A/N: This chapter contains updated content! Terribly sorry about the confusion!
2: To What Purpose?
Cabal and Miranda returned from their evening out just before dawn. In that eerie pre-dawn light, the field of domes seemed to glow just a little. A night on the town was rare for them, but then again, unofficially it was their anniversary. They had been mates for nineteen years now. It was only unofficial because unlike his marriage to Lucinda, there had been no ceremony. What did the humans used to call it?
Their mating was much deeper than just any ceremony, any exchanging of words. Their bond and faith and love for each other was soul deep and unshakable. Cabal smiled as he walked beside Miranda's through the connecting hall that led from the vehicle storage the next dome over from the one they lived in.
The two of them came to the end of the service-way, stepping into the familiar curving hall that curled down into the bowels of the facility and up to the Commons at surface level. Miranda pulled him closer, standing up on her toes to kiss his cheek.
"I'm going to shower before bed." There was suggestion in her voice she didn't even try to hide.
Smiling, Cabal said, "I'll join you."
She smiled coyly, a playful light behind nearly emerald eyes. She started down the ramp towards their chambers, and he fell in two steps behind. He came to a halt with a gasp as he ran into an unfamiliar energy trail.
Gooseflesh rose along his arms.
Miranda had paused at the sound. "What's wrong?"
Cabal frowned, but forced a grin. "Go on down, I'll be there in a bit."
She looked reluctant to, surely reading right through his façade. After a moment, she nodded. "Don't be too long, I am quite tired."
He grimaced, if she went to sleep before he got down there, the end of their anniversary morning would not be what he hoped.
Then he would be mad.
However, Cabal could not ignore the trail that said a stranger had walked these halls not more than six hours before. He worried of what the person's intent might have been – robbery, squatting – until he caught the sense of a more familiar energy signature intermingled with it.
"You've got to be shitting me," Cabal growled, feeling heat in his ears at what the signatures were suggesting.
Following the unseen spoor, Cabal altered his path. Heading up the ramp, away from the larger chamber, the dhampir approached one nondescript door along the twist of hall. He paused a moment, already angry, even without verifying what the energy trails were telling him. He took a deep breath, realizing that he had to be the asshole sometime, or else her behavior wasn't going to abate. If anything it was going to get worse.
That meant trouble for them all.
The dhampir actually made a show of knocking first before invading the occupant's privacy. As expected, no answer came from beyond the door. Slapping his palm against the keypad to one side of the frame, Cabal allowed himself into the space. He made sure all the rooms within the dome were keyed for his access, despite the want of the tenant to the contrary.
Like most of the single occupant dwellings in the dome, this was small, Spartan. There was a certain feminine touch to it. Nothing overt – she wasn't a typical lady by any stretch of the imagination, but enough to know that it wasn't occupied by a man. The double bed was rumpled, sheets and comforter helter-skelter across its surface, falling onto the floor like spilt blood – her favorite color.
Cabal frowned as that analogy ran through his head and focused his attention on the lump occupying the right hand side of the mattress. Blonde hair peeked in messy spikes above both the feather pillow, and the tag of the comforter was clutched in a white-knuckled fist.
The dhampir slid further in, seeing no sign of the person who owned the room, only the stranger in her bed. The skin of the human was unnaturally pale – sallow even. Cabal leaned over the unmoving body, swallowing fearfully and praying the boy wasn't dead. Slightly darker stains against the red of the pillowcase attested to the reason for Cabal's worry. She'd fed off the young man.
Reaching over he lifted an eyelid, slightly buoyed to see his pupils react – albeit sluggishly.
"Damn it," he muttered, allowing his fingers to slide into the crook of the boy's neck.
"Sagira!" He bellowed into the still atmosphere of the bedroom.
The pulse of the human, like his pupil reaction, was slow, but didn't seem life threatening. To confirm it he swapped sight, peering into his aura and ensuring she hadn't taken too much from her date. He gritted his teeth. Things stood to get ugly if this boy remembered anything of his encounter with Sagira.
Cabal had suspected this for a long time – suspected that Sagira had been reverting to ways older than him or even his mother, to satisfy the part of her that was vampire. He'd never been able to prove it, but Sagira's behavior had been different the past two years. Before now, he'd never had solid proof, she never dared bring them to the house. He could only surmise, she didn't expect them home until tonight.
Shifting, the dhampir activated the communication port. "Page Miranda," he muttered into the receiver. The whisper of wind chimes moved through the Dome's levels, specifically chosen to identify the person he was trying to catch the attention of. She responded about ten seconds later.
"What is it?" Miranda said sleepily.
"We have an issue in Sagira's room." He was so mad, it didn't occur to him to apologize for waking her.
The pause said more than Miranda ever could. The disappointment was clear in her voice as she said, "I'll be right there."
Sighing, Cabal crossed his arms and regarded the floor. He could feel the muscles working in his cheek as he stared with unseeing eyes at the pile of dirty clothes that littered the ground.
"What are you doing in here?"
Cabal turned to glare at the source of that shrill, angry voice, fury pinching his expression. Sagira stood partially silhouetted in the doorway. There was enough light to illustrate to him that she was completely naked.
Her skin was fairer than his and seemed to glow a bit in the low light coming from above their heads. She shook her head in incredulity and thick waves and curls danced about her shoulders and peeked around her waist. He forgot on occasion the texture and length of her hair. She normally kept it tightly coifed and pinned when she was about the facility.
Sagira's lack of inhibition only incensed him further about her sudden spate of defiance.
"What the fuck is this all about?" He motioned toward the young man.
Sagira's expression darkened to match his own. Her eyes narrowed as she regarded him. "None of your damn business – Dad."
After a short staring contest she finally blinked, still uncomfortable with a direct challenge to his authority, as much as she liked to push him on the matter.
"It's not like I killed him." She illustrated her diffidence with a flick of her hand through a stray strand of brown.
"Not for lack of trying. He's not going to be going anywhere under his own power for a while," Cabal snarled.
She frowned at him, placing her hands on her hips, her defiance in every inch of her frame.
"I don't understand it, Sagira." He tried to keep his tone rational, but the rage pushed through to taint his voice with depth. He found himself rubbing his temple as a headache swelled at his temple. "Technically you're an adult – and I have to put up with the tattoos and the piercings and the attitude. But damn it, you still live under my roof!" Starting to stray off track, the dhampir centered on the real sticking point. "We have storerooms full of Salvation – more than you could go through in a lifetime, and you stoop to doing this?"
Cabal waved angrily at the slack form on her bed.
"There is more to the hunger than just… food!" she protested. Crossing her arms and dropping her gaze, she muttered, "Not that you would know."
A startled laugh pushed out his throat as his brows lifted in incredulity. "You don't think I know? You don't think I've felt the rush of the hunt – the high of the kill? Salvation has not always been available to me, only in recent decades has the option been accessible. Most of my life I spent as the lion amongst the sheep."
She looked stunned – if only for a moment. The attitude she was so eloquent at soon veneered her face again.
"Exactly!" She thought she had him with his own past. "Yet you would cow down now and sip that crap you call Salvation instead of the real thing? You've no fire left in you! You've gotten old! You might as well get rid of your eye teeth and better pretend you're human!"
He felt his jaw set, the muscles locking up with the realization that his daughter didn't want to listen to reason. There was so much that she didn't know about this. She had no clue. With a little growl, he added, "I've also felt the rock bottom pain of watching those close to me die – some of them at my own hands. I've lost loved ones to the ravages of time – each instance as painful as the last. I've wanted to be better than an animal, Sagira, better than my mother."
She tilted her head stinging him with, "What was so wrong with Carmen? You've never told me why you despise her so much." Sagira moved to her dresser, drawing out a loose tunic and some breeches before facing him again and demanding answers with her eyes.
Cabal refused to answer those unspoken questions. That Carmen was a loon, and tried to kill him was not something he was willing to air again for an insolent teenager who had grown bigger than her britches of late.
Instead he said, "It's not safe to satiate your hunger in this manner, don't you understand that?" He motioned towards the occupied bed once more.
"Why not?" She continued to dress, not seeming bothered in the least that she was doing so in front of her father. Sagira had never been a shy one, but it was as if she was trying to get an altogether different response out of him. As much as he didn't want to acknowledge it, the thought she might be suffering from an Electra complex incensed him more.
"I've told you," he started, but Sagira cut him off before he could finish, seeming to predict his next argument.
"I'm beginning to think Victor Sierra is a fairy tale you made up to keep me in line all these years, Father. I've not seen any evidence that they even come to this part of the world – that they even exist!"
Once more, he avoided snatching at the bait she was so prominently offering up. He bore too many scars from Victor Sierra – scars she'd seen – enough to prove the reality of their existence. That she still didn't take his word for it was another frustration on top of a tall pile with her.
A small pang went off in his middle, wondering if he and Miranda had done her a disservice by not being more forward with his former life. He feared that he'd kept her sheltered too many years from it. By now, anything he had to say to her would probably go straight over her head.
"The point is, you risk exposing this house – our family – to attention none of us need. Jasper, Yew – those towns don't know what we are – they are not aware that predators live among them. You risk the death of us all if you continue with this reckless practice."
"But, it is so boring!" She actually stomped a foot at him. It was all he could do not to treat her like the five year old she was acting and tan her hide. "Pretending that we're the Jones's – human – dull just like they are. We're bred for more than this!"
"For what? Hmm? Tell me that? What heavenly purpose does drinking the blood of humans serve?"
That silenced her for a moment, and Cabal could see the wheels spinning and then burning trying to find an appropriate answer. She learned long ago not to argue faith and destiny with him. To him, taking the blood of a human made them little more than oversized mosquitoes – a plague – pestilence and death if they allowed their natures to rule their lives.
That was against God's will.
Shaking his head, done with trying to argue with her, Cabal yanked the covers back on Sagira's bed. He wrapped the boy in Sagira's sheet with rough movements, and then lifted him from the mattress, flinging the limp form over a shoulder.
He spun to face Sagira. "We're not going to be around to clean up your messes – not forever. I can't prove it, but I know you've been at this a while. I'll not tolerate such flagrant disregard for our rules. I'll go so far as to put you on notice – one more time and you can find someplace else to live – then you can find out just how sheltered you've been all these years."
"I hate you!" she flung at him before wheeling and storming out the door and up the ramp toward the main hall.
Cabal stepped to the door watching Sagira storm past Miranda, who was ascending from their quarters. Miranda didn't try to stop the girl, only turned to watch their daughter as she retreated.
He didn't meet Miranda's gaze as she stopped before him. His lips thinned, and he shook his head as he asked – of her or of any listening deity – "Where did we go so wrong? I… I don't remember being like – that."
"You were too busy trying to survive. I don't think you had time to worry about your lot in life."
Miranda leaned into him.
When his tension still hadn't faded she touched his face, making him look at her.
"She's a teenager. She'll get over it. I did… eventually."
"I'm not sure you were ever that bad either, Miranda."
"I was – and then some."
"Your rebellion never involved bloodletting though – unless, of course, we're talking about mine." How he found the humor at a time like this, not even he was sure.
Miranda grimaced, and then pulled on the limp body to get a look at him.
Choosing to ignore his dig, she instead said, "She's got too much time on her hands and not nearly enough constructive outlets for her energy."
"I'm ready for her wild streak to pass," Cabal muttered. "It's going to be the death of one of us if it doesn't happen soon."
Miranda looked at him as if trying to determine whether he was being serious or just venting frustration. Cabal shrugged, not really sure himself, and used the maneuver to readjust the boy's body as it threatened to slip off or topple him. He moved forward again, heading by wrote for the infirmary.
Miranda was going to need to do some "tending" before they could return the boy to whatever town he'd come from.
The dhampir moved to the closest table, more gently moving the body down onto the bed. His frustration was fading, and he needn't take what was left out on the young man. His only crime was to haplessly stumble onto his daughter and her odd pastimes.
Miranda was quick about her work, and Cabal stood by to make sure she didn't need assistance. He didn't get in her way, she was more than capable as a medic, but he was there in case she needed an extra set of hands. The dhampir merely watched as Miranda drew out a pint of synthetic blood from the local storage and deftly insert the IV to give it to the boy. Once she was done with that and satisfied with the drip, she moved to tending his wounds.
This was the part he found particularly amazing. Since Miranda had become a vampire, she had developed a talent for healing wounds that would make even the best plastic surgeon jealous. Using inherent energy around her, she could accelerate the healing, reducing scar tissue and restoring the skin to an almost pre-wound state.
It wasn't long until the small puncture wounds were faded to vague discoloration – easily mistaken for other causes.
She leaned back, grimly looking over the results of her efforts.
"He'll need to stay here for a couple hours, until we can get his blood levels back up again."
"I figured as much."
"Did he have any identification?" She looked back at him. "I don't want to wake him if it isn't necessary."
While that sounded like doctor's concern, Cabal knew better. She was keeping him under, and would until they found a place to be rid of him. That being said, they needed to know where Sagira had found him, because they wouldn't just drop him anywhere. The dhampir knew his daughter would not give him directions to hell right now, and that left them with trying to figure out where the young man resided.
If he didn't have any ident, that meant that Miranda would have to bring him up, get the information they needed, and then strike the memory from his mind. That wasn't always successful.
"Honestly, I was too pissed off to look," he admitted.
"I'm good here if you want to give it a shot," she suggested.
"Do I have to?" Cabal asked, not sorry for the whine that had crept into his voice.
Her look said it all.
Frowning, he turned away and headed back up, yet again, to his daughter's room. He knew it was only going to anger him once more. How he ever produced a child who was so unruly was beyond him. He thought about it as he stalked up the hallway, knowing that Miranda was right. Sagira took more after her mother than she took after him.
Cabal had spent his teenage years sequestered away from any contact with people, especially after Becky was killed. He didn't have a wild streak – just an occasional dive into insanity.
"She'll get over it. I know I did." Miranda's reassurance floated through his skull again.
He sighed, listening as it echoed back at him. He loved Sagira dearly, but much of her mannerisms reminded him of his mother. That was scary on many levels. Though he had discussed the matter with Miranda, he didn't think she understood the implications of such a comparison.
Cabal vividly remembered what his mother would do to her meals – especially the male ones. She liked the company of human men. She made games out of her seduction and feeding from them. Such was her delusion that she would hypnotize them, making them believe that she was just another easy female, and then gently walk them to their deaths.
The last thing he wanted was for Sagira to make such a practice commonplace. The idea that there was no need for such kinds of feeding didn't seem to matter to the teenager. She seemed to be getting a kick out of the idea that she had power over the humans that they shared this small section of the continent with.
"Son of a bitch," he muttered. She reminded him more and more every day of Carmen just before her step off the cliff into lunacy.
He hoped Miranda was right, he hoped this was some kind of shitty phase Sagira was going through, and that she would grow out of it as she matured.
And if wishes were horses – we all could ride. His mind threw back at him, blackening his mood even more.
Cabal stopped outside of Sagira's room, this time to listen. When he heard nothing from the space beyond, he palmed the door and stepped in once more. He forced himself to draw a deep breath and let it out again, his anger with it. He peered about for a moment, hoping to locate the boy's clothes without rooting through the twisted sheets or other piles of clothes that Sagira was in the habit of leaving around – a tendency she most certainly picked up from him. He was never a neat person, and, on the road, his Mandalay reflected his lack of housekeeping skills.
The dhampir located what looked like a man's sock and headed for it, hoping to locate the trail of stripped off clothes. He kicked through other articles, shivering when one of Sagira's lingerie caught on the toe of his shoe and refused to come off for some moments. With a more violent kick, he finally flung the thong across the room where it landed in yet another pile. Hating every minute of this search, he finally recovered the majority of the boy's outfit in a relative pile.
Picking up a pair of baggy pants, Cabal searched through pockets looking for a wallet or a scan badge that would tell them who he was and where he had been picked up from. After searching about fifteen pockets, he finally came across the clear card with circuit lines that denoted the stored information on it.
Sighing, Cabal bundled the pants up, along with everything else he could identify as possibly belonging to the young man. He was running on wrote as he made his way back, wondering where his daughter had run off to. That he hadn't run into her, did not bode well. Sagira normally got underfoot when she was mad with him or her mother, as a way to get acknowledgment of her anger with them.
When Miranda still didn't need his assistance, Cabal went to seek her out. After an hour and a half of searching, Sagira was nowhere to be found. Moving to the security center, Cabal flipped through the different camera nodes in the outbuildings and found that his hovercar was missing.
"Damn it," he muttered.
"What's up?" Miranda asked from behind him.
He hung his head a bit. "She took my Mandalay."
She rubbed his shoulders. "Then perhaps you shouldn't have taught her to fly it."