NIGHTFALL: The Final Season

"Departures"

The Story Thus Far…

Bartholomew, Lord of all Vampires, weary of the state of the world at the hands of mortals, allowed himself to be publicly captured, then applied his mental powers on those in charge. Arranging for a "deal" to be made, to supposedly allow science to study his supernatural abilities, Bartholomew used modern medical science to transfer his "gift", and created a thousand Masters almost instantly.

Vampirism spread over the globe in a matter of months, the surviving humans forced underground, either taking refuge in fortified military structures, or constantly on the move.

Persons of Faith were the most targeted during the beginning of the uprising, and Father Roy Cameron may be one of the last Priests alive. His faith has given him certain abilities, aiding him in his battle against the vampires, and he has learned that he is destined to stand against Bartholomew.

Diane Price, found by Roy after being forced to kill her husband and daughter, has joined him on his quest to destroy Bartholomew.

Bill Hopkins was on the verge of killing himself when he was stopped by the arrival of Roy, and has also joined him. In their travels, Bill has learned that he is a Halfling, a descendent of one of Bartholomew's human lovers, and he is still trying to sort out what, exactly, he is.

Christine Lander is also a Halfling, more than a hundred years old, and has sought out the group to join them in their quest to kill Bartholomew. She is growing very attached to Bill, but she is also fearful for him, and of how close he is to the darkness that constantly tries to seduce them.

Zachary Timms, a somewhat reluctant member of the group, has recently become a Lycanthrope, and is radically changing his view of things.

"Bear", a pilot that was helping the group get to Germany, has disappeared in the wake of the death of his companion, Dillman, and his whereabouts are unknown.

John Winger was forced to turn to the group for help after he killed his commanding officer in a failed attempt to stop the testing of a nuclear weapon against the vampires. Though not completely committed to the cause, he is helping them, mostly because he's attracted to Diane.

Alpha Team, a group of military commandos from Robbins Air Force base in Georgia, has tracked down the group to lend their support in stopping Bartholomew.

The Holy Vampires, as coined by Bill, are former persons of the cloth, killed by vampires, returned to the world as vampires, but with their souls intact, sent to aid Roy in facing Bartholomew.

The Pack, a family of Lycanthropes that were once mortal enemies to the vampires, but have been in hiding for the last few centuries because of how vampires had turned humans against them. The Pack has recently been encountered by our group, and has decided to back them in the coming battle, hoping for a return of the peace they once knew with mortals.

"Season Four" picks up with our group in Cleveland, preparing to continue on to Germany, and their final battle against the dark forces that have taken over the world.

They have suddenly found themselves with unprecedented support and help, and are just a bit overwhelmed by the scope of it all. Still reeling from a recent battle with a Vampire Warrior, they are preparing for their imminent departure, still unsure of what the future holds for them all…

It had been a long time since Cleveland Hopkins airport had seen this much activity, a convoy of vehicles bringing in both personnel and equipment to the waiting 747, the aircraft that would be transporting everyone to Germany.

Members of Alpha Team were hurriedly making the final preparations for the upcoming flight, checking and rechecking the repairs that they had made, following the guiding hand of Timms. The Lieutenant was an expert with aviation mechanics—he had been part of the team that had maintained the top-secret super-sonic stealth transport—and had actually worked with Boeing crews several times. Jason Brohill, Alpha's only remaining fully trained air craft tech, was well skilled in his own right, but there was a bit of a difference between jet fighters and commercial airliners, and he knew that he could not have finished the work without Timms.

Timms was making every effort that he could to reintegrate himself into the core group, having professed his apologies several times for his actions since the death of Neva. Bill and Christine were still steering well clear of him, finding it harder than the others to forgive Timms, in light of his betrayal of them, but Timms wasn't holding it against them. That Timms—the scared, confused, and formally human Timms—seemed as distant as a childhood memory, and even he couldn't understand fully what had driven him to act that way.

Bill, Christine, Diane, and John were busy directing the loading of supplies, the two Halflings handling a majority of the heavy, awkward items with their enhanced strength.

Occasionally Bill would pause and watch Diane and John as they worked together, wondering what it was that she saw in him that captivated her so. Then, in the next moment, Christine would snap him out of his stupor, and he would look at her, wondering what in the hell his problem was. He and Christine were closer than two mortals could ever be, and he knew that she had feelings for him, and he for her, but for some reason it bothered him to see Diane being so friendly with John.

Roy and Commander Trent were busy coordinating the entire operation, working to organize everything before their planned departure in less than two hours, and it was evident that two men worked well together. In between directing people as to what to do, Roy was relating the last few months of his group's adventures to Trent, drawing more than one disbelieving look from the Commander. Trent's tale of an alien invader paled when compared to every thing that the group had been through, and he wondered what they could expect to find once they arrived in Germany.

"I think we have someone that belongs to you," called Father Aberon, stepping out of a jeep that had pulled up to the command area.

Roy turned around at the sound of Aberon's voice, a smile spreading across his face as he saw Bear climb out of the other side of the jeep. The tall black man still looked distraught, but his eyes were free of that lost look that they had had after Dillman's death.

"Bear," greeted Roy, embracing the man and clapping him on the back. "I didn't know if we'd ever see you again."

"Sorry, Preach, but I had to get away from everyone for a while."

"I'm sorry about Dillman, Bear," offered Roy. "If you like, Father Aberon, or I, can go say a few words over his grave."

"You didn't do that when you buried him?" asked Bear, looking confused. "I'd have thought that you would at least…"

"Bear," interrupted Roy, "we, uh, we didn't bury him. His body was gone, we thought you might have taken it, to bury him in private."

"What?" stammered Bear, immediately turning towards Father Aberon.

"I can assure you that none of my kind had anything to do with it," stressed Aberon, knowing what Bear was thinking. "That is not our way. It is merely one of the myths perpetuated by the vampires many centuries ago, to cause a divide between our kind and humans."

"I'm 'spose to believe that shit?" yelled Bear, thrusting his chest out and body pushing Aberon. "I saw what you're kind can do!"

Roy and Trent rushed Bear, grabbing his arms and holding him back as he tried to attack Aberon, the Alpha Male lycanthrope lowly growling with outrage.

"Where's Dill, damn it?" screamed Bear, struggling against the two men holding him. "Where's Dill?"

Bear broke down into sobbing wails, crying against Roy's shoulder and beating his fist against the Preacher's back. "What did they do with my Dill?" sobbed Bear. "What did they do?"

Roy slowly walked Bear towards the plane, ministering condolence and offering his support, trying to calm the man down some. Bear was having an extremely hard time dealing with Dillman's death, but the group needed him to have his wits about him. They could use his help in flying the plane, and Roy only hoped that he would be able to convince Bear that Aberon's people had nothing to do with the disappearance of Dillman's body.

That did, of course, leave the question of what did happen to Dillman's body?

Colonel Maybourne strummed his fingers on his desk as he listened to the latest report from Alpha Team, silently trying to think of any way that Solution Center could offer more support. The Center had suffered devastating losses in the wake of Bartholomew's attack, their troubles further compounded by General Brightton's insane restructuring of their limited forces, and Maybourne was starting to feel more helpless than ever.

Brightton's files had revealed quite a lot to the Colonel, and Maybourne had thought it a bit far fetched, but numerous witnesses from the Center had supported the statements. The Center had been infiltrated by a cadre of vampire Masters that had hoped to deceive Father Cameron, and use him to subdue Bartholomew, allowing them to take charge of their kind. Roy had instead rooted them out and killed them, decimating nearly a third of the population of the Center, which had been vampires.

Very few military groups were left, the Center and Robbins AFB being the two largest in the country, and that wasn't saying much. Personnel were still trickling in, making their way to the Center after being summoned by Brightton, and Maybourne saw no reason to reverse that order—right now, they needed all of the help that they could get.

"How soon will you be leaving, Commander?" asked Maybourne after Trent had finished his report.

"Approximately twenty-two hundred hours, Sir," replied Trent. "That should put us touching down in Frankfurt around dawn."

"Very good, Commander. I've been in touch with Bonnetelli in Italy, and Hagora in Japan. Both of them are dealing with increased attacks from Bartholomew's forces, and neither of them can lend any support right now. We've lost all contact with the Russians, and the Colombians, and we've received only fragmented reports from Korea."

"It's not sounding very good for anyone right now, Sir," commented Trent.

"We might still be fighting battles, but I'd say we've lost the war already, Commander."

"I've seen what these people can do, Colonel. I think we still have reason to hope."

"I pray that you're right, Commander."

Maybourne closed the channel, knowing that Trent would check in when they reached Germany, and swiveled around in his chair to face the three other men in the room with him. The men were all in their late fifties, dressed in dark grey suits, and surrounded by an air of power.

"Are you sure that we can not confide in Commander Trent?" asked Mister Emory, the leader of the trio, and the head of the remaining members of the NSA. "We would have much more control over the situation if he was cooperating with us."

"I've known Gabe Trent for a long time," responded Maybourne, "and I'm telling you, he's as clean cut as they come. If he had the slightest doubt as to our intentions then we wouldn't have a clue as to where they were, or what they were doing."

"We'll trust your judgement on the matter then," said Mister Emory. "We will not, however, trust in this priest to be able to kill Bartholomew."

"That, we both agree on," stated Maybourne. "Brightton had the right idea, as the results of Denver prove, but he allowed his personal feelings to get in the way."

"Then I take it that everything is in readiness?" asked Mister Jones, Emory's right hand man.

"All we need are the coordinates of Bartholomew's lair, and, in less than an hour, it'll be a nuclear crater."

"Very good, Colonel," Mister Emory said, rising from his seat. "We will be in touch."

Mister Emory, and his two assistants, exited Maybourne's office, the Colonel wondering if he was doing the right thing. He had tried to argue that they should at least give the group a chance, but Emory would not hear of it—he did not want Bartholomew fleeing to another secretive location once they had found him—he wanted Bartholomew's lair annihilated as soon as they knew where it was.

Brightton may have been a few bricks shy of a full load, but his strike on Denver had substantiated their theory, not a single vampire left alive anywhere in the vicinity. The nuclear blast had obliterated the Master, and, with him, his brood. Taking out Bartholomew would undoubtedly have a similar affect, wiping out all vampires.

"It has to be this way," said Maybourne, aloud. He kept telling himself that over and over.

Take off had gone smoothly, and, after circling the airport once and "tipping" the wings, Bear had locked in a course for Germany, using flight data transmitted from Solution Center's own secure satellite.

"The auto-pilot's set," grumbled Bear, checking over the flight panel one last time before rising from his seat. "You guys can handle it from here."

"Where you going?" asked Erin from her position in the co-pilot's seat.

"For a walk," replied Bear, exiting the cabin.

Erin looked back at Donavan and shrugged, offering "at least he can't go too far. Not without a parachute any ways."

"I wouldn't put it past him," commented Donavan. "He seems the dark and morbid type."

"You would be too, if your lover got gunned down by people that are suddenly saying that they're your friends," informed Erin, having heard the news from some the people flying with them.

Bear had paused for just a second, moving on after catching part of the conversation going on about him, and made his way the crew elevator. He took the small lift to the lowest level of the plane, near the cargo hold access, and plopped down on a chair, sulking in the darkened silence.

That woman—what was her name? Erin something?—she had hit the nail on the head, he was having a hard time dealing with the fact that these creatures were supposedly their friends. He could just as easily blame Roy for Dill's death, the preacher having attacked the guards in the first place, but he didn't. He blamed Aberon, for his secretive ways, and, more than anyone, he blamed Timms.

Timms might be changing, looking at the world in an entirely different way, but it was his act of betrayal that had started the whole mess.

Yes, it was definitely Timms' fault.

That thought did nothing to ease the pain that Bear felt, the loneliness that was already weighing upon him, but it was a thought that he could not dismiss—nor forgive. One way or another, when this was all over with, and if he was still alive, Bear was going to see to it that Timms paid.

"Bear," hissed a soft, almost distant, voice.

What the hell? thought Bear, setting up and looking about the small chamber. As crazy as it seemed, he could have sworn that he had just heard Dill's voice.

"Bear," called the voice again. "Down here."

Bear stepped over to a small hatch set into the floor, a maintenance access hatch that led to a small passage way in the very bottom of the plane. Bear shook his head, thinking that he was really losing it, when the voice called to him again, saying "open the hatch, Bear."

"Dill?" wondered Bear, his hand poised on the release lever of the hatch.

"Bear, let me out, please," hissed Dill's voice. "It's getting too cold down here."

"No," Bear nearly shouted. "You are not down there! You're dead!"

"I'm here, Bear," cooed Dillman's voice. "I'm here, for you."

"No you're not," bellowed Bear, snapping the latch back and opening the hatch. "I'll prove that you're n…"

Dillman's pale face stared up at Bear from the access way below.

"Dill?"

Dillman became a blur as he shot up from the dark area, smashing into Bear and knocking him to the floor. Bear's shocked cries trailed off as Dillman tore into his neck, hungrily drinking down his blood, his mind soon swirling into the oblivion of death.

To Be Continued…