CHAPTER TWENTY-SIX

"You're insane," said Samantha.

"Oh, I'm quite lucid, I assure you," said Saucier.

"It's a lie. There's no way you're my father."

"Here again you're very much mistaken. I have no reason to lie. And deep down I think you know I'm telling the truth. We're very much alike, you and I."

"We're nothing alike."

"Quite the contrary," said Saucier, "we have many things in common. Our tenacity to hang onto things we are passionate about, for example. My plan to reunite the Kenite Nation and your devotion to bringing in those that dare to follow their true nature. Just imagine what we could accomplish together."

"You want me to join you?" asked Samantha. "Now I know you're crazy."

"Well, I must admit I don't hold out much hope for that. But I had to make the offer. You are blood, after all. But the brainwashing you're step mother has put you through has been quite thorough. I'm afraid I'll just have to deal with you as I would any other adversary."

"You'd kill your own daughter? Are you really that cold-blooded? Does family mean nothing to you?"

"A biological connection is not family," said Saucier smiling. "Any male can father a child. You were merely a means to an end. Nothing more. An end that will begin very soon. Perhaps I won't kill you. These others," he looked over at Sarouse and the others, "they have to die if I'm to accomplish my goals. Their deaths will fuel the retribution The Nation will need to restore its superiority over the humans. But I will need someone to pay testimony to what I will accomplish. Someone other than these mindless drones who follow me simply to satisfy their desire to feed on living humans."

"You mean drones like Groning? He's nothing but a blood-thirsty animal. The only thing he wants is to kill. Are these the types of 'followers' you want?"

"I will admit Rupert isn't exactly the perfect associate. But he does have his uses. He was able to lead you here. I was beginning to think I had underestimated you. That the clues I had left for you were too subtle for you to figure out. But teaming you with Agent Simons was very fortuitous. By the way, where is your partner? I would have imagined he would have come here with you."

"He's coming," said Samantha. "And he's bringing enough Stalkers with him they'll be able to stop you. Your plan is going to end here."

"I doubt that. My guess is Agent Simons did come with you but encountered Rupert and his friends outside the complex. Since neither of them has arrived yet my only conclusion is they must have killed each other. That's quite impressive. I wouldn't have thought a human would be able to best Rupert. Still, Agent Simons is quite resourceful. And Rupert has the bad habit of relying on brute strength. Especially where humans are concerned. He's much too confident for his own good."

Samantha was forced to agree with Saucier. She couldn't see how Simons could have survived the ghouls they had encountered outside. And if Groning was there as well there was little chance he would survive that. But as Saucier said, since neither of them had come into the complex yet the only possible explanation was that they had killed each other. At least Simons had been able to avenge his partner's murder. Saucier turned to the two men holding Samantha.

"Make sure she's securely locked away. See that she's not harmed. And check on the others. Unless I miss my guess she's managed to release some of the others before she came here. Not that I'm too worried. It will still be a while before they wake up. But I can't have any of them running around upsetting my plans."

He turned back to Samantha.

"When I'm finished you'll see that I'm right. You'll see how deluded you and the others are. And we will once again be the rightful rulers of this world."

The two men began to take Samantha out of the room. She followed obediently giving the impression she had resigned herself to the fact that there was nothing else she could do. Saucier just smiled, thinking he was totally in charge of the entire situation.

Just as they reached the door Samantha suddenly struck out, striking the man to her left in the throat. She immediately spun hitting the man to her right in the face with her open palm. The attack was so sudden it took both men by surprise. They were stunned from the blows and stumbled back away from the Stalker.

Samantha didn't hesitate. She stepped over to one of the other men in the room. The man turned and swung on her but she simply dropped to her knees, striking the man in the stomach with her fist. The man doubled over from the impact as the last man in the room moved toward her. She leaned over on one leg bringing her other leg up fast and hard, striking the man in the face, sending him reeling backwards.

Samantha immediately rose to her feet and moved toward Saucier. If she were lucky she would be able to stop him with a minimum of fuss. She knew she had only once option. And one choice. She'd have to kill Saucier as quickly as possible. That was the only way to ensure that everyone was safe was if he never again had a chance to threaten The Nation.

She had nearly reached Saucier and was about to strike. It would be relatively simple. She knew more than a dozen ways to kill a man with a single blow. One strike from her and he would never again threaten anyone.

Suddenly Saucier raised his hand and a bolt of electricity shot out striking Samantha. The force of the jolt knocked her onto the floor and pain shot through her body. She lay on the floor looking up at Saucier.

"A quirky little side note about my unique physiology," said Saucier. "My body has a tendency to build up a static electric charge over time. Once I'm 'fully charged', so to speak, I can actually discharge it. I can usually get 2 or even 3 bolts out before the charge is depleted. Oh, it's not enough to kill anyone normally. But as you can see they can be quite painful. You'll never be able to reach me. I suggest you sit there quietly until my cohorts have recovered from your attacks."

"I'll stop you," said Samantha. "No matter what it takes, I'll stop you. What you're doing is wrong and you can't be allowed to continue."

"That would be quite difficult seeing as you can't even get near me."

"Actually," said Samantha, pulling out the pistol Simons had given her, "I don't really need to get near you to stop you."

She fired directly at Saucier's head. But she was unused to firearms. She pulled the trigger instead of squeezing it and the pistol jerked in her hand. Instead of hitting Saucier in the head the bullet hit him in the shoulder. Saucier howled in pain, instinctively grabbing his shoulder.

Before Samantha could fire another shot the door to the room burst open and four men suddenly rushed in. They immediately moved over and took custody of the four men that were working with Saucier. Samantha looked around and saw three more men entering the room, Simons close behind. She turned back to Saucier.

But he was nowhere to be seen. That's when she remembered the open panel to the maintenance passage. The passage was the only way out of the room. She tried to stand up but the attack from the electrical charge Saucier had given her hadn't quite worn off yet. She was still a bit uneasy.

"Saucier," she cried out. "He's escaped into the maintenance passage."

One of the men just entering the room motioned and two of the others immediately gave pursuit into the passage. The man then moved over and helped Samantha to her feet.

"Take it easy," said the man. "You're still disoriented. It will take a short time for Saucier's electrical discharge to wear off."

"Who are you?" Samantha asked as Simons moved over to her. She also noticed several other men moving in to release Siress Sarouse and the others. "Where did you come from?"

"I'm Spencer Leask," said the man. "I'm one of the guard captains at the prison. When Warden Parrow heard what you and Agent Simons were up to he decided to send us here as backup. We arrived just before a ghoul finished off Simons. A second later and he'd have been dead. After we rescued him we came here immediately. There are a dozen Stalkers now moving through the complex locating anyone else who's still here."

"Saucier escaped into the maintenance passage," said Samantha. "He'll be able to get out of the complex that way."

"Don't worry," said Simons. He looked terrible. "The Stalkers will find him."

"I thought you were dead," said Samantha. "When you didn't show up down here I thought for sure Groning had killed you."

"Well, Groning showed up," said Simons. "We had a little chat. He got a bit choked up. He won't be bothering us again. Ever."

"Choked up?" questioned Samantha.

"I'll explain later," said Simons. "Right now you need to rest. We've stopped Saucier and we need to . . . to . . . Suddenly I don't feel so hot."

Suddenly Simons collapsed unconscious. Leask was barely able to catch him before he fell to the floor.

* * *

Simons opened his eyes and looked around. He was lying in a bed in what appeared to be a hospital room. Standing next to the bed was a man in a white coat apparently checking an instrument that Simons appeared to be hooked up to. Sitting across the room, sleeping in a chair, was Samantha.

"Good, you're finally awake," said Dr. Porter, realizing that Simons was up. "I was beginning to get worried. You had us very concerned."

"What happened?" Simons asked.

At the sounds of their voices Samantha woke up and immediately moved over to them.

"You're awake," she said. "Paul said the longer you were out the less like you would recover. Does this mean he's okay?" she asked Porter.

"Yes, I think he'll be fine," said Porter. "His vital signs seem to be stable. And now that he's awake I think we can safely say he's out of the woods. He'll have to rest for several more days yet. But with rest and proper treatment I think he'll make a full recovery."

"What happened?" Simons asked again. "The last thing I remember was entering the control room."

"We were able to stop Saucier," said Samantha. "That gun you gave me came in handy. But I'm afraid I'm not very good with it. I only wounded him. The Stalkers went after him but he escaped the medical facility. It seems I left the keys in the car we borrowed from Warden Parrow and he was able to make his escape in it."

"I seem to recall he had been shot before he escaped," said Simons.

"Only in the shoulder," said Porter. "That wound will probably heal in a few days. But he won't be a threat to anyone for a while. And Rupert Groning is dead along with all of the ghouls he created. You're quite resourceful, Agent Simons. I've never known a human that could hold their own against a Kenite before."

"I got lucky," said Simons. "Groning underestimated me. He won't be making that mistake again."

"Yes," said Samantha. "Paul told me about the sulfur you used on him. I guess that was the 'prescription' you had filled just before we came here."

"Well," said Simons, "I figured I needed an edge of some kind. After seeing how the sulfur gas in the cavern affected you I thought having a little sulfur on hand might be useful. It's a good think I did. Groning would have killed me otherwise. But what am I'm doing in the hospital?"

"Actually, you're still in the Kenite medical facility," said Porter. "You had some pretty nasty gashes on your back. You lost a lot of blood."

"That last ghoul," said Simons. "It attacked me from behind before I had a chance to stop it. If those Stalkers from the prison hadn't arrived when they did that thing would have killed me. Remind me to send them a bottle of whatever they drink as a thank you."

"I'll do that," said Samantha. "Paul said you nearly died from the blood loss. After you passed out in the control room he immediately had you moved to one of the treatment rooms. If you hadn't gotten a transfusion you would have died."

"Transfusion?" questioned Samantha.

"Yes," said Porter. "You lost a great deal of blood. No human could lose that much blood and survive without immediate treatment. You needed a transfusion and there was no time to get you to a human hospital. You would have died en route. Luckily for you I do have some human patients as well as Kenites. My only concern was that we hadn't gotten to you quickly enough."

"Wait a minute," said Simons. "Blood transfusion? But as far as I know I'm the only human here right now. Where did you get the blood for a transfusion unless…."

"Well, Kenite blood is better than none," said Samantha, smiling coyly. "And I'm sure you don't have to be concerned with becoming a ghoul. There probably wasn't enough of the enzyme in my blood to cause a transformation. At least I don't think so."

Simons just stared at her with a look of shock on his face.

"You can relax, Agent Simons," said Porter. "We keep a large supply of human blood on hand for experiments and research purposes. It was simply a matter to type and match your blood and then transfuse the proper amount. I would never risk giving a human a transfusion with Kenite blood."

"You're real funny," Simons said to Samantha. "You had me going for a moment."

"I couldn't resist," said Samantha, smiling at him. "But Paul says that now you're awake you should be fine. After a few days R&R, of course. And after what we just went through, I think we can both use a nice long rest."

"I think that might be arranged. Call it a down payment on your reward for services rendered."

They all looked over to see Siress Sarouse and Assistant Director Curtis standing in the doorway to the room.

"Considering you just saved not only The Nation but also the human world I'd say a rest is in order," said Sarouse. "And it seems that Assistant Director Curtis agrees with me."

"Absolutely," said Curtis.