," he answered, "What would happen if I were caused to be separated from you and any vampire for too long, and at a time past when I should have been alive..."
Karin cut in, already knowing where Kenta was going, and she said, "Baby, no: I already know what you are going to say, and I don't know how that could be right!"
"Baby," said Kenta, "I will be the only human amongst us, and because of how things are arranged, I am completely reliant on being around you to keep you. Now that mother has been forced to cross over, you, Kannon, and she will be living at night. I know that Kannon doesn't need to worry about the sun, but she would be more than likely to keep your hours outside of school, and I don't think she would want to be separate from you."
"We'd be okay, daddy!" said Kannon as she bounced into his lap, giving him kiss after kiss. Karin, annoyed at this as ever, pulled her off and said, "That will be quite enough from you!"
She just sat glum beside her father, arms crossed across her chest. Karin then said, "Baby, you don't know what you ask!"
"After being around this as long as I have, can you truly say that I don't?" he asked in return, "There's too much to risk now."
"But you don't have to do this!" she said, "You have my blood!"
"What happens if I can't get it?" he responded in turn,"Even being a g'hul has its drawbacks, and they are actually worse than yours. There are actually more benefits to the family being turned than in things remaining the way that it is. Moreover, I go into this with my eyes wide open, knowing everything about your world, and ready to accept it. How many wanting something like this really know as we do?"
"But...but, you'll never be able to go out in the day, see the sun, fully taste food, and you'll never be the same!" Karin protested weakly, yet coming to the understanding that he was starting to make perfect sense.
"Karin," he said, taking her hands, "As long as I have this family, you all are my sunshine. Besides, how different would I really be? Baby, you have to trust me; it's for the best."
"Baby, you're willing to give up the human life for me?" she said, tears now beginning to form.
"Karin, you're the reason I get up every morning," he said,"I would literally give you my heart if it meant you could go on."
She then burst into tears and glomped him, saying, "I love you, I love you so much!"
"I love you to, daddy," said Kannon smiling, leaping on his back and pulling the two down onto the couch. Karin's tears turned to laughter as they all rolled around and laughed, Kannon sneaking in a kiss where she could. Karin then looked at him with those eyes and said, "It has to be me that does it. Kannon then can bring you over fully. This can be something that brings us together."
"I can help if you can't hold it all," said Fumio.
"Just give me a week to say good-bye to Ai, and the world of the day," said Kenta, "I think you understand."
They embraced again, and then he scooped up and cradled his wife as they both got that look, and Fumio said, "Come here, Kannon; let's go visit great-grandmother, and tell her the good news."
Fumio knew what was up, and she was going to let them have their time.
The next night, the Clan took Ai, put her into a coffin, and took her all the way to Block Island off the east end of Long Island and found a secluded spot in the national wildlife refuge on the island. It was far from the few houses that dotted the island and in a beautiful wooded area so she could rest in peace undisturbed by prying eyes and danger forevermore. It was a somber affair, and much in tears flowed that night. Many spoke their memories, and tried to keep them humorous and happy, as she would have wanted. Anjou then gave the eulogy, and she spoke of times when she and Anjou went hunting together. Ai was, to her, a light of joy, and a spark of youth that Anjou had never really had the chance to enjoy while young, but she learned how to enjoy because of her. She told of her life, and relayed the story of her life as Ai had told it to Anjou. Indeed, it was to be a great loss, but Anjou then said,"Wherever she ended up, I know it had to be a better place, and I know that place is better for her being there."
With that, they committed the body to the ground, and Marc Spector remembered an old tradition of his Jewish heritage. He whispered into Ryuu's ear, and Ryuu then walked up and grabbed a handful of dirt. He then cast it onto the coffin and began to walk away. Marc explained that it was one way his people helped overcome the grief, because it symbolized that they were ready to move on and continue life. It was not an insult to the person in the box, but a way of putting the final punctuation on the whole thing, helping the one who had lost the most to put it behind him and say, "farewell," to the deceased. After that, everyone filed behind and did the same, leaving two Clan members who were grave diggers by trade to finish the job. As they left, a lone piper played "Amazing Grace" as a final memorial to her. A marker was left on a tree where she had been laid which read, "Ai: born 1009-died 2022. May you find peace and tranquility for all eternity, as you have always deserved."
Jean-Claude took the rest of the week off to reconcile his thoughts. When he was finally able to speak, he expressed to his wife his doubts about things. He, after seeing what he saw, was not sure that the Dream ever would come to reality. "Baby, if that is the case," asked Yuriya, "then what has this been all about? For what have you been fighting?"
"I wonder," answered Jean-Claude.
"What about the prophecies?" she added.
"I don't know. I mean, so much has been lost to us on certain things, and in truth, the other three children outside Sophia were not predicted. I just don't know."
"Honey, if people can overcome their fears, as you said..."
"It's more than that. Baby, I've been doing some research. Remember the big vampire craze about ten years ago?"
"How could I forget! It was eerie how close to the truth they came in all that!"
"Yeah, it makes me wonder if members of the Clan had an influence on that."
"What about it?"
"They actually took a survey back then, and they asked how many would become a vampire if the opportunity presented itself. Over 65% said that they would, and their main motivation was that they wanted the power that came with it. Boy, they have no idea what they ask."
"Well, that's why we take the time to educate people."
"It's worse than all that. We're not gods, and we are not perfect. Some of the wrong people may slip through the cracks, and all it will take is one of them getting stupid, and the show is over! Besides all that, Inow realize how different we are, and there are just too many people who would be superstitious to want to see the worlds mesh. Worse, even though there are Christians amongst us like myself, there would be those in the church that still would not understand, and start a campaign against us. There would be an all-out war. I know that there would be humans that would rally to us, but there would be too many that would not. There can never be full merging of the worlds, and I don't know if this has been in vain. I wonder if I should just put an end to it."
Yuriya looked at him with confusion, but then said, "Baby, we've gone too far to turn it back now."
Jean-Claude now had tears streaming down his face, and he said, "Honey, the worst cut of all is the fact that, no matter what I do, I can never put my sword down. We will constantly be fighting for our survival! I just want us to live in peace. How long would it be before we were broken up, before we would have to fend for ourselves again, before they despised us again? How long would it be before the power struggles amongst the councils started again and came after us? How long before...before..."
He was breaking up at this point, but Yuriya knew where this was going. However, what they didn't know was that the royalty were up in the throne room watching the whole thing through a bat, and Sophia said, "We need to get Marc Spector on the phone. He mentioned that he would be talking with the werewolves about our case, and I do believe that there are others he knows that could help us. Jean-Claude has fought to hard and too long to find his inner peace. It cannot be taken from him after all he has done for us."
Marc Spector indeed had been talking to what was known as the American Lycanthrope Society, and they were well aware of the Arlington Magic Society. Since they were what would have been considered magic using creatures, the two societies knew well of each other, and often had seminars together. He explained the whole story, and the two worlds. The wolves were surprised to hear of this unknown world, and they had heard rumors of some kind of mixed breed person amongst that world trying to bring peace and reconciliation with the day world. Considering what they had eliminated, they realized that they had been a greater aid to making repairs in nature that had long ago been caused by evil forces many millennia ago. They realized that their kind of vampire was really a part of nature, and the undead were truly the infectious anomaly. They agreed to get in contact with the AMS, and then have them get in contact with the senate and the President for a treaty proposal. The treaty between the AMS and U.S. government was one of many well-guarded secrets of the nation, and the entire government was well aware of the world of the night far more than the average citizen. If they were able to work out a deal with them, they could work out a deal with the Clan. With that, Marc called a mutual friend of him and Jean-Claude to help pitch this idea, because he knew well that Jean-Claude was in need of some good news. They would go to New York in a couple of days with some representatives of the two societies, and a couple of senators, along with a cabinet head of adepartment that the American people did not know existed, and talk to Jean-Claude. If it all worked, his dream could come true sooner than he thought, and in the safest way possible.
For two days, Jean-Claude spent time reading his Bible and praying, but it felt to him that his prayers were just bouncing off the walls rather than going up. He could find no answers in his reading either, and he was at a loss. That second evening, he went up to the roof with his guitar. Meanwhile, in the restaurant, a bunch of men in black suits with ear buds came into the place. Karin was confused, but their auras were human, and they didn't look like the mob, so she became curious and went out to meet them. Before she could speak, one who looked like the lead man stepped up and said,"Are you proprietor of this establishment?"
"Um...yes," she said, "Can I help you?"
"Yes," he said, "A very important guest is coming to dine here, and we have to do standard procedures to assess the security here. May Isee your kitchen?"
Confused, but not willing to test the man, she led them into the kitchen and they did a thorough check of the place. Then, the one in charge came over and said, "Is the one they call Jean-Claude here?"
"He's upstairs in the family units," she said, "Can I ask what this is all about."
"You'll see soon enough," he said, "I will need a guided escort of those areas, because, after he and his friends dine, they will be going up to meet with him."
She gulped, but she said, "I'll see about that."
He seemed to be speaking into some kind of lapel mic, and not moments after he was done with this, some limos pulled up in front of the building with a police escort. Once they stopped, the roads around the area were immediately blocked off and temporarily detoured. Before Karin could protest, she was almost floored by who came out. The president came out of the car, along with a couple of agents, New York's two senators, Marc Spector, Sean Hartley, and about six people she had never seen. President McFadden came up to her and pumped her hand up and down, and he said, "It is a pleasure to meet you."
"Th...th...thank you," said Karin, all nervous about this VIP in her restaurant, "Please, sit anywhere!"
He did, with the senators, and the six with Hartley and Spector were talking. Three of them were wearing colorful but normal clothing, and the other three were dressed in jeans, cowboy boots, fringed leather jackets, and were wearing what looked like Native American necklaces and chokers. "It seems you were right about them Marc: the pall of death and corruption does not permeate the place. Perhaps we should have taken time to find their kind sooner?"
With that, they sat down. Every care and courtesy was given to these guests, and Karin was ecstatic. She even made the point of making the meals, considering who was in her place. She was curious about one thing, though, and she asked one of the agents about it. He then said, "Oh, well, you see, for the meeting that they want, we can't have the press around. No one knows that these people are here, and, as far as you are concerned, this never happened...understand?"
"Absolutely," said Karin, feeling the weight of his words. He then said, "Now, we need to check out..."
"Oh, I'm sorry, I forgot," she said, and Yuriya came up and said, "I'll tend to that. You deal with the guests."
Yuriya escorted a handful of agents up to the top while Karin was summoned over to the table where the six sat with Hartley and Spector. One of the elder ones that she had to assume was Native American said to her, "So, you are partly responsible for helping to restore the order of things, from what Hartley tells me."
She genuinely blushed and said, "I played a part."
"Thank you," he said, "Because now, we have a chance to bring this world into a new paradigm."
She was not sure what that meant, but if it had to do with the Dream, Jean-Claude would be screaming in joy.
The first stop the entourage made was in the throne room, and the three Native Americans bowed themselves down. They then said, "You don't know how long we have waited for this day. There are those amongst us that have hoped to attain this state, and they are protected by us because they were the abject enemy of the undead that your group fought, and wanted not to be overtaken by the worm of the beast within. Now that we see that four Golconda now exist, we can bring them to you, because they would find peace and solace."
After that was said, the President then told the four of why they were there, and the proposal that he wanted to make. They became excited about this, and they said, "You must meet General Makka!"
"/General/...Makka?" asked the President, not sure of what that meant.
"He is our military leader," said Sophia, "He has done much to bring us a dream that you seem to wish to bestow on us. He has fought all that sought to destroy us, and has done much to clean up crime in the city. It is okay, he is not dangerous. In fact, he longs for the day when fighting would be a rarity for him."
"Then I think it's time to meet him," responded President McFadden, and they went up to the roof.
Jean-Claude was messing around with his guitar about the time they came out of the service door to the roof. Just as they emerged, he broke into the song entitled And the Band Played Waltzing Matilda. It was a song sung from the perspective of an old World War One veteran from Australia-a bushman-who had survived the fiasco at Gallipoli at the cost of his legs. It spoke of how bad the situation was, how he saw his missing legs, and how he now realized that there were worse things than dying. He sung about how he could no longer roam the bush, and how, when they brought him home with the rest of the wounded, everyone turned their faces away from the sight. The last verse dealt with how his old comrades marched every April as worn out old heroes from a forgotten war. He sang about how the youth asked him why they marched, and he wondered the same thing himself. The chorus then said that the years pass, and there were fewer and fewer that marched every year, and he knew, one day, no one would march there at all. The song then finished off with a line from /Waltzing Matilda/, and he sang, "Waltzing Matilda, waltzing Matilda...who'll go a waltzing Matilda with me? And their ghosts can be heard as they march on by the billabong, singing, 'Who'll go a waltzing Matilda with me?'"
Everyone was stunned by the timing of the song, and the forlorn look on the face of Jean-Claude. By this time, Karin had come up, and the entourage was going to meet him, but Hartley said, "No, let me and Karin talk to him first."
The approached him, and Karin said, "Well, dining on ashes?"
"Well, I... Sean Hartley, as I live and breathe," said Jean-Claude. He didn't spring up though, but he stood to his feet and shook his hand. "I wish these could be better circumstances under which to speak."
"I know," said Sean, "I was told you suffered a loss."
"Yes, it was a big one," said Jean-Claude, "Chiyuki and Ren have taken their daughter and gone with Ryuu and Blade back to Detroit for atime. They are going to help him establish a Clan outpost there and come back once he is settled in, though I don't know what the point is. It's all over anyway."
Karin put her hands on her hips and looked at him sternly, saying, "Now, wait a minute! Are you going to give up on this just because you had a setback?"
"Well, listen to you!" said Jean-Claude, "You sound like me all of a sudden."
"I learned only from the best," she said with a sneer on her face, "and I also remember a certain person from about 13 years ago who gave me an attitude adjustment and was oozing with confidence. I wonder where that man went."
Jean-Claude rolled his eyes and turned around. He suddenly felt like his own words were now turning against him, and it seemed she was going to try to feed him some crow. She continued, "You know, with the over 4,000 in Japan now a part of the Clan, backed by the Greater Japan Magic Society that you helped start, the Clan now in Bangor, Detroit, Oregon thanks to Lucas, and this 50 story building, I wonder where you failed. If this is failure, I would love to see what success was."
He wanted to lash out, but the Spirit told him that would be mere pride, and that did not serve him well. He had to now eat humble pie and said, "Have I been acting like that much of a boob?"
"Yes," she answered matter-of-factly, "Any other observations you want me to make?"
"Karin, I know what you are saying," said Jean-Claude, "but I now realize that we are just too different for the worlds to merge. How can it be now?"
"I think I have an answer to that," said a voice from another direction.
Jean-Claude turned his head to see the entourage, and it looked like his eyes would come out of his head when he saw the President of the United States standing on the roof. "Mr. Makka, we have a proposal for you."
They all went into his apartment and talked about the matter. What was being proposed was a treaty that linked the AMS, the werewolves, and the Clan into one conglomerate that would work together to keep the world of the night policed, and aid the U.S. in whatever was needed. In exchange, the U.S. government would provide them with protection from prying eyes as long as they pledged to keep the union secret. What that would mean is that there would be an official denial of the kind of things in which they were involved, and official silencing of anyone who was snooping around too closely to discovering the truth. The representative of the AMS said, "Our group has agoal of being able to be public one day, and that does seem like a reality."
"But what about us and the lycanthropes?" asked Jean-Claude,"I don't think we can ever go public."
"True," said the President, "but that does not mean that you cannot integrate into society. You see, with our protection, no one would try to hunt you down. Any vampire hunters that tried would be stopped cold."
"We do have our ways in that," said Jean-Claude.
"I would fully expect that you would," responded the President, "and I would also expect that you would help keep your people policed as well. In this situation, it would be like going public without going public."
Karin chimed in and said, "You see, in Japan, this is already happening. Those people are holding jobs, have careers, and more of alife than just hunting and sitting around doing nothing for fear of people killing them if they were ever found. Daddy told me of all of this, and he said that, when enough people were apart, because of their connections to the Clan, there would come a day when they could be a part of society to the point where they would never fear hunting again. The only thing would be that they cannot tell what they are, or that would upset the fruit cart. We can have that, but with the official backing of Uncle Sam."
Jean-Claude sat there observing his interesting guests as he sat silent for about 30 seconds. He then said, "Look, I don't fancy becoming apawn of the government. I have an urge to erase your memory of this whole thing."
The agents started to rise at this, but Hartley said, "Cool it, gentlemen, because you are far outmatched. You would all be dead before anyone of you could register his attack."
The AMS rep then spoke and said, "And that is the best thing about our arrangement. They know better to use us in some kind of clandestine operation to take over the world, or make some kind of super soldier. They know that, if they tried to use us wrongly, they could watch the entire capitol building disappear off the face of the earth during the State of the Union speech. The same would go for you. You are too powerful for them to try to cross."
"When you say, 'help out the government,' what does that mean," asked Jean-Claude, still skeptical.
"What that means," said the President, "is that, if there were things in this world that dealt with your realm that threatened our country and citizens, we would turn to you as the best ones to handle it. Once your actions were done, we could then wipe out any trace that anything happened."
"It's kind of what we do now," said Karin, "except we could get more help."
One of the lycanthropes spoke at this point and said, "Think about this: we could also start a special paramilitary unit of werewolves and vampires-all voluntary, of course-to be a special secret unit to act like aspecial force for the military. They would do those kinds of things you fear that you would be used for, and it would be all okay, because it would be all volunteer. That way, there would be no fear of the things you said, because aunit already would exist of volunteers that would be able to serve their country like anyone else that joined the military. In other words, it would be a way that our worlds could serve our country, just like anyone else, nothing more."
Jean-Claude got up slowly and paced the floor. He then said, "You know, we do recruit four ourselves."
"We would fully expect that," said one of the senators, "and we would not stop you from doing so."
Another of the lycanthropes spoke and said, "You have an advantage. You are a phys ed teacher, are you not?"
"Then, you have access to the youth," he responded, "They would take to these things far quicker than adults. Many would not understand what you seek, and would wish not to be a part out of fear. However, if you reach enough youth over the years, they would grow up accepting things. The AMS may find some recruits, and it would aid in their dream coming true, and, as new generations came, though not all would yet understand, there would be enough in time where vampire hunting and werewolf hunting would be a thing of the past."
A tear started to roll down Jean-Claude's face, and he said,"And another ten-year old boy would never have to cry again all alone in the woods."
"Then your nightmares could go away, Big Brother," said Anjou, as she hugged his waist. The agents almost crawled out of their skins at her sudden appearance, and they now realized how inadequate to the task that they were in this building. If any had meant malice to the President, there would have been no real way to protect him. Hartley looked at them and said,"See what I mean, gentlemen?"
Jean-Claude began to smile and said, "What do I have to do?"
"Come to Washington D.C. next week," said the other senator,"There will be a secret session in the senate, and you can present your case there. Because it is a treaty, they would have to approve, and then the house, so, this would be a joint session of Congress. Trust me, everyone in the Congress knows about the AMS, and they were sworn to secrecy. They would be about this, and this would not be too unusual, because there have been secret sessions of Congress before. They would still have to agree on this."
"What if they say no?" asked Jean-Claude, "It would be a bit too late to put the jinni back into the bottle at that point."
"I wouldn't worry, son," said the President, "I would expect you to present your case, and that would help, and I will put in a word for you as well. The senators here have also pledged their support."
"I'll be there," he said, and Jean-Claude began to smile. The Dream may not come true like he wanted, but it was going to come true.
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