Twilight. This had been the most stressful part of my day for the past two weeks. I gave myself a moment to appreciate the beauty of the cloudless sky through the canopy of treetops in the forest. The sun was on its way out for the day, heading over to another area of the planet to illuminate and protect the people there.

I was always amazed at how many different colors could share the sky at one time. I didn't pay much attention before; when these colors didn't mean the difference between life and death to me. To the east, the sky was darkening; the deep blue, a promise of the pending night time hours. I shivered and turned my back on that deep blue to concentrate on the beauty the sun was leaving behind. I could still see half of it, which comforted me. In its wake I could see reds, pinks, purples, and oranges. It reminded me of the havoc speed boats wreak on the smooth surface of the ocean.

After another few minutes of admiring the sky I shook myself and continued through the woods to find a safe spot to spend the dark hours. My hiding place last night had been perfect. I was sad to leave it, but I knew better than to stay put for two nights in a row. I hated to even stay stationary for a whole night, but I knew it would be better to sit and keep watch than to go traipsing through the woods. It wasn't safe to go anywhere after dark…especially for me.

I had made one mistake two weeks ago, and that had kept me on the run. If it weren't for that one mistake I could be living peacefully. Well, as peacefully a rogue human could live.

After the vampires glamoured everyone, two weeks ago, to erase the humans' memories of their existence, they started looking for rogues. It hadn't been too hard at first, what with census records and the inevitable paper trail we tend to leave behind.

That hadn't been my mistake. It was inevitable that the vampires would know I existed and that I hadn't been glamoured. However, I had led them right to me two weeks ago. Now I was only a few precious daylight hours ahead of them. That was why I needed to be awake and alert at night. I needed to know if they had gained any ground on me.

It had taken a while to get my sleeping schedule to match the vampires', but it had been absolutely necessary. My nights now consisted of staying up, vigilantly observing my surroundings to keep myself alive, while during the daylight hours I ate and slept. It wasn't much of a life… but I was alive. And more importantly, I still had my memory. I still knew what was out there and how vicious, manipulative and deadly an enemy it was.

I continued through the woods, struggling with the increasing lack of light. A flashlight would have been helpful—but not practical. It was bad enough that a vampire could smell me from yards away; I didn't need to illuminate myself as well.

The heavy canopy above me and the increasingly difficult-to-walk-through undergrowth was a welcome site. It meant that I was getting into the deepest part of the woods; the part least likely to have vampires walking through. They weren't exactly the stroll-through-the-woods type.

Finally I found a tree that would be my safe-house for the night. It was a tall Hemlock with branches low enough for me to reach at 5'3". Once in the tree, I scurried up as high as I could get. The branches were fuller and grew closer together. My new altitude helped (hopefully) to lessen my scent, and the foliage was good cover for me.

I got as comfortable as I could with each of my legs resting on a branch. My knees were tucked up to my chest and my back was resting against the trunk of the tree. Heaving a big sigh, I settled into a long night of anxious waiting. Although I had been able to reverse my schedule fairly well, I still had that human urge to sleep at night. Fighting the demand my body was making for me to close my eyes; I instead lost myself in the memories of a time when my life made sense.

Back before the war started—even then things had been close to normal. I had only been eleven when the vampires came out and proved their existence. It was almost all I'd ever known. But before the war, things hadn't been too bad. It hurt to think about the family I could never see again but memories were all I had. Although I missed them all equally, I have come to realize it's different with each member.

My mother was a dull ache in my chest. She had been my anchor my whole life. When I was younger, we had misunderstood each other, I was a terror of a teenager and she just didn't know how to deal with me; no one did. Since I went away to school three years ago, we had become best friends. She is the first person I went to with any problem and no matter what it was she is always there for me. Now, for the first time in my entire life, I had a problem that she couldn't help me with. She couldn't even know about it.

My younger brother, on the other hand, was the stabbing pain in my heart. I, at twenty one, was older than him by three years. He was my built-in partner in crime since he could walk. I should have been with him now. I should have been there to protect him, though he'd grown to be much bigger than me in the past few years. Whenever I thought about him, the need to run back home became stronger than ever. But I couldn't do that. I could never go home; I would just put them all in danger.

Last but not least was my father, my safe place. That pain tingled and coursed through my veins. He had been my foundation all throughout my life. My rock. Always there in the background but never changing. He didn't always know how to show his feelings properly, but whenever I just needed a hug he was quick to provide. My father was the epitome of that saying that you will never find a man as good as your father. He has always and will always be the number one man in my life. A small expression of my grief slid out of the corner of my eye and made its way down my cheek before running out of skin to travel on. The tear silently dripped off my jaw and fell onto the forest floor below me.

I took another deep breath and wiped the tear's remnants off my face with the back of my hand. I couldn't afford to have these kinds of thoughts now. Crying wasn't going to change the past. Crying wouldn't let me go back home.

Scanning as much of the woods as I could see from where I sat, I realized nothing had changed since before my trip down memory lane. It was actually pretty quiet and that was a relief. I would have been pissed if a vampire had the chance to sneak up on me because I had been crying. That would have been really pathetic.

As I continued to silently berate myself, I felt my stomach begin to knot. That was strange—I had had a half-way decent meal before dark. Then the hair on the back of my neck began to prickle and stand up as if there was a lot of static electricity in the air.

I knew this feeling; it was one of them.

I immediately pulled my legs closer to my chest and made my breathing as quiet as I could. I couldn't see it, but my reaction as their natural prey told me the vampire couldn't be far. I listened as best as I could but was able to hear nothing.

It was completely quiet. Too quiet.

I mentally kicked myself. The abnormal quiet of the forest should have been my first clue. Animals were more in touch with their basic instincts—way more so than humans were, for obvious reasons. As I was thinking that through, I saw him step into a small shaft of moonlight that had filtered through the thick layer of leaves.

He looked to be about six feet tall and of medium build. From this view, his hair looked white but I was sure it must have actually been blonde in any other light. His eyes were too dark for me to make out a color from this distance. None of his features were very distinct; he looked exactly like hundreds of other guys his age. There was nothing visually threatening about him. But I knew that he could easily kill me within seconds.

The vampire had been walking at a brisk pace, but I watched him slow and stop about five feet from the trunk of my tree. I knew he must have smelled me. I thought quickly and finally decided to wait it out. I figured that there was a possibility that the vampire might think the scent was old and disregard it.

No such luck.

The vampire continued to sniff around the base of my tree. Finally he looked up into the tree's thick branches. I could see him clearly and thought it was safe to assume that he could see me too. My assumption turned out to be correct.

"Breakfast? Mmm, and one whose memory is still intact?! Tsk, tsk, tsk, little girl. Now why don't you come down here and get it over with so I don't have to come and get you?"

I hated vampires as a general rule, but this guy was already pissing me off. "Fuck off," I replied, cringing slightly at the raspy sound that came out. I obviously didn't use my voice often enough anymore.

"Aw, come on little girl. I don't want to get all dirty coming up to get you," he whined.

I knew he wasn't going away so I needed a plan. I slowly and carefully slid my shirt up so I could grab one of the homemade stakes I had stashed there. The vampire was having too much fun annoying me to realize what I had in my hand. I was lucky because if he had noticed, I would have been dead before my body hit the forest floor.

The vampire began counting down from twenty. I knew I needed to act before he got to "one" or I wouldn't be able to anymore.

Even though I had anticipated this, and had even planned for this, it still scared me to be faced with killing any living creature. Though I used the term "living" loosely when describing vampires, the fact that I despised them made it marginally easier.

I searched around me for a quick way to get down to him while still having the upper hand. I though about letting him come up to me and then staking him, but I realized that would be too risky. Just then my eyes landed on the perfect branch and the plan laid itself out beautifully in my mind.

Taking a deep breath, I put the stake between my teeth and I mentally counted to three before I jumped. There was a sturdy branch about three feet down from where I was stationed. I let myself fall and at the last second grabbed the thick branch. I swung forward once, getting a small momentum going so I could propel myself toward the vampire.

He was too busy watching my acrobatics to react. The second time I swung forward I let go of the branch and found myself free-falling toward the vampire. I quickly took the stake out from between my teeth and raised my arm, poised to strike. At the last second, the vampire realized what I had and figured out my plan. This must have been a recent addition to the undead because instead of running away or just killing me, the vampire put his hands up in front of his face. Such a human reaction.

He was too late.

The speed at which I was falling, combined with the rage I had inside of me, was enough for the stake to go straight into the vampire's heart and almost out to the other side. He put his arms down and stared at me dumfounded. I watched him look down at the stake with the same look of shock on his face before his body crumbled into ash. The stake made a hollow sound on the forest floor when it fell.

"Wow," was all I could manage to say. Then I thought about the repercussions. "Aw, hell," I muttered to no one in particular before taking off into the woods in the opposite direction from which the vampire had come.

I had just put them on my trail again. Obviously I needed to make the distance between me and them a wider margin or figure out a new plan. My mind ran though ideas but none of them would work. I finally resigned myself to the idea that I would be on the run for quite a long time.

One more night. After years of unnatural coexistence, months of meticulous planning, and days of the tensest nerves known to our kind, it came down to this. We were mere hours away from the liberties we'd once enjoyed, and would once again at long last. I turned to survey the faces of my colleagues, who stood in an arc around the dark mahogany desk at which I was seated. I'd summoned them here tonight to make certain that all last-minute tasks had been completed, to confirm schedules for the following evening, and finally, to express my gratitude. Their tireless laboring in these past two weeks would not soon be forgotten.

To my right, I heard a shift in the floorboards, as a figure broke formation to approach my desk. "My Serafina," I said, smiling.

"Lysander, sir," she quickly amended, remembering my position at the last minute, "it is my understanding that all assistant directors and representatives have confirmed their placements. Our software has been tested, and is running flawlessly, and each of our targeted locations will be filled to capacity by 8 pm tomorrow," she informed me, her face possessing a beautiful calm, the likes of which I had not seen in nearly a decade.

"Furthermore, all of our security systems have been set in place, and I've just finished calibrating you surveillance equipment. Here's your new remote control," she added, tossing a small device loaded with buttons, "and I'll be by ten minutes early to show you how everything works. In essence, all systems are a 'go'," she concluded, laughing slightly at her use of so modern and technical a phrase.

"Let's rock and roll," I joked back, thereby putting an unofficial end to the high-strung nervousness felt collectively by the group. It was quickly replaced with a more anticipatory excitement.

After a few more announcements, the briefing session came to a close. My colleagues began to scatter toward their houses, or to settle any final preparations for their respective roles in the events to take place the following evening, or perhaps to find one last meal before daybreak. Only Serafina remained in my office now, as I packed my computer case and shut down the computers in the office. She and I chatted idly while I did these things. At one point, her voice took on a more serious tone. "This is it," she said, somewhat resolutely, "we're really going to do this. No more rules and regulations. No more denying our true nature. We're finally going to be free again."

"It's really been a long time coming, Serafina. The past ten years have been a dark time," and I paused for her to see the irony in that, which she acknowledged with an appropriate snort, "but it's time for us to go back to the ground. We are too strong and too fierce a force to have been so contained."

"Yes," she agreed simply. Then, in an almost worried tone, she added, "but you're sure this will work? That enough people will be convinced of our nonexistence to alter the memory of the entire human race?"

"Fina," I cooed, hoping to soothe her anxieties, "we cannot fail. Be realistic. If even half the world were assembled by our brethren in the international government, and they all fall prey to our persuasion, who can argue? Who among the human race would dare take on the leaders of the entire world? I daresay none would ever dream of attempting it, but even if one did, he would be right where we want him. Directly on our radar."

At that, I gently tapped the computer case containing my portable computer, the base operating system to the recently created program we'd been using to track down almost three quarters of the world's population, by use of means as simple as census records, as well as means as complex as military-owned satellite feeds of most of the planet. She seemed satisfied with my response, and after hitting the lights and locks in my office, we stepped out into the brisk, dark night. During the drive home, which I'd have to have made thousands of times since my appointment as the Assistant Director of our "Take Back the Night" program, as well as the manager of our cover operation Dead Of Night Security Co., I allowed my mind to wander. It had certainly been an eventful night. There seemed to be a lot of memorable nights since that one three weeks ago, when we'd won what was now being referred to as "The Dead War". The "we" in question, of course, were my brethren of the night. The undead. Vampires. Once our existence had been made formally known ten years prior, it had been an existence of persecution and prosecution. For what we were, how we sustained ourselves—subsisting on the blood of live humans—we were feared and cruelly punished. From anti-vampire legislation to feeding restrictions to even limiting where we were permitted to reside, finally the time had come when we could no longer allow ourselves to be treated as inferiors.

So began our slow and thorough scheme to "take back the night". Through years of training, the oldest and most powerful of us had begun to organize. A combination of centuries of experience and our natural persuasive abilities landed our kind in the highest government positions worldwide. It was easy, considering the fact that we need only make direct eye contact with any human to glamour them and alter their thoughts and memories. We were everywhere. Kings and queens, presidents and prime ministers, all with pale skin and fangs. Humankind knew all along what we were doing; there was no way to conceal our nature on so grand a scale, but there was no real need either. After a year of silent, effortless coup, we had the U.S. Britain. China. Egypt. NAFTA. OPEC. There was no opposition, because we killed the competition. No fear or repercussion, because even the youngest of vampires could never be taken down by any human. Our speed, our strength, our cunning, were no match for such useless tools as guns and knives.

Admittedly, our losses were due entirely to mistakes made by our side. Had it never come to light that there were things which would destroy us—stakes, sunlight, decapitation—we may have gotten away with fewer brothers and sisters lost to the cause. Our gains, however, were enormous. No vampires were destroyed in vain. And now, with all key players put in place, we were on the brink of the largest attack in our power... an attack on the human mind.

I finally pulled my car, a beautiful black Lincoln Navigator courtesy of my work, up the long drive to my coven's home. It was nearing dawn, only about a half hour until the sun would start to rise, taking with it our freedom to roam. I guided the car into the garage, walked around to the front of the house, and put my key in the door. Then it opened, seemingly of its own accord. There before me stood Serafina, with one hand extended toward my computer case. She took it and brought it over to the small desk in the living room, unpacking the laptop wordlessly. This was nothing new. Serafina, who had once belonged to my coven and lived in this house with all of us, had had one too many disagreements with many of the coven and wanted to break off to live on her own a few months ago. However, the last few days had been hard on her, spending them alone when it was a time of celebration for our kind. She had no reason to go home to her empty apartment. So here she stood, waiting for me to say something.

"As always, I'm glad to see you again, Serafina, though you must have driven recklessly quickly to have beaten me here," I half joked. Though she did have a tendency to drive like a lunatic, I couldn't truthfully be concerned for her own safety. I did wish, however, that she would take into consideration the safety of those around her. Humans are very breakable. "But to what do I owe this pleasure, so close to the time for sleep?"

"That's just it," she explained quietly. "On a day like today, I don't want to sleep alone."

And as the sky outside began to brighten, Serafina and I climbed down the steps to the light-tight crawlspace beneath my bedroom floor.

That was how it came to be that I awoke the following evening with my left hand in the firm yet gentle grasp of her right.

My eyes popped open and I turned on my side to check the clock I kept next to the beautiful slab of marble on which I slept. Six in the evening. At that moment, emotions washed over me in waves. Excitement. Fear. Anticipation. Elation. Hunger... well, that could be satiated soon enough. I had to go to my office anyway, as I was stationed to be there for this evening's event. It was a simple matter of convenience, truly, that I worked as the manager of a vampire-run security company. We were the largest vampire-owned business in all of the Buffalo, New York area, and were responsible for maintaining the safety of many of the most prominent corporate properties in the entire state. We also provided security systems for vampire use, such as alarms and monitor setups for coffins and other light-tight daytime resting spaces. It was perfect, then, to base the eyes of this evening's attack from my office. I had the necessary AV equipment to wire me via satellite to every venue involved in our teleconference-styled operation.

Having gone though my mental checklist, repacking my computer case, and donning my black Dead of Night T-shirt for the last time ever, I set out. The night was cool and clear, just like the night before. I loved September in Buffalo; it was the perfect mix of lengthening nights and cool breezes to waft the scents of humans toward me. I walked at a brisk pace toward my car, backed expertly down the long, narrow drive, and all but sped down the sixteen blocks toward my workplace... but I didn't have time for something so stupid as a speeding ticket. Tonight had to go like clockwork.

I walked in to find our building swarming with vampires. I nodded in acknowledgment to some of them, unlocked my office door, flipped the light switch, and started up the sixteen monitors mounted in a block upon the eastern wall. Then I walked over to my desk, set up my computer, put my feet up, and settled in to wait for the show to begin.

"Ladies and gentlemen," sixteen separate voices boomed simultaneously from the speakers on the monitors, "thank you all so very much for joining us on this mostjoyous and exciting of nights."

I laughed quietly to myself at the sight of so many of my colleagues reading their Teleprompters in unison. Though they'd been rehearsing their speeches for weeks, the effect still astonished me. The voices continued.

"First and foremost, I would like to thank each and every one of you once again for being here. You are all merely minutes away from witnessing the single most significant scientific breakthrough ever achieved by mankind. Here with me tonight are fifteen of my colleagues, joining us via satellite telecast, to assist me in the demonstration. If you'll all direct your attention to the front of the stage, we'll be ready to begin."

I had to laugh at the irony of the idea that these people were all here to see the mankind's greatest technological advance, a microchip small enough to enter the bloodstream which could detect chromosomal abnormalities, which had actually been accomplished by a very distinguished Swedish vampire by the name of Dr. Christiansen. All sixteen of the night's hosts were clearly vampires, and the audiences definitely knew this, but not a soul spoke during the speech. Slides were shown, medical language was thrown about superfluously, and audiences across the state of New York oohed and ahhed. 8:25. Clockwork.

After the Director had finished instructing all of the audiences to follow their hosts into the next room, where the surveys would take place, I used the nifty new remote control I'd been given to change the views on all of the screens to follow their movements. This was all working perfectly. In another ten to fifteen minutes, every single one of the people present at these statewide, nationwide, worldwide events would be led into a solitary curtained-off booth, where they believed that they would be asked an assortment of survey questions. They would actually be glamoured by their interviewers, then released into the night via a normally blocked off rear entrance. I watched each of the monitors closely in turn, then sat back as I recognized the familiar expressions on the faces of those who exited the booths. They'd all had their memories altered. As I ran through quick calculations of the attendance sheets I'd been faxed at the beginning of the "demonstration", I noted that at least 93 of the state of New York would have been taken care of by the end of the hour. That only left a few hundred rogues at most, who would be promptly taken care of upon contact.

This would be Phase Two of our grand scheme. Beginning at sundown tomorrow, all of the assistant directors, myself included, would begin tours of the state. We would round up the humans known to have been absent and adjust their memories. I could only hope that my division would heed my warnings and be as humane as possible with the rogues, but I couldn't be sure... especially with Serafina as my second in command, who detested humans due to certain unfortunate incidents in her past. I would have to deal with her later. For now, we just needed to get through the next few weeks with as few mishaps as possible.

While the last of the audiences had been released, and cleanup crews set out to take down the stages and projectors, I sat back at my desk and waited for my employees to return to the office for a rundown of the night. After a few moments of waiting, I stood to go to the employee break room, where we had a refrigerator full of blood bags delivered from a vampire director at our local Red Cross branch. I didn't much enjoy the old, bagged blood, but I didn't have the time to go out and find a human to feed from. Besides, part of the instructions the glamourizers had given had probably been to go straight home. Not many people would be out tonight. That would lend to a night for great parties. I felt myself begin to feel some of the excitement I'd been trying to put out of my mind while I still had work to do, and I was grinning into my mug of blood when Serafina and Alfonso walked into the break room.

"It. Went. PERFECTLY!" Serafina exclaimed, reaching to wrap me into a long hug. After a few seconds Alfonso cleared his throat loudly, a smirk on his face. I gently pushed Serafina away, who frowned slightly, but then started smiling again almost instantaneously.

"I know, I know, I saw. Magnificent! This will clearly be a night to remember for centuries to come. But before we get carried away, let's map out our movements for the next few weeks while we wait for the others," I said to the two standing beside me. We walked back into the office, and once the others had arrived, two conclusive plans came out of the meeting. One was that the rogues would be dealt with quickly and painlessly. The other was that any and all young female rogues were to be kept far, far away from Serafina.

AUTHOR'S NOTE: alright everyone, if you didnt already understand, not only is this story written by two different authors, but each author is writing from a different point of view. the girls point of view is mine and the vampire, Lysander is written by Winnie. i know that this chapter wasnt much but setting the scene and getting to know the position the characters are in but i promise it will get better and more exciting. please please PLEASE review!!