Previously, on "Nightfall"…

Nightfall: The First Season

The world is over-run by vampires, and a small group of survivors fight to live through another day, soon finding that they are not alone…and that the vamps are organized.

Nightfall: The Second Season

We learn more about the truth behind the vampires, and of their Lord, and of the military plans to try and eliminate them. They are joined, occasionally, by a group of "Holy" vampires, members of the cloth that were killed by vamps but returned with the powers of a Master and none of the blood lust.

Nightfall: Predator

A military group of survivors, located in Georgia, encounter an alien creature that has come to earth to hunt, and become involved in a battle between it and a Master vampire. (Located at Fanfiction.net, this story takes place close to the end of the second season, and deals with new characters, which later join the main story arc.)

Nightfall: The Third Season

The survivors deal with creatures created by the Vampire Lord; truths about themselves; and with other dangers. They also encounter the Pack, a group of lycanthropes that have been in hiding for generations, and are now ready to face down the vampires once and for all.

Nightfall: The Final Season

The battle is taken to Germany, as the group strives to reach the lair of the Vampire Lord, but their quest is not an easy one. Bizarre creatures and even Angels and Demons become involved in their quest, and they learn that there is more than one fate possible

Nightfall: Oblivion

The final battle takes place, deep with the lair of Bartholomew, to decide the fate of the world.

Nightfall: Resurgence

A new threat rises up, in the form of a vampire-lycanthrope hybrid, seeking to be the new, dominant species of the world. As if that were not enough trouble for the survivors, they must also deal with the apparent return of the Vampire Lord, Bartholomew.

Nightfall: Hunters

Bill and Roy join a military team to investigate the abandoned lair of the clones of the Vampire Lord, but the lairs turns out to be anything but abandoned. With their forces quickly decimated, the team finds its self prisoners of the vampires.

Bill manages to escape, after an intense battle with someone from their past, and learns that Bartholomew is not dead but merely held captive, and that he had planned on such an occurrence.

With contact lost with the team, the main military forces plan a nuclear strike against the lair, unaware that their people are still alive.

And now…

NIGHTFALL: Retroactive

"The Fallen Earth"

Twenty years later…

Nick checked over his clip for the tenth time, inspecting the silver rounds then slapping it back into place, drawing annoyed looks from the other two men with him. Neither of the men had ever seen Nick so nervous, at least not on guard duty, and it was beginning to wear on them.

"You keep checking your weapon like you expect something to go wrong with it, Nick," said Burt, rising from the stack of cinder blocks that he had been setting on.

Nick just shrugged.

"Come on, Nick, what's eating you?" asked Tom, the third member of their party. "It's not like you to be this edgy."

"They should have been back by now," said Nick. "Gary shouldn't have put so much trust in the word of a stranger."

"Stranger? Al's been with us for almost a year," countered Burt.

"And in that year he's barely left the hole," pointed Nick, referring to the underground stronghold that they lived in. "I find it a little too convenient that he finally accepts a scouting run and then stumbles across a cache of military weapons."

"He had two rocket launchers as proof, man," argued Burt. "How much damn convincing do you need?"

"Gary should've let me check it out first."

"I don't care if you have killed more vamps that most of us, that doesn't give you the right to start bucking the system. Gary's kept us going for almost ten years, man. I don't see any reason to doubt his judgment."

"And Nick's intuition's saved us plenty of times," defended Tom. "If he says he's got a bad feeling about this, then I'm inclined to believe him."

"Someone's coming," said Nick, his voice barely a whisper, and the three of them crouched down, their weapons at the ready.

After a few seconds of tense silence, Burt stood up, and said, "I don't see anyone. Don't hear anything either."

"Ten o'clock," said Nick, already aiming his weapon in that direction.

"I still don't see…" Burt trailed off as a shadow advanced from the deep darkness of the trees.

"It's Gummer," said Nick, rising. Then, heading towards the staggering shadow, added, "He's hurt."

Nick was more than half across the small clearing before the other two men could even react, and he had already reached Gummer and helped him to the ground by the time they caught up with him.

"Sweet Jesus," exclaimed Burt, seeing that Gummer had been nearly sliced open, and that the man had been holding himself together, keeping his insides from spilling out. He was drenched with his own blood, and his face was cut up and bruised.

"Get the Doc up here," ordered Nick, snapping Tom out of his stunned silence. Tom bolted back towards the entrance of the hole, trying to recall what tonight's contact code was.

"Where in the hell are the others?" wondered Burt, scanning the surrounding area, nervously aiming his weapon about. "What in the hell's going on?"

"Shut up," growled Nick, straining to hear what Gummer was trying to say.

"Am…ambush," coughed Gummer, blood spilling from his mouth. "They're…coming."

Gummer's head listed to one side, his eyes dulling, and Nick let go of his body.

"Shit," cursed Burt. "That son of a bitch led them to us."

"No. He didn't," said Nick, standing and pointing behind Burt. "He did."

Burt spun around and emitted a choked cry as he saw Al standing at the edge of the woods, a couple of dozen other people standing with him.

"Oh, shit," swore Burt.

"I get the feeling you don't like me much, Nick," said Al, with a smirk.

"About as much as any other Thrall that I've met."

"After tonight," started Al, slowly walking towards the pair of human, "I'll be one of them. It was so nice of Gary to let us take his best fighters out of the picture first."

"Not all of us," said Nick, raising his weapon and firing. His move was faster than any of the vamps would have thought possible, and he splattered Al's brains across their group.

"Run," commanded Nick, laying down cover fire as Burt broke into a run for the entrance.

The vamps had, at first, started to advance on the two humans, hissing and snarling in rage, but that had changed as they saw a number of their kind drop to the ground, withering in pain from the silver slugs.

With the vamps dispersing in a panic, Nick turned and hightailed it after Burt, catching up with the man as he reached the concrete and steel entrance. Nick slammed the heavy door shut behind them, locking it with a metal bar that hung on braces, much like the doors of older times, before the invention of locks.

Such was the state of the world today.

"No one's answering," said Tom, holding the phone limply in his hand.

"What?" asked Nick.

The phone was, like all others in the hole, wired directly; again borrowing on out dated technology, and ran off of a hand crank. The only way that one of them would become disabled, besides being destroyed, was if a line was severed.

"No one's answering," repeated Tom, his voice tinged with panic.

"They're inside," realized Nick, his voice low.

"They can't be," stammered Burt. "This is the only entrance!"

The vamps were pounding on the steel door, tiny dents beginning to form on it from their continual assault, and the humans knew that it wouldn't be long before they breeched the door.

"The emergency exit. Burke could have misted and gotten in, and then opened it for the others."

"Their Master's here!?!" Tom nearly yelled, becoming gripped with hysteria.

"We've got to get out of here, now," said Nick, turning to remove the bar from the door.

"Are you crazy?" roared Burt, grabbing Nick's arm. "They'll rip us to shreds."

"They're vamps. We can take them," snapped Nick. Pointing to the metal hatch that sealed the ladder leading down into the hole, he added, "We can't take their Master. And sooner or later, he's going to come up through there."

"We…we don't know that they're inside," argued Burt, sounding more like he was trying to convince himself of that more than the others.

"Burt. We can do this."

Nick's voice was strong and commanding, and Burt felt his resolve strengthen. Even Tom stood a little straighter, looking as if he were in control of himself again, his panic pushed back down.

"We can do this," Nick said again, and the two men nodded.

Nick placed a hand on the bar holding the door shut, looked back at his two friends for a moment, then yanked it free of its braces, jumping back and raising his weapon.

The door slammed inward, three vamps stumbling to the ground in response to its unexpected opening, and Nick stitched a trail of slugs across their backs. The vamps began screaming and twisting about, and their comrades backed away from the opening, wary of the weapons of the humans.

The three men stepped out into the open, covering each other's back, firing at any vamp that worked up the nerve to try an attack them.

"We need to get to the garage," said Nick.

"Do you really think they haven't already trashed the vehicles?" asked Burt.

"What are we going to do?" asked Tom. "We've got about two hours until sunrise. We can't hold out that long."

"Trust me," said Nick, dropping another vamp with a short burst. "I've got a plan."

More vamps were beginning to show up, swelling their numbers, and in short time there was a small mob of them circling the humans. The vamps were snarling and hissing, darting sideways, eager for one of the humans to glance the wrong way.

"Time to mow the yard," announced Nick, flicking a small switch on the side of his weapon and going full auto with the heavy-caliber machine gun.

The darkness was parted by streaks of blue, the tracer rounds leading trails to each vamp that they struck, and Nick leveled the field in seconds, only a few of the creatures managing to escape the onslaught of silver slugs.

"Go. Now!" yelled Nick, his two friends bolting across the open grass, away from the trees sheltering the remaining vamps, and making a beeline for the garage.

Nick counted off ten seconds, squeezing off the occasional shot at any vamp brave enough to peer out from behind a tree, and then started off after his friends. He continually looked back over his shoulder, pleased to find that none of the creatures were willing to risk injury to pursue them, and began to think that they might make it after all.

That was when the screams erupted from in front of him.

Nick slid to a stop, his soul bound in terror as he saw Burke, the local Master, standing before the limp forms of Tom and Burt. The Master held a lumpy mass in each hand, blood dripping from them, and Nick knew that they were the hearts of his dead friends.

"So, you are the one they call Nick," said Burke, dropping the hearts and then raising one hand to lick the blood from it. "You don't look like the great warrior that my minions would have me believe you to be."

"And you look just like any other asshole vampire," responded Nick.

"But I'm not," whispered Burke, suddenly standing before Nick, "just any other asshole vampire."

Nick went to raise his weapon but Burke already had a hand wrapped around it, holding it firmly in place, and a chill ran down Nick's spine as he heard the metal groan as the Master effortlessly crushed it.

Burke's hand shot up, his nails now lengthened into razor sharp talons, and swished through empty air as Nick twisted about and leaned to the side, avoiding the deadly instruments.

To Nick, it had seemed to occur in slow motion. The Master had tried to slice into him and he had reacted, dodging out of the way. To Burke, it had been nothing short of miraculous, the fact that a mere human had managed to evade his strike.

"Impressive," complimented Burke, after a second's hesitation.

Nick took the initiative, dropping and sweeping out with one leg, knocking the Master off of his feet. Burke hit the ground, but it had little affect on him, and he easily blocked the elbow that Nick had intended to smash into his face.

With the slightest push, Burke sent Nick tumbling backwards, the man falling into it and coming back up in a crouched position, ready to face Burke, who was already back on his feet and standing just out of reach of the human.

"Most impressive indeed," said Burke, smiling.

"You'll find that I'm full of surprises," said Nick, returning the Master's smile.

Nick launched himself from his crouch, catching Burke in the midsection, and sending both of them crashing to the ground, Nick with his forearm pressed firmly against Burke's neck.

"Do you think that you are anymore than an annoyance, human?" hissed Burke, actually struggling against Nick's strength.

"No," answered Nick, reaching to his side with his free hand and raising a stake that had been strapped to his leg. "But this might be."

Burke's eyes widened as Nick started to bring the stake down in an arc towards his chest, but then Nick was suddenly gone from atop of him, knocked to the ground by two of Burke's minions that had finally ventured from the shelter of the trees.

The two vamps had been strong when they had been humans, both professional weightlifters, and now that they were vamps they were twenty times as strong, physically equaling a Master. They held Nick firmly in place, each of them holding onto one of his arms, and looked to their Master with eyes like that of a puppy seeking to be complimented.

Burke rose straight up to stand before the captive Nick, his face twisted with rage, and he backhanded the human across the face, blood spraying from Nick's mouth and nose.

The scent of fresh blood stirred the two vamps, and they fidgeted about, licking their lips and snarling, hoping that their Master would let them tear into the human. The blood of the humans that inhabited their city may have sustained them, but it was the blood of complacent sheep, and it did not taste nearly as exciting as the blood of a human that defied them.

"Control your selves," snapped Burke, causing the vamps to lower their heads in shame. "He is not for you."

Nick spat a bloody wad that struck Burke's chest.

"He is mine," said Burke, his jaw stretching longer and his teeth lengthening impossibly. "Let us seek how you like being my bitch."

Burke began to lean in to tear into Nick's neck when he suddenly felt something cold and metal pushed against the side of his head.

"Let's not," said a voice that had barely registered on Burke when it was engulfed by a thunderous boom.

The Master's head blew apart in a cloud of bone, flesh, and brain, and his body flashed away in bright flame that left a crumbling pile of ash.

The two vamps holding Nick managed to look at each other in surprise before they burst away in a cloud of dust, as did every vampire that Burke had ever made. Kill the Master, kill his brood.

Nick looked to the stranger with trepidation, one side of his face red and swollen, and he slightly nodded in recognition to the fact that the man had just saved his life.

"You okay?" asked the man, slipping his pistol back into its holster.

"I've been worse," answered Nick.

"Good. We need to get as many people out of his pens that we can. The neighboring Masters will be laying claim to this land, and you can bet that there'll be Thralls swarming over the city by noon."

"I don't know how many of us are left," said Nick.

"Your whole group's dead," said the man, coldly, heading towards the garage that had been Nick's original destination. "Burke struck there first. You were just dessert."

Somehow, Nick had known that, he just hadn't wanted to admit it.

"I've got friends already heading into the city. We've got transportation for all of them, but we need to be quick about. The Thralls shouldn't be smart enough to figure out where we went, and by the time night falls, we'll be too far gone for the other Masters to try and track."

"Wait a minute," said Nick, slurring slightly from his swollen lip. "Who the hell are you? What friends? What in the hell's going on?"

The man halted, sighing deeply, as if annoyed, and turned to face Nick.

"Who the hell are you?" reiterated Nick.

"Call me Bill."

To Be Continued…