Hunted Blood III: A New Beginning Ch. 03byAmenRa©
"It looks as if the German's information has paid off at last," McKay said as he looked up from his laptop.
"What have you found?" Nera asked. She stepped behind him, cradling his head against her breasts.
"He booked a flight," McKay answered. "I don't know from where, but using the alias names Shultz gave us, I found an arrival flight. At Heathrow. In about an hour."
Nera's eyes lit, and she smiled with a glimmer of fangs. "Assemble our faithful and collect him," she ordered.
"With pleasure," McKay responded as he opened his cell phone to make the call.
- - -
John Stone's plane landed at Heathrow. He waded through the customs waiting line and made his way outside. He spotted a taxi, and shouldering his duffle bag, walked over to it.
A horde of young men, boys really, crowded around him. There were shouts of "Uncle John! Uncle John". One of them reached to embrace him, smiling. He stepped back, but found he had been cut-off by one of them from behind. He felt the sharp prick of a needle in his neck. The world around him began to blur.
They held him up, still shouting and acting as if they were greeting him. He was placed into a car that sped away from the airport.
- - -
Stone sat quietly in the living room of the safe house. Explosives had been planted in strategic areas of the house and its surrounding grounds. The team assigned by Keller was set up in positions around and on the house. Sharpshooters waited quietly on the roof and at the end of the driveway.
Sundown was coming rapidly. The light that filtered in through the windows was growing dark. Stone knew Nera would be arriving soon. Tonight, this would end. One way or another, the past days of running and hiding, of fearing for the lives of his wife and unborn child, as well as his own, would be over. He would see to it. He would fight like a samurai: as if he was going to die. And that may well come to pass. But not before they did.
Stone wore his Kevlar reinforced bodysuit, with the cloak. He carried his master's katana tucked inside his belt at his left side. There was a small, unobtrusive radio speaker/mic in his left ear. He heard a crackling of static, then Keller's voice.
"Six, Ghost," Keller said.
"Six," Stone replied.
"Vehicle lights in the driveway. Looks like two cars, coming up to the house."
"Roger," Stone replied. He took a deep breath. "Weapons free," he added.
"Copy weapons free," Keller said.
They would wait until Nera was at the door before they opened fire. They had no plans to kill her, as she was Stone's prey. But whatever vampiric entourage traveled with her would meet with certain doom.
Stone slowed his breathing. He centered himself. Mushin. Mind of no mind.
"Six, Ghost," Keller said over the radio, "vehicles have stopped. Nera and another vampire, red haired, are exiting, along with several others, some human, from the second car. Wait.. they've got a hostage with them. Male. Caucasian. Michael, it's your father."
Stone did not reply. His jaw clenched.
"Copy," Stone replied. "Weapons hold."
"I copy weapons hold," Keller acknowledged.
Stone stood from his chair. He watched the door. It would open. He waited.
When the door opened, a human stepped inside with a small submachine gun, an Uzi pistol, trained at Stone. He held the door open while Nera entered. Following her was Robert McKay, who held his father by the neck. Two more humans came inside. He saw others, he couldn't tell human from vampire, post up by the doorway on the exterior.
John Stone looked like hell. He had been beaten. His eyes were blackened, and one of them was partially closed. His lips were swollen and bruised. He walked with a lip, and his hands were bound in front of him by wire.
Michael fought to show no emotion. He looked from his father to McKay, who sneered back at him. He then looked to Nera.
"Good evening, Michael," she said.
Good evening you fucking bitch, he thought. However, it came out as, "Nera".
"This is no final confrontation," she said, looking at his katana in his belt. "This is simply an ultimatum: deliver to me the abomination or I kill your father."
Stone looked at his father. John Stone grimaced back at him, but said nothing. He didn't need to. Michael knew.
"Why do you call my child an abomination?" he asked.
"Because it is what it is!" Nera shouted. "There can never be an alliance between human and vampires! Humans will never let us be, fool!"
"So this isn't about Anita or my child, but about your fear of the world learning about your kind," Stone stated. He knew that, in time, his hybrid offspring would fill the gap between the human world and the world of the vampire. And Nera knew this as well.
"Enough talk, Michael," she said. "Bring me Anita, or your father dies."
McKay tightened his grip on John Stone's neck. John gave a small sigh of pain.
Michael's eyes narrowed to slits. He raised his left hand and pointed at Nera. He turned on the small device that ever-so-much looked like a flashlight.
Nera screamed as the artificial sunlight struck her face. Her dark skin immediately began to sizzle and burn. As the smoke began to pour forth from her face, Robert McKay pushed John Stone against the wall and leapt towards Michael.
Michael wasn't quite fast enough to unsheathe the katana. He had the blade only partially withdrawn when McKay struck him. The force of the strike was sufficient to knock the light from Stone's hand, giving Nera a respite. At least her screaming had stopped and changed to moans.
Michael rolled on the floor, coming up on top of McKay. McKay reached from Stone's neck. Stone grabbed McKay's arms. The vampire was much stronger than Stone. Michael could not fight him like this. He kept one hand held tight while he used the other to draw the HK Mark 23 on his right hip. Michael fired three rounds into McKay's chest.
"Six! Six! Status, over!" came Keller's voice in the tiny speaker.
"Six, roger," Stone replied. "I forgot to advise. Weapons free."
"Ghost copies weapons free," came the reply. An instant later, Stone heard the sounds of automatic weapons opening up outside.
Michael had stepped away from McKay as he was speaking to Keller. He scanned quickly, seeing Nera crouched in the corner, holding her face, which still smoked. He glanced at his father, who gave him a weak thumbs-up. Stone drew Osato's katana, and advanced towards Nera.
Steel-like hands grabbed him from behind. He was lifted up and thrown against the brickwork of the fireplace. He felt the impact against his ribs as his breath was knocked from him. He managed, however, to maintain his grip on the sword. When he fell against the floor, he rolled, keeping his katana's blade under him.
McKay, recovered from the wounds Stone had inflicted, stood over him. He had thrown Stone against the wall, and he now intended to take his life. He reached for the back of Michael's neck again. Suddenly, Stone rolled onto his back, bringing the katana up in an arcing cut to McKay's groin.
McKay howled in pain. Stone cut again, higher, opening up McKay's abdomen. McKay staggered backwards. Stone was kneeling now, and he pushed against the floor, springing into the air with a yell. The katana sliced through the air as he leaped, its blade cutting cleanly into McKay's neck. Stone landed, completing the follow-through to the cut by bringing the blade parallel to the floor.
McKay staggered a few more steps. Then, slowly, his body fell forward as his head fell to the side. The head plopped on the floor.
Stone turned around. Nera stood before him, her face a hideous scar of burned flesh. Her lips were gone, and he could plainly see her sharp fangs. She reached out to him with one hand, and he felt himself being lifted into the air with unseen force.
Michael was pinned against the brickwork of the fireplace, held there by Nera's psychic will. He fought and struggled, but could not break free. He could feel himself being stretched inside. It felt as if his muscles were burning. He could feel pressure in his chest and abdomen, as if his insides were about to burst out.
And then, Stone fell. He was vaguely aware of Robert Keller's voice in his ear telling him someone was there. He struck the floor with a loud thud, and his vision turned red.
Nera spun around. Her psychic hold on Stone had been broken by someone. She felt the presence. It was old, powerful, and familiar. She felt it behind her and turned to see it.
"You!" she yelled at it.
There was a shadow of a man in the doorway, lighted by the outside house lights. It was a tall silhouette, but distinct to her. She shadow raised a hand.
"No!" Nera shouted. "It must be stopped!"
Those were her last words. Nera burst into flames.
The last sight Michael saw before he passed into unconsciousness was the flames from Nera's burning corpse had cast light on the shadow man at the door. Stone saw the face. Very European, he thought. The man smiled, and Stone detected the slightest glimmer of fangs in the vampire's smile. And then everything went dark.
- - -
Stone woke. Anita was holding his hand, and she was smiling her beautiful smile. He sat up, then rubbed his head.
"Ow," he said.
Anita leaned forward and kissed his forehead. Stone looked around. He was in a bedroom at the safe house. It was daylight. Anita was there. Everything was fine.
"When did you arrive?" he asked her.
"A few hours ago," she said. "Mr. Keller says you had quite an altercation last night."
"Yeah," he answered. "Where's Dad?"
"Yuri has taken him to a hospital. He will be fine, but has a few broken ribs."
Michael touched her face. He looked at her neck and saw she still wore the gold crucifix he had given when they first met.
"Anita," he said, "there was someone here last night."
She smiled. "I called back-up for you," she answered. "An old friend. He will meet us tonight."
Stone smiled. "Thanks," he said. Last night was one time he needed all the back-up he could get. "I love you," he said to her.
Her smile became beaming. "And I love you," she responded.
- - -
Later that evening, Yuri Pavelovich and John Stone returned to the safe house. Michael had spent the time waiting their arrival by helping Keller clean up the mess they had made the night before.
John Stone had been patched and bandaged. He was looking pretty rough, but his spirits were good. He and Yuri were sharing a drink in the parlor while Michael and Anita sat on the back patio and looked at the stars.
"Good evening," came a voice from their right. Michael, startled, turned to see the vampire he had seen the night before. This one was powerful, he knew, and not just from the fact he could cause another to spontaneously combust, but that it took great skill to sneak up on Michael Stone.
Anita stood, smiling, and ran to the vampire. They embraced, and she took his hand and led him over to the lounge chairs. Michael stood.
The vampire offered his hand. "Mr. Stone," he said. Michael detected an accent. Western Russian, maybe. Czech? Romanian?
"Transylvanian," the vampire said in answer to Stone's unspoken questions. Stone's eyes widened. The vampire was immaculately dressed, complete with a black overcoat. His hair, black as night, was combed neatly back into a short pony tail. His face was regal, of aristocratic bearing. Stone took his hand.
"Michael Stone," he said, shaking the vampire's hand.
"I am Vlad," the vampire said. Stone almost took a step back. Vlad Tepis? The Count of Transylvania? Dracula!?
"A name I have spent many, many years trying to hide from," Vlad said, again answering Stone's thoughts. "But, nevertheless, the Order of Dracul lives still."
Stone was in awe. The Organization had detailed files on Dracula, but they were mostly open to interpretation. There was no conclusive evidence that Vlad Tepis had been a vampire. The book by Bram Stoker was fiction, but he saw now there was some truth in it.
"Like I said," Anita spoke, bringing Stone's thoughts back to the now, "an old friend."
They sat and talked for a while. Stone learned that Dracula was Anita's maker, and was hardly the monster Bram Stoker wrote about. Stoker did a lot of embellishment based on a few facts he knew. Stone learned that when Anita called out to Dracula through a psychic bond, the count could not refuse.
"I would never allow the beloved of someone so dear to me to fall to harm," Vlad told him, "Especially since you are the father of a new hope for all of us."
Introductions were made to Michael's father and Yuri Pavelovich, and the talk continued into the morning hours.
The count was about to take his leave when Michael spoke up.
"Vlad," he said, "I was wondering if you would mind lending us a favor?"
Count Dracula smiled. "I am at your service," he said with a bow.
"We have some unfinished business in Munich," Michael stated.
John Stone nodded. "You're damn right we do," he said.
- - -
Shultz was sitting quietly in his living room reading the evening paper when the door bell rang. He got up, dressed in his housecoat, and answered the door. He was shocked when he looked through the peephole. He opened the door quickly.
John Stone stood in the doorway. He looked better, but still had the tell-tale signs of a beating on his face. He looked at Shultz with cold eyes.
"John!" Shultz exclaimed. "What happened to you? You look terrible!"
John Stone's answer came in the form of a Kimber .45 auto which he pointed against Shultz's forehead. He stepped through the doorway, followed by his son, the vampire Anita, and a tall male vampire with regal features that Shultz had never seen before.
"John! Michael!" Shultz pled, "let me explain. They –"
"Save it," John said.
"You betrayed us all," Michael stated.
"Wait!" Shultz shouted. John struck him hard across the face. Shultz fell back into a chair.
John, Michael, and Anita stood for a few seconds staring at Shultz. He was clearly frightened. He should be. The price of betrayal was high.
John turned first to leave, followed by Michael and Anita. Only Dracula remained. He looked at Shultz, then he opened his mouth slightly. The room lights caught the gleam of his fangs as he walked towards Shultz.
Anita shut the door behind her as Shultz began to scream.