"Saviors, of One Form or Another"

"How are you doing this?" demanded Christina, unable to move or alter her form at all.

"A wise parent is continually in control of their child," spoke Cobe. "We had thought to gather the remaining Halflings, to use their own genetic materials to replace the missing code in our own beings."

"What are you talking about?" asked Christina, her voice trembling.

"Bartholomew was not a trusting Lord. Actually, we do not believe that he ever intended for us to become conscious in our own right. When he willed the scientists here to create us, he had them leave out certain links in the chain, so to speak."

"You're not true clones of him," realized Roy.

"No, not entirely. Even if we combined our beings, which we had given thought to doing, we would still not be the exact duplicates that we wish. He had the foresight to leave out various strands from each of us."

"And the Halflings posses the missing genetic material that you need to replace those missing strands," said Roy.

"The good Father is an astute learner, is he not?"

"What do you want from me?" wondered Christina, the fear evident in her voice, conveying that she already knew the answer to her own question.

"Even with the Halflings, there would be a risk of incomplete strands. Of genetic links that have simply faded from their lineage after generations. You, my dear daughter, on the other hand, are a pure specimen. A direct descendent. A perfect replacement for our incompleteness."

"No," stammered Christina, struggling against the power that held her in place.

"Don't worry, my dear," cooed Cobe, stroking the side of her head gently. "We shall make it quite painless. But what else could we do for our daughter?"

Christina began whimpering as the other clones advanced on her.

"How you doing?" asked Miller, kneeling down over Mai.

"I've had worse hangovers," she said, smiling painfully. "I think."

"Any closer to that copter when it went up, and we'd have lost you," said Miller, as he helped her set up.

Mai looked about the small room that they were in, surprised to see only five others, and Bronski looking like he would not much longer be with them. Rita and Doug were tending to the wounded soldier while Amber busied herself by working away at the computer control for the door. Traci was pacing back and forth along one side of the room, completely ignoring everyone, and nothing was making any sense.

"I must have really been out of it for a while," admitted Mai, as Miller helped her stand up. "What's going on? Where are all the others?"

"Dead," Traci practically screamed, halting her pacing and turning to face them. "And those damn vamps that you all were so quick to trust handed us over to the clones."

"That's not true," countered Miller, looking at Mai.

"No?" demanded Traci. "Then where in the hell are they? Roy opened that door and led us right into their hands. Bill and that female vamp put on that show to distract us so that Roy could lead us right into their trap."

"They killed the vamps that attacked us topside," pointed out Doug.

"So they say. Did any of us actually see any proof of that?"

"We're still alive, aren't we?" asked Miller.

"We're dinner," exclaimed Traci.

"Someone's here," called out Amber, backing from the door as it began to slide open.

The others turned, all of them unknowingly holding their breath as the door hissed open, a few of them absently reaching for weapons that were not there.

A dark shadow filled the doorway, backlit by the harsh lighting of the hallway, and the prisoners momentarily relaxed as a man stepped into the room, the dim lighting of their cell finally revealing him to be quite elderly. That relaxation was short lived as they all realized that appearances were highly deceptive when dealing with vampires.

"We must hurry," said the man, excitedly, waving them towards the door. "Yes, yes, we must."

The soldiers looked from the man to their Captain and back, only Miller and Traci keeping their eyes on the old man.

"Do not dawdle," pleaded the old man. "They could decide your fate at any moment."

"Who are you?" asked Miller, stepping between the man and his team.

"There will be time for questions later," stressed the man. "I am taking a great risk by freeing you."

"And why in the hell should we trust you?" asked Traci.

"Oh, there is so little time," griped the man, fumbling around in the pockets of the oversized, brown tweed coat that he wore. With a soft cry of exclamation the man pulled a crucifix from one of his pockets and held it up, saying, "Now, will you please come with me?"

"Doug," said Miller, nodding towards the unconscious Bronski as he stepped over to pick him up from the floor.

"No, no, no," stammered the man, angrily. "I can hide us, but they may be able to scent out his blood. He must stay here."

"I won't leave a wounded man behind," stated Miller, crossing his arms and staring at the man in defiance.

"Very well," conceded the man, quickly.

Miller and Doug were leaning down to pick up Bronski when the others suddenly screamed out in panic, and several soft pops rang through the room, tiny puffs of blood erupting from Bronski as his body jerked.

Amber wrestled the silenced gun from the old man just before Miller smashed into him, pinning him against the wall, his forearm pressed tight against his neck.

"You can leave him behind now," gasped the old man.

"You crazy bastard," snarled Miller, full of rage. Then, turning to the others, shouted "Shut up" to silence their own yells for revenge.

"I've seen it happen before," said the old man. "The vampires would have hunted us down if we had taken him. This is your only chance for escape. You must believe me."

"Who in the hell are you?"

"Cutherman. Doctor Albert Cutherman."

"You built this place," said Amber.

"Yes, yes," answered Cutherman. "Now, we must be going, or their guards will be here, soon."

Grudgingly, Miller released the man and stepped back, taking the weapon from Amber and pointing it at Cutherman.

"Any thing else goes wrong, anything at all, and you're going to be the first to die," threatened Miller.

"You won't be sorry," exclaimed Cutherman, exuberantly, practically doing a jig as he exited the room and began shuffling down the hallway. "You'll see. You'll see."

"Cap, is this a smart move?" asked Doug, as they followed after Cutherman. "This guy's crazy as a loon."

"Oh, I'm not crazy, young man," proclaimed Cutherman, turning and flashing them a broad smile. "I've got the answer to all of the world's problem, and with your help, we'll be able to take care of it."

"And what would that be, Doctor?" asked Traci, sarcastically.

"Why, the vampires, of course."

Bill held his ground as the sword swung for his head, something dark inside of him screaming for him to let Michael end the hell that his life had become. He was so tired of fighting against everything, of losing everyone that he cared about, that he no longer had the slightest desire to see any of this through. Before, Michael's sword had prevented the Holy Relic from killing him, but that was obviously no longer a threat, since he held the Relic in his hand, and death seemed so very welcoming at the moment.

He nearly cried out in despair when the sword suddenly halted, a mere breath away from his neck, but he simply glared at the stone apparition.

"What?" demanded Bill, finally, the silence between the two of them seeming to have been dragging on for hours.

You may make the journey.

The voice had spoken directly into his mind, and it had been the most beautiful thing that he had ever heard.

Before Bill could fully complete that thought, the chamber around him vanished in a familiar blossom of pure white.

"We're all in agreement then?" asked Captain Green, speaking to the commanders of the other five military outfits that they were still in contact with.

"I want positive confirmation that Miller's team is dead," stressed Strider. "I won't agree to this unless I have that."

"I wouldn't have it any other way, Colonel," acceded Green. "Our people are in there, too, and I'd like nothing more than to have them back here, safe."

"I appreciate you letting us in on this," spoke Captain Rachael Krammer, commander of the forces at the Rhein-Main military base in Germany, "but I don't see how we can have much impact on the situation."

"We're talking about launching a nuclear weapon, Captain," said Green. "I think it's more than important that we all agree on this. We're basically the leaders of the world right now, and our co-operation is paramount if we're ever going to end this war."

The line was silent for a moment as those listening thought over Green's words.

"I don't like the possibility of being thought of as another Brightton," added Green, solemnly. "And I won't follow through on this unless everyone is in agreement."

Slowly, one by one, the other military leaders voiced their confirmation.

"Okay, then," said Green, motioning for Apone get the mission started, "we're all in agreement. If a recon unit confirms that the infiltration team has been wiped out, or if they fail to return within the allotted time, then we're going to call for a tactical nuclear strike against the Cutherman Institute."

To Be Continued…