October 7, 2012 § 8 Comments
Regina looked at me in a “stay here” kind of way and left with the cardinal. I was swiftly taken at her place, down below again.
Any normal person would, at this point, worry. Worry about where she went, why she didn’t say anything, etc.
However, you have to understand this happened around five times a day, with her leaving in very strange conditions, with very strange people, without saying anything at all, and then returning like nothing has happened, and normally, that was the case, nothing did happen. I got used to it. I got used to the idea that she had taken care of herself for almost 500 years, the chances of anything happening to her were pretty slim I figured.
Sure enough, she returned about an hour later. She didn’t say anything much, except the fact that we’re leaving for Turkey soon.
I put together two and two, and with what she left out in the process, turned out she had just met the new pope, Benedict, which apparently, like many others before him, had a hard time believing what the cardinal was telling him. Had a hard time believing that the Vatican was built on top of a vampire nest – and not any nest. So Regina kindly “met his acquaintance”. I only felt sorry for not having the chance to meet the pope myself, and not having the chance to see his face when Regina performed her little “Look at what I am” dance.
Do you remember the pope on the TV? That guy which preaches peace and understanding, but goes around in a three-inch thick bullet-proof glass car? That guy, that guy just stood face to face with his greatest enemy, friend, fear and dream – in the same time – Regina, the queen of all that is underneath us. Literally.
And if you think this is too much – wait for it – I’m not even done. The amount of shit – because I can’t really find another word for it – Regina was involved in is unfathomable. It just really is, for me at least, too complex to understand. This is too much of a conspiracy theory for most of the readers, and a Sci-Fi tale for the others. Don’t try to believe it, just focus on the vampire part. I’m already asking too much with that, so just read it and get it over with.
Regina didn’t waste another second. I think this was actually the first time I’ve seen her contact someone directly.
Oh and by the way, she was in a constant state of… hmmm…. paranoia? No. She was on edge. Angry, jumpy, impulsive – rushed in everything, and did I say angry?
She picked up an ancient, landline phone, dialed a number, changed her mind or dialed it wrong, dialed again and waited.
Three words. Russian. Thick Russian. Couldn’t understand what she said, but the last word was “Odessa” for sure.
And Odessa it was.
“Everyone to Odessa.” That’s what she said.
Everyone? Surely she wasn’t planning a modern-day invasion. And why Odessa?
Time for me to retreat was near. I didn’t.
We flew to Odessa in no time. We were taken to the outskirts of the city, 50km or so north of Odessa, and then went off the road, on a path through a forest for about 500 meters. A large abandoned building was in front of us. The car left us there and left.
Gray, no windows, thick grime encrusted walls all around. One meter high grass all around the building, two floors with two big hangar-like doors on the front side, wide open so that you could see on the other side of the building, through it.
We went through the building straight in the back, and there Regina opened a rusty iron door, behind which was another door. But this one was not rusty, this was a pure, stainless steel door. It opened by itself. Viktoria on the inside did actually.
We descended a flight of stairs and ended up in one single large hall, completely empty at a first glance, but sterile like you wouldn’t even dream of. Everything was painted in a blinding white, the lights themselves were so bright you could barely keep your eyes open. The amount of white in that room, and the lack of any features, furniture, anything really, made the room seem like an infinite space. The shape of the room just faded away, the corners were almost invisible and it felt like you were literally floating in nothingness. Four people were present there. Lars, Viktoria, Nikita and Edmund.
“We’re going for Gunnar. If he’s in Istanbul, we’ll find him.” – Regina said.
She looked at Viktoria and Viktoria nodded in agreement – which I later found out, through getting to know their little nods better, was actually a confirmation of “Everything is set” and not a “I agree” type of thing. This is not uncommon at all. We all have our little friends that understand us just by looking at us. Regina and I were the same, but the weird part there was that we didn’t build that. It happened almost from the first day. You just click with some people. Maybe Viktoria and Regina were the same, but I had the feeling they learned about each other, rather than it coming naturally.
Viktoria knew all too well what Regina wanted and how she wanted it to be done, and she complied.
There were no guns involved. There were no knives, there were no weapons. This was just a happy gathering.
We simply met there, and we all left for Istanbul, together. We didn’t take the same plane. Viktoria almost never travelled together with Regina.
We landed in Istanbul, and from there, everyone was on his own, it seemed. Regina and I went straight for the port. We boarded a cargoboat, and inside the cargoboat, not in a container, but down in the bowels of the ship, we met with Viktoria.
She was dressing from head to toe in Kevlar. I knew it was Kevlar because of the weight. I’m not talking here about specially designed vests, this was pure military grade Kevlar material, and she was rolling it around her torso and feet. Hands weren’t a priority apparently.
“I’m not going through that again. I don’t care how I look. Don’t you look at me like that.” She was talking to herself, and to us in the same time. Regina was smiling and looking at her in a “you’re in the weird part of your brain again” way.
“Here.” She threw something at us. Regina caught it, turned it from side to side, clicked, beeped and stuck it in her back pocket. It was a slim, flat, pen-like length, GPS receiver.
I got one too. Viktoria had one too. Hurray! GPS for everyone!
Technology in the world of vampires. This was becoming more and more interesting. Starting easy with landline phones and then moving to state of the art GPS receivers in the same day? That escalated quickly.
Slowly, one by one, they started appearing. At first people I knew, more spread apart, mixed with some I didn’t know.
They came in, nodded, helped themselves at whatever their heart desired – most picked knives, some picked swords, a few picked Kevlar vests. All of them got GPS receivers.
What the hell is with all the Kevlar?! I remember I thought. And then again, they truly hated guns more than anything. It’s not about the fear of dying, that rarely happens, but one, two, three, four, fifteen bullets really, really rendered any of them pretty much useless for quite some time. The younger they were, the more time needed to recover. This again, reminded me, wasn’t a movie. Bullets hurt, and depending on the weapon and wound location, they can also be deadly. There’s no coming back from an explosive bullet to the head. Plus, any bullet wound needed to be taken care of individually. Bullet taken out if it didn’t get out by itself, wound drained or cleaned, made to bleed again, if the bullet prevented it from closing and the blood coagulated. I learned all this the hard way, seeing Viktoria literally punctured with bullets from head to toe. She recovered, sure, but put any other of them in that position, and they wouldn’t live a second longer after the last shot.
They all came in, and left. We remained.
This whole thing went on for quite a few hours, I counted more than 40 of them, maybe more. And none of them was under 100 – 150, you can tell from the way they move, speak or how they hold themselves when picking something up or dressing. That, and the face. I just… it’s something you can just tell, in the same way you can read someone’s thoughts from an expression, or read someone’s “intelligence” by the way they look at you. It’s just something you get used to, it’s something you learn, involuntarily. Sure, some of them can ‘fake it’, but I doubt that was the case there.
I was stunned. This was the first time I’ve seen so many of them in one night. Usually, I knew about 15 of them, and everything that happened, happened in this small circle – I’m sure there was such a circle at each level. This was Regina’s circle.
And these people, women and men, these were no ordinary folk. This was the guard. That very same guard that guarantees the safety of the queen, the very same guard that goes to any affected zone, appeases any major conflict. This was the SS of the vampire world. All the elders that I knew were among them, and some even older that just didn’t oversee any territory. These were no ‘muscle’. These were the brain. Strong, fierce and remorseless, but each one more intelligent and with more skills that an entire university classroom. I pity the fool (sorry T.) that would go against any of them. Now imagine all of them. In any case, and in any major past, present or future conflict, this would be the very last line of defense, behind which Regina would stay. Normally.
WHAT THE HELL WAS I DOING HERE? Panick. Breatheeee… Breatheeee….
“REGINA!” I shouted. I couldn’t help it anymore.
“What the fuck is going on?! FOR GODS SAKE THIS IS GENOCIDE.”
“Not yet.” She replied.
She cut herself rather deep to her wrist and stuck it into my mouth.
“You’re not staying out this time. You’re coming with.” She said, and added: “Swallow!”
While I was doing just that, she explained how I protested last time when she didn’t want me to go with her. Good times.
“Swallow!” I tried, I really tried. It was no better than what it usually tasted like. Copper, warm copper.
I must have swallowed a whole 200 MG cup of it. How do I know? Well that’s about the size of my morning cup of coffee, and I know approximately how I feel after drinking all of it. I was around that level.
“Don’t throw up.” Viktoria said laughing, zipping up behind me.
“Don’t.” She said again and started walking towards the exit. Regina pushed me from behind and I followed, with her behind me.
I was shaking.
Now, years later, I know that the Vampire Diaries, the TV show, says that if you drink vampire blood, and then die, you become a vampire.
The truth is, they are close, but not actually there.
You don’t actually 2need to die. If you get to that point, you’re just that, dead. Instead, you just need to lose a big part of your own blood. Dangerously anemic I would call it.
But the thing is, having vampire blood in you already, will not allow you to lose too much blood. You won’t heal like they do, but it coagulates much faster, the wound doesn’t close, it just stops bleeding really fast. I learned this the hard way, and if you read the story, you know how. Given, if the wound is too large, you’ll most likely just do what any normal person would do, and die.
However, I didn’t know that much at the time, I had my suspicions, but it was fuzzy. Nobody gave me a run-down of vampire characteristics or books to read. Nobody sat me down and explained this and that. I picked it up day by day, some things I got wrong, some turned out to be true. Even to this day, there’s a lot of things I can’t explain or know how they work.
So you see, it’s a very… interesting fact here. A fact that makes it nearly impossible to be turned like this.
Let me put it in other words: The normal way of being turned is by the vampire feeding off you, and then you feeding off her. The moment when the vampire looses enough blood and passes out, you also ingested enough blood of hers, and pass out yourself. Two persons have roughly the same amount of blood if there’s no big difference in body size.
Now, doing it the other way, is a bit impossible. If you feed from the vampire first, she’ll pass out if you drain her, but you won’t, because you haven’t lost any blood. Nothing happens. And if you are wounded after feeding of the vampire, again, you won’t manage to lose enough blood, because it coagulates faster. It works like a super-charged Vitamin K.
I didn’t know all that at the time, I had a hunch, but the whole theory was not clear in my head. I simply figured that, if something happens to me, I’ll turn. I was scared, I was shaking.
We approached a small hotel with a basement bar. The same place where Viktoria was attacked in the first place.
Viktoria went in, me and Regina stayed out. Five minutes in, two persons got out in a rather rushed pace, and ran. We followed them, and I was pretty sure Viktoria was on our footsteps also.
It wasn’t long until we went straight through a park, then through two narrow streets, at the end of the last one being a large building, not tall, just generally large, spread.
They went straight inside, we followed them to the basement. We passed right through the basement, then through a corridor, and ended up in a large interior yard, flanked on all sides by similar two-story buildings. The whole thing smelled horrible, literally.
In front of us, the two guys, observant enough, finally acknowledged someone was following them, and by the time we managed to make ourselves unseen, a rather large number of them started coming out from a door from our right, a door towards which the two guys were now heading too.
I simply stopped and then started backing up with my face still towards them.
Regina stopped too, but didn’t back down. Instead, she started advancing slowly.
That whole crowd started forming, slowly but surely, a semi-circle in front of Regina.
I counted about 20 of them, heavily armed. Simple guns luckily, no RPG, no AK-47. Phew. Phew? It was pretty much, still, the highest number of guns I’ve seen in my life.
Let me rephrase that: It was the first time I had actually seen a gun in my life, not considering the ones I had seen earlier in the ship.
Regina advanced and pulled out from under her jacket, slowly, a cross. A rather big cross. They didn’t flinch, didn’t changed their attitude.
“I was sent here by the Vatican itself. You have something that belongs to us, and we want it back. Please, we mean you no harm.”
She was still advancing.
“STOP!” One of them yelled.
“YOU – NO – VATICAN!”
“We know who you are!” Other one yelled.
And then Regina finally stopped and grabbed her infamous golden knife from inside the jacket. They all tensed when she reached inside, but none made any move.
And while making that move, I knew perfectly well what’s coming. Nothing good. Regina had already started arching her back, bending her knees and pretty much radiating with anger. I could feel it in the air. Ok, I couldn’t actually feel it, but I felt it through the memories that stance inspired in my head.
“If you know who I am. You know what I am.”
“Give me what I want and I’ll leave in peace.”
My heart stopped. No!
Dodged a bullet. Surely that can’t be possible.
And really, it isn’t. But Regina did it. Before you jump to accusations, let me explain.
Any gun has a trigger, and any trigger needs to be, well, triggered. Now, if you ever held a gun, you know that every trigger has a certain weight, some of them have about 5KG of force needed to actually push the trigger. You would also know that the very last part of the trigger is increasingly harder to push. A split-second before actually firing, you end up in that “point of no return” when the trigger is just about to snap and fire, right at that moment. That’s the moment when you apply the most force to a trigger.
You see the hand tensing up, you hear the trigger being pushed more and more, and you get to know, if you can hear it, the exact point of no return, which is about 200 milliseconds before the gun is fired.
Regina could hear that, she was in a full-blown alert. She could hear that perfectly well, and dodged the bullet before the gun was actually triggered. Now, if you can’t hear that, and figure you dodge it anyway, you could end up in that awkward situation where you jump because a bomb is about to explode, but it never does.
This wasn’t the case, Regina ducked before the gun was fired, it happened so fast you couldn’t tell which came first, the shot or the dodge. No jokes about the chicken please.[audio http://k006.kiwi6.com/hotlink/lc4m5gzrf4/05_-_ketto.mp3]
She got up and instantly growled at them. A really, really loud, primal, evil and full of anger growl. Even I tensed up behind her, shivers down my spine. I couldn’t see her face, but I knew it all too well. I knew those dark red eyes, and that primal roar and expression that showed nothing but viciousness, a panther about to jump at you.
The moment when she did that, the whole line of them just backed down a few inches. They still held their ground, but you could tell they were pretty much just seeing it for the first time, most of them, the one that shot was holding his ground.
All around us, from the buildings that formed the interior round, there were cracking sounds and footsteps and in a matter of seconds, all of them, in balconies that ran for the full length of the buildings, were full of people. At first I thought “That’s it, we’re never leaving this place alive.” But then, all of those people jumped from the second floor, and my thoughts changed completely. I knew who all of them were.
The semi-circle was now encircled, almost, by death itself.
Instantly, five of them just backed down and tried to run. Viktoria picked them up in one single run from on side to the other, knocking all of them down as she went by and then just standing to Regina’s left, at 10 o’clock, in front of her but behind the others.
This all happened rather fast, most of the ones around didn’t interfere. Another few of those that remained just dropped their guns and did nothing except just staying there in pure terror, and about 10 of the ones that remained with guns raised, started shooting frantically towards everyone and everything that moved.
I literally saw Regina and Viktoria approaching them one step at a time, walking while being shot at, looking at them straight in the eyes, growling at them and approaching relentlessly. I saw both of them jerking violently as they approached, being hit by one bullet after another. Regina had absolutely no armor, no nothing on her. She just walked towards all of them without backing down. I could see bits and pieces of clothing flying off her.
She got to the point where she was literally 10 centimeters away from them and they were still shooting and in one move she just ripped the throat of the one that shot first, right there, she bit so hard that half of his throat was literally missing. He was still shooting, and not missing, while she did that.
Viktoria pretty much massacred another three of them, and some of the ones that were knocked down by her, got up in the meantime but were held in place by the others.
Three of the ones that were shooting remained, and they stopped shooting.
All in all, there were now only 7 of them left alive.
Regina bent down with one knee to the floor. She looked behind, at me, saw me, and looked back at them.
She looked at Viktoria and Viktoria smiled and tapped her chest in a gesture of saying “Kevlar!”
Regina was coughing blood, almost kneeling. She made a gesture like a horizontal line in front of her, in the air. Without saying anything, with her head bent down.
All of the seven were lined up in front of her, some standing, some to their knees, unable to get up for some reason or another.
I could pretty much tell that she took this very personally, otherwise she wouldn’t even had come here, and wouldn’t have called everyone else like this. It wasn’t really necessary, and five of the ones that were around us could have taken care of this more easily and with fewer casualties. But this was personal to her, and for Viktoria too.
To attempt and strike right at the heart of the kinship… no. Revenge is not a word looked down upon in their world. Revenge is part of everyday life, and is carried out religiously even if futile in the end.
Half of the others were standing guard all around the yard, in random places, but strategically placed so that no single meter remained unobserved. Another half was already picking up dead bodies all around and hauling them through the door from where we came.
Regina started undressing.
Jacket. Shirt. Pants. Almost naked, except underwear. She was bleeding from at least fifteen or twenty different places.
She approached the first one, jerked him to his feet with one hand and just dug deep in him, biting hard while he screamed, and screamed and then stopped screaming, falling down to the floor, dead.
“Where is he?” She asked the others casually.
One bullet to the ground. Ping. It fell out of her and the wound vas visibly closing in front of their eyes. The expression on their face was pure amazement, fear, terror and… amazement again. It was kind of like seeing a dog talk. You don’t really know if you’re amazed or terrified.
None of them said anything.
She picked the next one and repeated the process exactly.
Again, two bullets fell out from her, with a third picking it out herself from a shoulder and dropping it. Wounds closing faster than you could see.
I want to tell you that I wanted to stop her then and ask her not to do that, not to kill all of them, but I can’t. Because that wouldn’t be true. I was actually asking myself how much blood can she drink, and if she can actually drain all of them. I was rather giddy at the thought of that being possible, and was looking forward to seeing the attempt.
I’m a horrible person. I know. But those fucks just tried to kill the only person I’ve ever cared about this much. I would have drained them myself, butcher shop style.
When she picked up the next in line she didn’t even ask anymore. She just did it AGAIN and then looked at them, staring them down, while bullets were coming out of her and wounds closing. They knew the damn question pretty well.
One of them then said:
“Inside… under the trapdoor….”
Regina flicked her head towards Viktoria and waited, wiping blood of her body here and there and taking her pants back on. All of the bullets from her legs were now out, some of them picked out by herself.
Then… the vampire died.