…Back to the Beginning…
…Last time in Inheritance…
Alone. She woke up, without even a vampire to guard her. A wave of self-pity washed over her. Genesis rolled out of the bed and stumbled to her feet feeling like shit, feeling like she had the worse hang-over ever minus the fun of not remembering the party – this party haunted her waking and sleeping. Her phone sat on the table flashing at her. She flipped it open and found a text from Vash: Get moving ASAP. I’m checking on the curse. If I didn’t know better I’d say you cursed yourself.
“On the same page, Vash,” she said to herself. After changing into clean clothes, again, Genesis rolled her shoulders loosening up. She checked her holsters and guns. The three wounds, which had reopened, were pink scars for now, but the curses still rested within her. She could feel them, waiting, biding their time. Genesis pulled her black coat from a chair where someone had dropped it. Slipping into it, she stepped out the door. Vertune leaned against the wall and waited for her. She had not felt out for him. Genesis just assumed everyone had left her.
“I’m an idiot,” she whispered to herself.
She wondered how many vampires waited for her to come to them. For a split second she opened herself up to all her vampires. She dipped herself in the comfort of their voices, in the comfort of their unabated, simmering anger at the attack on her. Something tickled her mind. Something told her she missed a critical piece of information…from Fortunatus. But what?
“What’s going on?” Genesis pulled herself back into corporate headquarters setting Fortunatus aside for the moment.
“Sebastian requested you call him when you emerged.”
Irritation rose in her. She did not want to call him for a situation report. She was a witch, damn it, she should be running this thing, not some childish, male human. Muttering to herself, Genesis pulled out her cell phone. She texted Vash first with an update on her situation: I’m up and ready to go. I’ll keep you posted. Send. She flipped to contacts and scrolled to Sebastian’s name. A desire to return to the permanent night of LeVidal filled her. She never spent much time there, why did she want to now? Regardless, the desire welled up in her. She longed to return to the court of the Five, to dance with Nicholas as he tried to woo her, wanting her power to increase his own. Genesis wished she could visit the Draught and be with her people, good and evil, at least they were hers. They called to her. They wanted her with them. They wanted her where they had the power to protect her, and she almost gave into their seductive call.
Genesis rubbed her eye and focused. She had a problem to sort out; running away did not qualify as problem solved. She hit the call button.
“Finally decided to join this little expedition and do your job?’ Sebastian started without preamble.
“Fuck you,” She said. If she wanted to slit her own throat, she could not have done a better job. Now who sounded like a childish, female human?
“We’re in the basement and plan to leave in fifteen minutes.”
Genesis flipped the phone shut.
“Come with me,” she said to Vertune.
“As you wish,” Vertune fell in beside her.
“Have you heard from Rail Quinn?”
“Yes. The sight is secure, but he reports strange lines of magic.”
“Not surprising,” they stepped into an elevator and she punched the basement button. They rode in silence to the bottom of the corporate offices. The elevator doors opened to a room of shadows and shelves. From its depths she heard voices, and they headed that way.
Sebastian’s new point of frustration became clear as Genesis approached. She smiled. Tell Pogues’ mercenary team stood around a table piled high with guns, ammo, and supplies, gearing up and prepping weapons. Sebastian stood beside Tell – a man with a weathered map of a face – who ignored him.
“Hey! There’s the lady I’ve been waiting for all my life.”
Genesis stepped up and clasped the short man’s callused hand. From his cropped dark hair and beard to his worn down cowboy boots, Tell was a welcome sight.
“How are you, Tell?”
“About to get better. Vash said you’ve got some nasty shit to deal with.”
“Yep,” She nodded to the rest of the team. “You’ve all met Sebastian?
They all nodded and Genesis felt a sick satisfaction at their lack of enthusiasm.
“We also had a little talk with him about keeping up and covering our backs,” Tell said.
“Good. Well, get me up to speed, Boss man.” Genesis said with a smile.
Sebastian frowned at her as he started, “The maps of the site have all been downloaded into your head gear along with your need-to-know file about the experiments going on there.”
Genesis shook her head, “Like I said in the meeting, there are no zombies left. We need to watch our backs for the units used to attack me, and we need to look at the magical lines and see who they trace back to.”
“We can’t know for sure that all the zombies are dead.”
“Boy, you are skating on some real thin ice…” Dune, a sandy-haired maniac with a special affinity for knives, said. “If Genesis says there are no zombies, there are no zombies. You don’t argue with a witch.”
Genesis held up her hand and took mercy on Sebastian before his team hog-tied him and left him in the basement. The time had come to re-instigate some professionalism.
“I want to remind everyone that this is a company run operation, and the company’s footing the bill. We protect their interests first, and we follow Sebastian. I have some vamps in place to keep the location secure until we arrive.”
“You didn’t tell me that,” Sebastian said.
Genesis swallowed a million snide remarks beginning with his too clean hands and ending with something about his mother. She would not let him start another yelling match.
“I did. Yesterday, when I returned, I had Vertune send a team of vampires to protect the location. I mentioned it to your father in the meeting this afternoon.”
At the mention of his name, Vertune shifted from the shadows. Tell hissed and brought his gun up. Genesis laid a hand on the barrel.
“This time we’re on the same side,” she said.
Tell hesitated not taking his eyes off the vampire. He lowered his weapon.
Sebastian looked from the vampire, to the team, to Genesis. “You, how,” he stopped, shaking his head, “How dare you go against the policies of this company and endanger the lives of our staff by summoning him here!” He bellowed.
“I didn’t know what kind of danger I, or the company, was in, Sebastian,” she explained. “I called someone who could handle whatever I found here.”
Vertune bowed at the compliment.
Sebastian grew red in the face. He stepped up to her, “You had no right to go against our policies, in fact, as a paid employee you had the responsibility to uphold our policies. I don’t care if you’re the witch of the fucking world,” he spit all over her face as he screamed at her, “when this is done your fired, you bitch!”
“And you…” he rounded on Vertune, “get the hell out of my building. I uninvited you, or whatever.”
Vertune stared at him without moving, instead he looked at Genesis.
“She’s not in charge!”
Genesis told him to go, mentally. The vampire bowed and disappeared.
“Anything else we need to know that you might have decided not to tell us lowly humans?” Sebastian said with a maddening glimmer in his eyes.
“No.” Genesis held her ground unflinching in his storm of anger. She felt tears surface. She felt the sting of injustice. To be yelled at by the Boss’s pampered son, while she had been forced to watch her friends be killed, and then been attacked by a large group of well trained men, stung. But, she had disobeyed company policy which she had promised to uphold, and she had forgotten to tell them about securing the site with vampires, specifically. Damn him again. Damn him for being right.
“Good, then finish gearing up and let’s go.”
“I have to get some information from my office. I will be right back.”
Tell raised an eyebrow at her, but she ignored him. She kept her emotions sealed while she rode the elevator up to her floor. She stalked down a nondescript hall and opened the door to her tiny office. She shut and locked the door behind her. With a deep breath, she leaned back against the door. Tears spilled from her eyes and a broken sob escaped her lips. All the pain, sorrow, anger, and fear of the last few days spilled out of her. She knew if they had gotten off to a better start, she and Sebastian could have gotten along. That would never happen now and she did not want it. She hated him for his disrespect and his disregard for what had happened to her. Unbidden, the image of him holding her hand during the pain of the healing, giving himself to be her center of strength, broke through to her heart. She sank to the floor weeping with her tattooed hand over her mouth.
Fighting against herself she regained control of her emotions. Exhaustion haunted her and her stomach growled. She pushed herself up off the floor. She hated him – hated him for making her cry, for calling her on her mistakes, and for yelling at her. She hated him for not respecting her for who she was. Genesis paused. Did she think so highly of herself that she hated a man for not thinking highly of her, too?
“He’s right, I am a bitch,” she said to the ceiling.
She felt kicked in the guts. Sebastian’s complaints were founded in truth. He might not have expressed them in the best manner, but he was right. He was right. Genesis took a stuttering breath and promised herself to do better. She promised herself and Sebastian she would be the person she needed to be. Professional and mature.
Genesis went to her backup laptop and logged in to the Main-net of the company. She downloaded the latest files and video’s from the experiment and headed out. Her stomach growled again as she returned to the basement.
“Ready?” Tell said.
“Yeah, but I need to stop for food.”
“Rick? Food?” She turned to the kid, not really a kid but the youngest guy on the merc team.
“Whatever you want, babe!” Rickie called from under the hood of their Suburban.
Sebastian sat inside working on his laptop. He ignored her. Genesis grabbed up a couple of extra pistols, two boxes of ammo, a duffle, and a sawed of shotgun.
“You riding upfront?” Rickie asked as he slammed the hood shut. He wiped black grim from his fingers with a dirty rag and then stuffed it into the back pocket of his jumpsuit.
“Sure,” Genesis said as she tested the weight and feel of the shotgun. Pleased with it, she put it in her duffle, carried it to the front seat, and stuffed it under the chair. Behind her Dune passed cash to dark skinned Leonidas – Leon – and gave Rickie the finger. Genesis raised an eyebrow in question and Dune shrugged innocently.
“What’s up?” Genesis asked.
“Dune didn’t think I could get a hottie like you up front, and after that spat he figured you and the Boss would be all over it. We didn’t and we won the cash,” Rickie explained.
Genesis shook her head, “We are never going to be ‘all over it’. And why wouldn’t I sit with Rickie?”
“Cause the rest of us are way better looking,” red-headed James stuck his head out of the back seat of the Suburban and winked at her.
“That’s not an argument I am taking sides in,” Genesis said, holding up her hands and backing away.
“Are we going?” Sebastian said.
James rolled his eyes and climbed back in. The others followed. Genesis buckled up in the front passenger seat. She tried not to smile at the grumbling men and the hunched, miserable, angry Sebastian. He had a long way to go to earn their respect. Maybe he did not really care about their respect; he had the checkbook after all, which obligated them to obey him.
“Where to babe-a-licious?” Rickie asked with a smile.
“Drive through and then hit the highway and go south,” Genesis looked down at her watch, sunset soon, “we should get there around dawn.”
“Earlier with my modifications.”
“How did you get back so fast? Weren’t you attacked less than 24 hours ago? Didn’t you say you were unconscious until early this morning?” Sebastian bullied her.
“My vampires brought me back, they move much faster than humans,” Genesis said with utter calm. She refused to be angry at him again.
Everyone but Sebastian ordered food. Genesis could feel his tension mounting at the delay, but Rickie was right. Once they hit the freeway, they made great time. Genesis wished she could cast a calming spell on Sebastian, but decided he could stew since she could not. The sun began to set and Genesis closed her eyes and fell asleep. As she drifted off the headlights faded to a world of shadowy nightmares.
She beat against the shield harder and harder drawing on all her power. It did not flex. On the other side of the shield she watched Phil and quiet Sarah ripped apart by her zombie. A zombie she controlled, supposedly. She turned as Mr. Byron, the oldest and head of the team, slammed against the shield. He looked at her with pleading blood-shot eyes until the zombie ripped his spine out. Genesis sank to the floor with a wailing scream.
“Shit,” someone yelled.
Genesis’ eyes flew open as the Suburban swerved in the empty, dark highway.
“Report?” she snapped.
“Report? You fucking scared the fucking shit out of me!” Rickie said as he righted the Suburban and returned to his lane.
“Sorry,” Genesis said sheepishly. She glanced back to men with wide eyes except for Sebastian who looked at her like she put on a show – a demand for pity and preference.
Genesis took a deep breath, resisting the urge to scream, yell, and rip apart Sebastian’s arrogant face. Instead, she pulled out her laptop, plugged in her head phones, and began researching the moments before the zombie attacked by watching the security videos. Nothing new came to light other than to confirm something magical blocked her and the cameras could not record it. At least it gave her something to do to stay awake.
The Suburban filled with the sounds of snoring and heavy breathing as the mercs fell asleep. Genesis dozed on and off but never let herself fall asleep again. She would have to talk to Dream about her nightmares if they did not stop soon. A sudden, sharp pain flashed through her side and she gasped doubling over.
Rickie glanced at her out of the corner of his eye, but Sebastian spoke, “Genesis?”
She felt it this time, the poison inside of her eating the healing. She located it and pushed it back with her own cold power. Sebastian leaned up and touched her shoulder. She sensed him, deep down, tied to the healing the curse attacked. It sensed him, too, and pushed harder against the wound. Desperate to win, Genesis grabbed his hand, lifted her shirt, and pressed his warm palm to the scarred skin on her side. Electrical currents flowed from his touch. She fought for breath as he joined forces with her own magic and pushed back the curse. It moved. It moved in her, away from the cold she hacked at it with, away from Sebastian’s soul tied to the healing. She pushed harder against it, wanting to drive it out and away from herself.
Her whole body arched against her chair and she vomited. Something wet slapped against the dashboard and Rickie yelped. Sebastian hissed in her ear. Something dark slithered in the vomit. A knife whistled past her ear and blossomed in the curse pinning it to the dashboard. Her side spasmed, trembling and throbbing. Sebastian pressed his hand harder against the soft pink scar.
“Yeah,” Genesis panted, “but there are more of them in me.”
Sebastian pulled his hand away and Genesis slumped back in her chair covered in sweat. She eyed the creature while she caught her breath.
“Something’s not right here,” she said.
“Other than vomit and a little creature on my dash?” Rickie said.
“Just drive, Rickie,” Genesis said.
“What are you talking about? Sebastian said, still leaning over her shoulder.
Genesis quick cleaned her laptop with some paper towel handed up from the back. She opened up the video of the zombie attack. Not wanting to watch it, not wanting to share it with Sebastian, she pushed play anyway. Silence did not hide the horror of the video. Watching it to see something else, flinching at the attack, tears coursed down Genesis face. The attack came, the shield fell, she slaughter her zombie and removed the infestation. Then the second attack began.
“Damn…” Sebastian whispered as he watched her take on the fifty-strong merc force.
“There!” Genesis leaned forward over the screen. She rewound the video and slowed it down. When the last man fell, the bodies faded and a shimmer passed over the screen. Genesis watched herself convulse and fall to the ground. Three black slug-like creatures slithered out of the shadows and crawled in her wounds. She lay unconscious on the floor and the video rolled on.
“That damned witch infected me with these thing,” Genesis felt her blood boil, “What the hell is going on?”
“Someone wants you dead, or almost dead,” Sebastian said. He sat back down with a frown and crossed his arms.
“Anyone have something I can put this thing in?” Genesis yelled to the back.
“Coming right up,”
She caught a canister as it flew towards the windshield and scrapped the creature off the knife. After she screwed the lid on tight, she stowed it in her pack. She wiped the dash and the knife clean, before passing it back to Dune. Genesis closed her laptop and turned in her seat to Sebastian. The mercs pointedly busied themselves with going back to sleep.
“Thank you. I owe you one,” she said holding out her hand, hoping for a truce.
“You owe me more than one,” he muttered and pulled out his tablet to work.
Genesis frowned. She faced front and watched the white strips of the highway pass under the Suburban in a monochromatic rhythm. She wondered if something deeper than their less than professional meeting frustrated Sebastian. Something she set off, but not something truly her fault. The breach of company policy on vampires reared its ugly head. She could not fault him for standing by his company and distrusting her for ignoring the law. Actions and consequences were inescapable. Genesis sighed with the realization she would have to accept responsibility for her choice.
Sebastian’s phone rang. Several sleepy mercs grunted. Genesis could not help but listen in as he answered it.
“Hey honey,” he said, “yeah, I miss you too.”
Silence. Genesis could not hear what “honey” said.
“I was, but something came up. I should be home in a few days, once I get this mess cleaned up.”
Again with the other end of the line.
“Nope. Just a stupid foul up, I’m sure. I’ll get it cleaned up, and then we can take some time off, maybe go to that beach your always talking about.”
Genesis stopped listening. Even after watching the video, even after helping her fight that curse inside her, he still thought of this as a stupid “foul up” he would be able to clean up in a few days. She could not believe it. She leaned back in her chair, thankful no one else possessed the power to see in the dark. No one else would see her silent tears in the dead of the night. Just to be sure, she turned her head and stared out the window as the gunmetal-gray landscape raced by. Genesis could not remember the last time she cried this often or this easily. It made her feel weak and out of control. She hated feeling out of control.
“Fucking piece of shit,” Rickie whispered to no one in particular, but Genesis had to agree with him.
The rest of the trip involved sleeping and ignoring Sebastian talking with his girlfriend. The two other curses laid low. Good. Sebastian’s touch, his help, sat at the bottom of her wish list, right now. The remaining few hours of the trip seemed like a forever living hell. The tension built in the Suburban until Rickie pulled into the parking lot of the experiment site. The mercs spilled out more willing to face whatever waited out there than the tension between Sebastian and Genesis.
…Join me, next Friday, for the continuation of the tale…