A/N: God Bless and Thank-you to everyone who has waited so patiently. This chapter has been a work-in-progress for almost 3 months. I have dabbled at it a little at a time throughout my absence. I am hoping to be getting back to this story soon. Forgive the absence of review responses. They have been deemed against fanfiction policy. I will be updating this story on both MediaMiner, under my alternate penname, Mangetsu, and on AdultFanfiction. I am strongly considering moving my account to MediaMiner for good. They allow Review Responses. I would, however, need to know from the readers here if you want a censored version to be made available. God bless, Tsuki-san.

Chapter Twenty

The Making of a Vampire

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Ormond Estate

Friday Night, 8:09 p.m.

April 23, 2004

Hajime Saitou

Tokio Takagi

Arturo Patronii-Saitou

Corrinna

The news flashed through the vampire ranks like wildfire, spreading outward from Philadelphia and reaching past the Asian borders within days. The Master was preparing to claim a human as his heir. The bond was established and the allegiance cemented. Artruo Patronii had been turned by The Master himself and given a new name to reflect his altered status.

Arturo Saitou stood quietly in front of the dark window looking out into the night marveling at the astounding changes that had come over his body since The Master turned him. His vision was so sharp he could practically make out every pebble, every blade of grass, he even fancied that he could see the waves of the wind as it blew over the shadowy land. And the sounds. Every tone and nuance of sound was his to embrace and savor as it flitted past his newly enhanced hearing.

'How have I survived all these years without this?' He asked himself as he allowed his new senses to reach out around him and perceive the world. 'It is as if I have been wandering in darkness all my life and now I have finally been given the gift of sight. I can see everything, hear everything, feel everything. My soul is at last full and complete. I am content.'

Because Saitou was so old and his blood so ancient, Arturo had been born more powerful than any other newly turned vampire. His strength was unparalleled by that of his fanged comrades and the air of superiority that surrounded him gained him the immediate respect his new station required. As the claimed son of The Master, Arturo now stood in the second most powerful position within the order. Not even other ancients dared dispute his favor with their Lord, and he found himself the recipient of many jealous, but respectful looks.

'Now I truly am the right hand of the Devil.' He thought as he turned from the window and exited the drawing room. The hunger was upon him and he knew he needed to feed soon. His eyes sparkled with anticipation as he headed for the front door of the mansion. The thrill of the hunt, the chase, the seduction–it was all his to enjoy now and he warmed to his new life eagerly.

"You are leaving?"

"Yes, Father. But I will return soon." A brilliant smile crossed the young vampire's face as he took in the elegant features of his maker. "You know I never stay out for long."

"Indeed. You are not a greedy hunter, and I am proud of you for that."

"You are?" Arturo gazed in wonder into the sparkling amber eyes. "Why does that make you proud?"

"Because, my son, a greedy hunter is a careless one. You are not careless, nor are you flamboyant with your new gifts and that makes me proud." Saitou walked over to his new son and laid a hand on his shoulder. "You are a fine vampire, Arturo, and a credit to your father's house. I should have turned you long ago, dear one."

"No, Father. I was not ready before. There was much for me to learn before I was worthy to stand beside you in this world. I pray I am always deserving of your pride in me."

"You will be, my son. Of that I have no doubt." A brief kiss passed between them as Saitou brushed his lips over the top of his son's. "Now go, feed and replenish yourself and then return to me. We have much to talk about this night."

"Si, Father. I will return soon, I give you my word."

"Aye, see that you do." And with a laugh, Saitou pushed his new son toward the door. "Just remember to clean up after yourself."

"Si, Father. I will... don't I always?" The laughter was inside his voice as Arturo threw his father a devilish smile over his shoulder. "Do you want me to bring you anything back?"

"No, just yourself, boy. And don't be late."

"Of course not." A chuckled echoed through the hall as the door opened and closed behind him. 'I will be back soon.'

Saitou smiled and shook his head when the lilting voice filtered through his mind. Usually it took a vampire several years to master the gift of mind speech, but not Arturo. The man seemed to have been destined to be a vampire because his body had accepted and evolved into his powers so easily and quickly. Even Saitou was surprised by the young vampires strength and aptitude in the ways of the blood-born. It was a natural gift within the man, and his growing power could not be denied.

"You love him, don't you?"

Saitou turned and looked up meeting the dancing brown eyes of his lover as she walked down the stairs. "Aye, does it show so much?"

"To me," she replied as she approached him and cupped his face in her hands. "You have for many years, stapan, it just took your turning him for you to realize it within you."

"Aye, perhaps, but you must admit he is a fine creation."

"Yes, he is. The finest you have ever sired... besides me."

Saitou laughed and wrapped his arms around the smiling woman before him. "Indeed, my love, I concede. You are without a doubt the finest creation I ever made, and I thank the powers that be constantly for you."

"Constantly? So does that mean you thought of me while we were apart?" She sounded wistful and Saitou leaned down to nuzzle her cheek.

"Aye, simpatie, I thought of you often. Perhaps more than you realize."

"I am glad. It would have been tragic if I were the only one pining in this relationship."

"Pining?" He brushed his lips over the top of hers and then licked her bottom lip seductively. "Did you pine for me, lubit?"

"Yes, you know I did." Tokio stood on tip-toe and wrapped her arms around his neck. "It was agony for me to be away from you for so long."

"Then I will make certain you are not out of my sight for more than a few hours at a time, simpatie. I do not want you to suffer without my presence any longer."

"What do you mean, Hajime?" Her eyes searched his face as she tried to understand the meaning behind his words. "Are you saying you want me to stay with you... all the time?"

"Aye, that is what I am saying, lubit. Would that be an acceptable change in circumstance for you... for us?" Carefully he watched as the emotions sifted across her face until, at last, a glorious smile curved her full lips.

"Yes, that would be most acceptable, stapan."

"That is good," he murmured as he feathered kisses over her beautiful face. "I hoped it would be."

"How could you think it would be anything else?"

"I didn't, but I wanted to hear you say it." A devious grin slipped over his mouth as he heard her laugh.

"You are an arrogant beast." She said as she pressed herself into him. "But I love you so much it doesn't seem to matter."

"And for that I am grateful, my love, as I have come to realize my life is much more satisfying with you in it." Whatever she was about to say in return was effectively smothered by his kiss as he covered her mouth with his. Her giggles vibrated against his lips and he found himself laughing with her. "What a wonder you are to me, simpatie. How is it that only you seem to be able to find the joy within me when no one else inspires anything more than disdain or tolerance in my soul?"

"Because you love me, mighty stapan, and that makes you vulnerable to my charms."

"Vulnerable? Bah! That will be the day." And with a growl of hunger he claimed her mouth again in a bruising kiss while his arms molded her softness against his chest.

A long sigh drifted free of her and she relaxed in his embrace, giving herself up to his passion as the heat of desire rose within her. "I love you." She breathed against the pressure of his lips. "And I will always stay by your side."

"See that you do, my nevasta, see that you do."

OooooooooooooooOoooooooooooooooOooooooooooooooooOoooooooooooooooooOooooooooooo

He could smell her. Sweet, musky, like the scent of jasmine and gardenias inside a hothouse. Her skin was smooth and silky to his touch and as he slipped a hand inside her bodice to cup a full breast, the heat of her nearly burned his palm.

"Beautiful," he whispered as he trailed his lips over her jawline and then down to her throat where her pulse pounded almost painfully beneath the soft flesh. "Utterly beautiful." He felt her tremble as his fingers found her nipple and lightly pinched it into a hard, tight bud of passion. A small cry of pleasure split her lips as his tongue slid sensuously over the arch of her neck and his teeth nipped at her earlobe. "You belong to me now, don't you?"

"Yessss," the admission was husky with need and rising passion as she turned into his caressing lips and dipped her tongue into his open mouth. "I belong to you."

"Then give yourself to me," he whispered raggedly and was rewarded when her head fell back baring her throat to his eyes. "Mine." He growled and swooped in to sink his fangs deep within her carotid, marveling at the rushing surge of her blood as it poured over his tongue. Her heartbeat thundered in his ears like a great drum beating out the cadence of her life as it pumped her essence into his mouth, and he felt her growing limp within his arms. So soon it seemed to be over and he was lowering her flaccid body to the ground where he cradled her against his chest, drawing the life from her drop by precious drop.

No sound escaped her as she gave up her life to feed his, and Arturo felt a rush of respect flow through him as her blood filled his soul. She was not afraid, he could feel that within her and suddenly he did not want to claim her life. He did not want to leave her cold and bloodless to be found by some stranger who would not know how magnificent she was. So, pulling his fangs free of her, he gazed into her pale face and waited to see if he was too late, but the shallow rise and fall of her full bosom assured him that she still lived.

"Forgive me," he said as he picked her up and carried her toward his car. "I should have never touched you." Tenderly he lay her in the cool leather of the front seat and leaned it back so it cradled her lovingly. "I will get you some help." The engine roared to life when he turned the key and in a moment he was driving toward an all-night clinic. He would leave her outside where they would find her easily and then he would be finished with her. He would have to find another to satisfy his hunger this night for it would not be her.

Leaving her outside the clinic was simple enough, but as he drove away, Arturo wondered at the wiseness of his decision. His father had always been so explicit about not leaving any clues or secrets behind after his kills, and this did not seem to fall into the category of being thorough. But the longer he considered it, the more certain he was he had done the right thing. With the loss of enough blood her memory would be hazy and inaccurate so he believed he was still safe. She would not betray him.

However, as he drove away, Arturo felt a longing for her pulling at his vitals. What was it about her that would not let go of him? Her courage, her strength, her beauty? The memory of her flawless raven locks slipping through his fingers and the heat of her pale green gaze haunted him and called out to him. Stopping the car he gripped the steering wheel as if it were a lifeline and he was a drowning man.

"What is wrong with me?" He rasped as the need to go back for her consumed him. "Father will have my head for this."

The car turned around in the middle of the road and Arturo raced back to the clinic where he found her laying in the same place he put her. Gathering her into his arms, he pulled her up next to his chest and cradled her head in one of his hands. Her face was exquisite, pale as mothers milk in the moonlight, and as he gazed longingly down upon her, her fragile eyelids fluttered and then opened revealing her magnificent eyes to him. Arturo caught his breath as their gazes locked and held.

"Y–you came back for m-me." Her voice was sluggish with blood loss but the strength of her spirit blazed from her eyes as she looked up into his fine features. "Finish what you started." Moaning deep inside his chest, the young vampire buried his face in her throat and found the wounds he made only a short time ago. His fangs sank in once more and he pulled the living spirit from her as he drank her to the point of near death.

"You really are mine." He spoke gently as he lifted his wrist to his mouth and bit down hard, opening a bloody wound. "Come back to me now." And he wiped the blood across her lips waiting for her to accept or refuse his offer. A low moan slipped out of her mouth and then she was licking at the wound, tentatively at first, and then with more fervor as the flavor of his being sang through her senses. "That's it, my rose." He said as he pressed the blood into her mouth. "Drink and become one with me. Come and be my love, my mate... my wife."

The words fell from his lips in a humble rush and Arturo knew he meant each and every one. She was his mate, he could feel it as her body became warm and pliant within his arms again. The quickening of life pulsed through her as his blood slid over her tongue and became a part of her. The energy of her soul reached out and melded with his and suddenly he knew her every thought.

"You love me?" He looked down on her in wonder as the emotions within her became his own. "You knew what I was and wanted to be with me? How is that possible?" Her body shuddered against him and he pulled his wrist away from her hungry mouth so he could see her face more fully. "How did you know what I was?"

"I could feel the presence upon you." She said as her firm, pink tongue appeared to lick the blood off her lips. "And I wanted you."

"But how is it you know about our kind? Have you been introduced to one of us before?"

"No, but I have always known there were vampires among us, it was just a matter of finding one to prove it to myself. However, I was not prepared for the likes of you, my dark love." A smile of pure sensuality curved her luscious red lips and she leaned into him. "You were a complete surprise."

"As were you." He said in return, pulling her closer to him. "I would have never expected to find a woman so beautiful who wanted to join me inside this world of darkness and blood." He nuzzled into her throat and licked the fresh wounds that were still visible on her neck and she shuddered against him. "Tell me your name, little one. Tell me your name that I may know how to address my mate."

"I am Corrinna." She said, lifting her hand and stroking his cheek tenderly.

"Corrinna..." He smiled down at her and combed his fingers through the silk of her hair. "I am Arturo, my beautiful rose. I am son to the most powerful man in this world, and like you, I am a fledgling. But because his blood is so ancient and so strong, we will be strong from the beginning. Do you feel it, Corrinna? Do you feel the strength flowing through you?"

Her large, pale eyes blinked and then filled with curiosity as she let her senses reach inward to feel the amazing sensations taking place within her body. "Yes, I can feel it. I–I thought it was supposed to hurt? It always does in the movies."

Arturo laughed and kissed her pouting mouth with tender lips. "This is not the movies, my love. There is no pain in the change, only warmth and wonder, knowledge and strength, love and joy."

"Is–is it always like this?" She asked as the burning sensation spread outward from her heart to her extremities giving her the feeling of being immersed in a hot spring of bubbling mineral water.

"No, for some, their Maker is not so involved or so generous and their changing is one of purpose only. Those 'sharing of blood' moments are sterile and unemotional. There is no satisfaction or bonding in the coming together."

"That sounds so... so sad." Her eyes locked with his and she rubbed her fingertips over his mouth. "Why would a Master make something he did not love or want to be a part of?"

"Much of the reason is simply a means to an end, Querido-Rosa. When One is required to go where the Master cannot or should not, then One is 'made' and given that purpose as is necessary."

"Is it always that...that empty?" She looked worried and Arturo could feel her unease.

"No, my Master does not believe in empty bondings. He has always offered more than just his blood when he makes one of his own. He offers a piece of his soul as well, and the fledgling becomes a part of him in body and spirit." A dreamy quality filled the rich honey colored eyes-vampire eyes-as Arturo recalled the almost womb-like sensations he experienced when he bonded with Master Saitou. He'd been transported to the center of the Universe where the Cosmos and the energy of creation collided becoming one, and he saw the birth of Uriel Gustov's dream. The Vision of The New Order and it was glorious. "I was filled with more life than I ever embraced as a human, and I find myself wishing he'd turned me years ago."

"Teach me," Corrinna sat up in his arms, her sparkling eyes wide with wonder. "Show me. Show me everything."

"Everything, Querido-Rosa?" He asked, one thin, black brow arching as he examined her fine-boned features.

"Yes, everything."

"As you wish, Mi Amor," he whispered, nuzzling into her neck once more. "As you wish, but remember, it was your desire to know."

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New York City–Ellis Island

Black Lands Complex

Friday night--7:42 p.m.

April 23, 2004

Kenshin Himura/Cel

Kaoru Kamiya

Sanosuke Sagara

Crede Corban

Hiko Seigero

Aoshi Shinomori

Cody

Okita

Shishio Makato/Milos

"Fucking hell!" Hiko screamed, grabbing his head in both hands as pain lanced through the temples. "What the hell happened...Major Shinomori?" The connection with Cel was severed so abruptly it could mean only one thing. "Major?"

"General?" Aoshi was running at full speed when he came to a foot shuffling halt at the distressed officer's side. "What's wrong, sir?" He put a hand on the larger man's humped back in deep concern. "General?"

"Blow the alarms, Major. We have a full security breach topside."

"Shit..."

"Three full squads of your Slayers and whatever else you think will help... and get those damn lights on for God's sake. Lord Cel is up there with my daughter... and Prince Crede."

Aoshi froze. "Price Crede is here...?"

"Aye." Green eyes locked with icy blue. "Move Major. Lord Cel tells me there are about a hundred 'Made' up there, so break out the ultra-violets and the rest of the hardware."

"Yes sir." Aoshi turned to leave, but Hiko stopped him for one more order.

"Be careful up there, Major. Lord Cel's brought Himura's human Police partner with them. Find him and make every effort to keep him from being harmed in any way...especially by the 'Made'. Don't let him be turned. If they get any inkling of who and how important he is, they'll try to grab him out from under us."

"Aye, General." Nodding with a firm decisiveness, Aoshi turned and ran towards the Slayers barracks, one thought in his mind. 'Lord Cel AND Prince Crede are both here...Mother help us not to be too late...we can't be too late.'

They were rolling under the waves, arms, legs, and hair intertwined in tangles of fury and unrequited rage. Blood sifted through the cold, salty water as fangs snapped and found flesh, ripping and tearing, leaving wounds that lasted only moments before disappearing as if they'd never been. Neither would bend, give, or surrender, and death seemed the only conclusion to their battle of wills... death or eternity battling hand to hand.

The Fang and The Immortal.

He was changing again. He could feel it in his blood and his bones. What was happening to him? He wasn't sure, but suddenly the pain in his chest was gone and he wasn't starving for air. The roar of his own blood pounding in his ears ceased and his mind became calm, placid, filled with images of the White Void. Energy was flowing directly from the Mother. He could see it. It was like a long winding silver string that reached back from his spinal cord into the Void where it was attached to shimmering sphere of incandescent green, pulsing with life.

'Power,' The idea unfolded inside his mind like fragile butterfly wings and he opened his eyes, looking through the dark, blood filled water into the face of his ancient brother. 'You want the Power...the Glory...the Pure Strength that exists in the blood...our blood, and you want to be the only one.' Cel's fingers tingled and he felt the bone structure solidify and harden to an iron quality even as the talons grew beyond their usual two inch length.

'Evolution...it's left you behind, my brother. You are obsolete in this world and I cannot let you continue to exist within it.' Strength beyond his imagination surged through his body and he had the knowledge that they were equals in all things. Longevity, regeneration, senses, and knowledge, yet Cel knew he had an advantage. He had The Mother, Milos did not. Milos might be The Avenging Immortal, but he did not have the strength and power of The Mother inside his heart.

Cel had the advantage of Living Energy on his side, and that made him the only individual in the Universe who could lay claim to Milos Corban's life. He was Milos' Achilles Heel. His one weakness.

Reaching deep inside of his soul, Cel sent his power outward and struck his brother as hard as he could, sending him flying out of the surf like a broken doll. 'Beware my wrath, Brother!' He screamed inside of Milo's head as the other vampire slammed into the side of the old, derelict building, bricks and mortar exploding around him. 'Your days on this earth are numbered, and then I will make you pay for what you have done to our people.'

Crede grabbed Kaoru as she stumbled back from the water's edge, her head snapping back as Shisho's trajectory took his body over the top of her. Both of them fell to the ground, damp sand squishing beneath them as they landed hard, Crede taking the brunt of the weight upon himself.

"Kenshin!" Kaoru screamed, scrambling to her feet and running toward the vampire who was now slumped on the ground. "Kenshin?"

"NU!" Crede wrenched her back with enough force to practically pulled her off her feet again. "It is not The Fang... It is... it is the 'other'. You must not get close to 'him'."

"Not Kenshin?"

"Nu, feel his energy. It is... wrong."Crede's deep blue eyes narrowed into slits of intense caution as he pulled Kaoru to the side. "He is only stunned. We must stay out of the way."

"But where is Kenshin?" Kaoru was searching the beach wildly, trying to struggle out of the Prince's embrace. "I have to find him. Where is he?"

'I am here, Lubit.' The calm, rich tones of 'Cel' entered Kaoru's mind and she was suddenly still, her face frozen in shock and incredulity. The energy and power behind those few words so far exceeded anything she had previously felt from her mate that it left her immobile with awe and fear. 'Go with Grandfather...stay clear, my love, do not get in OUR way.'

"Ken-san..." Crede felt Kaoru tremble even as his own soul shrunk back in awe struck bewilderment. His eyes were looking at something his mind was telling him could not be real, but his heart recognized the blood and the spirit despite the alarming changes. "Saints of the Mother save us."

"Simpatie... how...?" Kaoru covered her mouth with both hands and collapsed, her knees buckling, pulling the Prince back down to the sand. "Dear God, is that you?"

The being walking out of the surf was neither the 'Cel' she remember, nor the Kenshin she knew. He was something else. An aura of green pulsed around his body as he stepped out of the water, and the glowing lanterns of his golden eyes illuminated an area of ten to twelve feet of the beach. His hair was a tangled mass of tentacles wrapping around a body that was all but nude, his clothing shredded by Milo's fangs and talons, and with a blindingly quick movement, he threw off the remnants of his coat and shirt.

Fangs that were nearly two and half inches long gnashed the air and a feral hiss of promised violence split his lips as he crouched, surveying the scene. His four inch talons clicked menacingly when he spotted the other vampire, who was attempting to shake off the fog in his temporarily befuddled brain. Muscles across his shoulders, down his arms, and over his chest bunched and contracted with suppressed power, and a low dangerous growl rumbled out of his chest.

"Milos."

Milos shook his head violently, trying to clear his head. Pain lanced up and down his spine and he gritted his teeth, bracing himself against the agony he knew he'd feel when he stood up. 'This child will not be making me a fool.' He snarled to himself as he forced his vision to clear. 'I am not allowing this to be happening. I will eat his heart first.'

All of his previous posturing and flippancy about 'Cel' was forgotten, and the need to feel the fledglings bones crumbling in his hands became equal only to his need to consume the old blood. In the moments of combat he shared with his 'brother', Milos realized that though the boy was a halfling, he harbored enormous power; more than even Uriel understood, and he could, indeed, be the end of all their hopes and plans. It was the 'old blood' he sensed coursing inside the fledgling that concerned him the most. It was pure, almost as if it were syphoned directly from the Dark God himself. But Milos knew that was impossible. Even if 'Cel' had somehow learned the art of transition, there was no way he could reach the plane of the Ancient Dead, but from where did he get the blood? Prince Crede? Nu, even that blood was not strong enough to make him the creature he was evolving into. There was another source. There must be; however, he did not have time to dwell on the matter as a blurring streak of pale gray-blue rocketed toward him from the beach.

Milos' supernatural reflexes pulled him to his feet in a tornado's rush of whirling arms and whipping ropes of long, wet brown hair, but it was already too late. Cel's furious charge caught him midsection, the younger vampire's shoulder slamming into his gut with bone-crushing force. He heard the snapping and cracking sounds of several of his ribs breaking as his 'brother's' denser bone structure overpowered him, sending him, once more into the brick and mortar of the old building. Only this time he crashed through the crumbling wall, flying like a bale of straw, end over end through another partition until it landed in a cloud of pale, dust nearly a hundred feet away.

"Ooouummph!" More pain, exploding in his chest and the taste of his own blood in his mouth. "Noooo..." He rasped, reaching for the sky with a trembling hand. 'It cannot be... It cannot be...'

qpqpqpqpqpqpqpqp

Lights erupted across the island, illuminating the old hospital and out-lying areas in an instant. Sano, Crede, and Kaoru were momentarily stunned by the abrupt brightness and threw their arms up to shield their eyes. They were immediately converged upon by a swarm of M -16 armed Made. Each rifle packing vampire was equipped with high-resolution protective eye-gear. In short, they were prepared for the lights, and the sudden change from the near black had no effect on them at all.

"Grab the girl!" A voice rose high, giving the orders in Shishio's absence. "She must be The Source if she's this close to 'Cel'. Grab her, The Master will want to see her."

"What about the old man and this human?" Crede and Sano were shoved to the side as Kaoru was seized by the arm.

"Leave them, they are nothing compared to the girl." The vampire reached out and grabbed Kaoru by the chin and yanked her face up close to his. "Pretty," he snarled, baring his fangs. "Gotta give the bastard that. At least he has good taste in women." He started to laugh, his comrades laughing with him, but it was short lived.

Kaoru's eyes turned an ungodly molten silver, her fangs lengthened, and her fine nails turned to razor sharp claws. As she looked up into her captor's face, she smiled and cocked her head to one side. He stopped laughing.

"What the fu..." A burst of energy exploded out from her, hammering into his chest like a massive fist made of stone, and his ribs caved in. His mouth opened and a gout of dark blood poured from him as his heart popped. Eyes wide with the surprise of death looked down at her for a split instant, and then he disintegrated into a puff of ash in the wind.

Cel's wrath had spoken against the one who threatened his Mate and penetrated her shield. His judgement was swift. The other vampire released her and stepped back, but he too was being judged. Cel's hand reached out and struck him a crushing blow, sweeping him across the ground like a broken boat on a stormy sea. Bones snapped, muscles tore, and then in a gory display of absolute superiority, Cel's shield tore the vampire's head free of his body and separated the two forever. More ash and dust for the wind.

"Holy shit... Jesus Christ..." Sano crouched on the ground, his hand covering his mouth, the remains of his chinese food in an nondescript amebic shape of acidic sludge just beyond his feet. "What is it with these fucking vamps?" He rasped. "Does everything have to be so damned... bloody?"

"Shut-up, Sano!" Kaoru roared at him, suddenly a version of herself he hadn't expected. "Pull your fucking nine and give me a hand."

"Wha..."

"Your gun, you idiot!" She shouted, pulling him to his feet. "Shoot them in the head. It works... Ahhh shit!" Kaoru lunged forward, her claw-tipped hand penetrating the body armor of the vampire bearing down on her. Blood gushed over her forearm as she twisted her wrist. The vampire screamed, the knife he was holding falling to the ground as he grabbed her throat, nails digging in.

"My Lady!" Crede leapt up from his place beside the shaken policeman and rushed toward Kaoru, his eyes gleaming a brilliant crimson. But as he reached her, she yanked her hand free, tearing the dead heart out of the mangled hole she created and the vampire fell to dust before he could inflict any damage to her. Crede stopped and looked at the sifting pile of ash, then he looked at her. "Are you alright?"

"Desigur, Your Highness, but there are a lot more them... Look." She pointed and Crede clicked his fangs.

"It is time we all prove ourselves, nu, My Lady?"

"It is." Her eyes trailed off to the side as she searched the rising dust for her mate. "Kenshin?"

"We cannot help him," He said, bowing his head. "But we cannot forsake his cause."

"Nope, we can't do that." Sano's voice was shaky but he was at least on his feet. "I'm with ya... just tell me what to do."

"Shoot them, Sanosuke." Crede said in a level voice, resting his hand on the tall man's shoulder. "Shoot them in the head, and leave the rest to us."

"Yeah, okay... I can do that. Just shoot the bastards in the head. That's what advanced marksmanship is for. Yeah..."

"And whatever you do, Sanosuke... don't let any of them bite you. Understand?"

"Sure, not a problem... that's easy for you to say."

qpqpqpqpqpqpqpqpqp

"Open the outside doors!" Aoshi was already running up the ramp, three squads of his Slayers behind him. "I want flanking positions, Okita," he locked eyes with the Captain. "Take the first squad and find a position on the east side of the island where the motion detectors are going off."

"Yes, sir." Okita nodded and waved his hand, taking twenty armed vampires with him as he disappeared into the dark. They had opted to leave the lights off after the psychic conversation between Cel and the General. They weren't going to make any difference to the outcome of this battle.

"Cody?" Aoshi barked, looking for the young Corporal.

"Sir?"

"You take the next squad and close things up on the west side. I want to box these assholes in–understand?"

"Yes, sir."

"The rest of you are with me. We're going to crawl right down their throats." His eyes glittered vermilion as his bloodlust and anger rose. "We're going to teach these walking corpses what it means to play with the big dogs." The slicing sounds of his dual kodachi blades slipping from his overlong sheath sent shivers along the nerve endings of his squad, transferring the energy of his malicious intent to their warrior spirits. "Remember, use your steel to cut off their heads. It's easier than a stake, and you don't have to get as close."

"You got it, Major." Smiles flashed and fangs clicked as Aoshi's squad followed suit, drawing their katanas and falling in behind him. It was going to be a bloody night full of death and of ashes. Some of them wouldn't go back inside, but that was the glory of a warrior's life–and death. To die for the better good was an honor. One any of them would gladly embrace. "We're right behind you, sir.

It was beginning.

TBC

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