A/N: Detailed a bit more.
Chapter 4: Mercury
Mikhail couldn't fume for long. Nadia knew more about vampires than he did, and she acted in what she thought were his best interests—it was her duty to protect him after all. Still, he pondered the vampires' motives. "Were they going to turn me? Eat me? Groom me?" The last thought elicited a stifled smirk, but could they really have been tricking him? It didn't matter. Nadia promised him answers once they got to base, and they were finally there.
"We're here." Nadia's voice lacked much expression. She wasn't sure if she enjoyed bringing someone as naïve as Mikhail into her only place of sanctuary. After his previous behavior, there was no telling what kind of danger he could bring her and the very few others she cared about. She had yet to recognize anything particularly special about him. Sure, he was attractive and his academic record was nothing to laugh at, but that's where it ended. He was not much different than other civilians, and she surely hadn't remembered an average person like Mikhail being escorted into base. He was just a boy, and this made her much more uncertain about him.
The stars were calm, peaceful. No longer twinkling about, the once glittering balls of gas were now content as static spectators, overseeing worlds encompassed by the infinite universe. Stalks of grass waved haphazardly as wind swirled the field they stood in.
Mikhail scowled upon hearing the prolonged moo of a cow. "This is base?"
"It's a cover. We run a farming operation on the surface." Her tone was still cold, monotone. He seemed so simple at times, though his presence still wore at her nerves.
Mikhail followed her as they headed toward the Victorian farmhouse. "So, do you actually farm, or do you pretend to farm?" He didn't care either way, but he figured a conversation would make time pass faster. Nadia quickened her stride, groaning in response.
The farmhouse door beeped and whirred before unlocking. Nadia removed her finger from the doorbell, which doubled as a fingerprint scanner, and walked in. Mikhail peered into the dark house before inhaling and crossing the threshold. The house was empty and dank; dense cobwebs occupied the corners and stairways.
Mikhail sighed, taking small and careful steps as he trailed behind Nadia. "This is base?"
The floorboards creaked melodically as the Nadia walked across the would-be kitchen floor, coated with brown dust and more webbing. Mikhail followed warily, trying to avoid any hidden surprises. Spiders skittered across the walls and toward the basement door as Nadia pushed it open.
The elevator droned as they walked down the stairs and into the basement, overbearing the quaint music that played from its speakers. Mikhail stepped in, raising an eyebrow as he waited inside, puzzled by its existence in the basement. Its walls were transparent, revealing the clean, slate gray interior of the elevator shaft.
This was it. He had traveled long and far, as well as evade vampires and truckers, for this moment. The first step toward discovering his identity, and unveiling his true destiny, had been made. He rubbed his clammy palms against one another, both nervous and excited about what was soon to come.
Nadia ran her finger down the elevator panel and pressed B1. The machine jerked, and then shifted forward before descending into the earth. Mikhail's eyes widened, plastered against the walls in admiration of the large fluorescent lights that streamed down the shaft, prompting Nadia to roll her eyes and flip her hair.
The elevator came to a smooth halt.
"This is base," Nadia said, removing Mikhail from his psuedo-trance.
A ghostly light poured in as the doors slid apart, revealing a narrow hallway. It was lined with thick glass walls on both sides and the ceiling. Obsidian flooring offered a faint reflection of the blinding lights above. They followed the futuristic pathway, their movements captured by microscopic cameras tucked within the walls.
The exit door rose and clicked as they approached, revealing a young man waiting in the lobby. He was about Nadia's age, dressed in black jeans and a casual black button-up. He smiled warmly as the two approached him, his deep hazel eyes focused on Nadia.
"Welcome back Nadia." He stepped forward, extending his hand.
"Hello Kent," she said, her eyes wandering about the lobby.
A few seconds passed before Kent retracted his hand, his cheeks red with rejection as he looked to the floor. She never gave him the time of day off the battlefield, yet he refused to give up. She'd come around one day, she just had to. He looked back up at the two, slightly relieved that Mikhail was too fascinated with the environment to pay them any mind. "He's waiting on him," he said, nodding at Mikhail.
Mikhail swallowed as Kent led them down another corridor. The trio passed through the main quarters, where most of the researchers and communications staff worked. A few stared at him as he walked passed before continuing their work. They didn't appear to be doing anything out of the ordinary, besides working in an office after midnight, but he couldn't be occupied with more thoughts. His mind was too focused on the knowledge he was soon to attain, his heart thumping with each step.
They traveled a few other ultramodern halls before stopping at a large, platinum door. It whirred as it opened outward.
"Toren is waiting." Kent said.
Mikhail began to sweat. The majestic room intimidated Mikhail. Luxurious, black carpet replaced the tiling from outside, and the lighting was more subtle. A black, wooden bar occupied half the room, its carved out interior loaded with half empty bottles of nearly every drink imaginable. A lone door stood on the other side of the room, surrounded by paintings of various styles, from Mozarabic to Victorian.
Toren sat behind a sturdy, wooden desk a bit further back into the room. Various documents were neatly stacked on either side, illuminated by the mesmerizing chandelier dangled above. He was an older white male with a shaven head, faint wrinkles, and salt and pepper stubble. He fixed the tie under his gray cardigan before addressing his long-awaited visitors.
"Please, sit down." Toren pointed at two chairs in front of him, both beautifully handcrafted and polished. A wide smile crept upon his face.
"Sorry about the delay sir," Nadia said after positioning herself in the chair, a bit taken aback by his smile. It was something he rarely did, but lately it had been hard to miss it.
Toren nodded. "I understand that Leo is dead."
Nadia was stunned. She didn't know whether to be more shocked at the plainness of his voice, or the fact that he knew. "I—I'm sorry sir. I would have told you but—" She stopped speaking, almost expecting Toren to have cut her off then, but he hadn't.
He leaned forward and placed his hands on the desk. "You were shocked. It's fine. I'm just glad you got here with Mikhail in one piece." He then looked at Mikhail, the smile reappearing.
Mikhail smiled back, his head rested on his fist. He had dozed off a few times since he sat down.
Nadia smiled awkwardly, squinting at him as she tried to rationalize his behavior without becoming emotional. It was Leo, and he was not only her partner, but her friend, her brother. Toren had taken them both in at the same time, and treated them as his own. She looked down, trying to keep herself calm. She couldn't lash out at him, and she couldn't cry now—not in front of Mikhail. In that moment, she realized that Toren probably felt the same way. She looked up at him, inhaling deeply. "It was easy, but we had two run-ins—."
He stood up and walked to the bar, revealing plaid pajama pants. "Where was this?"
"At Mikhail's, and then again at a diner," Nadia said, just realizing how late it was.
A small chuckle projected across the room. "Did you kill them?"
"No worries Nadia, they'll die in time," he said as he strolled back to his seat. "Do you drink?" he jokingly asked Mikhail, chuckling before he continued his conversation with Nadia.
Mikhail closed his eyes. His fascination with recent events cleared his mind of its usual worrisome thoughts, and it didn't feel quite right. Nadia and Toren were talking about weaponry, vampires, and other things he knew nothing about. He had volunteered to leave all that he knew and immerse himself into an even more unfamiliar world.
Thoughts lurked in the back of his mind, questioning if he was really prepared to know why he was brought here, or if he should have even left home in the first place. Would he be able to return? They whispered in his ear, other noise silenced.
Mikhail opened his eyes to a dark, vacant room. The chandelier was now a spotlight, it's warm light poured on him. He looked behind his shoulder to see darkness—an infinite darkness, where the room once began. He turned back to the desk, only to notice both Nadia and Toren were gone.
The giant serpent-like creature from before hovered behind the desk. Mikhail didn't look at its eyes, but he felt their relentless penetration. He wanted to run away, to escape the being and the base that it made its lair, but there was nowhere to go.
"Miik-khail," it said. Its voice was of an ethereal quality, yet a guttural undertone was present in its echo.
Mikhail closed his eyes and held his head in his lap.
The creature leaned in towards him, its cold body chilling Mikhail's body.
Mikhail jumped in his seat, knocking the cool glass Toren used to wake him to the floor.
Toren chuckled. "You must be exhausted."
"I guess I am," he managed to utter."Oh, the carpet!" Mikhail moved from his seat and picked up the glass.
"Its just water, no worries!"
Mikhail was relieved.
Torren smiled. "How about I have Kent show you to your room? It should be prepared by now."
"Yes. I had a room prepared for your visit—directly across from Nadia's."
Kent stepped into the room, his eyes slightly glassed over.
"Will we talk in the morning?"
Toren placed a hand on Mikhail's shoulder. "You'll know everything you want to."
Kent smiled as Mikhail walked toward him, and they left.
A dragging, seductive bassline transcended the club's interior. Strobe lights flashed rapidly against the bodies of its young inhabitants as they rubbed against one another. Their hearts beat in rhythm to the percussion as their movements modeled that of a mysterious ritual. A young woman was out on the town with a few girlfriends and was lucky enough to come across a tall, muscular, blonde-haired man on the dance floor. After only a few minutes of touching, she invited him back to her apartment for a bit of "fun." That's all she could remember.
She awakened in her floral-scented bedroom, faintly smelling of vodka. Posters of half naked men were strewn about the walls; their lips tucked under their teeth in alluring poses, caressing their abs with tempting gazes. The owner of this room was a young, sex-crazed socialite, no older than 21. Her stereo system boomed loudly enough to tickle her skin.
The man's dull, blue eyes meandered about her body as his tongue circled roughly her neck, then her breasts, then her stomach. The large mattress squeaked with his every movement. He gripped her sides gently as he teased himself, but he was now ready to taste her.
She figured she must have passed out while in bed, and considering how much she drank earlier, it was certainly plausible. He grinned upon her awakening and crawled up the bed until they were face to face. His tongue flickered like a snake, prompting her to giggle weakly. Just as he was about to make his move, his phone vibrated violently against the windowsill.
"I need some water, you want anything?" she whispered, her speech slurred, and strained from screaming at the club.
"I'm fine," he said before licking her neck, "but let me take this call."
The girl's drunken giggles echoed through the apartment as she stumbled into the kitchen.
Rolling his eyes, he leaned over to grab his phone.
"Luna, I'm occupied. What is it?"
Only a few seconds passed before he snarled in disgust. He waved his hand at the stereo. The sound popped and crackled before cutting off, followed by the aroma of burning plastic. Another moment passed and he slowly set the phone down, though he urged to shatter it in his palms. His fists balled as he sat in the bed, trying to keep himself under control. A light hiss escaped his lips before got out of the bed and stalked towards the girl.
"You—you know what's funny?" she slurred, meeting him half way. "I never got your name."
His anger faded slightly as he grabbed her hips and yanked her towards him. "My name is Ares."
She frowned, reaching her arms around the back of his neck before stumbling into his chest. "What's wrong?"
"They are," he said, his fangs filling his mouth.
A/N: Thank you for reading! Please let me know what you think, your reviews are very helpful to me.