The darkness was every where, like a thick wet blanket suffocating him. There was no escape, no reprieve, no pin points of moonlight filtering down through the leaves of the trees. Trees, he knew he was in a forest but he didn't know how. Tate ran, keeping as much as possible, in a straight line. the woods would end eventually, nothing lasts forever. Except for him and his kind.

He was aware that he was not alone, some where in the black expanse was the girl. She haunted him even in his waking hours... Pip. She dove in and out of the trees, avoiding him and the others. If she knew he was there she made no attempt to reach him as he tried to catch her. He could hear the rapid beat of her heart, and smell her sweet fear. Tate wanted to call to her, but that would draw the attention of the others.

Tate jerked awake with a start. He was home, in the navy lodgings that had been provided for he and his team. The clock by his bed glowed as green as Tate's eyes in the night. Four o'clock in the morning. It was just as well that he get up now, he needed to go over the maps again before his next shift in the search party.

The maps and charts were spread over his kitchen table, taunting him with information he couldn't find. Four women had been taken right from this very base. If they had been just any women Tate and his team would not bother...but they were his women. Hand picked to provide blood for him and his team when they could not go out and hunt.

He had only ever fed once from one of them, but the memory was burned into his mind forever. It had been a brutal few days of fighting and running, Tate didn't have the time or energy to go out and seduce a girl into his arms. The sun was harsh and the wind blew the leaves off the trees as he strode towards the house that the four women lived in.

she was sitting at the picnic table in the yard. several books covered the surface, their pages weighted down by rocks. Her short brown curls blew into her face and she squinted to see what was on the page she was reading. Tate made no effort to be quiet as he approached and seated himself across from her.

With a huff of frustration she slammed the book closed and threw it onto the table. "well that's just no help at all." she told the book. Tate chuckled, and she looked up as if startled to find him sitting there. "oh" she breathed a sigh of relief. "it's just you."

"just your friendly neighborhood vampire." he confirmed.

"better the devil I know than..." she let the sentence drop, furrowing her brows. "never mind, you came here for a reason." she held out her arm, wrist up. "feed?" Tate was blown away. "it's OK." she she gave his a sweet warm smile.

Tate took her arm into his hands, and gently pulled it to his lips. With a stroke of his tong she closed her eyes and took in a deep breath. "it doesn't hurt you know." he told her. She just nodded and moved her wrist back to his mouth, eager for his bite. When his teeth sank into that lovely, creamy, flesh and the sweet ambrosia of her blood poured into him Tate wondered if a man could die from pleasure.

Slicing his tong on a fang he closed the puncture wounds on her slim wrist and let her pull it back. She didn't wipe his saliva or their mingled blood off as some of the others had, simply picked her book back up and began to read again.

That had been the first and last time he had ever seen her, but it had been enough. Now the picture of that beautiful young woman was burned into his mind and she was haunting him. He vowed he'd find he and the bastards who had taken her and make every thing right, he though of how Cat would tease his for his supposed superman complex. Save the damsel in distress, earn a kiss.

There was a sudden pounding on his door. "Commander!" some one was shouting. "commander there has been a development!" wearing only his pajama bottoms he opened the door.

"what is it Sargent?"

"you have to come quickly!" the man was breathing hard and half bent over having just run from God knew where to get there.

"this had damned well better be important, it's five o'clock in the morning." Tate growled at the man.

"it is! You have to come, Commander Juan is waiting for you." Tate stepped aside to let the panting solder into his home.

"wait here, I'll get dressed."

the others were coming, with every second that passed they moved closer. Pip had run out of energy, and she was running out if time. She closed her eyes tight and reached for him.

Tate, please. She Felt the brush of his consciousness against hers, he felt her. The forest, come to the forest! His mind stirred again.

The connection was there, she could feel it... but he didn't know how to use it. Damn the man for being so thick. Men usually were, being purely physical beings. Tate was the one, she had felt it when he bit her, been so sure of it then. Now lost and alone... who could be sure of any thing?

My men. She heard, tho it sounded distant. His men? He wanted her to find his men? He was supposed to be the one finding her, not the other way around. Pip reached out with her scenes, searching, feeling. There, Just beyond The Others, were Tate's men. But how was she to get to them?

The Others felt her, they felt the energy she had used to find the solderers. Shit! "over here! She's over here!" they shouted and rushed in her direction. She was running again, dodging low branches and vaulting over fallen trees. "don't let her get away!" Pip reached out again, looking for the void, the beyond where she could hide.

It was there, in a cave forty feet ahead and to the left. She'd be safe there, evil can't enter the void in their physical form, the light will rip their soul from them. And they wouldn't take the chance of leaving their bodies behind for Tate's men to find. "she is headed for the void!" a panicked voice announced.

"don't let her get there!" they were to late. On her hands and knees she crawled into the cave entrance and heaved a sigh of relief. The shimmering portal that offered safety, protection, and unending life. There had once been a time when Pip resented all of this, her life or lack there of. Now she was thinking her maker for this gift/curse as she crawled into the Void.

Tate looked down at the body on the slab, she was still covered with the stupid plastic sheet. Not Pip, please let it not be Pip! The coroner pulled back the covet to reveal a beautiful busty blond. Thank god! "who is she?" he demanded.

"her name was Pelaliah, they called her Liah." Tate sniffed in, she didn't wreak of blood.

"how did she die?" he inquired.

"that's the thing." the pathologist was staring at the lifeless form, perplexed. "she is not dead...exactly."

"it's to early in the morning for me to deal with euphoniums." Tate growled. "you called me in here to view the lifeless body of a girl we have been searching for and tell me 'she's not exactly dead' and expect me to get it?" he was still growling when they looked at him some what bemused.

"it is true enough that she had no heart beat, but neither do you." the slight. Balding man, pointed out. "she shows no physical signs of being alive, no breathing or movement at all." Tate nodded, waiting for the man to make seance. "but when hooked to an EEG there are major signs of life. Namely her brain is alive and thinking."

"what prompted you to hook her to an EEG?" Tate demanded. The little man nodded towards the door where the ghostly form of Don was floating.

"your ghost told me to. I might have figured out for myself that there was something wrong if I had waited long enough."

"how?" Tate was still feeling annoyed and demanding.

"we don't know how long she was like this before she was found, but it took your last search team four hours to return here with her and I have been working on the initial outer examination for the autopsy for the last hour and she doesn't show any sign of Rigor mortise or decomposition." Tate took another deep breath in through his nose.

"there is no smell of death." he admitted. "what aren't you telling us old man?" Tate turned towards Don's ghost. The insubstantial old man straightened his form, locked his transparent eyes with Tate's dark blue gaze and spoke one word that reverberated through the room and the minds of every one standing there.