|Nick, Vampire the
Author: Gwathren PM
Nick battles prejudice and stereotypes on a trip to reunite with Natalie. Star Trek crossover. Takes place in Professor UniverseRated: Fiction K+ - English - Sci-Fi/Drama - Words: 11,816 - Reviews: 3 - Favs: 2 - Published: 12-04-03 - id: 1627750
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Vampire, Nick the… by Agarwaen
Disclaimer: Not mine, pretty much none of it. I am only using and abusing, I will give them back in fairly good condition when I am done.
Note: I don't really fancy myself a major trekkie, if I get something wrong just put it down as artistic license. This is a crossover in concept only I don't plan on having any actual characters show up just yet but you never know. I can only control the characters I make, maybe my story will cross theirs sometime...perhaps. I set this in the year 2428, wherever that falls in the Star Trek timeline, it is almost a century after vampires revealed themselves to the rest of humanity. That's all you need to know. Heck, that's all I know so lets both sit back and see what happens.
Vampire, Nick the...
"Mozart, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Washington, Shatner, All the great men of the past millennia, and you know what they all have in common? They is all dead, dead! And you know what? That's what we is all going to be someday, it don't matter who you are! Except for them slimy vampires. What right they got to live forever while all these great human beings is dyin'!"
Nick looked at the man skeptically. "So I take it you are not exactly pro-vampire then huh?"
"Oh course not! Why they been hidin' for so long anyway? Its all a big conspriracy! I tell you they is planning something! Here, you like a drink?"
Nick shook his head, and grinned boyishly at the man sitting next to him,
"No thanks... I don't drink................" he sniffed the flask, "wine."
Nick allowed himself a moment of true happiness when the man noticed his fangs. His talkative neighbor turned two shades whiter gave out a yelp and promptly fainted. Nick chuckled quietly to himself, slimy vampires indeed. Nick looked up innocently at the other passengers who had noticed the disturbance,
"I guess space travel doesn't agree with him."
They all just looked disgusted and turned away. Being a Vampire in this day and age was certainly an adventure.
Captain Raims had been arguing with Starfleet for the last two hours. Every time he thought he was getting somewhere he was transferred to another department.
"I am sorry Captain, but there is nothing we can do. Vampires are legal citizens, just like every other species in the federation."
"But this is a year long mission! There is no way you can ask me to take a Vampire along! It is like sending a wolf on a field trip with sheep! You know as well as I do that there is no way we can provide for his needs, replicated plasma has no nourishment value their kind. He will turn on us in a week."
"Captain, your arguments are pointless. This conversation is pointless. We are sending along enough....food for the Vampire to last for more than a year. Our records indicate that you have already set aside room in you cargo bay. Why do you persist in prolonging this argument?"
"A Vampire has no place on a research mission."
"Captain, please, all you must do is transport these people to a research colony on Carolus Prime, where there is already a Vampire in residence. If she manages to remain there without hurting the human population, certainly he can."
"You don't understand! I will not have him on my ship!"
"You have your orders, Captain. You will transport the scientists to Carolus, you will remain there and assist them in their research for a period of 12 months and then you will bring them home. Is that understood.......Captain?"
Raims slammed his fist on the desk as soon as the transmission was terminated. All he could think of was of the creature that would be boarding his ship in two hours.
"Vampire filth. They should never have been declared a species."
"So what so you think about having a Vampire on this team?"
Sarah looked up groggily. "Excuse me, I must have dozed off, what were you saying?"
The pinched looking man gave her a condescending look, "I said, What do you think about having a Vampire on this research team? I mean, we don't even know which one of our fellow travelers he is. They look just like us you know. Until they need to feed off the life of an innocent human, then they transform into hideous beasts with glowing eyes and horrid fangs!"
"It's really not as bad as all that."
Sarah and Pinched man both jumped when they heard the honey smooth voice. They both looked beside them to see a young looking man with short cut, curly blond hair and startling blue eyes. As they watched, the man's eyes changed from clear blue to a predatory gold color.
Sarah was fascinated; the pinched man was already two seats away, and still scooting.
"That's a nifty trick, but I would be careful about advertising if I were you."
The blond vampire smiled; a very boyish and completely human gesture. Sarah found it hard to believe that this creature before her was as bad as everyone said. But she quickly chastised herself for such a stupid reaction.
Even a panther looks cute! Stupid.
Sarah returned the vampires smile with a cautious one of her own then returned to looking at the padd in her hands. Her turmoil over the sketchy nature of her crewmate was calmed by the familiar beeping and quickly strolling data on the display. Carolus was going to be a geologists dream. The crust of the planet was made up of so many new minerals and rock formations it would take several lifetimes to study them all in detail. She couldn't wait. An entire year of intense research would have to suffice for now but maybe she could ask her new crewmate for an extension... Sarah laughed softly to herself. Even if that wasn't strictly illegal by Starfleet law, one lifetime was enough for any one to live. Her mind wandered away from the data display on her padd. What was this man's story? Why would he be on a research trip to Carolus? Sarah forced herself to refocus on her task at hand. She had been a last minute addition to the team and she only had a scant few weeks to catch up on the preliminary research that everyone else had known about for months.
Soon the familiar turbulence of the docking procedures shook everyone out of their individual conversations and thoughts. Everything else was forgotten in the drama of getting all the gear unloaded and stored away. Nick was pulling the last of the unmarked boxes out of the hold on the shuttle when the security team showed up. An officer in a nondescript Starfleet uniform walked over to him just as he was lifting two of the heavy boxes out.
"Yes? And you are?"
"I'm Crewman Shull. We would like you to come with us." The man gestured back at a small group of officers in uniform, all holding very mean looking Solpistols.
Nick sighed and sauntered slowly over to one of the gathered men and plucked the Solpistol out of his hands. He turned it around in his hands and ran his finger over the raised emblem of a stylized sun on the handle, ignoring the protests from the officer. Soon, the weapon began to feel hot in his hands and Nick handed it back before the anti-vampire measures kicked in fully and he got burned in earnest.
"I thought those things were still in the prototype stage?"
"We got top priority on the first models. You understand." Shull replied.
Nick shook his head. Phasers were basically ineffectual against his kind so Starfleet had moved fast in developing anti-vampire weaponry. The Solpistol was the newest in a line of particle weapons that fired a concentrated beam of radiation that mimicked sunlight. So far, the last few models had stung a little but nothing fatal. Nick was not anxious to find out if these new models were as much improved as they claimed to be.
"Oh course, have to protect the innocent bystanders against the big bad vampire."
The officer only stared blankly. Nick noted that some of the background conversation from the other five researchers had shifted in his direction...
"...told you their kind was dangerous..."
"...glad they brought the proper precautions..."
Nick nodded resignedly and turned away from the security team to finish unloading his cargo.
"Dr. Brabant, you need to come with us now."
Nick gestured at the remaining half dozen crates in the shuttle's hold.
"I need to finish this first. No one else will do it."
The men in the security team glanced at one another but no one made a move to help or hinder so Nick continued his work. Whistling tunelessly to himself, Nick finished storing away his boxes of food for the trip in their own personal corner of the cargo bay then turned back to the waiting security. He resisted the urge to...convince...them that they didn't really need him and he could go about finding his quarters but he knew such behavior would not be viewed favorably and his survival depended on the opinions of his shipmates. Nick bowed elegantly to the waiting security.
"I await your directions."
"Come this way."
Two of the men, including Crewman Shull, took up position in front of him and the remaining men fell into step behind him, weapons out and ready.
At least I don't have to wear a yellow "sun" patch anymore.
Nick looked around at his captors and decided he was really tired of this. Quicker then the eye could see he disappeared and moved behind the men behind him. Before they could react he snatched away their guns and sent them clattering away. The men quickly followed their guns on the floor. A gentle nudge took care of one of the remaining two and Nick grabbed the last officer standing, Shull, by the uniform and shoved him against the wall.
"Now, that's better."
Nick heard a couple of strained gasps from behind him and turned to see almost the entire research team watching him. A few of them were whispering rapidly to one another and firing anxious glances at him. Only the one girl he had met on the shuttle ride was not showing some sign of anxiety. Nick was just beginning to wonder why none of them were helping out the officers that had been knocked down when a change in the sound around him indicated the presence of new mortals. Nick didn't even fight when they pulled him away from Crewman Shull whom he still had pressed to the wall. He didn't fight back when they forced him to his knees and pinned his hands behind him with titanium restraints. There was no need, he had gotten his point across.
If he really meant to hurt anyone, there was no way they could stop him.
Captain Raims glared bloody murder at the creature in front of him. If any of those men had been hurt in any way he would have been the loudest voice calling for this creature's execution. Filthy Vampire.
Unluckily for him though, no one had even gotten more then a small bruise. That execution would just have to wait.
Raims paced roughly back and forth in his office. The creature regarded him steadily and calmly from the chair across the room. The vampire looked uncomfortable considering his hands were still locked behind him but the Captain had no intentions of removing them.
"It was not my choice to have you aboard this vessel."
Nick did not reply. He just glared at this concentrated bundle of hatred that paced to and fro in front of him. He couldn't help wondering at the irony. The first vampire to travel to the stars without hiding under a human disguise was just lucky enough to be assigned to a starship whose Captain represented everything he had fought against since their race had revealed itself a century ago. He was sorely tempted to mention this to Captain Raims but held his tongue. Being a smart-ass would definitely not be good. Definitely not.
"Did you hear me Vampire? Or are you to much of an animal to talk when you are asked a question?"
"What do you want me to say?"
Captain Raims merely glared.
"I thought Starfleet Captains were supposed to be accepting of diversity."
Captain Raims froze. He turned very slowly towards Nick. His face was twisted with hatred. He took one long shuddering breath and managed to wheeze,
"You are to remain in the brig for the next two days as penalty for the assault on Starfleet officers."
Captain Raims walked quickly over to his desk and called a security team. Four new people arrived shortly and they escorted Nick, still in handcuffs, to his first home on the Tempus, the brig.
Sarah checked over her shoulder again. It was late in the night cycle of the ships controls, the equivalent of about 12:30 am on earth. Sarah slunk carefully around corners and through the passages careful not to accidentally encounter some of the Night shift crew. One more glance at the map on the padd in her hand and Sarah quickly covered the last few meters to the brig.
For some reason she felt compelled to see the Vampire again. It would be hard to explain the hour but she couldn't sleep and if the common lore about vampire sleep cycles was to be believed, Nick Brabant should be awake anyway. Sarah was challenged only with a sleepy guard who readily allowed her access so he could get back to his nap.
"Are you up?" Sarah whispered anxiously at the still form lying in the cell before her.
Nick turned cautiously and sat up. He smiled when he recognized the girl before him.
Sarah was startled, not only was he awake but he was actually cheery. How very unlike the stories she was used to hearing.
"Yeah. You even pronounced it right!"
"Sarah, what are you doing here?"
"I jus...." Sarah halted when she caught sight of a crumpled mess of metal lying on the floor. "What was that?"
Nick chuckled. "My hand cuffs."
"But those were titanium! They were supposed to be indestructible."
Nick smiled back and shrugged. "Opps."
There was no point in informing the humans that titanium may have been a challenge for a fledgling but for a vampire who was well over 1000 years old they were little more then a nuisance. As were normal force fields...
Nick walked to the opening of his cell and cautiously touched the force field. Immediately a sharp pain flashed through his arm.
Sarah looked at the blonde vampire skeptically. She cocked her to the side and found herself wondering again why she had come. Her train of thought shifted though when she noticed the vampire staring at the pulse in her neck. Shyly she flicked her long brown hair to cover her neck again and took a few steps back.
"Are you all right?" Sarah asked sheepishly.
The vampire seemed to shake himself then he met her eyes again.
"Just a little hungry."
"Can I help?"
"Oh yes. But, that would not be the best solution to the problem." Nick smiled bitterly from inside his cell.
Then Sarah realized what she had said,
"Oh gosh! I am so sorry. I meant can I get you anything to uh... eat?"
"No thanks. I think I can handle myself."
Sarah stayed for a few more minutes before the guard woke up enough to kick her out but Nick was glad for the company while it lasted. The last century had been hard on everyone in the Community. No one had guessed that humanity would react so violently to them when they chose to reveal their presence. The first ten years had been the worst. The humans who had been so accepting of other species hated and feared the ones they had been sharing their planet with for time out of mind. The witch hunts and killings reduced the Communities population to barely more then 200. Then the government of Earth declared it illegal for any vampire to make a fledgling. For the first time ever, and ironically because of the humans they had preyed upon for so long, the vampires had become an endangered species.
So, it was nice to meet a kind face. Nick had lived without hope for so long, perhaps finally the trial by fire for the coexistence of predator and prey was finally starting to end. At least it was nice to think so. Nick lay back on the small bed and closed his eyes. The Beast lurked close to the surface as it always did when he was angry or hungry. Or both. But, as always it remained caged. Nick had long ago mastered the art of restraint. Yet still, his discomfort was enough that he was having a hard time relaxing. To take his mind off his hunger, Nick allowed his mind to stray backwards in time...and, as usual, it found something pertinent to the situation.
Capital City, 30 years earlier.....
Nick grabbed the door and almost pulled it off its hinges in his haste to open it. His skin tingled and burned from holy water and several cross-shaped scorches on his exposed skin made movement painful. But, he still had the strength to turn and clutch a faintly smoking bundle tightly to his chest and heave it along with him into the safety of the cool darkness.
Nick barely glanced away from the tightly wrapped bundle as he shut and attempted to lock the door. But the locking mechanism was a hopeless cause, he had shattered it in his haste. Wasting no more time on such a trivial matter, Nick winced and picked up the still form inside the blankets again. He headed swiftly towards another nondescript door just inside the entrance. Nick produced a key and quickly swung open the door. Revealing another solid metal door beneath. Nick knocked frantically on the door and was rewarded with an answer almost instantly.
"It's Nick! Nat's been hurt, let me in and go get LaCroix."
Even through the door Nick thought he could smell the fear that usually accompanied any mention of his master's name. The door swung open quickly and Nick wasted no time in bringing him and his burden into the relatively safe haven LaCroix had constructed. Nick didn't stop to admire the safety measures though and headed straight for the first available cot. Which wasn't too hard, considering how much the community had shrunk in the past few years...
Nick gently laid the bundle on the cot and pealed back the layers to reveal rich chestnut hair and a pale, beautiful face scarred with burns and twisted in pain.
Natalie tried to open her eyes and manage a weak smile for her husband. But Nick stopped her.
He gently kissed a scar on her face and turned to shout for some warm water. A washcloth and a bowl of warm water appeared magically beside him and he used to clean some of the wounds on Natalie's face. While he worked, Nick felt Lacroix arrive at his side. He found himself wondering why he had asked for his master. Misery loved company he finally decided.
"Hello my Son. What has happen?"
"We were attacked on our way here by another damned mercenary out to make a name by eliminating the vampire-problem."
"Did he follow you here?" Lacroix asked calmly.
"He hurt my Nat. That body will never be found."
Lacroix nodded sagely and stood to leave.
"Why do they hate us Father?"
"Because Nicholas. Humanity has never been able to tolerate anything that is different. We have invaded their territory and they no longer feel safe. So they strive to get rid of us the way any animal would strive to be free of a predator."
"Are you saying they are animals?"
"Look what they have done Nicholas. We are a broken people and it is all I can do to keep the Community together. Until they prove themselves otherwise, they are all animals to me."
Nick was startled awake by a stern shout from outside his cell. As usual, his Beast awoke first and it was all Nick could do stop himself from trying to attack the force field. As soon as he was sure he could open his eyes without scaring anyone he sat up to see who had awoken him.
"Don't you know it is polite to answer when you are asked a question?"
Captain Raims. Just perfect. Nick decided it was best to meet his adversary standing but as soon as he rose a wave of dizziness hit him and he was forced to steady himself against the wall.
When was the last time I ate?
"I sorry Captain but you woke me up. Could you please repeat what you asked me?"
Nick tried his most charming smile and tried to look as non-threatening as possible. But it had no effect on the Captain. His stature remained rigid and if anything the disgust in his eyes increased.
"I said, have you learned your lesson? If I let out you had better never attempt to harm any of my crew again or I will have your head."
Captain Raims stared at him for another few minutes before turning to go.
"You are to report to sick-bay for a full medical examination immediately. If you delay any you will be back in this brig for the duration of this voyage."
Nick glared at the Captain's retreating back. What have I ever done to him? Once the Captain was out of sight a security officer deactivated the force field.
"Hello Mr. Shull. Fancy meeting you here."
Shull stared hesitantly at Nick and tightened his grip on his Solpistol.
"I suppose you are to be my escort. Very well, but please put up the gun. I promise you won't need it now. "
Shull's only response was to loosen his grip on the Solpistol ever so slightly. Nick shrugged.
"Very well. I don't suppose you could point the way to sick-bay."
Shull pointed to a map display on the wall. Nick bowed his thanks and turned to look. After a few minutes of gazing at the map Nick was just about to give up just try and find it on his own when a voice from behind startled him...
Nick turned back to the nervous security officer.
"My name is Greg."
Nick smiled brightly and held out his hand.
Greg slowly put the Solpistol in a holster by his side, and then shook Nick's hand with a trembling one of his own.
"Let me show you how to get to sickbay. Those maps are useless."
Greg and Nick arrived at sickbay without any incident. Nick was anxious to get this stupid examine over with because he could feel his hunger starting to get worse. Pretty soon even his iron tight control would start to slip. Raims hadn't even made an attempt to offer him any food since his was put in the brig two days ago. Even a vampire as acquainted to withdraw as he was, two days was a long time.
Nick leaned against the wall to conceal the fact that his legs were slightly unsteady and settled in to wait until the doctor was finished. As it turned out, he didn't have to wait too long. Two headaches and a minor burn later the Doctor strode over to meet him.
"Hello Mr. Brabant, I am Dr. Brannad but you can call me Kia."
Nick stared at the beautiful doctor. Her rich black hair fell in waves over her shoulders. Reminding him of Janette's. Two startling green eyes regarded him warmly and sparkled with her own private humor.
As the doctor walked up to greet him Nick felt an unfamiliar tickle in his nose and promptly sneezed rather loudly. Being unaccustomed to such things he forgot to cover his mouth and received a few complaints from the exiting patients who had been in the line of fire. Nick looked around at the others in sickbay. There was only one thing in the universe that made a vampire sneeze, (besides garlic) immortals. But, the trouble was finding out who, Nick would have stayed staring into space with a puzzled expression on his face for while but the Doctor broke his concentration,
"And how can I help you?"
Nick turned to face the doctor and decided that investigation into the unknown immortal could wait. And replied hesitantly,
"H..Hello. Captain Raims...."
"Yes, I know." She interrupted. "That man probably threatened your life if you didn't come. Please sit over there, this shouldn't take long."
Nick walked over the nearest bed and sat down with a sigh. He really needed to eat something, soon. Plus this newest mystery was doing nothing for his already frayed nerves.
"Now, Nick..." The doctor pulled out a padd and made some beeping noises. "Please state your age at the time you were changed."
"Nick, I need that information please, the Captain and Starfleet do not look favorably on empty blanks in a vampires file. Trust me."
"Really, I don't know. I lost my memory sometime in the 1990's from a gunshot wound and there are some things I still don't remember."
"That will do for an answer." The doctor smiled mischievously. "Next, please your approximate age now."
"1200 exactly this year, I was brought across in 1228"
Nick heard Greg gasp but the doctor didn't even blink an eye and continued.
"Are you aware that that makes you the second eldest vampire on record?" Greg gasped again from his position by the door.
"Been doing some research have you?" Nick smiled tiredly, "Yeah, I knew. The oldest is my master."
Nick paused a moment to sneeze again. This time he covered his mouth politely. So you're still here... Nick glanced around the room, the only others besides himself were Greg and the Doctor. It can't be Greg Shull I would have noticed before, so it has to be...
The doctor, Kia, looked up from her padd. "So you must be the famous Nicholas. How is Lacroix these days?"
Now it was Nicks turn to gasp.
"How do you know---"
But Kia interrupted him. "Nevermind." She smiled brightly again and returned to looking at the padd. Nick smiled internally in triumph, Gotcha
"Nick, please remove your shirt I need to attach this so I can monitor you body functions." Kia held up a small device with several blinking colored lights.
"Can I ask why?"
"No one has ever had the chance to study a vampire's vital statistics for this long with almost constant contact with the subject. We can learn so much about your kind.'
The doctors eyes sparkled with excitement so Nick didn't have the heart to tell her she was definitely not the first. Just thinking of Natalie made his still heart jump. One month on this ship and then they would be together again. It had been so long...
Nick knelt by the cot and stroked Natalie's rich curls. Her face was still a mess of burns and he could tell by the itching in his face that he must look much the same but he had the benefit of eight hundred years and these wounds were just a nuisance but Natalie would need some help.
She opened her eyes slowly and smiled weakly at Nick.
"sss...Hello." She managed to wince.
"Hello Natalie." Nick smiled back sadly. "How do you feel?"
"Do you really want..." Natalie took a shuddering breath, "...to hear me curse?"
Nick laughed and produced a small knife from the floor beside him. He deftly cut his wrist and held it out to Natalie.
"This should help."
Natalie's eyes faded to gold as she reached for the offered wrist. Nick barely winced as she drank from him. His blood would give her the strength she needed to heal but there were other ways that he would have liked to share it with her. Other, definitely more pleasant ways. After a few minutes Nick drew back his wrist from her grip.
"That's enough Nat."
Nick was already weak and he needed all his remaining strength. Natalie sensed his fatigue and released his arm. She smiled at him again sadly and reached out to run her fingers along the side of his face.
"Thank you my love."
Nick gently took her hand and kissed her fingers then the inside of her wrist.
Nick stood and lay down beside his wife and they both fell into the deep sleep of a vampire.
Kia tapped Nick on the shoulder and called his name again. Nick's arm moved to grab who ever was attacking him but he gained control and the arm fell back. Need to eat soon, definitely.
"Nick are you all right?" Greg asked concernedly.
When did he move over here? Nick wondered when he saw Greg standing beside the bed.
"Yeah, I'm fine." Nick nodded weakly.
"Please remove your shirt. This won't take much longer, I promise."
Nick tiredly nodded his head again and slipped his standard issue t-shirt over his head.
Greg gasped again and this time even Kia looked surprised.
Nick looked down to see what the matter was. I don't have that bad of a chest. Then saw what they were looking at, Oh yeah, I forgot about those.
A large ugly cross-shaped scar marred his upper chest and another smaller one was seared into his upper right arm. The left side of his chest was a ruin. The skin was grotesquely decorated with dripped shaped marks that resembled melted wax. Only the skin on the right side of chest remained untouched except for a long, white and ancient scar from a sword slash he had failed to block properly.
"What happened?" Kia asked softly. "I didn't know vampires could be hurt like that."
Nick laughed bitterly and ran his finger along the cross burned into his chest.
"To make a permanent mark the wound has to be cauterized with fire to prevent it from healing too quickly. A burning cross does the trick quite nicely." Nick moved his hand to trace the drip scars along the side of his chest. "Holy water always leaves a mark. About fifty years ago a religious fanatic decided he would burn the devil out of me..."
Nick laughed bitterly again. He ran a finger along the sword scar.
"And, this one is from the Crusades."
Greg put his hand on Nicks shoulder.
"It's all right." Nick smiled sadly. "Time heals all wounds as they say. Even these scars, except the one from the crusades, will all disappear in another few decades."
"All the same, I am ashamed that my species was responsible for something like this."
"Why did you decide to be different?" Nick asked. "You never had to tell me your name or put away your gun and trust me but you did. Why?"
Nick looked sadly at Greg as the young man thought out his answer.
"Because you could have killed me in that hallway and you didn't. And, I realized what kind a position you are in. All alone on board a ship of people who hate and fear you. You at least deserve a chance."
"Thank you." Nick smiled softly and turned to face Kia but his head swam and he nearly fell off the bed.
"Nick!" Kia exclaimed and ran to steady him.
"I think I need to go."
"Well I would say so! Here..."
Kia expertly positioned the monitor on the back of his shoulder, pushed a few buttons and made some beeping noises with her tricorder.
"There. I am all finished. You are free to leave."
While Nick was putting on his shirt Kia stared at the incoming Data on her tricorder and checked it against some other information on her padd.
"Nick your vitals are incredibly slow. Not even vampire normal and I am reading an unusually high level of an unknown enzyme in your blood stream."
"That would be the enzyme that triggers the Bloodlust in vampires. I haven't eaten anything since I came on board this ship and starvation usually triggers a vampire's bloodlust." Nick sighed sarcastically as he slipped from the bed and started to make his way slowly over towards the door.
"Wait! I think I could find a way to suppress this enzyme! You wouldn't have to worry about the whatchamacallit."
"No thanks." Nick chuckled. "That same enzyme also works for my higher reasoning and self-control. If you took it away you would drive me mad. Besides, I don't have to worry about it if some people would let me eat something. Doctor."
"How do you know all this?"
"Let's just say I know a lady who specializes in this type of research."
Kia looked at him dubiously, "I need to see you again as soon as possible so I can start some more tests, I don't want to waste a minute of this voyage."
Nick smiled his best wickedly charming grin, "Why the hurry Doctor? We both know that you and I have all the time in world."
Kia started and looked worriedly at Greg. However, the young officer looked quite unawares of what Nick had just implied so Kia returned Nick's grin with a dazzling one of her own...
"Well, if you feel that way..." the doctor started to say
But Nick, with Greg in quick pursuit, hurried out the door before the Doctor got the chance to pose anymore questions.
As usual, the sight of his master helped to calm and soothe his jangled nerves. Tomorrow would be the first day he would have to spend with the crew and Nick was already edgy. Plus, he was unsure how to react to Kia, the immortals had chosen to remain hidden after seeing the way vampires had been treated and Nick had no inclination to change that. Nick was worried about questions any interaction they had might raise. Records could be faked but nothing that would hold up under close inspection. This was definitely a complication that Nick had not counted on and his nerves were showing the stress...
But all that disappeared when Lacroix's face appeared on the communicator. It was daytime on earth and Lacroix looked slightly rumpled from sleep but the anger that would have been present in his eyes had Nick awoken him even a century before just wasn't there anymore. The hard times of the last century and the task of maintaining order in an ever shrinking community had worn most of the hard edges out of the General. Most of the time, Nick could barely remember why he had ever hated his master, why he had run for so long. That faithful night so many centuries ago had changed them both forever. Now they were, if not necessarily friends, at least not enemies. And, quite frankly Nick missed him.
"Nicholas, why have you called?"
"I guess I just needed to talk to someone."
"Well I am honored you thought of me." Lacroix replied sarcastically. "How are you being treated?"
"Much as I expected."
"Hmm... that bad. Things will improve dear boy. They can't possibly get any worse."
Nick chuckled. "I believe you have become bitter Father."
"Have I? I have changed I suppose. At least, as much change as our kind is allowed. These last few years have changed us all."
Nick and Lacroix shared a moment of silence as they each remember the hard years of the last century but Lacroix was right, everything would be better in time. And, if there is something that vampires have an abundance of, it is time.
"There is something else, there is something here I did not expect to see."
Even across the ever increasing distance Lacroix felt his son's distress.
"What is Nicholas?"
Nick smiled knowingly
"I must go father. I don't want to keep you, give my love to everyone. I will talk to you later." Besides, he wouldn't want to bore whoever was monitoring his communications with a long conversation or supply them with any information about the good doctor. Nick would wait until it was night on earth, then their connection would be strong enough that he wouldn't need any communicator to talk to his master.
"Please call again soon my Son." Lacroix replied hesitantly. "It is good to see you."
Nick sat for another few moments, lost in thought but was startled from his reminiscing by the chime of the door. Nick checked his watch, 8:00 in the evening by the ships time. Who could possibly be calling, most everyone was at dinner.
The door opened to reveal the round and honest face of his companion from brig. Sarah stood nervously in the doorway, wringing her hands. After a few seconds Nick decided to take the initiative.
"Can I help you?"
"Oh!" Sarah eyes jerked over to him and for the first time he noticed where she had been looking. On his coffee table still sat the leftovers of his own dinner, two empty blood packets and another one half full. The normal rations were one packet a day but he had skipped the first two days so... why not indulge while he could. Nick quickly stood and swept away the trash and shoved the half-empty packet into the refrigerated box in the corner of the room.
"Sorry about that, I never was a very good housekeeper."
Sarah gazed up into his eyes again and took a step into the room, "What's it like?"
Nick started and blinked a few times before replying, "Excuse me?"
"To be so powerful and so free..."
Nick shook his head sadly and looked away from his guest's inquisitive face.
"You can't possibly imagine." Nick looked back at Sarah. He met her eyes and for the first time he noticed their color, black, solid black. "You're Betazoid."
Sarah shrugged shyly. "Only part. Sometimes I get emotions but I really can't do any of that mind thing unless I touch the person."
"Do you really want to know?" Looking back, Nick could never remember why he did it. He was tired, physically and emotionally and he longed for someone who understood. It wasn't a mistake, it was... it simply was. Nick stepped forward and took Sarah's young face in his hands and from that moment there was no turning back. One way or another, he would at least have someone who understood him, all about him. Nick watched as her eyes burned with what she saw in his mind. They both stood frozen in time...
Funny how such a simple action could change the way Sarah saw vampires, and would someday change the way the world saw them, but that is another story, not mine to tell. (At least not yet...)
After a while, perhaps only a second, after what felt like an eternity, Sarah lifted Nick's hands and let them fall away from her. Nick was looking at his feet, he couldn't bring himself to see what was in her eyes, horror at what he was? Pity? Sarah put one finger under his chin and forced him to look up at her.
"So sad dear Nick. Always so sad."
Nick managed a wane smile and backed away from until he was out of reach again. He cleared his throat and gestured at the door,
"So why did you come?" Nick's voice was thick and he had to dab away a single blood tear. What he had seen in her eyes hadn't been horror or pity, he had seen hope. It had been so long since there had been any hope...
"Actually," Sarah added, wiping quickly at the corners of her eyes, "I came to ask you to dinner."
"Oh, I can't e—"
"I know," Sarah interrupted, "I know, you're a strictly liquid kind of guy but you could at least come down and try and meet some of the team. I mean, we do have to live with one another, on this ship and at Carolus, for a whole year."
Nick sighed dramatically and started to move towards the door.
"I suppose I could make an appearance."
Sarah smiled and trotted after him. What an interesting visit this had turned out to be. Neither one of them ever spoke about that moment to each other again. It was the only time that Nick ever let any non-family member see into his mind but that instant changed the course both their lives forever.
The sound of the door closing sounded excruciatingly loud in the silent dining room. Just a few minutes ago it had been loud and lively with a discussion about some twelve syllable scientific term but as soon as Sarah and Nick had walked through the door the transition had been magical. Nick hesitated and would have turned to leave rather then challenge all those staring faces but Sarah clamped a hand on his arm and forced him to follow her through to an open table near the corner. Nick tried to appear non-threatening and smiled broadly at everyone just like it was the most normal thing in the world for him to visit the mess hall.
By the time he collapsed into a seat at the table Sarah had been aiming for, Nick was only shaking a little. Just a little, really. It wasn't that he was afraid, it was just that he had the most terrible feeling that he was completely alone, many thousands of light years from anyone else of his kind. Plus, being in a small room that was packed with mortals was a little like putting a fox in a hen house. Granted, he fancied himself a tame sort of fox but everyone makes mistakes.
Nick sat very still, trying to look as unassuming and non-threatening as possible and sure enough, the noise level soon rose again. The general chatter was soon dominated by one specific topic and two principle players struck up an animated debate. Nick watched with interest as they talked, not really paying much attention to the topic. It was more fun to just watch them. Sarah however soon got into the conversation as well and Nick was left alone at the table. His mind wandered away from the present and he found himself searching down his link to Natalie to see what she was doing at this moment. Their connection was still stretched thin even though the distance was steadily shrinking so he found himself having to use all his concentration connect with her. With his eyes closed his reach just brushed against hers and for moment they shared the warmth of their love that they had always enjoyed until Natalie was trapped on Carolus shortly after vampires were restricted from any travel and the distance between her and Nick had been too great to really feel one another. Now they were so close again... so close... But, the moment was unceremoniously shattered by someone tapping on his forehead.
"...anyone in there?"
"Wha...What?" Nick demanded.
The pinched man stared back at Nick from only about an inch away from his face. Nick was sorely tempted to snap at him but resisted the urge.
"I said." The pinched looking man intoned, "Is anyone in there? We have been trying to wake you for five minutes now."
"Well I'm sorry." Nick replied shortly. "I was talking to someone." He saw the puzzlement clearly on everyone's faces but felt disinclined to alleviate their curiosity, considering they were all grouped around him he also felt rather too claustrophobic for long explanations.
"Explain what you mean." The pinched man demanded.
"Oh come on everybody." A new voice chimed in, "Give the man some space to breathe at least."
Greg emerged from the crowd and started waving everyone to their own separate tables then continued, looking at Nick questioningly, "You do breathe? Right?"
Nick smiled, grateful for Greg's help in relieving an awkward situation then replied. "Yes, sometimes anyway."
Once everyone was settled back into their well spaced out tables and chairs Greg turned back to Nick.
"So, Nick. Tell us about yourself."
"Well I say!" the pinched man started to protest but Greg cut him off,
"Oh not more about you... Please, no more about you."
That earned a few laughs and everyone's attention turned back to Nick. Nick looked around at all the attentive faces and couldn't help but feel a little lost.
"What? What should I tell you?"
"Why anything! You must have lots of stories."
"Uh, okay. What kind do you want; I got...drama, comedy, sci-fi..."
"Which would you recommend?" someone chimed in.
"Well, I believe..." Greg mused, looking at everyone for approval, "That it used to be a custom to tell 'scary stories' at night when out on an adventure."
"Ha! Something like that...would you believe I don't know any scary stories?" Nick smiled innocently.
"I highly doubt that!" Greg exclaimed and that earned him a few more laughs.
"Well believe it or not..."
"Okay, okay... how about yourself, how old are you... We are all dy- uh, really wanting to know."
That got him lots of approval so Nick decided to relent to that one.
"Guess." Nick intoned, sitting back in his chair.
"Give us a hint, but don't make it easy!" someone from the back chirped.
Nick chuckled... "A hint... I'm old."
"That's no help!"
A few people got up and left the mess hall but it was encouraging how many people stayed. Pretty soon everybody was throwing out guesses and Nick lost track of who was saying what so he just answered as many as he could.
"Before or after the invention of warp drive?"
"How about internal combustion engine?"
"Haha. After that one."
"Did you ever meet Captain Kirk?"
"Once, I helped build the Enterprise A." That got him lots of awed whispers.
"All right, give us a closer hint or we will be at this all night..."
"Okay, um... It had to do with men in armor and re-claiming the holy-land."
"Oh I know that one! The Crusades."
"Wait a minute, the The Crusades. That makes you over a thousand."
"1200, this year." Nick almost laughed from the chorus of gasps.
Greg sat down at the table next to him and broke the silence with a sigh, "Phew... that's impressive." He winked at Nick, everything was going to be all right.
"Why, thank you." In more ways then one
As the time went on, Nick spent most of his nights in the mess hall chatting with the rest of the science crew. It became easier and easier and eventually even the people who usually retreated as soon as he entered started to stay and listen to the talk. Everything was starting to be so good. Until one night, he decided to stay in his quarters and talk to his master...
That's who she said she was anyway... do you know her?
I believe you could say we have run into one another occasionally. Do you recall that women I told you about who hit me with her car when you still lived in New York?
Yes, was that her...
She is an odd woman.
Yes. I will not argue with you about that.
The door chime interrupted his concentration and Nick was forced to let go of his connection. With a hasty good bye to his master, Nick returned to the real world.
The door made it's usual swooshing sound but the person who walked through was not at all who he would have usually expected...
"Captain Raims..." Nick gulped and made to stand but the Captain waved him back into his seat.
"Please don't stand... do you mind if I sit...with...you?" Raims stuttered.
"No sir, please, sit." Nick responded, gesturing at the only other chair in his quarters. The captain took the seat but after a few moments he stood again to pace agitatedly around the small room. Nick watched quietly as Raims wrestled with his thoughts. A part of him couldn't help but be appalled at such a display of emotions but he quickly silenced it, maybe he had been talking to Lacroix to much lately... Whatever reason the captain had for calling on him it was obvious it was little more then the usual berating he usually expected whenever he happened to meet Captain Raims, so Nick waited him out. Time and practice had taught Nick the virtue of patience and even though he was dying to know what the possible reason the captain had for calling on him then acting in such an uncharacteristic manner, his face remained neutral as he gave Raims time to sort out his problem. And he was doing just that when Raims turned to him suddenly...
"Why are you just sitting there?! You just...ugh!!" The Captain threw up his hands and collapsed back into his chair sullenly. Running his fingers through his close cropped brown hair, shaking his head he finally seemed to regain control of his usual stoic nature. Turning to Nick he started to speak, not really ever meeting his eyes,
"I won't even pretend to lie; I never wanted you on board my ship. I have no love for those of your...kind."
"Please!" The captain said forcefully, "Don't, just let me say what I have to before I lose my nerve. I have been watching you since you came on board." The captain leaned back in a chair and stared at some spot on the wall just above Nick's left shoulder. "I don't know what I was expecting you to do...but whatever it was you... you defied everything I took for granted would happen. I was sure the crew and team would alienate you or that you would alienate yourself but for some reason...they all seem to actually enjoy your presence."
"That wasn't all my doing, if that's what you think." Nick added dryly.
"You mean hypnotism? Actually that never occurred to me... they all seemed to genuinely like your company."
"Well..." Nick was going to add that he never would have probably never even been in their 'company' if Sarah hadn't made him but Raims interrupted him again,
"Just...let me finish. I am guilty of something. I judged you too harshly..." The captain lowered his eyes to stare at his hands. "Sometimes people tend to judge an entire race by their experience with just one person."
Captain Raims stopped studying his hands and looked into Nick's eyes for the first time...
"I can still remember the last time I saw my family."
"Mom! She's cheating!"
"Joseph Raims, you know that your sister would never do that. What are you two playing anyway?"
"Hide and find... we learned about it in school today."
"That sounds fun, but I think you two can work it out without me..."
"I wasn't cheating anyway."
"Fine, do you promise not to peek?"
"Okay, now count to ten and I'll go hide, then you have to find me."
The little boy, after checking to be sure his sister had her eyes shut tight, ran to his best hiding place. It was an old maintenance access-way that he was just small enough to fit into. Joseph Raims, who would someday be Captain J. Raims, never imagined that when he turned his face away to squeeze into his hiding place that that would be the last glimpse he would ever have of his family alive.
But his sister never had a chance to look for him. Just after she screamed the last number she opened her eyes just in time to see the door of their family quarters bend and collapse inward...
Deep inside the maintenance tunnel, Joseph heard screams echoing eerily down from the hatch that led to his home. Cautiously he started to scoot back... He was curious to see why his sister was screaming already, his hiding place wasn't that hard... After some careful squeezing he managed to turn his head and body around so that he could just peek out without endangering his hiding place. But, what he saw when he looked out almost made him wish that he hadn't been so curious...
Blood was everywhere. Painting the walls, all over his toys, everywhere. But, the blood wasn't the only horrible thing in that room. There was a terrible creature, straight from the nightmares of any child, bending over the small body of his sister...
But, even that wasn't the worst part, the thing that day that would haunt him the most was the sound... His father's body lay lifeless, crumpled against the wall and his mother lay near him in a broken heap, sobbing softly. They were the sobs of a dying soul, wrenching and sad, a mother sobbing for her children, a wife mourning for her husband, a young woman taking her last breath. Joseph locked eyes with her for a moment and a single tear ran down her cheek, leaving a trail in the blood that masked her beautiful face. Her sobs were almost enough to mask the faint swallowing noises coming from the feeding creature as it clutched his sister.
For one moment everything was frozen... until his mothers sobs slowly died away and the creature finally dropped the sister he had been playing a game with only a few moments ago. Her body landed with a lifeless thud and Joseph couldn't stifle his own sob...
Immediately the creature spun around to the sound. His glowing eyes met the wide, terrified eyes of a little boy who was peeking out from behind a panel in the wall and the creature smiled, revealing sharp and wicked teeth. Blood covered its face and dripped down its chin. It aimed a kick at the little girls body and belched loudly...
"Excuse me..." It rasped then it started to laugh... the laugh you only hear in your worst nightmares... the laughter that stays in your mind long after you awake. So cold...so harsh. Tangibly evil, the sound of darkness and pain. It was still laughing when it started to make its way towards him...
Every nerve in his body was trying to get Joseph Raims to run away but his body seemed frozen, he couldn't seem to look away from those terrible, glowing eyes...
Just as the creature started to reach out for the little boy, some movement at the door caused him to draw back with a hiss. Two security officers appeared in the mangled doorway, holding tightly to some clunky looking phasers. Their city didn't really have a 'police-force' but every building usually had one or two security officers on duty at any given time. Joseph had seen those men around before but he could never remember ever seeing so much fear in there eyes before...
And, even as a little boy, he knew what that fear meant. There was no way they could hope to stop this creature, and they knew it. It was fear mixed with the anticipation of certain death. Raims watched, horrified, as the creature started towards the officers... but another figure appeared in the door with them. Joseph only had time to see another pair of green-gold eyes before the vampire's spell was broken and he frantically wriggled further back into his hiding place. A cacophony of roars and thuds echoed down the tunnel. After what seemed like an eternity, the noise suddenly stopped but the silence seemed just as terrible to the tiny boy as the noise had been. The silence jarred his senses and his composure finally broke. His little body was wracked with the force of his sobs. Grit and dirt mixed with the tears that seemed to pour from his steadily swelling eyes, coating his face and clothes. He watched the small outline of light that represented the access-way into what had once been his home and almost started screaming when a figure appeared, outlined by the light.
A pair of soft, yet startling blue eyes met his and Joseph immediately felt himself relax.
"Hey there little guy... I think you ought to come out now. No one is going to hurt you anymore..."
"Shhh... It's all right now."
Joseph found himself relaxing into those blue eyes and his sobs slowly became less severe... He scooted back towards the figure in the lighted access-way and then out and into a pair of strong, gentle arms.
"Come on little guy. Let's get you out of here."
"My name is Nick. What's yours?"
He buried his face in the man's shoulder. Shutting out the sight of the blood soaked walls but only partly. The image in his mind was not so easy to tune out.
Nick carried him out of the building and onto the street where several security vehicles stood waiting... Joseph looked up just in time to see the small flash of a two-dimensional camera. As he stayed holding tightly to the strong embrace of this stranger named Nick he heard snatches of voices over his shoulder...
"...is it true this incident is vampire related..."
"...what measures do think could prevent this from happening again...."
"...Never should have been declared a species..."
The stranger's arms tightened ever so slightly as the last remark was made but Joseph Raims didn't notice.
Never should have been declared a species.
Nick stared at the Captain before him. To think that that little boy he had saved could grow up to become such a man...
A single tear rolled down the Captain Raims cheek and he swatted it away impatiently. Sniffing he looked up into Nick's eyes again. Just as blue and startling as the first time he had seen them. Why hadn't he recognized them before?
" I...I hadn't thought about that...man... in years. But ever since I learned I would have a vampire on this mission I couldn't seem to get him out of my mind. I never quite realized why until just the other day..."
"Joseph Raims. I remember..." Now it was Nick's turn to look away.
"I...uh... always carried a copy of an article about that day with me. It had a photo taken of us with it but I hadn't looked at it in years."
"Don't apologize. It wasn't your fault. Every vampire can choose to be evil, just like every member of every species can choose to be evil. I don't think I will ever really be able to be your friend... a lifetime of hatred is a hard habit to break..." Raims chuckled softly, sadly. "I just wanted to thank you, and... to give you this."
Raims reached into his collar slipped a necklace off and handed it to Nick. On the necklace was a small, quarter sized information disc. Nick didn't have to ask what it was, or what it meant that Raims was finally giving it up. 'always carried a copy...'
Without another word Raims turned and left, leaving a humbled and unsure vampire in his wake. Nick remembered that case very clearly, the Community had been monitoring security channels for just that reason. It was the event that they had all feared would happen someday. One fledgling had cracked under the stress of their changing world and attacked a family. Because of that stupid vampire everything had taken a turn for the worst. Hunting became worse, laws were made forbidding the community to replenish its dwindling numbers and anti-vampire weaponry development had increased ten-fold. But, worst of all, it had jaded a seven year old child and robbed him off a life with his family.
Slowly, Nick made his way over to his small communicator. When Lacroix's face appeared on the monitor he couldn't even remember calling him...
"What is it you want Nicholas?"
"Lacroix, you'll never guess who I saw today..."
Sarah twitched nervously and glanced at her padd for the fourth time in as many minutes.
"Would you just relax?" Nick exclaimed.
"What if I still haven't caught up enough?" Sarah whined...
Nick laughed quietly. "Are you kidding? With all the studying you've been doing lately you're more likely to be ahead then behind."
"That's easy for you to say, you're a... what are you anyway?"
Nick smiled mischievously... but Sarah corrected herself in time. "I mean on the team, stupid."
"Mainly political. But, just in case that didn't work..." He chuckled sarcastically. "I'm also something of an archeologist; apparently there was some kind of an ancient people who once inhabited this planet. However, they disappeared tens of thousands of years ago and several theories have..."
He was interrupted by a harsh poke in his side. Turning to see who done it he encountered two bright green eyes glimmering up at him...and he promptly sneezed (covering his mouth just in time.)
"Kia! I didn't realize you were on this shuttle."
"Haha. You know I won't let you out of my sight until you introduce me to this woman you know. The information I got from you these past few weeks! It's so... well, its confusing but two heads are better then one!"
Kia continued to ramble but Nick lost track of what she was saying when he sensed a familiar presence just outside the landing shuttle...
Nick smiled and turned to Sarah... "Plus, I am here to see my wife."
Nick literally flew through the crowd at the docking bay towards the familiar presence he felt so close by. Closer then it had been for so long, so long... Nick and Natalie both slowed to normal walking pace before they reached each other. Nick stared at his Natalie, his lover for over four centuries. She was so beautiful standing in the crowd of mortals, her long chestnut curls were tousled from her brief flight. Her warm brown eyes still held their own private strength and energy. Natalie returned his stare. Nick too had only grown more handsome. His strong eyes and boyish blond hair only accented the carefree grace of her beloved knight.
"Hello my handsome Knight."
They both walked slowly towards one another and Nick reached out to caress Natalie's face. Natalie returned his touch and tugged gently on one rouge curl that fell across his forehead. Nick gently grabbed her hand and kissed her wrist the way he had always done. They had performed this ritual of greeting so many times but its message was always just as strong. After 400 years neither one of them had to say it anymore. There love was just as strong as it had always been. Then, Nick placed two fingers on Natalie's chin and softly tilted her head to one side and leaned down to gently kiss her delicate neck. He felt her shudder when he his lips touched the most sensitive area for a vampire. He removed his fingers from her chin and tilted his head so Natalie could return his kiss.
Like everything they had been doing this action was observed by the crowd around them and Nick knew it. Now they were marked as vampires. But maybe, for the first time in a long time, that wouldn't be so bad after all.
Lacroix and Nick stood with the crowd of mortals and vampires alike inside the great hall in Capital City. It was the ceremony to award the Yun-Qi interstellar peace award. One of the few individual awards still given and by far the most prestigious award in all of the Federation, and this year it was going too been given to someone very special indeed. A hush fell over the crowd as the Master of Ceremonies began his speech.
"In the last thirty years there have been tremendous strides in understanding Vampiric culture and in seeking to integrate it into Terran society. Every one of these strides was possible only because of the work of one woman and her 'awareness' groups. They have striven for three decades to banish the stereotypes burdening our culture and to stop the willful slaughter and discrimination against a species, under the protection of the Federation, by those in the Federation. Because of her efforts, the vampire community has been brought back from the brink of extinction. But, of course...you'll never hear her tell you all that."
A few people in the crowd laughed at the last part but most were intent on seeing the one who was to receive the award...
"Ladies, Gentlemen and others, I give you Saiyara Riker!"
A small woman walked out onto the stage. Her round face was slightly misshapen by time but still bright and honest, her black eyes still sparkled and the streaks of grey in her brown hair only made her seem more elegant, if that was possible. With a smile and a bow, she took over the MC's place on the stage and spoke her first words into a completely silent crowd.
"Actually, I prefer Sarah."
At those words a cheer went up from the Vampires in the crowd. There wasn't one among them who didn't know her and they all cheered like they would for an old friend. Nick looked at Lacroix and was surprised to find even his arrogant master clapping his hands for her.
Once the crowd had quieted again, she continued. "I can't really take any credit. I just did what needed to be done. But, I must confess I may never have even done that if it hadn't been for one man... Let me tell you a story about someone who trusted me enough that for one moment shared with me what it was truly like to be different, and what it felt like to be hated for it..."
Finally! That one took me forever. That is the last time I try anything remotely serious. J
Hoped you liked it...so uh... TELL ME WHAT YOU THINK!!!
Make an authors day and always take the time to comment on a story to the author. Really, you have no idea how good that feels even a few kind words...