Jean-Claude and Anthony clashed at a pace that would be a blur to the human eye. Thus, to them, it was as if they were moving at what a human would consider a normal speed. Because of that, Jean-Claude was taking advantage of Anthony's immense size. Jean-Claude was outweighed by him by 85 pounds, and none of it was fat. In addition, he could move well. Yet, Jean-Claude knew better than to try to stand with someone like that toe-to-toe. He was big, and a whole foot taller. Jean-Claude did not want to let this man get his meat hooks into him, knowing he could end it that quickly. Therefore, Jean-Claude was content to just stick and move, getting in a lick where he could. It wasn't as if Anthony wasn't getting in his shots, in that, he was not able to make full contact on Jean-Claude, but what did contact /hurt/! Another thing that Jean-Claude was learning the hard way was that an undead as this one, though he could feel pain, could not really be knocked out. He could keep going as long as he had enough blood off which to act. Because of his size, he had a lot of it! This meant that Jean-Claude had no idea how long it would have really taken to take this man down, and it was beginning to worry him. He did have his saber, however, and he figured that he could just drive it into this man's heart and paralyze him. Anthony's brother, Samson, (who had been watching,) was waiting for that opening. He was not about to let something like this happen to his brother, but he did want to see the day walker in action, and to assess his abilities in case he got loose from what the pure bloods in the household had planned for him. Jean-Claude leapt back to pull his saber and Samson came out of nowhere and put him in a rear naked choke. Jean-Claude felt like his eyes were about to pop out of his head, and that his skull was about to pop like azit. Within a matter of twelve seconds or so, he was out cold. The two stood there and smiled, high-fived, and Samson threw the unconscious form of Jean-Claude over his shoulder as the sped off into the night.
At that precise moment, Blade came out just in time to catch proverbially their taillights. Knowing how fast creatures like that can move, he knew it would be impossible to follow them, especially how much of a patchwork street layout was in that area of Manhattan. He went back up to relay what had happen, and did so in hopes that someone would have some ideas. If not, they would have to write him off as a casualty. He assumed that this was something that Jean-Claude always knew could happen, and hoped very strongly that they had a contingency plan for someone to take over should something like this happen.
He went back inside and up to where Fumio was being tended to by the Hand and the royalty. He came in to a now sitting Fumio, who was now balling her eyes out. She had tried to hurt Kenta, and they had changed her into something she never desired to be, much less in that form. Kenta came up and somberly said, "Thank you for helping my mother. What did you give her?"
"I gave her aserum that I use to keep from having to feed off human blood," answered Blade,"Jean-Claude tells me that now it would not suffice me, and that I do now need to drink it, but very little. However, Fumio is still underneath the problems that I had, and for her, if she had fed off human blood, there would not have been much help or hope for her. She needs that serum now to preserve her."
She heard that, and she shouted, "No! I want to die! I don't want to be like this! I did not ask for this!"
She buried her face into her hands again and started to cry again. Kenta was begging her to stop talking like that, because she was still loved and still needed. It was then that Kannon started to turn red in the face again, extended her fangs, and bit Fumio. She was shocked at first, but then she tenderly and slowly picked up and cradled her granddaughter to her chest as she received the infusion. Sheila then said, "Worry not, for you will be able to see things better after this."
In the meantime, Blade called for all the members of the Hand to come outside for a talk.
Out in the hall, Blade said, "I'm afraid I have bad news. Jean-Claude has been captured and taken away by House Amayah. I couldn't follow him."
Everyone stared at him in shocked silence. "We have to save him!" shouted Karin, but Blade said,"Knowing what we face, it may be too late."
At this, the three other members of the royalty came out and said, "Blade, you have to learn to quiet your voice better. Our hearing could detect every word you said."
Mickey then said, "Are you certain he is gone?"
"I came out as they fled," said Blade, "There was no way I could have caught him. I am certain this was something he always readied you for, so, who's in charge now?"
They all stared at Blade, and he said, "Wait, I'm not going to take charge of this thing!"
"That's not it,"said Hondo, "We have been so successful over the years, no one has ever really thought about having to replace him permanently."
"He's not dead,"said Sophia, and her hand was extended out as her eyes were closed. As she did this, it almost seemed that there was a bulge on her forehead, moving with her eyes. No one knew what that was about, but all of them were more concerned with what she was doing at that moment. She said, "I can barely read it, but he is alive. However, it is distant enough that I cannot pinpoint his life aura."
Mickey suddenly became angry and said, "Man, I should have been keeping some bats on the battle downstairs! We were so concerned about Fumio that we lost all track of the battle!"
"Don't kick yourself, kid," said Blade, "I think we all were concerned. I should have gone downstairs the instant after I gave the serum to Fumio."
Mickey was now walking around and muttering to himself angrily, and Blade snapped, "Hey, kid! We don't have time for that! Stuff happens, but we have to move on. If he's alive, that means there's a chance. Stop kicking yourself because your head needs to be in the game on this! You mope, and someone else is going to get worse!"
That snapped Mickey out of it, especially because of the tone that Blade took. Indeed, he was probably the only one outside of his father or people outside the Clan that had ever talked to him like that. It was thus true that Blade answered to no one but himself and to God, as long as God didn't try to lay down battle plans. Others may have gotten mad at other times, but in that case, it was what was needed, and no one said a word. "What do you think they'll do to him?"asked Karin.
"If they took him alive, they have a purpose for him," said Blade, "That doesn't meant that they won't put him through the ringer, but they have a need for him to live. More than likely, it's to flush us out. We must not play into it. So, we have time."
"Have time!"exclaimed Sheila, "The longer it takes, the more they're going to torture daddy!"
Sophia then said, "What he means is that we do have to make haste, but we don't have to do it so quickly as to come up with a fractured plan that would more than likely fail miserably. Therefore, we must remain calm, and do this right. Perhaps if we do, we can find our way to the enemy's headquarters and put an end to this once and for all."
Everyone nodded, and they all went to the strategy room to talk.
As Jean-Claude was coming to, he felt very tight and unyielding restraints on his wrists, legs, and around his lower torso. However, it was what he saw that gave him more surprise than his restraints. He was actually sitting in front of a cordovan colored rosewood desk in a chestnut paneled office with various bookshelves about, a fine navy blue carpet, but no windows. Seated behind the desk was Marcus Draco with Charlotte standing beside it. They were both bearing cordial smiles, and it looked as if they were quite happy to see him. Charlotte then said, "Please forgive the restraints-I am certain you could understand why we have them on you."
Marcus then said, "I am also glad you have shown restraint. We heard you had a temper, but I see it is better kept than what I had been told. It would do you no good to struggle anyway. The restraints are made of a tungsten/titanium/iron alloy, designed for the strongest of vampires, so there are no ways you could ever break them."
He then got up, went to a panel in the wall, and pressed a button. The panel swung open, and it looked like a refrigerator, but it was in reality a proofer similar to what bakeries use to speed rise dough. Inside was what looked like champagne bottles. However, they were all in holders, and they were being gently shaken. He took one out and retrieved three wine glasses. "They are all kept at a constant 100 degrees Fahrenheit so that, when the bottle is taken out, the blood will be at the perfect temperature. They are kept from coagulating, so the taste is always fresh."
He poured out three glasses and gave one to his secretary. He then said, "I do hope you enjoy it. I hear it told that your household is particular about the blood you drink-something to do with taking it from certain people and such. Well, Iwish I could accommodate you better, but I am certain you will love the quality."
Jean-Claude just turned his head and raised an eyebrow, to which Marcus chuckled and said, "Oh, come now, old boy-we wouldn't poison you! Consider this a toast. Of course, that would not be enough to energize you to where you could break free, and again, I am certain you understand."
Charlotte took hers and said, "It's not as young as I prefer, but it will do. Marcus always has the best quality of blood available."
Marcus then said, "Now, what shall we toast to? I know; let us toast Jean-Claude, and the worthy adversary he has proven to be, and to the future."
Jean-Claude knew better than to cause a fuss, especially if they were able to tell something without themselves realizing it. The glasses were clinked together, and everyone drank, as the secretary fed it to Jean-Claude. It was a bit more energy, but just enough to ward off the headache he had. "You're right, Mr. Draco," said Jean-Claude, "It is a fine quality."
Draco was still, wide-eyed, with his hands folded on his desk. He then affected a pleasurable grin and leaned back in his seat, saying. "Oh, please, call me Marcus. Jean-Claude D'Amphile Makka, you, sir, are a breath of fresh air. You are the only dhampir that I know of that embraces his vampire genes. I would say, you have been as worthy an adversary as Blade, and more so with this network I assume that household of yours to have. I also see by looking up that name that you are arespected teacher at Abe Lincoln High School. Again, I have never met adhampir like you that embraces his vampire side, and yet has not been rejected by human society. This shows that you have quite a head on your shoulders. However, you do know that I have to stop you from eliminating this household, and considering all that you have done, technically, I have the right to avenge everyone. Yet, I am not a man without mercy. Besides, destroying you would be the same as urinating on a Rembrandt. Therefore, I and Charlotte make you aproposal."
Charlotte came up to him and stroked a few hairs out of his face, as sweetly and cordially as any girl the age she resembled would have done, and she said, "We would love you to join us. Now, if we could gain your household, that would be much better, but we don't think all of them would come over. However, we would like you to retrieve Fumio for us, and then the two of you could pose as my parents, because it would be a real aid to me. In addition, you could train our troops, and have all the blood you wanted at your disposal. Normally, a death sentence would be put on someone like you, but why should we do that? Anyway, it's the least of what we could do. Oh, this would also mean facing down Blade, but, with your help and our resources, you could make short work of him."
Jean-Claude then said, "Let me guess, if I don't, I die, right?"
Marcus then said, "Oh, don't be so gauche, dear boy! As we said, we are not going to kill you. However, there are some things you need to know."
"Oh, and what's that?" said Jean-Claude.
"Well, of course you know we just can't let you go either, and we cannot afford you trying to lash out at us here," said Charlotte, "Therefore, we are going to give you anice room and bed to lodge in, and you will get regular meals."
"But what?" said Jean-Claude, very seriously, knowing the catch was coming.
Marcus sighed and said, "You will not receive any blood. We know that, because of what you are, your body is incapable of producing enough blood for you to sustain yourself. Also know that there will be no escape from that room, so do not bother to try if you feel you need to refuse our offer. You know what will happen to you."
Jean-Claude did not need to answer that, knowing well what would happen to him, and knowing it would take considerably longer because the small amount of blood he needed as compared to a normal vampire. Worse, he knew that the torture of bloodlust would be much prolonged before he hit torpor. Once that happened, he would crumble to dust as any vampire would at that point. Charlotte then said, "So, you see, we are not going to actively kill you, but your demise would be because of your own pride and obstinacy. Thus, you would bring your own demise on yourself. What we offer you is reasonable."
Jean-Claude just hung and shook his head, and he said, "I don't think you understand some things. You probably already know about my wife and kids, and I am surprised you didn't use them as bargaining chips."
"Why should we do that?" asked Marcus, "You know well that your household will destroy themselves trying to rescue you. However, if you come over, you could easily rescue them, and bring them in. I am not without compassion. Still, if you refuse, you will again only have yourself to blame for their demise."
"I don't think you understand," responded Jean-Claude, "I would not betray them, and by coming over to you, I would do just that. However, that is not the main concern. Idon't think you two realize the forces that are higher than you are that are at work here. There are things that are at work that are out of certain prophecies amongst our kind. There is a paradigm shift afoot, and I am sad to say that the undead are not a part of it."
Charlotte and Marcus looked at each other, and then started to laugh hysterically. "You are certainly a funny joker," said Marcus, "You act like the wrath of God is going to come down on us?"
"You don't understand," said Jean-Claude, now with a growing smile of confidence, "There is a world of vampires beyond what you know, and in truth your kind is only apale reflection of what we are. You are a mistake of the past that we hope to correct one way or another."
Their cordial faces went away, especially since he just now declared that they were actually lower creatures than he was. Marcus then said, "Sir, I do not really appreciate being called 'a mistake.'"
"I have aproposal for you," said Jean-Claude, (fully knowing that they would never take it,) "I have the means of making you of the stock from which I spring. If you accept this, you can join our Clan, and become a part of the new paradigm with all the benefits. We could mutually benefit. I don't make this offer often to your kind, but I would seriously consider it."
With the same look on his face, Marcus then said, "What happens if we refuse?"
Jean-Claude looked him square in the eyes and said, "What happens to me is of little regard. With or without me, prepare for your extinction."
Marcus knew well the attitude he now looked at, and he was ready to become enraged, but Charlotte raised her hand at him as she glared at him, and she then gained back her cordial look and smiled at Jean-Claude. She started to adjust his Marine Corps blue jacket and brush off some dust here and there as if she was his mother and said, "You poor, deluded child; what have they done to your mind? They have you convinced that you are some kind of messiah or something, as if there was no way we could ever win. Well, don't worry. In time, you will see how foolish that kind of thinking is. We'll help you with that, and we cannot wait to embrace you as a member of this family once it's all said and done. Enjoy your room. It has every luxury, entertainment center, a big flat screen television with a game console, and you will be fed regularly...except for the nectar...I am sorry. Yet, there is no reason why you should be uncomfortable by our hand. Any discomfort you will feel will be by your hand. Of course, the way to avoid it is to accept our gracious offer, and all that will still be yours, and more."
She nodded, and Anthony came up with Samson. Anthony then began to push on the chair, and it was then that Jean-Claude realized that it was on wheels as they rolled him out.
As they went to where they would lodge him, Anthony said, "Man, you were the best fight I had in a while! I can't wait until you get to show me all those fancy moves."
Anthony spoke as if this was all some kind of forgone conclusion. However, Jean-Claude was not so convinced. He then said, "The next time you get shown those moves, you had better have a sword in your hand, because I am going to insure that that is the last thing you ever see."
Anthony and Samson just rolled their eyes and looked at each other knowingly. Samson then said, "You know, you should consider yourself lucky. Charlotte is not usually this compassionate. Yet, you'll see when you come over."
They arrived at his room, and instead of a door opening, a panel in what looked like the hallway wall opened up. They wheeled him in, and the door closed behind, which was a steel panel. Once that closed, the restraints on him automatically opened. He stood up and immediately picked up the chair in anger and threw it into the wall adjacent to the hallway. The panel cracked, and it revealed the same alloy that had restrained him. He then picked it up and threw it into the windows that they had provided for him, and they did not shatter. He just stood there and stared at the windows, and then he looked out of them. It was then he realized where he was, and he now began to laugh at himself for not seeing this sooner. From where he stood, he stared right into Freedom Tower, which towered 1,776 feet above the street, and far above him. From the position, he could not believe in which building he was. It was World Trade Center 7-the new building that had been put there after 9/11. He plopped down on the bed and looked around. Indeed, it had all he needed, and an intercom in case he cared to change his mind, or just to communicate with him, he assumed. He looked all around the room, opened the draws, and found clean underwear and pajamas his size, but not much else. It was the most velvet lining he had ever seen on a set of chains, so to speak, and he could not believe the arrogance of these people. They were that certain they would win and have him to boot. He went back to the window, leaned his head on the glass, closed his eyes, and said, "Lord, all I can do is wait for you and pray. Blade is still out there, Chiyuki and Karin are still out there, so I cannot think this is over. Until then, I will endure-just give me the strength to fight the urges if you choose them to tarry for whatever reason. It's all Ican do."
He took off his trench coat, boots, and jacket, and he flopped back onto the bed, staring up at the ceiling, with nothing to do but to pray for the grace to have the patience of Job.
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