Chapter 1: Into the Moon Cradle

Ceridwen NiStuart finished packing the supplies that she would need for this assignment. This was wonderful and frightening for the young girl at the same time. Ceridwen looked to be in her late teens, her true age being somewhat of a mystery to the operatives she worked with. Ceridwen was head of her branch, and was not about to let something as trivial as her age be the source of ridicule among her peers, there was enough against her. The girl was a reformist for a branch of the Universal Department of World Affairs, and happened to be the top graduate from her training. The department acted for the rest of the world in staunch emergencies where the United Nations could not. This was always amusing to any of the elite operatives, since comparitively speaking they could have been doing much, much more for the world. As of late, they had been limited to two bureaus; one of which saw incredible action everyday and the other never in use. The one that lay dormant was a bearaeu dedicated to extraterrestrial activity. The other, was a branch solely dedicated to the activities of supernatural beings. This branch, the BPB (bureau of preternatural beings), had been created by men and women that were eyewitnesses to some of the greatest mysteries on earth unfolding. Strange animals like chupacabra and wolfmen were a common issue for the branch, but not as common as their vampiric counterparts. Vampiricism was a terrible disease that spread like wildfire if it got into the wrong victim, bearing in mind that there was no such thing as the right victim. Ceridwen had devoted her life to the study of the illness and had made at least five breakthroughs in the field. She had been the first to openly categorize eastern and western vampires as two different illnesses and begin to study them seperately.

Her first assignment as head of a reform team would begin in a mere day. Ceridwen had done the necessary internships and even superceeded the groundwork required for one to participate at the head of any research team. She was ready for the opportunity to test her skills, at least in theory. The case was that of a comparitively young vampire named Dwight. He had used the psuedonym surname Renfield on his feeding excursions. Ceridwen insisted, after reading his profile, that his real name was not something that predictable or silly. The subject, who had been doing his feedings using a small engine aircraft to ferry him about, was less than one hundred years old. In modern times, most cases of the illness in new infections were caught within twenty four hours and were therefore curable. True, there were a few newer cases of vampires that were recieving attention that were only in the hundred or so range, but Dwight was the only vampire left of his generation. He had been tracked by a tabloid reporter named Richard Dees. After a face to fang encounter with the man, Dees had tried every method possible to get someone to believe what he told them about his journey into the macabre. He had stumbled onto an operative entirely by accident. Jeremiah Gamaliel, the ironically adopted brother of young Ceridwen, had overheard the rants of the aging bull-peddler. Jeremiah, or rather, Jeremy had decided to look into pursuing the case to end the terror being brought on America's airfields. Unlike his altruistic younger sister, Jeremy seemed hellbent on destroying as many preternatural beings as possible instead of aiding them in achieving normalcy. Jeremy was quintessentially the bureau's equivalent to a 'conscientious objector'.

Ceridwen looked over the file she had studied for the past two weeks once more. Dwight was going to be a handful being so set in his ways and so inexperienced at the same time. She sighed and smiled as she slipped the folder into one of the pouches on her satchel. Ceridwen was unmistakable in appearance, even in the dark as she left the room preparing to depart. She had enormous yellow-green eyes that commanded with her every change of emotion. Her long, dark, hair lay in waves around her shoulders and back; usually kept away from her face by a stunning, yet simple, jeweled headband. Ceridwen had pale skin with a few freckles, hinting back towards her Briton herritage. Her smooth form moved with swan-like grace and feline dexterity, making even her simplest of gestures seem like a step from a focused ballerina. Full lips and a bright smile completed the look that made Ceridwen also one of the most intrguing reformists among fellow reform specialists. She had never allowed herself time for any kind of selfish relationship. She, herself, had a few preternatural secrets that she had decided were best kept to her own worries. Ceridwen was warm and compassionate, but often quite a bit reclusive. She breathed deeply as she walked down the hallway of the department's laboratory facility and headed towards the hangar. She cleared the numerous security guards and started slowly towards the tiny plane that awaited her. It was too risky for operatives to travel commercial lines. It amused the young girl that she would be aiding a vampire that knew exactly how to pilot this craft. She settled behind the captain and waited for the adventure to begin.

Dwight felt his vision beginning to clear. The last thing he could bring to memory was being at a small airport in the southeastern coastline. He had felt a severe pain in the side of his head and neck, then blacked out. Since becoming a vampire, Dwight hadn't really known pain or illness. Unconsciousness was something that only happened if he tried to starve himself to death. When first discovering his condition, the young man had tried at least fifty times to end the suffering of his new exsistance, by allowing himself to starve or staying in the sunlight. As far as the sunlight went, instinct took over and he convulsed until finding shelter from the radiation. When it came to starvation, Dwight would black out for what seemed like several hours and awaken once more to find a dismembered victim in front of him. He had since given into the inevitable and began to fine tune his new skills for survival. Dwight was an excellent hunter by now, his powers almost at their peak. How on earth had someone managed to render him helpless? He groaned and tried to sit up, holding his head. Dwight had usually, in fact, been very poor at being a proper vampire by mannerisms. The taste of blood tended to make him ill, and he was always in the habit of getting to know the poor individuals that fed to his penchant for sustenance. He had worked through most of the ids that caused both, and learned to see himself as a necessary part of the food chain. Now, he wasn't even sure what day it was and where he was laying. Dwight had been anesthetized before, this is almost what it had felt like. As a very young boy, he had contracted polio in his right leg, but with wealthy parents willing to do anything to help their child, the disease went into full remission. His upbringing as a well-to-do New Englander had been tossed to the side after his transformation in his early twenties. He had never wanted this kind of exsistance, not even in dark fantasies.

He suddenly felt a small hand on his shoulder. His mind buzzed for a second. Usually he could smell lifeforms, especially humans, before they were able to get within twenty yards of him. At the moment, he couldn't tell by any other means than the shape of the apendage on him, that this being was human. He realized that he was wearing essentially what he had been wearing when accosted by whatever had led him to this. The only things that had been removed from his person were his cloak, his cravat, and his jacket. He had decided to wear the attire he had always known to mark someone of power. Even while growing up, his father had worn an opera cape to all gatherings outside the house to re-emphasize his station. He drew in a deep breath and sat upright.

"Easy. I'm sure the drugs are still wearing out of your system.", a soft, feminine voice said soothingly. He stopped and listened to the woman's breathing for a moment. She not only seemed safe, she seemed calming; as if she were trying to help him somehow. He laid back slightly, allowing her to lay her hand on his chest and move him backwards. He tried to open his eyes again. He felt his heart nearly stop at the sight of this girl. She was beautiful. This must have been somekind of strange dream. He had experienced these vivid dreams before, all of them quite bizarre and usually ending with him feeling terribly lonely. "Before you start to panic, know that you are safe. You are in a home in Maine, not far from where you were raised from what I understand. Your name is Dwight, if that has slipped your mind for the time being. The year is 2003. You're not well, you're suffering from vampiricism, but I am here to change that. I am Ceridwen Aerlinn NiStuart from the Bureau of Preternatural Beings. It is very good to see you in person."

He groaned. The rush of exactly what had happened came back to him. He had been able to see, out of the corner of his unnaturally keen eye, several young men at the airport that had been in somekind of uniform. At the time, he had thought they might have been the FAA, but now he was sure they were something else. Did this girl know what he was? She must have, otherwise they wouldn't have taken such precautions to keep him so drugged. He opened his eyes more fully to assess the situation properly. He seemed to be lying on a bed, not the floor, and in a bedroom not a hospital. The illness she was referring to must have been his state of being. Dwight hated for anyone to refer to him as a vampire, or for anyone to see what he truly was. The humiliation of what had befallen him would always quickly become insurmountable rage. He was able to focus on the pain in his head. He reached up and touched the back of his skull gingerly. There was a large bandage there. He sat up more quickly, the girl still trying to keep him calm and give him details about himself that he already knew and was tired of remembering.

Ceridwen noticed his make-shift examination of his own wound. "Don't worry, that's just a precautionary method taken for all of your kind when you're brought to us. It's a microchip that serves as both a tracking device and a behavior modification stimulator. The moment it senses you about to transmorph into vampiric form, it sends a jolt of electricity through you. It's relatively painless, but prevents your from hurting anyone else and yourself.", she reassured. "When you're stronger, it will be removed."

"Stronger?", he groaned.

"You've been living on the bare essentials, Dwight. Vampires need a steady supply of plasma and other nutrients found in blood to survive properly.", she explained. He felt a surge of anger twisting within him at the usage of that word. "Feeding in small bouts isn't good for your kind. That's where I come in, I'm here to show you how to live like a healthy, normal individual."

Dwight snarled, until pain gripped the back of his head. He was so used to transforming at will, that he had lost the ability to sense the full surge of power experienced moments before the occurrance. He laid backwards, holding the back of his head tightly. "I am fine, leave me alone!", he growled. Ceridwen frowned at him. He looked up, panting at the young girl. "I said leave me alone!"

"Hostility is to be expected, I suppose. You should rest for now and recover what little strength you still have. My associate, Jeremy, will see to it that you are fed before the sun rises.", she said rising slowly from the edge of the bed. "Good night."

He growled more loudly and reached to take hold of her. Again, the same pain shot through his skull and down his spine. He really hadn't noticed how frequently he had been using his alternate form in anger. He breathed heavily as the girl left the room. The door closed behind her with a soft thud, then the familiar sound of locks clicking into place could be heard. He frowned and slunk out of the bed, looking around the room. It was a decent size, and quite dark. There was nothing in the room save a chest of drawers, a nightstand with a lamp, and the bed. On the farthest wall was a window covered by long, thick, black curtains. Dwight stumbled over to it, leaning against the chest of drawers to steady himself for the moment. He sighed heavily and grabbed hold of one of the curtains, tearing it away from the rod. In front of him, the large window rattled with a strong wind. He sighed heavily and began to pry at it. To his dismay, he seemed to be in a much weaker form. He couldn't get the window to move at all! The panes on it were heavy and made from something much stronger than glass. They also seemed to be tinted in case of somekind of accident befalling the curtains, the best example being the one he had just displayed. He panted heavily and hurried over to the door, trying to force it open. It was most definitely his strength that was in question, he couldn't find it within himself to force open a simple wooden door. He sank to his knees, feeling desperation for the first time in decades. His heart raced madly in his chest until his mind ordered his body to be perfectly still for a few moments. The command was obeyed nearly instantaneously with unconsciousness.