There was fire everywhere. The trees were ablaze as the survivors of Vincent's clan fled. Rick and his damned followers were draining the once caged humans and tossing their bodies aside. It made Henry feel sick. At least those people were free from the torment they had no doubt endured for who knew how long. He understood what Rick called livestock. They'd had plenty of them at camp all those years ago, and when Henry had tried to free them one night, the punishment was severe. Both for him and the humans.
He didn't want to go back to that. He didn't want to be forced to do Rick's bidding again, like a dog at his feet. He didn't want to use his power ever again. The power of a revealer. He hated his power with every fiber of his being. He hated it because it was what had ruined his life, and ended Mora's life.
He squeezed his eyes in pain. Not just Mora's life. Sophia's too. Worse. He had killed her. Worse than killed her. He had damned her.
"Henry! We saved you one!" Rick called.
His followers were hooting with victory, human blood on their lips. Henry growled with disgust. "I won't take another human life, and we need to get out of this fire!"
Rick laughed. "Since when has fire ever hurt you Henry? It can't hurt any of us."
"But it can hurt Mrs. Bennet and her son," he said.
Henry felt like it was sort of an obligation to protect the Bennets considering he had killed Sharron Ross. He wouldn't let them die now. The panicked look on Rick's face took Henry off guard. Rick never worried about humans. Not unless he wanted something from them, then it came to him. He wanted Danny. He wanted Danny for the same reason Vincent wanted him. Danny had a power. A good one too. Telepaths were rare.
When Sophia had first heard Danny in her mind, Henry knew that she had that gift too. He didn't know why or where she got it from, but she did. It wasn't as powerful as Danny's, but it was powerful enough to do one thing he had pondered long and hard about since his release. No matter how weak her power was, on some unconscious level she must have sensed his pain, his need to be found and where he was. Her mind had somehow picked up on that, leading her to the basement and freeing him.
Her access to the telepathic field had not been opened by his blood. He had lied about that. No power could be started simply by drinking vampire blood. You had to have it as a human. His blood had just temporarily amplified it. Sophia was gifted which put her in great danger now that she would live again.
Rick would give a lot for even one telepath, but two? That was too much to resist. It was something he had to prevent from happening. He didn't want anyone, much less Sophia, to go through what he'd had to. At least Rick didn't have a hold on her. Rick wasn't her sire. Henry was.
Henry flinched at that last fact. He had promised himself after he made Vincent that he would never make a vampire again. In the end, it was a promise he couldn't keep. He had damned her. He had cursed her. He had cursed her with a future he wouldn't wish on anyone. The future of a gifted vampire.
Gifted? he scoffed. Having powers wasn't a gift. It was the opposite of a gift. If you were human and you had a power, especially a rare one, you were a vampire target. Clans were always looking for more and more power. Power was wealth to them and powerful vampires were the jewels of a sire's collection. Henry had been one such unlucky human.
About one in every ten humans had a power, but they usually only manifested themselves by traumatic events, such as the death of a loved one. Henry's gift had manifested itself by a happy event. The happiest event of his life. The moment Mora accepted his proposal. That happy moment had led to the worst events he had ever known, and not just one. First Rick converted him, then Vincent made Mora betray him and leave him in madness for a century knowing that his true love would die, and now Sophia was dead.
He looked at the girl in his arms and wiped the blood off her face with his shirt. She looked peaceful, almost as if she were sleeping but at the same time tormented. Her cold white body did not fool him. She would wake up soon and wish she was dead. She would wish she was in heaven with her father instead of in this hell of an existence.
He buried his head in her hair and tried not to cry. "Henry! Let's go!" Rick's voice was urgent. "The Bennett's are in the trucks. We need to get out of here!"
Henry didn't want to go with Rick. He wanted to get Lucy, her son and Sophia as far away from Rick as possible, but one thing stopped him. He didn't think he could help Sophia by himself. He hadn't dealt with new vampires very often except himself, and he hadn't exactly been helping anything. On the contrary, he'd been a real pain. New vampires usually didn't cope well. He didn't know how to help one. Rick and his clan did.
It's only temporary, he told himself and got in.
Darkness. Black darkness. A void. A gaping hole. That was all I could see. There was nothing in this world. Was this what it was like to be dead? Was I dead? Splinters of glass pierced my skull as I tried to recall why I was in this place. Why I was dead.
The first thing I managed to remember were two faces. One terrified me and almost revolted me but, at the same time, seemed to have some sort of power over me. Vincent. The other face was much more handsome. His jet black hair, angular features, full lips, high cheekbones and sapphire blue eyes made my heart pound. This man had killed me yet I cared for him. He had killed me. He was the reason I was dead. The reason I was in this place!
I felt a mix of anger and searing hatred towards Henry but at the same time, love. I knew what Henry had done to Vincent, and I loathed him for it, but I still loved him. I hated Vincent because he had killed my father and ruined my life, but over the past few days I had also grown to care about him, to understand him. He had lost his family too. He wanted justice. Revenge. I wanted revenge too, but I couldn't bring myself to even think about killing Vincent.
It was all so confusing. Why was I feeling this way about two men? Two vampires? Why did I both hate and love two vampires so fiercely that it nearly destroyed me? It was almost too much to bear.
"Will she wake up soon?" It was a child's voice I heard, and I recognized it. It was familiar, but I couldn't put a name to it.
"Sure will." It was a man with a heavy southern accent. A voice I didn't recognize.
What did they mean by waking up? Who was going to wake up? I was dead. I couldn't wake up. It wasn't possible. But even as I thought that, I knew that my thinking was becoming clearer. I knew that I was becoming more and more aware.
I was beginning to not only hear voices and other sounds. I was beginning to smell. I was smelling more clearly than I ever had before. I felt my lips move and I parted them slightly. Breathing in the scent of a camp fire.
"Sophia can you hear me? Please tell me if you can hear me." I clenched my fists into tight balls at the sound of the familiar voice. It was Henry's voice, and for some strange reason I felt a compulsion to reply. To grant his wish.
"I- I-" I stopped. I couldn't speak. It was just too hard. Why was he making me speak? It was like he was forcing me to speak, and I wasn't ready.
"I think she needs some more time." It was that child's voice again, and this time I recognized it.
"Danny?" My voice was barely audible, but I felt a little hand squeeze mine.
"I'm here cousin."
I felt myself smile a little, then something hit me so hard it nearly incapacitated me. It was a scent. The most delicious scent I had ever smelled. Better than cinnamon. Better than chocolate. Better than even vanilla which had been my favorite scent until now. But this scent. This was something else. It was like nothing I had every encountered, and I wanted to taste it with every fiber of my being. I wanted it right now!
I sat up with a start, screaming. "Sophia?" Danny sounded worried.
I looked at him. His face was flushed and I could see the individual veins flowing underneath his skin. pulsing with fresh blood. Blood. I was craving blood. That was what smelled so good. Then it hit me with a crushing weight. I had died. I had died in Henry's arms, yet I was alive. I was dead yet I was alive. I was undead. A vampire.
I screamed again, and after that yet another time then another and another. My screams turned into hysterical sobs, and I found myself being cradled against someone's chest. I held onto that person whoever he was for dear life. He was the only thing keeping me from falling apart right then.
"It's alright Sophia. It's okay. I won't let anything hurt you."
I recoiled and took a few steps back. "You killed me." My voice was barely audible. "You killed me Henry!"
I barely saw the pain in his eyes. "And you turned Vincent and..." I trailed off, feeling overwhelmed by the force of my emotions.
I clutched my head and screamed. I pulled at my hair, falling to my knees. "What the hell is happening to me? What the hell?!"
"Sophia!" Henry sounded afraid.
I was barely aware of it as my senses picked up the sounds and smells of someone walking up next Henry. "She should be over Vincent, Henry. You're her sire."
Henry's voice cracked with his next words. "I knew it. She hates me. It's all real. She hates me even without influence."
The other man drew in a sharp breath, "Henry, I think he did use influence."
"Rick! She hates me! It's as simple as that!"
The man who's name must have been Rick said sharply, "Stop acting like a little boy, and use your brain for a minute!"
"What is there to say Rick?" Henry sounded broken.
"I'm saying Henry, that when she died she had Vincent's blood and your blood in her system. She has two sires. That's enough to rip a new vampire to pieces. I haven't heard of this happening in nearly two centuries. Usually Clan leaders take every precaution possible to avoid it."
I wasn't really listening. I was too busy screaming outside and inside my head, but I began to process what this man was saying. Two sires. I had two sires. I had seen enough vampire movies to know what a sire was. Having two sires did not sound good.
It made perfect sense now, those two images. My feelings towards both of them. My mind wildly ripping in half, trying to give enough attention to both of my masters. It was unbearable, and I was afraid I would go mad. Maybe I already was mad. It wouldn't surprise me one bit if I was.
"What are we going to do Rick?"
"Now, you stay calm, Henry. There's a way to fix this."
"How?" Henry sounded desperate.
"Either you have to die or Vincent has to die."
"That makes me feel so much better Rick," he growled.
I was vaguely aware of Danny crying. I stopped my screaming and just sat there, trying to calm myself. I had always been a strong person. An individualized person. I wouldn't let two vampires rip me to shreds. I would not stop being me just because I was an undead creature of the night with two sires.
I lifted my head from in between my rocking knees and looked Danny right in the eyes, then something came over me. It was sort of like a sixth sense I guess. It was like I could visually see what connected me and Danny. It was like a thread of golden light stretching from me to him and not just him, I realized. Everyone around me. I was connected to the man next to Henry. I was connected to a worried human woman that looked freakishly like Danny, but the strongest connection was with Henry Johnson. The connection between us was more than just a thread. It was more than even tree twine. It was a thick golden rope.
Overwhelmed and confused, I looked back to the only face I felt was really safe. Danny's. I concentrated on the thread between us and moved my mind in his direction like a current through our connection. Then I was inside his mind, only this time I could not only hear his conscious thoughts but unconscious ones. I almost recoiled at the complexity of the child's mind, but simply withdrew slightly into a conscious place. A place where he could decide what to tell me instead of me knowing his every thought and emotion.
"Danny?" My thoughts were shaky, but he understood. Looking at his face showed me how relieved he was that I was talking, but how upset he was that I was anything but fine.
"Oh, Sophia! I'm so sorry!"
A few tears fell down my face. "I'm glad you're alright. Where are we?"
Danny looked uncomfortable. "The place where the Clan Henry brought to rescue us lives. Rick's Clan. I have a feeling though, that they don't want us to go. That they'll use force to keep us here if they have to."
I shuddered. I had learned a thing or two about Clans from my time with Vincent. They were a common kind of group vampires got into. The bigger and more powerful the Clan the better their chance for survival. I also knew why they wouldn't let us go. Danny and me had powers, and so did Henry. Rick wanted us as an addition to his Clan, and he wouldn't do it if he didn't outnumber us. We didn't stand a chance against a number big enough to drive away Vincent's Clan. Not just Vincent's clan, Vincent too. A pang of sadness threatened to overwhelm me when I thought about how far away I was from Vincent. How hurt he and his Clan probably were.
"Sophia," began Danny seriously. "Don't forget what he did to you. Don't forget what he did to your dad."
I whimpered. I couldn't forget, and I hated Vincent for it, but I was helplessly attached to him. I was helplessly under his power. The same went for Henry. My two sires. My two masters.
"Sophia, are you alright?" What a stupid question for Henry to ask.
I didn't meet his gaze as I shook my head. I was honestly feeling god awful. I felt stronger than I ever had before, but at the same time, extremely weak, and my throat was on fire. "My throat hurts," was all I managed to say.
I could see Henry stiffen out of the corner of my eye, and Rick spoke. "She needs blood Henry."
Blood. That was just great. I was going to have to drink blood. Human blood. That was so gross. "She might kill one of them." Henry's voice was strained.
"What do you care about more, Henry," Rick said, "her or the livestock?" He sounded a bit amused.
Henry growled. "They're not livestock, Rick. They're human beings."
The Clan leader laughed. "Human beings are livestock, Henry. It's all they're good for."
I clenched my fists. Human beings were not animals to treat unfairly, yet I wanted blood with every fiber of my being right then. "Henry," I croaked. "I think I need it."
"There, Henry. She wants it. Be a responsible sire and take care of your charge."
I could hear Henry's sigh of defeat. Then the human woman stepped forwards. "You're not going to just let her kill someone are you?!"
Henry shot her a look. "Mrs. Bennett. I will make sure she doesn't kill anyone."
Danny's mom glared at him. "You vampires make me sick!"
I bit my lip and felt something in my mouth. My canines were long and sharp. I had fangs. I actually had fangs. How gross could you get? I shuddered and got to my feet. Henry offered his arm for support, and I took it. Then he walked me over to a cage of humans. I knew that they were humans, but considering they were strangers, all I saw was food.
I ignored their terrified looks as Rick took one out and offered it to me. There were scars all over it from the numerous vampire bites it had endured. I just couldn't see the human, though. All I saw was food. The most delicious food I had ever smelled.
Without a second thought I sunk my teeth into the flesh and began sucking. If I had thought the smell was good then the taste was a thousand times better. I couldn't seem to get enough of the forbidden drink. The elixir of life. The more I drank, the stronger I got. I found myself being able to think more clearly. My senses sharpened. I felt like a goddess. Then someone yanked me away from my haven.
I snarled viciously at him with blood dripping from my chin. I stopped cold as I saw that it was Henry. I touched my chin and looked at my hands in horror. There was blood on them. I had just gorged myself with blood and I had enjoyed it. I had felt better than I ever had in my life. I had felt like... like a monster.
I covered my face in my hands and sank to my knees. Then I cried. I cried uncontrollably at how inhuman I was. At how horrible I was. At what a monster I was. A freak. I was a soulless demon. A vampire.
I felt Henry pat my shoulder as I cried, and I let him. It didn't make me feel much better, but at least I wasn't facing this alone. At least he made me remember my past life. Who I was. How to be me. How to be human even when I really wasn't.
I was only vaguely aware of voices, but my sharp ears caused me to focus more on them. "You are not going over there, Danny. She's a vampire."
I winced. "But mom! She's family!"
"Not anymore she isn't."
"She's still Sophia!"
Her voice softened somewhat. "I almost lost you, Danny. I don't want to risk loosing you again."
"She wouldn't hurt me." He said it with such confidence that I almost believed him, but I wasn't sure I could restrain myself around him or any human.
"Don't be so sure about that, Danny. Just look what she did to that man."
That man. I had fed on a man. What had happened to him? I jerked my head in the direction of the livestock and gasped in horror. The man was being bandaged up, but he was unconscious. "Henry," I asked.
"Will he live?"
"I don't know Sophia. I'm sorry."
I started crying again and wished with all my heart that I had never moved to Colorado. At least then I wouldn't be a monster. A blood sucking fiend. A vampire.
"He's dead," came the words.
At first I didn't know what that guy named Rick meant, then I turned around to look at the man I had just fed off of. Only he wasn't a man anymore. He was a corpse. I redoubled my sobs, horrified with myself and what I had done. I had killed someone. I had actually killed someone. I was a murderer.
Once my tears had turned into a cold, numb feeling, I pulled away from Henry and sat elsewhere. Then a woman came up to me and slapped my face over and over again. I looked up at her with startled eyes. The woman was Lucy Bennett, and she was obviously furious.
"You killed him! You monster! You demon! You murderer!"
She slapped my face again and it hurt. Her words made me feel even worse inside than I already had been. "You don't deserve to exist!" she spat.
That was the last straw. Maybe I had done a horrible thing, maybe I regretted it more deeply than I could even tell myself, but I couldn't help it. I was out of control. I was the victim, not the villain. I hadn't chosen to become a vampire. I hadn't murdered my dad and burned my house down. I didn't choose any of this. I didn't want any of this. I just wanted to go home.
Tears of rage spilled down my cheeks and I glared at the woman. "You try loosing your family and never getting a single member back. You try getting raped and mentally twisted over and over again until you enjoy it. You just try and tell me what it's like to be turned into a monster without wanting it. Then you can tell me I don't deserve to exist."
The woman recoiled as if I'd hit a nerve, then she became angry again. "It's all lies! You're a demon. You don't care about Sophia Galener. You're just in her body!"
That was it! I stood up and glared at her. Wind blew around me in wild gusts, tossing my long dark hair about wildly. I could feel my clothes ripple at a blinding speed as the wind caught the parts of them that were loose. I could see the terror in Lucy's eyes as her short brown hair blew back so hard it pulled at her scalp.
The wind was mine. I could feel it. All I had to do was throw this woman who dared insult me so onto the hard ground yards and yards away, and she would learn her lesson. At that moment with the wind all around me, I knew how, and I knew that I could, and, god help me, I wanted it.
I was about to will it to be so when little arms wrapped around my leg and a child's voice cried out, "Please don't hurt my mommy!"
I recognized the voice, and it stopped me cold. It was Danny, and he was watching me try to hurt his mother or worse. I instantly felt awful and fell to my knees, then, as soon as the wind started, it stopped.
"I'm so sorry," I choked out. "I don't know what came over me."
"Danny. Get away from her! Get away from her now!" Lucy Bennett sounded panicked.
"But..." the little boy sounded torn.
I looked down at him with sad, pleading eyes. "I don't deserve you, Danny, and I'm not safe to be around anymore. Go home."
Tears welled up in his big blue eyes, but he wouldn't let go. Eventually, Lucy started trying to yank him off of me, to no avail. "Danny," I said. "It's what's best for you. You have to go."
He shook his head vigorously. "Danny," I pleaded. "Go home."
Just then, Rick approached and said, "I'm afraid it's too late for that. You two humans know too much."
I scowled at him. "They've been through enough! Why are you holding them hostage?!"
His lips curved into an amused smile. "I think you know."
My eyes tightened. I did know, and I hated him all the more for it. He wanted to add Danny to his collection just like Vincent had wanted to. One thing was for sure. I wouldn't allow it.
I stood up again and looked him right in the eyes. "I don't know who the hell you think you are, but you will never control me," and with that I stalked off.
I angrily walked as far away from camp as I could yet still be in the foul clan leader's domain. It would do no good to escape. Besides, I couldn't leave. Danny and his mom were still in there. Henry was still in there. My sire and the little boy I loved needed me, but I didn't know how I could help them. I ended up just laying there on the ground, trying to escape into the oblivion of sleep.
Henry was in shock. It was taking him a long time to wrap his mind around what he'd seen and the implications. It was to his annoyance but grudging relief, that Rick began to explain.
"Well, Henry. Looks like your hands are even fuller than you thought. Sophia ain't no telepath. She's a psychic."
Henry's hands clenched into tight fists. Horror replaced his initial shock. If he had thought getting Sophia and the Bennets away from Rick would be hard before, it sounded impossible now. Rick would fight tooth and nail to keep Danny and Sophia in his clan.
While telepaths were gold, psychics, witches and warlocks were precious stones. In many ways psychics were even more powerful than witches and warlocks. If they couldn't escape Rick, then Sophia was doomed to an eterity of death and destruction, and it was all his fault. Henry lowered his head in dispair and selfloathing.
"Oh, come on Henry!" bellowed Rick. "You've struck gold here. You should be happy."
A searing anger replaced Henry's devastation, and he turned on Rick with a glare that could kill. "Happy?! Happy?!" Waves of white hot rage roiled off of him. "You power hungry, self-serving, wretched bastard! How can you expect-"
"Now now, Henry," interupped Rick coldly. "You aught to be careful what you call your sire. You know what I can make you do if you don't play nice."
The words sent ice water rushing down Henry's spine. He did know what Rick could do. He'd done it more times than he wished to count a century ago. He'd made Henry a slave to his will to the point where he was almost fauning over his sire. He realized then, that Rick had been very lienyent with him ever since he'd come back. Never once had he used force with Henry. Henry wanted to keep it that way, so as long as he was with Rick, he would play nice. He would play nice, if for nothing else, then to keep Sophia safe.
He nodded stiffly to Rick and walked away.