The town was bustling with activity despite the hour. Zion made his way down the street, sticking to the dark shadows of the tall buildings. 1300 years of living on the fringes of society will do that to a person. He didn’t have to hide anymore, but it was ingrained in his DNA, in the blood that flowed through his veins, in his very bones. He was born to be a predator and no amount of civil posturing would change that fact.
No one knew his true age, but they sensed his menacing power as they passed him on the street. They gasped and parted like the red sea to make way for him as he noiselessly moved along the walk, his mane of golden brown hair contrasting with his black leather trench coat. He was decked out in black leathers, from his boots to his gloves, and he looked like trouble raised straight from hell.
A man jumped out of his way as he moved along. Zion grunted hoarsely as he passed by, giving the man a look of pure danger with his piercing silver-blue eyes, an otherworldly shade that bespoke of his deadly origins.
He was bigger than the humans, most males of his kind were, but he was exceptionally huge even for a vampire. They knew him for what he was the moment they laid eyes on his massive form. The average height of a male vampire was six and a half feet and he stood at an amazing six feet ten inches. Vampires were truly giants in every sense of the word, which never made hunting in the old days easy for them. The females were smaller, the same size as a human female. They tended to be the ones who lured in meals for the family while the males watched from the shadows, ready to strike at the first sign of danger. The males were built for battle, protection, and they were the delivers of death and destruction. You did not want to piss one off.
A black BMW pulled up on the street beside Zion. Taking a quick look around, he opened the back door and got inside.
“You have five minutes, so speak sure and true,” a hooded figure said beside him.
Zion looked straight ahead without flinching. “I found her.”
“Are you sure?”
“This project of yours is turning into a cluster fuck.”
Zion clenched his teeth and fists.
“Calm yourself,” the figure beside him ordered.
“Vlad was your agent. I warned you.”
“He was your responsibility. You failed.”
Zions fangs peeked out under his lips and he bit back a snarl. “He killed my blood-maker. He’s insane and now unreachable.”
“We had no way of knowing his mental state.” The mysterious figure spoke softly with regret in his voice. “Get the girl and fix this.”
“I’m trying. She has a soft spot for the dogs. She won’t transfer no matter how much we offer her and her boss is blocking us at every turn.”
“Stop making excuses. Get her to Alaska.”
The car stopped at a red light and Zion jerked the door open and got out. He slammed it and glowered as the vehicle speed away.
Zion’s magnificent hair blew in the cold breeze and he pulled his trench coat tighter around his wide shoulders. It was a common misconception that vampires liked the cold. They hated it.
Another thing Zion hated in particular were humans. Not all vampires were as prejudice as he was, but he had believed for centuries that his blood-maker was killed by a human woman, the very woman that he needed. He had spent as long as he could remember trying to identify her. He had been looking for new agents for his department when he ran across her file, her blue eyes staring back at him.
Nothing made sense when he discovered her file. She was only 24 years old and his blood-maker had been killed over 1000 years ago. But he had never forgotten that face. Her every curve and detail had been burned in his brain since his youth.
He pulled her picture out of an inside pocket of his trench coat and looked at it again, fingering the blonde locks that wisped down her face. She was beautiful, he’ll give her that, but she was trouble and left unchecked threatened to bring his entire world crashing down.
His fangs slid out and he told himself he hated her. Squeezing his lids tightly shut he slumped his shoulders in defeat. He loathed the way his body reacted when he looked at her picture. His memory was impeccable and he hadn’t forgotten the kindness she once showed him, the way he used to feel about her, but the fact remained, his blood-maker was dead because of her. He had to hold onto the hate.
He put the picture back in the inside pocket of his trench coat and made his way down fifth street towards The Company headquarters. The snow still lay thickly on the ground from the winter season, giving the dark afternoon sky a bright glow. That was the only thing good about the bitter cold wasteland he called home, the 24 hours of darkness, which allowed his kind to move about all hours of the day and night at will. Once mid March arrived, nearly all of his kind would make their way south. If they stayed in Alaska, they’d be faced with around the clock sunlight and that was a death sentence.
The Company was a front controlled by his clan. They dealt with all matters of the world including politics, defense, and technology, and he was put in charge by the head clansman of running the whole operation. It was his clan’s way of staying at the top of the game. There were twelve vampire clans all together, and while they remained united in the aftermath of unveiling themselves to humans, things were shaky at best.
Zion gazed over the Southern Alaskan horizon, beyond the snow swept mountains that skirted the city, and smiled when he spotted the Taurian constellation, the namesake of his clan. The night sky was a big part of his race’s lore. How could it not be to those who spent their existence in the starlight and moonlight. The moods of the stars and moon determined their destiny.
Bay Valentine spilled her coffee in her lap when the phone rang. Driving through morning rush hour was the worst, and the storm that hit before dawn wasn’t helping her situation.
“Hold on,” she grumbled, reaching for a napkin she had thrown in the passenger seat. She peered back through the window and looked up at the sky. Dark clouds were billowing overhead and heavy tears were beating down on the windshield, giving the wipers a run for their money.
After patting her lap down, switching off the radio, and dodging a Honda that swerved in her lane, she pressed the phone back to her ear. Thank god she was blessed with a mind for multi-tasking, but that didn’t prevent her from cursing. “Bob, what’s up?”
“Bay, you okay?” Bob asked. “Hang on. Jill fax over the paperwork to the Alaska office. I’m back. Hey Bay, I need you to get down to the center asap. I have a new case for you, and we need to talk.”
“I’m on my way. What’s going on, Bob?”
“Just get down here as soon as you can. I’m afraid I have some news that you’re not going to like.”
“This wouldn’t have something to do with Alaska would it?”
He sighed in the phone. “I’m sorry, Bay. We’ll talk when you get here.”
She hung up the cell and stared out of the window, her lips pressed tight. Alaska was the headquarters for The Company, as many called it, which was a top secret operation ran by the government. Her branch was located in Dallas and they primarily handled anything Spook related in Texas.
Spook was slang for all affairs concerning the supernatural. That was the world now.
It had been a hundred years since the war, when vampires revealed themselves to humans. Their intention was to co-exist peacefully, but humans have never easily accepted those who were different. A hundred years and the world had finally got its shit together, well, for the most part anyway. Vampires and humans were about as close to living harmoniously as they would ever be.
Humans lost that war, and it didn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that would be the result. The vampires had superior strength, speed, and some say intelligence. Each individual of their species has had centuries, and in some rare cases millennia to hone their skills.
Humans could have ended up in perpetual slavery if the vampires chose to take that path, but they didn’t. They maintained that they still wanted a peaceful co-existence with humans, and had no desire to bring harm to their race.
Many were skeptical.
But humans live much like they did before the war. They have jobs, education, health care, and commerce. The biggest difference is the vampires are now deeply ingrained within the government, along with humans. Many laws were changed, and violence against vampires carries a heavy penalty.
Truth was, vampires needed them. They needed them healthy and happy because without willing blood donations they would die of malnutrition. Bay figured they were tired of living lives of violence on the fringes of society, and who could blame them.
The vampires had been keeping a little secret though. They weren’t the only supernatural creatures who had been living in the shadows of civilization since the dawn of mankind. About ten years ago, a disgruntled vampire ousted Werewolves on national TV. He had captured one and filmed the poor creature transforming into wolf form during the full moon. The entire world was shocked once again.
Vampires and Werewoves have a rocky history of bloodshed and hatred. A huge propaganda campaign was started by some wealthy vampires claiming that Werewolves weren’t people, they were actually dangerous animals who killed human children and lived in strange cults they called packs.
So the killing started again, but this time vampires and humans were working together for a common goal.
About a year ago a tech savvy pack of Werewolves hacked the public access channel and aired a special they had been filming which was sort of like a reality piece, chronicling the daily lives and struggles of their people.
The humans were shocked.
The suffering and slaughter reaped tore a nation of hearts apart. They saw werewolf children crying in despair over dead parents. The special focused on the stories of several young werewolves. One was a five year old boy named Caden who told the camera he didn’t understand why humans hated him so much and killed his mommy, daddy, and sister. Another was a teenager named Blade who spent his days in their version of a classroom learning math and literature. He had a severed arm from an attack by a group of humans who murdered his pack. He went home everyday alone, and slept under the stars, tears flowing down his face because he was utterly and completely traumatized for life.
The humans mourned.
Humans were angry at the vampires for making them believe that Werewolves were nothing more than savage creatures. They were just like them, only in tune more with nature and the Earth.
The vampires responded with their own special showing Werewolves corning vampire children in dark alley ways and other nefarious activities.
But it was too late and humans were tired of being manipulated in an age-old war that pre-dated their civilization.
The people rose up and demanded that Werewolves were given equal rights and protection under the law.
So here they were, in the aftermath of one of the bloodiest eras in human history, first vampires, and then Werewolves.
They still had a lot of repairing between the races to do and even vampires seemed willing to make a mends.
That’s where people like Bay came in. Her job at The Company was to place orphaned Werewolf pups with families who had a pack and who would love them and give them a new home. The new case Bob spoke of, that would be an orphan needing placement, but it had become harder and harder to place the pups. The regulations were strict. Many packs were just looking to increase their numbers for warrior purposes and laws were put in place for the orphans own protection.
Bay pulled up to the center and quickly rushed inside out of the rain, her coat getting drenched on the way. She slopped her way to one of the lines at the security turnstile and pressed her finger on the print verification pad. The Company didn’t just handle Werewolf relations. They were a branch of the United States government that pretty much had their fingers in all matters concerning the supernatural, so security was pretty tight.
Her particular center had a Were relations department on the second floor, which is where she worked, and the third floor handled the Spook hotline for the entire state of Texas. The hotline pretty much covered any crimes reported in the state that were related to the supernatural. The first floor is where the TSA (Texas Supernatural Agents) were located. They investigated crimes reported to the hotline. They really didn’t have a vampire department, since there were so few in the area anymore.
“Morning, Miss Valentine. Looks like a doozy outside,” the security guard said as she pushed her way through the turnstile.
“Yea, so much for makeup and hair today,” she said, smoothing out her blonde mess. He chuckled, eyeing her drenched hair. “Have a good one, Joe.”
“You too, Miss Valentine. You have a good day.”
Yea, that’s probably unlikely, given Bob’s tone on the phone. She had a bad feeling that The Company had some sort of plan for her. All employees were required to take a test last summer to find out what their optimum skill set was. To her dismay, she got one of the highest scores out of thousands of employees in the field agent section of the test. She had already turned down one offer for the TSA, but when The Company was dead set on something, they usually got their way. She preferred to work with the pups. She liked children and her job was meaningful and fulfilling. Plus, she had spent the last two years building a rapport with the local packs. The only thing that had kept her in Dallas, was Bob, who stood by his statement that she was a valuable asset in the Were relations department.
She rode up the elevator and made her way out onto the second floor. Yea, her boss was a good guy, but sometimes he gave her the creeps. He’d been eyeing her in a particular way since she started working at the center. He wasn’t bad looking or anything, but there was the tiny little issue that he was married. She may not be perfect, but she was no home wrecker.
She walked over to her cubicle and took off her soaked jacket. She glanced over to see Bob waving her in through the window wall in his office. He was on the phone, and he looked pissed as hell.
She walked in right as he was hanging up the phone. “Have a seat, Bay,” he said, running a hand through his messy, black hair and turning to retreat behind his desk.
He looked over at her with hooded eyes after he sat down. “How ya been, Bay? We haven’t really talked much lately.”
“You said something about a new pup and some news I wouldn’t like?” She didn’t really feel like dealing with Bob’s banter, and she was ready to get down to business.
He cleared his throat. “Yea, little guy was found last night out in Houston. He’s seven years old. The thing is we just don’t have any prospects to place him.”
Her eyes widened. “What about the Carters in the Ft. Worth pack?”
“They changed their mind. She got pregnant.”
“Shit,” she cursed, looking down. “We’ll just have to loosen up on our criteria for adoption.”
“We can’t do that, Bay. The law is the law. Those regulations are in place for the pup’s protection.”
“I’ll branch out if I have to. I’ll reach out to some centers in other states, whatever it takes.”
“They all have their own problems. They aren’t going to take an orphan from another state. Fact is, this has been a long time coming. It’s been getting harder and harder for you to make placements for awhile now.”
“Well hell, Bob. What do you expect me to do then?” She stared at him in horror, her heart breaking for the little guy that was homeless.
He took a deep breath and folded his hands on the desk, staring at them as if they were all the sudden interesting.
“I’ve been making calls all morning. The center up in Alaska thinks they may be able to place the boy with a pack up there, good prospect with a family that’s been trying to adopt for awhile.”
“I thought you said other states wouldn’t take him.”
“Well there is one thing though,” he said frowning.
“What thing? What do you mean one thing?” She scooted to the edge of her chair.
“They want you, Bay,” he slumped his shoulders. “They’ll only take the boy if you transfer to their center and take the position they want you for.”
Bay stared at him in shock. “What position?”
“I don’t know. Top level shit. I don’t even have clearance.” He cursed and shook his head. “You don’t have to take it, Bay. I don’t know… we’ll figure something out for the boy. The Company has just been waiting for an opportunity to snag you up in some deeper shit for awhile.”
“I’ve heard stories about the operation up in Alaska.”
“Grand central station. Who knows what sort of things they have going on up there. Most of their agents are vampires. I just don’t like it, Bay.”
“Well it shouldn’t matter if they’re vampires. We’re past prejudice.”
Bob laughed and leaned back in his chair, staring at her with wild eyes. “You only say that because you aren’t ever around them. Hardly any in our area. Your job is during the day and our center only has two vampire employees. What I do know is your hours will be during the night, as if that matters, it’s dark practically all the damn time anyway up there. Vampires are out and about all hours of the day in that god forsaken place. Shit Bay, the vampires outnumber the humans there. Do you have any idea what that means?”
Alaska was a booming haven for vampires seeing as how six months of the year it was completely dark. During the summer season they tended to head down to southern Argentina, which never complained about all the incoming tourism and profit the vampires brought with them.
She looked over at Bob who looked like he was about to have an aneurism. “Well they’re only there for half the year anyway.”
He stood to his feet and started shaking his head. He turned to her and practically screamed. “No, your position requires half the year in Alaska and half the year in Argentina. They want you working with the vampires on some big project in the technology department.”
“So it’s not an agent position?”
“I don’t know, Bay. Like I said, I don’t have clearance. Just say no so I can make the call and let them know you declined their offer.”
She looked over at the wall of Bob’s office. There was a poster of the Alaska center hanging by his coffee machine. The place was massive. She couldn’t believe she was actually considering this, but she found the prospect of it a little thrilling, and she would be doing it for a good cause. She would be finding the pup a good home.
“Bay, don’t you even think about it.”
“I have to, Bob. My morals can’t allow me to abandon the pup. I’m going to Alaska…”