End of the Road ((Attn Nikki, Steve))

The Camero turned onto the gravel drive tightly, and Amby let her speed drop as they wound down the manor's drive. They rounded a bend and the sprawling estate house was visable through a break in the trees. Motioning towards it to draw Nikki's attention, she said quietly, "Home sweet home."

Pulling up they slid to a halt in front of the large double doors. Immediately killing the engine, the leggy blonde unfolded herself from the lowslung sports car and came around to the passenger's side to help the staff that was now moving down the Manor's steps.

In her mind the blonde ran through a check list. First thing was to get Steve turned over to the physician's care and then to get Nikki away someplace private and see if she could get blood down. The first few times feeding could always be a bit... traumatic. It certainly didn't need to be a public affair. And, thankfully Amberelle knew tricks since she'd had a difficult time adjusting herself. After that was done and she could trust the newly turned vampire was somewhat stable they could check on Steve and discuss where to go from there. Now it all hinged on Nikki going along with it, she thought with a grimace.

Nikki 13 years ago
Nikki looked at the structure curiously. It seemed to be a massive mansion. From the front doors, a number of people walked down the steps, apparently coming to help. Even before Amberelle had stopped, Nikki was getting out of the car. She opened the back, checking on Steve. His breathing was a bit stronger, but he was still out. She looked at Amberelle, then turned towards the people coming towards them. She wasn't too keen on the idea of letting a bunch of strangers take Steve away like this, but it was clear that they wern't going to wait around. Grudgingly, she stood aside so they could get him. His wallet fell out of his pocket, and she picked it up, placing it in her own pocket. Better that she had it than these people. She looked at the taller blonde, watching her help the other with Steve.
"Now what?" she asked, folding her arms and leaning up against Steve's car. She noticed as she did so that her hunger had grown. For some reason, a very large undercooked burger sounded great to her.
Amberelle DeEspionne 13 years ago
"Now?" Amby cocked her head and looked down at her for a moment. "Well.. now I suggest you and I get a bite to eat. You're going to need it I think.. The only question is if you can handle it." They had already dissapeared into the manor with Steve and since the two of them were alone now, she kept her voice somewhat low, but spoke candidly.

"The first time can be difficult. Especially taking it from a live source. But," she shrugged a shoulder. "Not everyone can handle it from a bag. The taste isn't the same but it serves the purpose. Guess you get to try and decide for yourself."

Walking up the stairs she looked back and motioned for Nikki to follow. Her suite was close to the foyer so it would be the best choice. Turning right, she walked down to the wrought iron doors that were locked over the double doors into her suite, trusting that she would follow.
Nikki 13 years ago
Nikki nodded, considering what had to be done. She hated the thought of taking down a living person for her own needs like this, but, at the same time, she would need to get used to it at some point. She supposed that there were some folks who deserved it, but who was she to decide who got it? At the same time, the bag idea sounded harmless, and Nikki had always been able to do what needed to be done, but would it really help her later on? She made her decision after a few more minutes of thought. "Alright," she said, "I'll take on a live one. I'm gonna have to at some point anyway, arn't I?" She drew herself to her full height, which was still shorter than the blonde, and her eyes took on the hard, icy look that she had been known for in the military. "I think I can do this." I hope, she added, but only in her thoughts. Following Amberelle into the building, she said nothing more until they stopped in what seemed to be the other woman's home. She stood near the door, motionless, watching Amberelle carefully. "Just one thing: don't make me wax anybody. There's been enough death tonight."
Amberelle DeEspionne 13 years ago
"Wow, that was unexpected" was all Amberelle thought as she avoided looking at Nikki. If she had the other woman probably would have seen just how suprised she was. It had taken the blonde quite a long time to feed from a living person without reservations. She just nodded as she unlocked the wrought iron doors, then the inner wooden ones. "Don't worry.. since we will just have some of the staff come to us I won't allow any harm to come to them. I doubt we want to go back out hunting tonight.. since I know you're worried about your brother." Well, she assumed Nikki was. If the situation was reversed she sure would be.

Heading into her small foyer, Amby dropped her keys in the bowl on habit and moved around and into her living room. She spoke as she did, motioning to the small blue couch for the other woman to sit. "Just give me a moment and I will call for a few volunteers. Believe it or not, to a human a vampire's bite can be very pleasant, erotic even, when done gently." The Creole didn't add it was pleasant for vampires as well, no need to get into every detail right now she figured. "So.. it isn't hard to find those here who are not tied to a specific clan member that make themselves available when we're hungry. It's like.. mmm... Calling for room service almost, but with a twist."

Slipping off her sneakers, Amby scooped them up and headed into her bedroom. She left the doors open so Nikki could see and hear what she was doing. And, so she could do the same as well. The blonde was trusting the freshly turned woman in her home but she wasn't an idiot so she was cautious.

It only took a couple minutes to put the shoes away and place a call from her bedside line to request a couple of volunteers for dinner. Amby was glad the room was dimly lit to hide the flush that came to her cheeks as she did. This was something she'd only done once or twice and she was still kind of embarassed and uncomfortable with the idea. That done, she headed back to the living room to check on Nikki.

"It will be a couple of minutes, we have the household a bit scrambled with bringing Steve in, but I was told dinner would be here "shortly"." She chuckled some.
Nikki 13 years ago
Nikki nodded, not saying a word. She looked around, not willing to move for fear doing something that would offend someone. Her mind was still swimming, but something didn't make sense to her. How did this woman know so much about vampires? Of course, if Steve was in the middle of this mess, he would have tried to learn as much as he could about vampires as he could, to give him a better chance of survival among them. Perhaps she had done so as well. With that out of her mind, Nikki looked to Amberelle, a sudden realization crossing her mind. "With all of this shit happening," she began, "I never got a chance to thank you for saving us. If there's ever anything I can do for you, let me know. I'll make sure it happens." She gave Amberelle a fleeting smile, then added, "That goes for Steve too." She couldn't be sure, but perhaps Amberelle could be considered a friend. Or at least not a enemy.
Amberelle DeEspionne 13 years ago
Amberelle just smiled slightly at Nikki. "You don't have to thank me.. kindred should help one another. And Steve was given the Clan's protection when he became a familiar.." She held up a hand, to cut off any potential question on that for later as she continued. "I take duty and responsibility very seriously so.. there was no question I would help you both." The blonde came around and lowered down to perch on the arm of the sofa.

Topaz eyes studied the other woman for a long moment before she spoke again, her voice serious and low. "Circumstances surrounding my turning were traumatic and.. not pleasant. I wouldn't wish on anyone being left adrift, or worse being dependant on some psycho for information. Clanless are easy targets, or worse you risk exposing vampires to the general populace... which would only result in innocents suffering to cover it up." Amby took a deep breath and let it out slowly. She'd done wetworks in New Orleans more than once to cover up some idiot's carelessness.

"If you are interested.. while we wait I will explain a bit about the vampire clans to you."
Nikki 13 years ago
Turning? The realization that Amberelle was a vampire made Nikki look sharply at the taller blonde. Wondering slightly what her brother had gotten himself into here, Nikki nodded and sat down near Amberelle, listening intently. She might as well know a little bit more about what she was dealing with befroe she jumped into this mess.
Amberelle DeEspionne 13 years ago
The looks and expressions that passed over Nikki's face weren't lost on the blonde. Amberelle was not suprised that Nikki was interested when she looked up, waiting for her to continue. Drawing in a deep breath the Creole quickly sorted through what to say and how to explain it. There had been no welcome to the fold speech with Cliff notes for her, she'd been raised within the culture.

"Well, we're here in what is the home for Anantya in Nachton," Amby pronounced the clan name clearly and a little slowly, hoping the fledgling was a fast study. "We are the original clan, the Eldest and first. There are vampires here who are more than a millenia old, some of them from BC times I've heard. The general clan outlook on humans is they are tools, pets and well.. food. As a superior species, they believe we should just control and manipulate them as needed." Her tone was neutral so she didn't convey how much she disagreed with the entire viewpoint. But she did shrug a shoulder subtly.

"There is one other recognized clan, and they are very very different. Centuries ago some of the more compassionate, some would say weak willed, who wanted to live in harmony with humans formally split from us and formed the second clan, Evenhet." She paused, her dislike of them veiled but visable. "They are pacifists, always wanting to help the humans, live with them, be their friends. The tree hugging, fluffy, hurt no one kind of vampires."

"And then," she paused almost as if making sure no one else was around, "there are the orphans who call themselves a clan.. Tacharan. Younger, more modern and usually wild, reckless." Pausing she tilted her head to motion towards Nikki. "Lastly there are those who are clanless.. by choice or by fate like yourself. Of course you technically belong to whatever clan your sire is from.. if you want to claim him."

Shifting some to get more comfortable in her perch, Amby put both feet on the cushion and leaned down, resting her elbows on her knees. Her mouth scrunched as she eyed the other woman. "You have a few options.. as Anantya is the origin of all vampires, or at least since they like to think they are... it is not unheard of for someone clanless to be accepted back into the fold as it was. That's a option for you." Amberelle wondered if she would ask what benefits that would hold, so she paused to see if Nikki had questions yet.

((clan viewpoints are strictly her own as taight to her and not to reflect actual definitions =p ))
Nikki 13 years ago
Nikki listened intently, her dark eyes never leaving Amberelles golden ones. She noticed the slight shrug at the mention of how vampires viewed humans, and thought that perhaps this vampire might disagree slightly.
Superior race, huh? Nikki almost smiled with the thought of what Steve would have to say about that. No doubt they were a superior being, but certain human traits, like mortality, had thier benefits.
The other clan, Evenhet as they were called, seemed to leave a bad taste in Amberelle's mouth. Nikki found this little tidbit most interesting. The Tacharans seemed to be a joke amongst vampires, but Nikki decided from this little description not to mess with one.
When her own optios were presented to her, Nikki closed her eyes, thinking hard. There was no way she was going to "claim" Ben, whatever that ment. But by the sounds of it, a clanless vamp was a dead vamp, no pun intended. She opened her eyes, locking them back on Amberelles. "If I wanted to try to get accepted into Anantya, what exactly would that entail? Would I be a little less screwed, or would I still be on my own?"
Amberelle DeEspionne 13 years ago
Nibbling on her lower lip, Amberelle filtered through her memories as she tried to figure out how to answer Nikki's first question. It was a logical one, considering she'd thrown out the offer. Better to just answer the one she could.

"Oh.. you would be immensely better off. Not only would you have access to the protection of the Clan but it's resources and knowledge. Of course," she added, serious golden eyes looking down at the other woman, "there is always a cost. You'll be expected to protect your clanmates, and not to reveal anything about us to normal humans. And you may be asked to help if your skills are needed by one of the Orders... but that gets into a lot more complicated explanations. So we can leave that for the second orientation speech." Amby gave her a joking grin and then settled back down into being serious.

Drawing in a deep breath and exhaling it with a sigh, her mouth scrunched up some. "Now... as for how.... I'm not entirely sure. I only know of one person who has done that. The good thing is, she is here at Heolfor so we can ask. Tomorrow maybe."
Steven 13 years ago
Consciousness flowed into Steve's mind like cool water, and he began his usual routine when waking up in an unknown place: assess the situation, and try to decide what to do. He could hear voices nearby, talking quietly. Every inch of his body ached, but he also felt a kind of euphoria. He realized that the odd feeling was the result of some sort of drug, presumably a sedative. His eyes cracked open, and a slight jolt of shock shot through of him. He was lying on a bed, his wounds treated, and his gear, as meager as it was, was on a nearby table. He listened to the people talking over by the door.

"... but I still don't know where that guy came from. DeEspionne showed up with him and some woman, then peeled off." A young man said, leaning up against the wall.

"I think I know this guy. If I'm right, he was on the news about a week ago. Led some big drug bust, and shot the leader of a local cartel dead." The older man looked around, then back to his younger companion, then lowered his voice even further. "I tell ya, he looks dangerous. I thought I saw some security spooks hanging around earlier."

Memories came rushing back as Steve's mind restored his memory. The fight, Girbaski, Ben, Nikki, everything came back in a jolt. He reached for his weapon, only to feel a massive pain through his chest. The pain made him grunt, and he desisted for a moment, then was about to begin when one of the men, the younger guy, came over. "Easy, dude," the man said, indicating that Steve should lie back. "You've been through quite a bit. I've set your ribs, but you keep tweaking them like this and they'll get screwed up again."

Steve snarled, then did as he was told. "Nikki," he growled. "Where's my sister?"

The older man came closer.
"Younger gal, short brown hair, dark eyes, 'bout this high?" He held his hand about at Nikki's height.

"You've seen here?" Steve said quickly, nodding.

"Yeah, she's fine. Her and Amberelle DeEspionne are talking." He nodded towards Steve's pillow. "Don't worry about her, she's perfectly fine. Worry about yourself for now."

The name of the vampire who had saved Steve's skin multiple times perked Steve's interest. "Where am I?" he asked, fearing the answer.

"Heolfor Manor."

Steve sighed. He was hard to scare, but this place never failed to set him on edge. But, he realized, if Nikki was gonna be here, at least she was with a... comparatively trustworthy vampire. He settled down, mentally vowing to hang Amberelle by her innards if anything happened to his sister.
Nikki 13 years ago
Nikki nodded, thinking hard. The Orders? Somehow there was a commanding officer joke in there, perhaps a crude one, but she left it off. She smiled at Amberelle. " I don't want to sound like a needy ingrate, but could you talk to her for me?" She decided that, if she was gonna be a vampire, she might as well try to stay out of trouble, and this sounded like the place to do just that. Suddenly, she realized that she really was screwed if she was on her own. She wondered if Steve's involvement with vampires was anything like this. Thinking of Steve caused a shard of worry to pass her heart. Then she looked at Amberelle, and took a deep breath. It seemed that there was something that had happened with those two. Knowing Steve, he had more than likely gotten himself into a rough spot, and she had helped him out. She supposed that, if Steve trusted this woman with Nikki's life enough to ask for her help, then Nikki ought to trust Amberelle not to let anything happen to Steve. She looked around, suddenly noticing that she was rather hungry.
Amberelle DeEspionne 13 years ago
Amberelle blinked a few times at Nikki then her expression softened. The blonde leaned down and nodded. She should have remembered how overwhelmed Nikki must be, not to mention worried about her brother. "Of course.. I'll speak to Fallon as soon as I can. So don't even worry about it."

The hallway outside the Creole's suite had beautiful inlaid wood floors that were very handy sometimes, as the sound of approaching visitors echoed nicely. Her gaze swung from the newly turned vampire towards her foyer area as the murmer of voices and footsteps floated through the wrought iron doors. Standing, she flashed Nikki a smile. "I think room service is coming. Let me go explain.. I'll only be a moment."

Amby's pulse was a little fast and her mouth suddenly went dry as she stood. She really hated feeding like this. Hunting criminals made it easier, since she didn't have to worry about restraining herself. Hurting them never made her feel guilty.. instead it usually helped to justify it in her mind. The irony of her trying to help someone feed for the first time, and to do it with control, had a hysterical laugh threatening to bubble up. But Amberelle slipped on a smooth facade, all smiles and calm.

She met the pair at her doors. Golden eyes assessed them quickly as she undid the locks and motioned for them to enter. A tall male, one of the gardeners she guessed from the look of his sunbleached locks, darkly tanned skin and the subtle scents still lingering on him of grass, soil and chemicals. Not that he wasn't well scrubbed and presentable, the staff here were far too well trained to show up dirty. The second was a smiling brunette, the same one Amber had fed from the only other time she had allowed herself to impose on the staff.

"Hello again Samantha.." Amby greeted her with a small smile then turned her gaze to the man she didn't know.

"William, miss." He kept his eyes down slightly, respectful.

The blonde grinned at him, her youthful face a little teasing. "William? No really.. is it Will?" He gave her a slight lopsided smile and nodded. "Good, much better.. no need for formalities with me. Now.." she paused and sighed some, her expression getting a little more serious and they both looked at her, waiting. "Tonight I have a visitor who I will need you to take care of Will. It's going to be her first feeding.. I will oversee it to make sure it goes well. If you are comfortable with the idea of course." Will's brow furrowed slightly as he seemed to be thinking over the idea. "I give you my word, I'll ensure your safety." Amberelle added.

He looked up with slightly startled light gray eyes and the blonde realized she must have implied he was scared or unwilling. She raised a hand and shh'd the words about to spill forth. It was funny, she thought, in the De'Espionne household any one of them would probably have jumped at a chance to avoid being dinner. Here it was like a welcome opportunity.. she still didn't understand it.

"I'll take that as you don't mind?" She paused then continued after he nodded firmly. "Good. And Sam, you will be for me," Amby said as she saw the question on the human's face. The woman's smile made the vampire look away, her nerves all shot again. The fact that someone feeding on you could be pleasurable was something she'd learned. It just.. that felt so intimate. Which explained why she'd refused to feed from a man anytime she wasn't hunting rough. Flashing a slightly too bright, tight smile at the humans she lead them into the living area and stopped in front of the couch where Nikki was.

"Nikki... this is Will." She motioned to him. "I'd like for you to feed from his wrist tonight.. it's the easiest and least likely to harm him." Motioning for him to sit on the opposite side of the loveseat, Amberelle perched on the ottoman across and between them. She had every intention of keeping her word and preventing any accidental injury.
Nikki 13 years ago
Nikki almost hugged the older vampire when she agreed to help. With all that had happened, it was a huge boost to her morale to know that she wasn't dead in the water after all. But her joy was short-lived. The prospect of feeding on the man who had walked into the room behind Amberelle was simply apalling, but she was too hungry and tired to think about anything else. She gave the man a slight smile, then took his hand gently in hers. That curious sensation filled her mouth again, and she knew that there were fangs in her mouth. With another, almost apologetic smile, she sank teeth into his wrist. The blood flowed into her mouth, warm and sweet. The feeling nearly overwhelmed her. She opened one eye to check on the man. He seemed to be enjoying the feeding as well. Odd. Perhaps this one was the kind of guy who would make use of a dominatrix. She fed a bit longer, then pulled away, sighing from the pleasure of the feeding. If every time was like this, then perhaps she would enjoy her new life. She thanked the man, then shook her head, trying to clear the last bit of euphoria from her mind, and leaned back, resting for a moment. What a rush.
Amberelle DeEspionne 13 years ago
Slipping forward and capturing Will's wrist, Amberelle leaned down and licked it closed quickly. Still holding the human's arm, she lifted it some to show Nikki. Amby wasn't sure if the girl was paying attention since she looked a bit spaced, but she went through a quick explanation of how their saliva would help to close the wound anyway. The Creole figured now wasn't the time for lessons on bite placement and such. Getting the gardener settled down for a moment to recover, she tried not to watch Nikki too closely.

Amby was a little curious what it was like for her, her first feeding. Considering Amberelle's own had come several days after being turned, and after a good bit of beating and near starvation so she didn't remember much beyond being pretty feral during it. Her methods had been far from civilized or safe, but apparently that wasn't always the case. The blonde smiled to herself some, a little pleased at how well everything seemed to be going.

Standing, she smoothed her palms on her thighs, a little nervous now. The scent and tiny taste of blood had her own stomach demanding food, which caused her honey colored eyes to dart over to the human standing close by. When their eyes met, Samantha immediately moved to step over but Amby subtly held up a hand. There'd only been one time she'd allowed someone to watch her feed and that had been... different. Trying to tell herself it was a learning exercise for Nikki but failing miserably, she caved and mumbled something about being right back before walking briskly into the bedroom, her hand reaching out to grip the human girl's and tug her along behind.
Nikki 13 years ago
Nikki grinned guiltily as Amberelle tended to the poor guy she had fed on. She felt bad, but was glad to hear that she could fix any mistakes she made in this mess with reletive ease. She sat motionless, the memory of the feeding in her mind, as the other vampire left with the woman who had been standing nearby the whole time. Nikki's eyes momentarily focused on her. She was rather calm, given the fact that she was about to be used as a juice box. Interesting. Nikki went back to her thoughts for a moment, then checked out the man. He seemed to be okay as well. It was rather dissettling for her. Had she been fed on, she would have probably flipped a biscuit. Perhaps they were trained? The though disgusted Nikki, so she quickly thought of something else. The bottle of water was sitting on the table nearby. She reached for it, but, before her hand had gotten all the way there, the bottle was in her grip. She started, and damn near dropped the bottle. Cocking her head a bit, she set the bottle on the table, then walked a few steps away. She reached for it, and it twiched towards her, then shot through the air and into her hand. She gasped, a mixture of fear and elation flowing through her nerves. She saw a phone in a holster on the man's belt, and she reached for it. Like the bottle, it took some convincing, but it too came to her, as if she was a giant magnet and it were an iron nail.
"Alright," she said, smiling wider than she had in a long time. She gave the man his phone back, then proceded to make the bottle zoom at her from various places and distances. The farther away, the longer it took for the bollte to start moving, but it seemed to come to her in the end. She quickly lost track of time, lost in the simple pleasure of making the bottle fly around.
Amberelle DeEspionne 13 years ago
The pocket doors slid closed with barely a whisper of sound and Amberelle turned around to look at the human she'd half dragged along with her. Sam had taken a few steps into the room and turned to face the blond with a gleam of anticipation in her eye. Which just made Amby's nerves crank up a notch.

Stepping forward and wrapping her hands onto the shorter girl's upper arms, Amberelle leaned down to her throat as Sam tilted it to the side. The sight of her smooth neck caused fangs to burst forth in her mouth and her lips parted with a soft growl. The women both closed their eyes as she pressed her moth to the vein and bit in. Amby practically shook with the effort she took to be gentle with the bite, but it probably didn't matter as the human exhaled with a soft sigh mixed with a moan and leaned into the vampire.

Drinking gently but quickly, and trying not to purr while she did, the blond kept her eyes closed and tried to focus on the sounds in the other room instead of the thick and sweet, coppery vitae she drank. She was marginally successful. When she lifted her head and licked the small wounds daintily she heard Sam sigh and realised the girl was pressed close with her arms wrapped around the vampire's waist. A twinge of alarm ran up Amby's spine but she resisted the urge to shove her away.

In her mind she groaned, wondering what she'd been thinking by bringing the girl into the bedroom of all places. This girl's scent was NOT the one she wanted on those silk sheets. She had enough problems sleeping as it was. But, without any other option she half carried half walked her to the bed. "Just rest here, and then you can come out and get some orange juice from my fridge, ok?" The human nodded, her eyes closed with a smile as she flopped back into the cloud of bedding.

Shaking off the lethargy she felt from her meal, and the annoyance that sight caused, the Creole turned and walked over to the doors. She stepped out into the living area again and stopped with a small squeak as a bottle of water cut off her path to the couch. Her dark golden eyes followed it on its track to Nikki and her eyebrows rose.

"Well.... I guess you've discovered one of the gifts your vampire blood gave you."
Nikki 13 years ago
Nikki was enjoying herself, perhaps a little too much. She became so lost in her experiments that she didn't even notice Amberelle until the bottle almots hit the blonde woman, who had come out of the other room with a strange look on her face. Nikki's shock cut through her ability, and the bottle dropped to the floor. She crouched down, picked up the bottle, and stood back up, a slight red tinge appearing on her face. She gave another apologetic smile, then cocked her head at Amberelle's words.
"Vampire blood?" She frowned, mind working fast. "So, vampires can do this? I can make things move because I'm a vampire?" Suddenly, her new ability didn't seem as enjoyable. More, it seemed rather unpleasant, like a tumor. If this was some trace of what that bastard had done to her...
Amberelle DeEspionne 13 years ago
Walking over and plopping down on the couch on the opposite side from the half dozing Will with a sigh, Amby grabbed one of the soft down filled throw pillows and scrunched it up in her lap, arms absently wrapped around it to hug it close. Her expression went somewhat thoughtful as she tried to expain her statement. "Yes you can do that because of your turning.. but no, not every vampire can. There are a lot of different ummm... abilities you could say. Some subtle, some more obvious. Unless your sire was an ancient, which he obviously wasn't from what you said, you'll discover you have a couple. At least for a few hundred years. As we get older we usually develop a few more." She shrugged, not expecting Nikki to be interested in eventualties but more in the here and now. And, she didn't know how much detail to go into in front of the humans anyways.

"You may have a physical one, maybe that makes you tougher or more agile.. in that case it will be more subtle but you will eventually figure it out. Or.. you could have something flashier. Like telekenisis." For a moment she actually envied the other girl, TK was (to her at least) a seriously handy ability to have.
Nikki 13 years ago
Nikki sat down as well, when Amberelle answered her worst fear. Suddenly, all of the drawback of being a vampire had flooded her mind, and she wanted no part of this. She closed her eyes, willing the whole nightmare to go away.

A memory crossed her mind, one of her time in the service. It was her first kill. She had shot a man who had rushed her in hopes of keeping her and the rest of the UN peacekeeping squad out of an illegal weapons cache. She hadn't even meant to fire, but her finger had jumped, and the bullet caught the man in the chest. She had been depressed for two weeks, unable to eat, sleep, and certainly not fit for active duty. Commander Harris had come to her eventually, and, rather than yelling, as was his custom, he had sat down and given her one of the most important lessons of her life. "Kid," he said, "Out there, you're not PFC Rowland. All you are is alive. You have only three reasons to live: stay alive, keep your comrades alive, and, most importantly, complete the mission. That bastard you killed was following that very way of thinking. If you hadn't killed him, he would have killed you, and maybe more of us. So, you gotta ask yourself: do you want to be the killer, or the kill?" She had decided from that point to be the killer, and it had paid off. She was still here, not on anyone's list of past kills. She knew she had to do the same here. She had to be a vampire, or else be a snack to one. She nodded at Amberelle, a hard look on her face. "Ok," she said, her voice strong and slightly fierce. "Now what?"