Early on the morning of October 30th, Singe woke up to find the ground covered by a thin layer of snow with more snowflakes swirling past his window. They'd known it was coming but it was still irritating for him to see this visible reminder of how much time had passed since they'd arrived here. He didn't want to be stuck here all winter but if the weather turned bad enough, the helicopters would have a much harder time getting in and out.
There was already a slight feeling of being trapped here. The Lycans were used to hiding in ruins and sewers but even in the worst conditions, there were several exits available if they were attacked. The prison might be better equipped than most of the places he'd taken refuge in over the decades but the idea of having to rely on human transportation to evacuate was making all of them a little restless.
The scientist had hoped his search for a cure would have panned out by now but the virus was proving more difficult to tame then he'd thought. The elixir he and Dr. Jablonski had created still served to keep the virus in check but they had been unable to alter it enough to allow William to shift back into a human. Several promising leads had ultimately come up empty and the Lycan was starting to feel frustrated. He disliked failure and more importantly, he disliked letting his Alpha down.
Not that Lucian had been anything but patient with him but to his wolf, it felt like he was letting the Alpha down. Plus, Marcus kept glaring at him, unable to understand why this was taking so long. To him, science may as well be magic for all he understood the limitations of it. If finding a cure were so simple, Singe would have found it by now. He didn't need the vampire Elder breathing down his neck and giving him disapproving stares.
Everyone was bored. The weekly helicopter deliveries were bringing in new books and games to keep the human soldiers occupied but there was a limit to how many times one could read a book or play the same card games. Alexander had rotated out some of his followers to relieve any problems since they all knew that boredom often bred complacency. With nothing happening, it seemed easy enough to forget the idea that they were all here because of the walking, wolfen, virus locked in the center of the prison.
Singe never forgot. It haunted at him day and night. His dreams hadn't been violent lately but there were far too many of them that seemed to involve him standing helplessly surrounded by piles of useless data. His wolf side was starting to creep in at the edges of his mind despite the continued use of the suppressing drug. Agitation was beginning to bleed out into his voice, his mind, and his body. Just yesterday, he'd had to stop himself from snarling something rather insulting in the face of Dr. Jablonski's cheerful optimism.
What he really needed was a day or two to relax and not worry about the cure but his own nature drove him to continue the pursuit until he caught his prey and brought it down. Thinking of the ugly little virus as prey was therapeutic since he knew how dangerous it really was. Defeating it would not only be personally satisfying but it would turn the tables on an implacable enemy that would take them all down if it could. He still had his bi-weekly two hours of forced time off but it wasn't nearly enough to calm his mind or accomplish anything more than making him feel the urge to get back to work.
As he contemplated the maddening computer screen in front of him, there was a knock on the open door. He bit back an annoyed sigh when he saw it was Selene standing there. He'd asked her to come back for more tests to see if the changes in her body were progressing but the mood he was in made dealing with the vampire harder than usual.
"Is now a bad time?" She glanced at the window but the sun wasn't up just yet. Not that she had to worry about the sun anymore but of course, he wasn't going to tell her that. He waved at her to enter and she took a seat by the table. At least the vampire wasn't offended by his brusque nature considering her own standoffish demeanor.
"Have there been any changes in your symptoms?"
"No. I still feel 'off' but I'm getting used to it." The vampire hesitated and then grimaced as though she hated to admit any weakness. "I have been feeling slightly nauseous but drinking packaged blood can do that."
Singe almost wanted to tell her to stop doing his job for him but he really didn't care how Selene felt so he ignored it. It was true that the blood her and Erika were eating wasn't fresh but packaged donations from various sources but they should be grateful to get anything at all, in his opinion. It wasn't as though any of the humans were foolish enough to offer to be fed on so they had to take what they could get.
He set up the equipment efficiently and drew two vials worth of blood from her arm. She left as soon as he was done taking the samples. Neither one of them wanted to be in the others presence alone if they could help it. He supposed it was still odd for her to interact with werewolves after so many centuries of killing them but that was her problem.
Singe set up the samples to be tested and went back to studying the latest tests they'd run on William's cells. It felt as though he were missing something, some tiny little detail that would tie everything together but that might have been his frustration getting the best of him.
By the time Pawel entered the lab, bearing breakfast for both of them, he was halfway convinced that everything they'd been doing was a dead end. The smell of coffee made him relax just a little as he got up from the monitor and stretched. It reminded him of so many nights of research fueled by as much caffeine as he could stomach back when he'd still been human.
Even if he couldn't drink coffee anymore without getting sick, he still enjoyed the familiar odor. Singe began eating the bacon and sausage Pawel presented while the human scientist strolled over to the computer, sipping from his steaming coffee cup. Singe didn't notice when Pawel sat down and began working at the computer putting his coffee on a separate station. They had to be careful about eating and drinking around the delicate equipment so all of Singe's attention was on eating his breakfast without making a mess.
"Singe? What are you running over here?" The curious tone in Pawel's voice made him start. Pushing the plate aside, he walked over to see what Dr. Jablonski was looking at. This was the computer that was running Selene's samples and for a moment, he couldn't understand what the problem was. He'd set up several different tests on the blood samples. Some of the initial analysis was already done and there was a string of results up on the screen.
"Those are Selene's samples. Why?"
"I just didn't recognize them at first. They didn't look like our other tests. It's still fascinating seeing what Mr. Corvinus's blood did to Selene."
"How do they compare to the original samples?" He waited while the human scientist brought up the first round of tests on Selene.
"They're pretty similar. I don't think her condition has changed in any way."
"Her hormone levels are a little higher than before. She mentioned she was feeling nauseous as well."
"Maybe she's pregnant." Pawel said with a chuckle. "Wouldn't that be interesting?"
Singe shuddered in disgust at that casual statement. Vampires were certainly capable of getting pregnant just as much as Lycans were but they tended to disdain motherhood, especially the Death Dealers. They looked at it as a vulgar, mortal process. It wasn't just the thought of Selene bringing some squalling, irritating brat into their already stressful situation that bothered him. With both parents being hybrids of a different kind, what kind of child might they produce?
Suddenly, everything clicked into place and he realized what he'd been overlooking. They had been looking for ways to subdue William's virus, to tame it into submission. But the viruses, both Lycan and vampire acted by assimilating their hosts cells. They needed to find a way to assimilate the virus rather than just weakening it.
A merge of Michael and Selene's blood would create a hybrid sample containing Lycan, vampire, and immortal blood. It had already been proven that the hybrids were stronger than their original baseline species. A mix of all of the strains should theoretically produce offspring that were…
"Stronger than both." Singe's fingers dug into the back of the chair so hard, he felt the wood start to buckle under the strain. Pawel looked somewhat alarmed.
"Why didn't I think of this before? Listen! We know that William's blood reacted slower to the hybrid samples. But what if we created an amalgam of the hybrid samples? It might be strong enough to overcome the virus."
Pawel was grinning widely as he immediately grasped what Singe was saying. They had tested Selene's first blood samples after realizing what she was and the virus had been slower to assimilate the sample just as it had been with Marcus and Alexander's samples. But if they combined Lycan, vampire, and immortal blood into one powerful sample, then maybe they stood a chance of finally beating the virus.
Singe's hands were shaking in excitement as he set up the test. He combined a sample of Michael's blood with Selene's and then added it to William's blood. There were more precise experiments they could do later to study the complete effects but this would be an early indicator of their success. He watched through the microscope as the virus in William's blood met the combined hybrid sample.
Usually the effects were fairly quick. Even in the individual hybrid samples the virus overwhelmed everything in a matter of minutes. Now, the bristling virus seemed to be surrounded by the smoother blood cells and before his eyes it began to change. Clumping together, the ancient Lycan virus began to take on the appearance of the others as it connected to and absorbed the hybrid/hybrid cells. Soon, there was no sign of the bristling virus, only smooth blood cells that looked almost human.
He sat back with a stunned feeling. It had worked. It had actually worked. The urge to howl in triumph surged through him but he thrust it aside ruthlessly. They were going to need to run more definitive trials on a larger level to be absolutely sure. This could be a temporary effect or the virus could have been weakened by sitting in the mini-fridge for weeks.
"Well, this is certainly promising." Caution kept his voice relatively calm but Pawel didn't bother to hide his enthusiasm. The human jumped out of his chair, and danced around the room. He probably would have grabbed Singe up in a bear hug if he were daring enough but familiarity had taught him that the Lycan disliked being touched so he restrained himself.
"Promising! Promising? This is the breakthrough we've been waiting for." Pawel rattled off some happy sentences in his native Polish and grinned at his fellow scientist. "I swear you are the king of caution."
"You know we have to be sure. We can't tell anyone until then. I don't want to give Marcus and the others false hope."
"Of course, but that doesn't mean I can't be happy over this. Things are finally starting to look up for us."
Singe just shook his head. He'd lost any semblance of optimism long ago. If there was anything his life as a Lycan had taught him, it was that something always went wrong.
This was it, the moment he'd been waiting for. Carrick sat in front of the computer console feeling vaguely guilty but also excited. Most of the vampires knew nothing about technology and this room was usually empty. Even if it wasn't, there was nothing suspicious about the Irish vampire being here. He had learned computer programming from one of their human servants and was found in here more than any other coven member.
It had been easy enough hacking into the vampire-owned satellite that was about to fly over the mysterious valley deep in the mountains. He could potentially get into trouble for what he was doing but Carrick was reasonably certain he wouldn't be caught. He just hoped it was worth it and he could figure out what was so special about this place.
He leaned forward with anticipation as the images came into view. It was just the same as in the photos; an imposing castle with high towers perched in the middle of nowhere. A simple command allowed him to zoom the camera in for a closer look as the satellite swept overhead. Movement caught his eye and he frowned at the unexpected sight.
He's assumed the castle was some old abandoned outpost but could there actually be vampires stationed there? The "W" from the files could be a person or an object so maybe "W" was the caretaker of this place.
When he actually realized what he was looking at, Carrick felt like his heart froze in his chest. The creatures moving around on the grounds of the castle were Lycans. He'd never seen Lycans in person but their furry, misshapen appearance couldn't be mistaken for anything else. There were two of them and they appeared to be chasing each other over the uneven landscape.
There was also a shape covered by a tarp that looked like a helicopter to him and as he watched a human-like figure appeared from inside the castle and waved at the two Lycans who both veered off and headed in its direction. This must be a Lycan in human form since no Lycan would ever cooperate with regular humans.
His mind raced as he tried to figure out what this meant. Was the castle being watched because there were Lycans there but if so, why hadn't the monsters been wiped out by now? The valley looked virtually impassable but the vampire policy was to kill Lycans wherever they could be found so there would be no reason to let them live if their existence was known.
The other, much worse possibility was that the Lycans had invaded this place and massacred whatever unfortunate vampires were stationed there. The satellite feed wasn't being monitored live. It transmitted its data to a locked database that he hadn't tried to hack, fearing discovery. That meant he might be the only one who could do something about these Lycans now before they moved on to a different hiding place.
He would have to tell his master about his hacking the satellite but hopefully the discovery of the creatures nest would mitigate any fallout from his forbidden actions. They needed to wipe out these monsters as soon as they could. Carrick swallowed any feelings of guilt and went to find the coven master of Zurich.