Blood in the Stars
A/N; This is the final chapter for this story. Two years and six months since I started it and it's now finished. Hope you enjoy the ending.
Chapter 9; Endless
Vetegal – Shar-bank
Harry lifted the radio to his lips. "Fire on target, Plaides." Harry ordered as he looked out over the eastern swamp. This was going to do a hell of a lot of damage but it was the best option right now. With the armada gone the troops on the surface could have surrendered and Harry had expected them to do just that and had ordered them to but he'd merely gotten panic back. He'd overlooked something. The humans that had come down with the Ghouls, possibly five hundred for the ten thousand Ghouls that had landed in the desert region north of Shar-bank, had had perfect loyalty until the Ghouls in space had been destroyed, essentially betrayed by their masters which freed them and sent them on a rampage. They'd turned on the humans controlling them on the surface and they'd been helpless to defend themselves in their surprise.
Malcolm Reynolds had picked up a couple of fleeing troopers running south with the Serenity and taken stock of the number of Ghouls on the surface and where they were heading. And the answer to that was straight at the closest population centre as per their last orders from the Central Planets, their masters. They were currently in the swamps, slowly making their way towards the city and they'd mow them down against the city walls or bring down the 'rain' on them from ships overhead. The first salvo would take many of them out anyway and then it would just be a mop up operation.
The only warning that the men on the city walls had was when the clouds exploded outwards and a shimmer struck the swamps almost twenty miles to the north. A shockwave of air throbbed through the city from what classed as a near-miss when it came to a PES's main armament. The water in the swamp vaporised out from ground zero sending up hot steam in all directions and a small tidal wave was thrown out from that out into the swamps and struck the wall of the city.
"All vessels, this is a reminder. Stay south of Shar-bank." Harry said bluntly, he didn't want something cutting through the heavily ionised air. The PES weapons lost a hell of a lot of power when cutting through atmosphere but that didn't mean they were ineffective. They did the same sort of damage as a small tactical nuke. Of course in space the shots were undetectable and devastating, not only because of the power but because, unlike missiles they couldn't be shot down. And also, if they didn't lose energy into solid matter, they just kept going.
"Let's leave the clean up to the humans." Luke told him. "You need to rest."
Harry eyed the only other Vampire in existence but nodded to show he would. The less he had a hand in things the quicker the outer planets could get over this and get on with their lives.
Harry and Luke scattered crowds of refugees as he headed for the Prism. He headed up to the recreation room and sat down and ran his hands through his hair. Luke sat beside him and wrapped an arm around him. "What are we going to do?" Luke asked. "We can't live here like this?"
"They'll treat us as some sort of gods." Harry nodded and then looked up at the door when it swished back. Alex walked in with a huff and sat down opposite them.
"Bloody morons." Alex told them.
"Us or someone else?" Luke asked.
"Them." Alex jerked his head back the way he'd come in. "They know I'm your engineer and won't leave me alone."
Harry frowned and dropped his head on the table. "I knew this was happening. It's why we always stayed under the radar before. Sure the stories still got told but nobody knew what we looked like."
"Then what do we do?" Luke asked. "Everyone here is looking up to you to solve their problems."
"You're going to vanish aren't you?" Alex asked with a frown. Harry looked up at him.
"I want to take the PESs out into deep space so that nobody can use them as weapons. That way we can use them to push at the Central Planets if they get cocky again." Harry sighed. "But yes, I want to vanish. Live on the PESs in space, grow their hydroponics again."
"What about blood?" Luke asked with a frown.
"The PESs have prisons." Harry told him. "With trips to planets every few months it's easy enough to thin out the criminal population, sedate them and take them back. Keep them alive and feed from them. With them locked up in one place there's no need to kill them. Drive them insane maybe but not die. It sounds harsh but we've done it before. Five of us lived out on the PESs on that asteroid for forty years like that."
"Would you ever return to the planets?" Alex asked.
"When everyone alive now is dead." Harry nodded.
Alex shut his eyes. "And me? After I'm dead?"
Harry stood up and walked around the table and sat next to him so they could face each other. "I've never turned anyone before." Harry told Alex.
"Harry, I have nobody but you." Alex's eyes teared up. "And now Luke." He glanced over and Luke smiled at him in agreement to the tentative statement. "If you leave me I'll have no one."
"You could still come with us." Harry pointed out. "Even as a human."
"Please, Harry." Alex grabbed his hands. "Turn me. I want to stay with you. You're the only thing I have and..."
"And...?" Harry pressed.
"Apart from Luke, I'm the only one you have." Alex told him.
Harry hung his head for a moment before looking back up. "You're sure?" Harry asked him gently before reaching up and lifting Alex's chin with his fingers when he tried to look down.
"I can't lose you, Harry." Alex told him. "You're like my father, brother and best friend all in one."
"You realise that if I turn you in time you'll end up adding lover to that list?" Harry asked. "Maybe sooner rather than later. You'll want comfort, you'll want to feel our skin, soak in our warmth until you end up sharing a bed with both Luke and I." Alex blushed and looked down but he didn't really seemed disgusted by the idea. "If there were more of us then you might be able to resist but with just the two of us it'll be difficult and futile."
"I've always liked sharing a bed with you." Alex told him.
"But your body will react." Harry shook his head.
"Then it'll react." Alex stated bluntly. "And I'll deal with it the way that feels right. I won't fight what my body needs. I want this, not because of the immortality or the power but because I get to stay with you. I can't lose you, not by you leaving me behind or by me dying of old age. It all amounts to the same thing to me."
Harry glanced at Luke who smiled at him to leave it all up to Harry. Harry turned back to Alex who was actually crying. Harry sighed and before Alex could think about it he shifted his grip and plunged in. He was biting down on Alex's neck before Alex could see him move and he heard Luke leap up in surprise.
"If this is what we're going to do then there's no more need to discuss it." Harry whispered into Alex's mind as he started drinking from him.
"Oh god!" Alex didn't really direct the words to Harry, it was more just a response to what he was feeling, hearing and seeing. This wasn't what Harry's victims experienced because they fought it and Alex was accepting it but even so if Harry wasn't shielding his mind as tightly as possible then this would damage Alex long term. Damage that would be averted when Harry moved onto the next step.
Harry half drained Alex of blood, just enough that he could feel Alex starting to cool where his hands were on his arms. Harry pulled out his fangs and caught Alex as he slumped, nearly unconsciousness. "Stay with me, Alex." Harry ordered and lifted him up effortlessly and laid him down on the table top. He lifted his wrist and tore his own skin with his fangs before holding his wrist over Alex's mouth. Alex accepted it easily enough and Luke sat on the table with Alex's head in his lap so that Alex could better drink from Harry's wrist. "I drained you because it makes the change easier for you. They didn't do that to Luke which is why it took him so long to change. You'll change overnight tonight and then I'll put you to sleep in the morning so you can sort through the memories you'll absorb from me."
Alex was barely paying attention to him as he sucked down the blood and Harry let him completely refill the four pints of blood he was currently lacking before pulling back his arm. Alex followed it with his gaze but didn't argue losing the supply. Luke stroked his hair as Alex started getting drowsy. "Will he be like I was?" Luke asked in concern.
"No." Harry shook his head. "What they did to you was horrible. My blood has to slowly destroy all of his in order to change him. With less of it left it won't be so hard. And they injected your blood directly, you should have ingested it first to remove the sedatives and such."
"Let's get him into our bed." Luke suggested. Harry nodded and lifted Alex up even as he fell asleep. Harry kissed the side of his neck and squeezed him tight enough to really feel him. "Did you want this?"
"Yes." Harry told him with tears in his eyes. "I couldn't imagine losing him." Luke hugged him from behind before following Harry to get Alex into bed and since it was late they settled in on either side of him.
The next day
Harry didn't let Alex really come back to consciousness. As Alex's Sire he knew when Alex started to come out of the change and he and Luke were watching him all through the final change as Alex's teeth bared into fangs. Alex took on a small shift in his appearance, becoming more beautiful and more predator-looking. Vampires couldn't just be spotted with a glance because of any physical difference but only by that shiver that ran down your spine when you saw something beautiful yet dangerous. Even asleep, looking at Alex, you knew he was dangerous.
Before Alex could awaken Harry kissed him on the temple and set commands in his mind, to deal with the memories in his mind and remain asleep until Harry awoke him. After that Harry got up. Luke didn't have to ask and he stayed in bed with Alex cradled in his arms, vowing to watch over him. Harry dressed and moved over to share a kiss with Luke before slipping out of the cabin and through his ship. He had plans to make and people to visit.
His first stop though was the seedier section of the city where he pulled someone out of the crowds and drank them dry. He guessed that now that people knew him they'd know who had drained all the victims over the years but if they were leaving it didn't really matter anymore.
He walked into Grier's dockyard under the eyes of half a dozen workers. Harry could smell Grier and headed up to his office and slipped into the seat opposite him with a sigh of relief at being away from the crowds. "Hey, Harry. How are things going?"
"The city is safe at least." Harry shrugged. "But the attention is a little more than I'm used to."
"That's because everyone is waiting for you do bite somebody." Grier pointed out.
"Already fed this morning actually." Harry shrugged. "Won't need to again for a few weeks."
"And that Vampire friend of yours?" Grier pressed.
"A week." Harry said bluntly.
"People are seeing you as some sort of demi-god." Grier frowned.
"And nobody will move on if I'm around." Harry nodded. "I'll be leaving permanently in a few days time."
"Leaving?" Grier gasped.
"That's what you were thinking wasn't it?" Harry laughed. "It's alright, I fancy a change anyway and Luke and Alex aren't fussed with staying here. I could stay and help to rebuild, I could force an alliance in the outer planets that would keep the Central Planets at bay but then you all will become reliant on my presence. People will spot me about and that will be warning enough to stop something like this from happening again but I need to leave. At least until everyone now is dead and gone and I'm forgotten as anything but a memory."
"Where will you go?" Grier asked.
"I'll be taking the Plaides, Zeus, Icarus, Achilles and the Prism with me into deep space." Harry informed him. "You can survive on a PES easily enough, let alone four of them. I can't part with the Prism so she's coming with me."
"How will you feed?" Grier frowned.
"Collect a few murderers, rapists and scum every few months. When we don't fully drain them they go insane but they'll make good cattle." Harry shrugged seeing the shocked look. "Don't try to reason it, Grier. At least they'll serve a purpose before they die."
"Soon people everywhere will know about the Prism." Grier frowned.
"That's why I'm here, I'm in the market for a new ship or two actually but one's a gift." Harry laughed.
"For Captain Malcolm Reynolds I gather?" Grier laughed. Harry nodded. "Funny you should ask, I've been helping with a couple of ships that would have been finished by now if this hadn't all happened. Pretty nice ships, about half the cargo space of the Prism but much more manoeuvrable. I think you'd like them."
"If you think they're good can you ask after them. Don't tell them it's for me. I want to leave quietly." Harry prompted.
"Sure thing. I was going to point you at them when they were finished and put on auction anyway." Grier nodded. "Might be a little pricey to buy them away from the market though."
"Money's not an issue." Harry shook his head. "I'll be taking much of what I consider personal items from my vaults over the next few days. My dockyards will go to you, Deserted to Gary since he runs it already, and most of the rest of what I have to Reggie to work with. If I want it all back I'll take it back subtly in the future under an alias."
"You plan fast don't you." Grier laughed.
"Find out what it'll cost me for those ships and send me the price and when I can get shown around them." Harry requested. "And a date when they can be delivered to space to go under tow to the Prism. I don't mind paying a bit for discretion. I'll leave that up to you."
"Leave me somehow to get into contact with you when you leave." Grier told him with a slightly pleading look. "You're a good friend and I don't want to completely lose contact with you."
"Reggie will know where I am drifting and will be able to send me any messages." Harry assured him before standing up. Grier followed him up.
"You're taking Alex with you?" Grier asked.
"He asked me to turn him." Harry told Grier simply. "He's recovering now. He'll stay with me."
"He's a good kid. He wouldn't have gone anywhere but with you." Grier smiled. "I'll see to those ships for you and let you know."
"Thank you, Grier." Harry smiled and accepted the embrace from the man briefly before slipping out of the room.
He headed to the small, normally militia used, dockyard where the Serenity was sitting and walked up the cargo ramp. Apart from Jayne and Zoe, who were controlling the Plaides and guarding the other three PESs, they were all in the cargo bay shifting through storage crates. Harry had arranged for a few things to be sent knowing that right now Malcolm had next to nothing to his name but the Serenity.
"Harry!" Malcolm greeted with a smile. Harry smiled at him and greeted them all back. Simon, River and Kaylee who all seemed pleased to see him. "How is Luke, Alex and Nathan?"
"Nathan's been pretty quiet but Luke's very protective of him." Harry smiled. "As for Alex, he's currently recovering from becoming a Vampire."
"Really?" Malcolm stuttered slightly in surprise.
"I'll be leaving with them both in a few days time, possibly a week depending on arrangements." Harry explained. "The outer-planets can't get used to my presence."
"Stalled development." Simon nodded.
"I'm planning on taking the Prism and all four PESs with me out off of the trade routes and drifting for a few years." Harry smiled. "Nathan is staying with us."
"We'll miss you." Malcolm assured him with a small smile.
"Actually I was hoping you'd pay a visit now and again." Harry laughed. "I need some help making preparations for our departure and also in getting settled safely."
"We've got nothing else to do." Malcolm shrugged.
"There's a gift in it for you, Malcolm. You'll like it." Harry grinned.
"What?" Malcolm tried.
"Ah! That'll be the surprise." Harry laughed. "I was hoping you could use your ship to ferry stuff up to the Plaides."
"Of course." Malcolm grinned at the reason to fly his ship. "What do you need shifting?"
"I'll call you with a list of vault numbers and access codes. I'll send someone to show you to them. All I need you to do is empty them all into the Serenity and then up to the main hold on the Plaides." Harry told him. "Shouldn't take more than a few days. I'm sure you'll like the excuse to look in my vaults without stealing something."
Malcolm laughed. "Just send us instructions and we'll get on it."
Harry put food down in front of Reggie and his pregnant wife with a grin. He'd asked Reggie to pay a visit since he hadn't wanted to go up to Vet-One while Alex was in his trance in case something happened. "It's been a long time since I've had one of your meals, Harry." Reggie grinned happily. "He's awesome." He told Vanessa, his wife.
"He only says that because the first time I cooked for him was when I took him off the streets." Harry laughed and sat down.
"You said you turned Alex?" Reggie looked worried. "How is he?"
"He's doing alright." Harry assured him. "He'll want to see you before we leave."
"Leave?" Reggie gasped. "What? Why? Where to?"
"You think we can avoid chaos if I stay?" Harry asked. "People vying for my influence? People expecting me to prevent war? Humans have to govern humans."
"He has a point, love." Vanessa smiled at her husband. "People will always take the easier route."
"But..." Reggie looked lost and Harry took pity on him.
"Reggie, you're family. I know you won't want to leave your life here but you are welcome to come to us whenever you want for as long as you like. I'm leaving everything but my dockyards and Deserted to you to sell, use or whatever you want. I'm taking the contents of most of my vaults but apart from that everything I care about it coming with me."
"That's why you let Alex talk you into turning him." Reggie sighed.
"I'd offer it to you but you have family, Reggie." Harry smiled at Vanessa. "But you're welcome with us anytime."
Reggie frowned down at his food but then nodded and smiled up at Harry. "We'll come with you to get settled in." Reggie decided and glanced at Vanessa to be sure.
"I'm due in a few months." Vanessa told Harry. "So we won't be able to stay long."
"If you would prefer to stay with us until the birth and then until you recover then you may." Harry smiled at her. "I've been on that end of a birth quite a few times and my senses give me a massive advantage. Not to mention that I could ask Simon Tam, the Serenity's doctor, to be around for the birth."
"Reggie's right, you really go out of your way for people don't you?" Vanessa asked in shock.
"When you're my age, Vanessa, life becomes so much more when you can watch the smiles on the faces of the people you come to care about." Harry smiled. "Reggie is like a son to me." He pointed to her bulge. "Your child is like my grandchild and I fully intend to ensure he is cared for. Whether it's love or material needs."
"We'd be delighted for you to be Harry's grandfather." Reggie grinned.
"Harry?" Harry asked in shock.
"Reggie was transfixed on it." Vanessa laughed. "I never realised quite how important you were to him but I agreed. He's to be named after you."
Harry grinned at them. "I'm honoured."
"Just look after him if we can't." Reggie told him.
"Of course." Harry nodded. "I can't wait to meet him."
Two days later
Harry lifted his head as Luke walked into the room from where he'd been checking on Nathan. It was the middle of the night but Harry had called him because Alex was ready to wake up. Luke stripped off his shirt and trousers and slid into the bed behind Harry so that Alex didn't freak out at finding a nearly naked Luke with him even though Luke had been holding him for much of the last couple of days.
Harry leaned over Alex and kissed him on the temple, pulling out his command that kept him asleep. Alex started awake and Harry merely laid back down and pulled him into his chest. Alex didn't fight him and rolled up to his side, burying himself in his chest. They laid like that for almost an hour without any of them moving or saying a word before Alex looked up and found Luke watching him quietly. Alex shifted and fell between Harry and Luke and snuggled into Harry's side and then reached back and pulled Luke's arm over him. Luke accepted his request and spooned behind him.
"Harry?" Alex whispered. "My tongue feels dry."
"You're thirsty." Harry told him. "You just don't know what for because there isn't any here."
"I can smell Nathan." Alex whispered again. "He smells..."
"Good." Luke finished for him and Alex relaxed knowing that he wasn't being blamed for thinking that Luke's kid brother smelt good. "Do you want me to go find you a meal, Alex?" Luke asked and lifted his head to look at Harry for his thoughts.
"Can I last till tomorrow?" Alex asked Harry.
Harry stroked his face. "You comfy?" Harry asked.
"Yes." Alex smiled back and ran a hand down Harry's chest. "I don't want to get up."
"You'll be fine until tomorrow." Harry told him and leaned over and gently kissed his forehead. "Enjoy the warmth, Alex. Neither of us minds."
"It's odd but I don't even feel embarrassed for wanting to feel you both with me." Alex told him.
"I don't mind, Alex." Luke told him. "You're always welcome here. Besides, you feel good against me."
Alex grinned at that and pulled Luke's arm around him tighter. Harry turned and pulled Alex into him. "Now you know why I was always happy for you to come into bed with me." Harry told him.
"God, you feel so..." Alex paused. "Alive. There. Warm."
"It's good isn't it." Luke whispered into his ear. "Harry doesn't remember what it's like to feel as a human but I do. This is so much more. Every part of you comes alive just feeling another's warmth."
"But you don't feel embarrassed about it." Alex agreed.
"If you want to explore it then go ahead, Alex." Harry told him. "We won't stop you."
Alex looked up at him before leaning over and kissing Harry on his jaw. He set his head down on Harry's shoulders and in the darkened room he pulled the blanket off of Harry's almost naked form and shifted his fingers over his skin, starting with the dip of his sternum he ran his fingers around Harry's right pectoral before being daring and tracing his finger around Harry's right nipple. Harry didn't react in case Alex freaked out and kept his breathing even, letting his chest rise and fall under Alex's exploring fingers, letting Alex feel his muscles and ribs move.
Alex explored Harry's body for an hour and after realising that Harry was comfortable with it he pushed Harry's boxers down and tentatively explored his hips and even his genitals. Harry let him and not once commented on Alex's exploration. When Alex pulled away Harry didn't pull his boxers back up but instead pushed them off completely and pulled the blanket over himself instead.
"I feel..." Alex started. "Comfortable? Pleased?"
"You're with your Sire." Luke told him. "You feel safe so your body is happy."
"And with you." Alex told him. "Could I..."
Luke chuckled and laid back and shifted the blanket off of him. Alex rolled over as Luke pulled off his boxers. Harry rolled with Alex and spooned behind him and pressed his face into the back of his neck. Luke wasn't as good at hiding his reactions and Harry let himself fall to sleep to the sounds of Alex and Luke talking about the differences between their new bodies and their old ones and the little gasps that Luke gave whenever Alex found a particularly sensitive spot.
Harry fell asleep with a smile on his lips.
A few days later
Harry looked at the holographic display of his little fleet of ships. The four PESs sat in a loose formation with the Plaides at the head, Zeus and Achilles on its wings and the Icarus directly astern, behind the other two. The Prism was above them relatively but that meant that the Prism was 'upside' down with the top hull towards the planet 'above' them. Two tug-ships were slowing ahead of them, clamped onto the upper hulls of two sleek looking cargo ships. They looked a little like manta-rays from earth except not as flat nor as wide. A central section ran down the centre of the ship from a bridge up forward down to the propulsion aft and accommodation in the middle. Below that and out to either side was the cargo bays, one large one across the back and then four further forwards and Harry knew they had the capacity for as much weaponry as the Prism had. Already they had four automated defence turrets, two on the upper hull and two on the lower, one of either side of the centre line for full-sphere protection.
The Prism flagged two inbound ships and green-circled them as friendly vessels and relayed that to the PESs whose systems were full automatic and 'follow the leader' to the Prism since they were completely unmanned now.
"Prism, this is the Eclipse, inbound. Give us a station." Reggie's voice came through the communications system. Alex jumped into the co-pilot seat a little too eagerly, overused his muscles and smacked his knee into the console.
Luke and Harry laughed at his abashed look but Harry just gave his seat to Luke and stood behind Alex and hugged him around the neck and kissed the back of his head. "Eclipse, take station on our starboard wing. All set?"
"Roger, Prism, we're all set to depart." Reggie told him.
"Prism, this is Tug One, where do you want these?" A voice asked, sounding rather nervous. They knew who they were talking to.
"Tug One and Two, I'm opening a cargo bay on the lead PES." Harry told them as Luke sent the order to the Plaides. A door began opening on the upper hull of the massive ship and the Tugs turned with their tows.
"Prism, this is Serenity." Malcolm's voice took his turn. "Where you want us?"
"Take up position on my port wing." Harry told him. "Come over on a pod if you want."
"Roger, we'll come over when we're underway." Malcolm told him. "Sweet ships there."
Harry laughed as Alex looked up at him pleadingly. He nodded. Alex spoke up instead of Harry. "Which one you want?" Alex asked in amusement.
"Uh... what?" Malcolm's frown was evident.
"One of those is for you and your crew, Malcolm." Harry laughed.
There was a moment's silence before Zoe's voice reached them. "Sorry, Harry. Malcolm's feeling a little lightheaded. He's sitting down now to recover."
Harry, Luke and Alex burst into laughter as Harry ordered the cargo bay locked down as the tug-ships pulled away from them with a brief farewell. Harry punched off a deep space message he'd previously recorded basically telling the entire cluster that he was vanishing and that the future of humanity was in their own hands. Screw it up and suffer but learn to live together or he'd be back and neither side would be happy with the result. That was basically what he put across.
Alex punched in the order to the PESs with a flair as Luke activated their own gravity drive and the seven ships shot off into deep space. Luke and Alex set things on autopilot and stood up to head down to greet the other crew when they arrive. Luke caught Harry and pulled him into his chest and hugged him and a moment later they broke apart and pulled Alex between them, his front turned to Harry and hugged each other. Harry was happy, he had a future to look forward to again. One where he wouldn't be alone.