Okay… don't freak out… don't freak out… I'm going to get out of this… somehow…

Mitchell bit back a frustrated groan as he tested the chains that bound him again. He had already tried to pull free countless times in the last few hours, without the slightest success. The chains were designed to withstand the superhuman strength of a vampire, and did not give at all.

but every minute I'm stuck here is another minute that Herrick's out there… and he said he had things to do. What things?

Mitchell's troubled thoughts turned to George and Annie, and he felt a fresh sense of panic overcome him, yanking instinctively against the chains with a snarl of frantic frustration as they jerked him back against the wall behind him.

What if he sends someone to hurt them? Or goes after them himself while I'm here and can't do a single thing to protect them?

His thoughts tormented him as he waited in agonizing solitude, with nothing to alleviate his fears or distract him from his disconcerting thoughts. Herrick's parting warning made him reluctant to call out at all – not that doing so would have done him any good. There was no one near enough to hear him but the human prisoners, and other vampires who would have no interest in helping him.

He shuddered as he thought of Herrick's words, and wondered if perhaps he should be grateful for the solitude while it lasted.

It didn't last long.


"My, look how Herrick's golden boy has fallen!" Seth crowed, the words nearly drowned out by the echoing bang of the door against the stone wall.

Mitchell started out of the light, fitful sleep into which he had fallen out of sheer boredom, after many solitary hours in his makeshift prison. He blinked against the light that filled the doorway behind Seth, leaving his face and form in shadow, his identity only revealed by the painfully familiar sound of his voice.

"Things've changed quickly, haven't they, Mitchell?" Seth continued in a gleefully taunting voice as he slowly closed the distance between them. "And your future looked so promising until…" He glanced down at his watch for dramatic effect before continuing, "… just a few hours ago."

Seth crouched in front of Mitchell, smiling with amusement as Mitchell strained toward him in defiant challenge, his fangs bared in a wordless warning. His voice softened as he gave Mitchell a derisive look and went on, completely unthreatened by Mitchell's defiant gesture.

"You would have been a leader in our movement, Mitchell. You were supposed to be the shining light for us all…"

"I'd rather be here than have anything to do with the murderous lot of you!" Mitchell declared, his voice trembling with rage. "Being a prisoner here – even dying – has got to be better than taking part in this nightmarish scheme of Herrick's."

"Really, Mitchell?" Seth stood up straight, looking down on the kneeling prisoner with a gloating grin. "You'd rather be a… a plaything… a toy on which Herrick's team vent their frustrations… than a member of that team?"

Mitchell felt an apprehensive shiver go down his spine at those words, and he tensed, preparing for the pain promised by Seth's cold tone. He knew the lesser vampire had always resented the special position in which Herrick placed him. Seth had always considered himself to be more worthy of Herrick's favor, by sheer virtue of his loyalty and the long hours he put in, in Herrick's service, while Mitchell had only recently decided to join their movement.

He could only imagine what Seth wanted to do to him now – now that he was bound and kneeling and helpless.

A vicious kick to his face ended his wary contemplation, as an explosion of pain rocked him back, his head slamming painfully against the stone wall behind him. Seth let out a gleeful, self-satisfied laugh as he followed up that kick with another to Mitchell's stomach that knocked the unnecessary breath from his lungs and doubled him over in pain.

Furious frustration mingled with his pain as Mitchell seethed in helpless rage, well aware that had he been free, there was no way that Seth could have taken him. As it was, however, his hands were chained behind him and there was no way that he could hope to defend himself. Seth vented his own frustrations with blow after vicious blow, leaving Mitchell dizzy and bleeding, struggling to remain upright against an overwhelming sense of nausea and vertigo.

Once Mitchell was dazed and disoriented, Seth crouched in front of him again, grasping his hair and jerking his head to the side to expose his throat. Mitchell tried to pull away but couldn't as the younger vampire snarled, extending his fangs an instant before plunging them through Mitchell's skin. Mitchell let out a hoarse cry of outrage and pain as yet more of his strength was stolen from him, pulled from his veins by his eager tormenter.

When Seth finally withdrew with a low, exultant laugh, Mitchell collapsed back against the wall, struggling not to black out from the loss of blood and the many blows he had taken. He gasped for breath in an instinctive reaction to the overwhelming weakness he felt, eyes closed as he struggled to recover from the assault he had endured.

Seth rose to his feet, grinning down at Mitchell in satisfaction for a long moment, taking in and enjoying the damage he had wrought. He waited until the other vampire looked up at him through wary, dark eyes touched with more fear than Mitchell would have liked to reveal to speak again, his voice soft and filled with sadistic anticipation.

"So you prefer this, then, do you, Mitchell? We'll see how you feel after you've been here a few days."

He headed toward the door, his footsteps echoing hollowly on the floor, and Mitchell despised himself for the pathetic sense of relief he felt at his retreat. At the door, Seth paused, the handle in his hand as he turned back to give Mitchell one final look, cruel pleasure in his eyes as he caught his gaze and asked a chilling question.

"Shall I send the next one in?"