Falling Into Darkness Ch. 11byElianna©
There were bodies everywhere.
They weren't vampire. It was daytime. Kaiden was sending humans.
It was like a battleground; smoke, burning vehicles, mangled bodies, blood. As she stared at the absolute destruction only several hundred yards from Cael's window she realized that the pounding that was making her head throb was the pop of gunfire and the dull thuds could only have been artillery. She'd only heard sounds like that in movies, but now she was in one; a fucked up horror flick with vampires, rapists, war, and magic. Her head spun and her stomach rebelled at the carnage; she wasn't so sure she even wanted to crawl out of bed today.
Get out of the window, Anna! Cael's voice nearly screamed in her mind.
She jumped in surprise then closed the drapes at once. Shaking her head angrily at herself, she realized someone could have shot her right out of the window. She was so sick she wasn't even considering her danger.
"God damn it, Anna!" Cael wrenched the door open and stormed into the room. "What were you thinking?"
She cringed. She'd never known him to raise his voice at her, but it seemed that with all the tension, Cael's temper was quick. In his anger he was an impressive creature to behold: his eyes glittered, his breast heaved, and his presence... With a pounding headache and the grogginess that came with it, Anna was overwhelmed by him. Her eyes filled with tears and she backed away from him even as she choked out a strangled cry of alarm.
For a moment he froze and stared. Her heart pounded as those eyes held her with unreadable scrutiny, and she wrapped her arms about her mid-section and backed away a little more.
"Easy Anna," he said his voice softening. "I'm just irritated. I'm not going to hurt you." He shook his head and ran his fingers through his hair in what seemed a long-practiced habit from frustration. "Do you realize how stupid that was?"
She nodded and sniffed. "I woke up sick and I wasn't thinking. I'm sorry."
He sighed. "No, I'm sorry. I shouldn't have fed from you last night."
"I asked you to," she reminded him wiping her eyes.
"I usually don't follow orders."
He closed the distance between them and reached out pulling her close and enfolding her in his arms for a moment. As always his presence and embrace seemed to give her strength. Perhaps it was their strange connection; perhaps it was just a part of Cael's powers. All she knew was that in his arms she felt her strength renewed, her world became centered and she had the power to do whatever she had to.
"What happened out there?" she asked quietly.
"Kaiden had some humans try to break through our defenses," he explained as he stroked her back tenderly. "They came with a couple of trucks and tried to mow through."
"They tried?" Anna asked.
"The vehicles didn't make it within 50 feet of the house," he said grimly.
She jumped as she heard another shot.
"So why all the gunfire now?"
He gave her that look. The look that said, 'you can't handle the truth.'
Anna decided she might agree with him.
"I think you might feel better with some fluids and some breakfast," he said to change the subject. "It should help with the loss of blood and give you some strength."
She nodded. "I'll put myself together and hit the kitchens."
He kissed her lips softly. "Just stay out of the windows."
She nodded mutely.
He was right. Breakfast and fluids did help a little. She took the time to raid every drawer in the kitchen and found a bottle of aspirin, too. It seemed that vampires tried to take care of their human attendants after all. After eating, she noticed that the pop of gunfire had stopped. She wondered if Kaiden's human army had given up whatever they were trying to do but the silence felt just as eerie as the gunfire.
Everything felt wrong.
People were dying outside. People were trying to get inside to kill Cael, and probably her, too. It was one of the few times in her life when Anna didn't quite know what to do with herself. She didn't feel right just sitting down and watching TV as people were dying and fighting outside. She didn't feel right doing anything. She just didn't feel right.
Perhaps she should try to find the others?
Cael had never really told her what he wanted her to do when the fighting started. She closed her eyes and tried to feel his presence. She'd never actually tried to use their strange connection to her advantage before, but for some reason she felt pressed to find him. There was a sense of urgency as though finding him at that moment was not optional. She wandered through the immense house feeling like a fool, searching for a sense that only occasionally called to her in the back of her mind. He was beneath the house. It was the only thing she was sure about, but the only thing she could imagine was the garage and with soldiers killing each other only a few hundred yards from the house, she didn't dare go down there.
She wanted to cry with frustration and the feeling in the back of her mind was getting more and more urgent.
It was a call; a need.
Nearly in tears she stumbled upon the hidden entrance almost by accident on her way to the TV room after giving up. It was then she noticed that in the back of the living room a part of the wood paneled wall was slightly ajar; a hidden door. Opening it curiously, Anna found a narrow winding staircase that looked like it led downwards towards....
More out of curiosity than from the need to find Cael, she followed the steps and found herself in a dimly light wine cellar. Like everything in the house, the wine cellar was exquisite. Elegant mahogany wine racks were filled with bottles of every imaginable vintage. Shelves were lined with bottles of rare brandy; the place was an alcoholic's treasure trove. She could imagine the Ancient One and his buddies reminiscing about old times as they sipped away at the stores in this place. She looked around at the room a little jealously; this could be a place for good times, but all she'd ever known of Cael and his 'brothers' was this; times of fear and aching heartbreak. Almost brokenly she turned to climb back up into the living room until she noticed yet another doorway in the cellar.
With trembling fingers she opened the other door leading into the unknown; the secrets of the Ancient One's house were both exciting and frightening...especially since they seemed to be underground.
Anna found herself in a long, well-light hallway. It was strangely clinical, almost like a hospital hallway; white walls, vinyl tiled floors, fluorescent lights and industrial looking doors on her left and right at regular intervals. None of the doors had windows, but Anna was starting to feel a little better about opening unknown doors...they led to such interesting places.
Curiously she peeked into the first room on her right. She stared in open-mouthed amazement as she looked upon shelves and tables filled with weapons; machine guns, rocket launchers, hand guns, rifles. It seemed that the Ancient One could supply his own army with weapons if need be. Still not feeling quite comfortable with weapons she closed the door again and continued on down the sterile hallway.
The next door on her left wouldn't open. She stared at it in disappointment for a moment until she noted a keypad beside it and took a closer look at the door. It was some kind of vault door; steel, thick, with huge bolts. She quickly deduced that the door was reinforced for a purpose; perhaps to hold a vampire or two in a prison cell? She froze and dropped her hand from the cold handle swallowing a surge of panic. She didn't ever want to see the inside of a vault or prison, ever again. There were four doors that were similar to the first, so she bypassed them shivering a little as she walked by.
Near the end of the hall was one more door; this one was not reinforced. She reached out and opened it curiously. The moment the door opened she heard a low growl.
Anna didn't have time to think. She let out a terrified yelp as someone grabbed her roughly, pulled her into the room, and restrained her with lightning speed. She stared up into black, glittering eyes and nearly screamed again until she recognized them with a shiver.
"Damn it woman!" snarled Kieran releasing her at once. "What the hell are you doing in here?"
Anna stared at the dark-looking vampire warily her heart still pounding. She didn't really like Kieran. He made her very uncomfortable, but she also knew that he would know where Cael was and for some reason, she felt the need to see him even more. Taking a deep breath to calm herself she returned his angry glare.
"My name's Anna, not 'woman'," she shot back, "and don't swear at me. I'm looking for Ca...lexander."
Kieran arched his dark brows irritably at her slip and he seemed to growl under his breath a little. For a moment she held her breath.
"He's unavailable. Go upstairs like a good little human and wait for him to tell you what to do."
Her blood boiled.
"Were you born an ass or did it take a few thousand years? What is your problem?"
She couldn't believe herself. It was like her tongue had taken a life of its own and she almost cringed as the words left her mouth. Was she just asking for it today?
"If you weren't Alexander's little play toy right now, I'd show you exactly what I'm capable of," he returned. "Now get the fuck out of here."
"Gladly," she snapped back. "If you'd just answered my first question I'd have left two minutes ago."
"Fine. He's in the holding cell with one of our unwilling guests." His eyes grew distant for a moment and then he stared at her a little more warily. "He's coming now."
They both stared at each other in silence. Anna admitted to herself that Kieran's dark, glittering eyes scared the shit out of her, but she forced herself to stare him down anyway.
"Anna," Cael said as he opened the door.
She started violently from the staring match at the sound of Cael's voice and when she turned back to face Kieran, he was staring at the monitors again.
"How did you..." Cael began, but he looked up and then back down at her. "You shouldn't be here."
"What should I be doing then?" she returned. "People are dying outside. I just can't sit around."
He put his arm about her comfortingly. "I don't want you to see these kinds of things," he said. "I want to protect you."
For the first time since she walked in the room, Anna actually looked at the monitors. She froze. It was like some sick war movie. In some of the screens there were bodies lying unmoving, the blood obvious, in others the people were twitching, and writhing with pain as they clutched bloody wounds.
There were...a lot of them. She couldn't bring herself to count, but it suddenly felt like she was surrounded by dead or dying bodies. She couldn't look away. Morbid curiosity, the shock value, or perhaps the fact that it was still just on TV, she couldn't bring herself to let them die in peace.
Then as she looked more closely she saw that they were attacking each other. She stared in amazement as the people shot and madly lunged at anything and everything that moved, attacking friend and foe. It was...awful.
"They're attacking each other," she said quietly.
"Anna..." Cael tried to explain.
It took her a moment to make the connection, but when she did, she felt her entire body shudder. "Darian is controlling them, isn't he? He's out there somewhere controlling their minds."
Cael stared into the monitors for a moment, his eyes seeming to lose their amazing glow again. "It's a necessary evil," he said quietly.
She wanted to do something to comfort him, but she couldn't as she stared at the screen and watched in horrid fascination.
"Here they come," said Kieran pointing to a monitor on his right.
Other people were coming out of the brush now, but Anna could just tell by the way they moved they were vampires. She realized that while she was wandering through the house that the sun must have set. The vampires dashed from the brush and charged the unwitting humans ripping the guns away from their hands and beating them, and then finally jumping on them and latching on their necks.
"Dear God," she whispered.
"Anna," Cael said trying to gently pull her away.
"No," she said quietly. "I need to see. I need to understand this."
"Don't," Kieran said his dark voice strangely quiet. "There will be plenty of time for you to understand vampires. Seeing us at our worst is not the best way to do it."
She froze as one of the vampires ripped the throat out of his victim leaving the man vacant-eyed, his neck gushing. It was a vision from horror movies; a vampire crouched over a body, his face bathed in blood, his fangs glistening, his eyes glowing wickedly.
Her stomach boiled and her head pounded. If Cael's arm hadn't been around her she would have fallen to her knees.
"Alexander," said Kieran quietly. "It's time."
"Come on, Anna," he whispered in her ear. "Let's get you to the safe room."
She didn't argue. The image of a vampire ripping out a human's throat was etched in her mind. She stumbled through the hallways blindly beside him. Everything he'd shown her about vampires, all his kindness...but they were still just like the monsters in the movies.
She looked up at him. His jade eyes were so gentle. His wavy golden hair was slightly mussed as though he'd been running his fingers through it in frustration; such a contrast to his expensive slacks and shirt. He was her friend in the dark, her guardian, her protector...her lover. How could someone like him be a beast just like that?
"We all have a little bit of evil in us. Bradford was a human, but he was just as monstrous as the vampire you saw. You know so little about us, about me. I wanted to show you what we were like; what real, good, honorable vampires are like. I wanted to show you the glory of my kind, but all you've seen is the horrors they can bring."
He kissed her on the lips and she melted into him clinging to him as though he alone would keep her from falling into some unfathomable darkness; darkness that was knocking at their door. Darkness she knew would consume her completely.
"There is so much I want to give you, to show you," he breathed. "Be strong. No matter what you hear outside, don't be afraid. I will come for you. I promise you."
She kissed him again; deeply. She wanted to savor the warm, spicy flavor of his mouth, the press of his sensual lips against hers. She inhaled deeply, wanting to memorize his scent and to cover herself in it to feel close to him. He moaned softly into her mouth, and she knew he sensed her thoughts and understood her need for him.
"Okay, angel," he said at last. "I have to go. Now more than ever, I am determined not to lose."
She nodded and kissed him again. "I love you."
For a moment he paused and stared at her with a strange look in his eyes. "Be strong, Anna. I will come for you," he replied gently.
He closed the door and she heard him enter the security code to seal the door. With those sounds her heart sank.
He never said I love you.
The safe room was comfortable; for a prison. When she'd agreed to go inside and wait for Cael to come and tell her everything was okay, Anna didn't realize how much it would feel like a prison. Yeah. She watched television. There were reruns of her favorite TV shows and since the place had satellite, she indulged in several movies and several other kinds of movies. She felt like a couch potato; lounging on a luxurious bed covered with the most expensive and softest linens money could buy, watching pay-per-view, and munching on snacks in her refrigerator. But when it all boiled down to it, she was alone. Alone, frightened, and locked in a cell that she had imposed upon herself; Anna was too terrified to leave and miserable while she stayed.
It was hard to keep track of time. The only way she did was by paying attention to the news on TV, and that in itself was depressing. After her third day in her luxurious prison, Anna started to worry. She and Darian had packed enough food in the refrigerator to last her about a week if she was careful, but she was half-way there. There had been no word from Cael and she couldn't feel his presence anywhere near. Her only comfort was that she knew he was alive. She could still feel that much of him, even if he was miles away.
Her fourth night, it started. She heard the chime of buttons being pushed outside. At first she had leapt out of bed with joy delighted that Cael had finally come for her, but the buttons kept chiming and the door never opened. She closed her eyes and felt for his presence, but Cael was still far away.
Then she realized what was happening. Someone was testing codes on the keypad outside the door. The beeping was relentless. They were being methodical.
Anna scrambled around her room looking for some kind of weapon, but she found none. The safe room was designed to keep someone safe so they didn't need to use a weapon. She prayed that whoever was working on the keypad outside her door wouldn't find the code.
She turned off the TV and listened.
It had been hours. They had been working on the code for hours.
Anna sat on the bed, her limbs pulled close to her body and she listened as code after code was entered into the system.
Didn't Cael think of something like this? Wasn't there some kind of safeguard for this?
She couldn't sleep. She lay still on the bed and listened as the codes were attempted. The more she listened the more she realized that there was a manual automaticity to the beeps of the keypad. Someone wasn't pushing codes; there was some kind of code breaker doing it. That could be the only explanation.
Oh God. They were going to crack the code.
Cael! Where are you? Oh God. They're going to get in!
She screamed it at him in her mind, knowing that he was the only one who could talk to her like that. He was the only one with amazing vampire powers. That was why she was supposed to be safe in this special vault; because she was simply a weak little human.
"We've got to reclaim the house," Cael snarled at Darian as he paced.
"We're doing the best we can. Our numbers are still too small to take Kaiden's forces."
"Anna's in the safe room," he said. "We should have brought her with us."
"You and I both know she would have died in the assault. She doesn't have the strength and speed to avoid our kind. They would have ripped her beautiful little throat out, too." Darian put his hand on his shoulder. "Brother," he said softly. "You have given her the greatest chance for life you could."
"Darian," he whispered, "she's the one."
"If I lose her," he shook his head. "I can't imagine continuing on if I lose her. I've waited so long."
"You're not going to lose her."
"She's afraid," Cael said pacing in irritation once again. "Something's happening. I can feel her fear in my heart."
"She'll be all right," Darian replied. "The code on the vault is difficult to crack. They'd have to work on it for several days."
"Damn it!" he shouted startling the others around him. "They've had several days. We've got to claim the house. NOW!"
"The forces should be here tonight," said Kieran as he got off the phone. "Capac's people will be here an hour after sundown."
Cael nodded. "That should give us the numbers we need, then." He looked at the large house longingly.
We're coming, Anna. I promise.
The beeping of the keypad was driving her crazy; she was on the verge of hysterics as she listened to the relentless punching of the numbers. Every time she heard a successful pattern of five numbers and then a pause she started. She wasn't stupid. They'd been working on the code for at least a day now. The odds were starting to go in their favor. Eventually the code would be broken and she'd be helpless.