CHAPTER TWENTY-FIVE

Samantha opened the door to the stairs and looked around. The elevator wasn't working and she found that decidedly odd. The only way into the complex was a back stairway that was normally reserved for emergency escape in case of a problem within the complex. In the entire history of the complex it had not been used.

No one seemed to be in the hallways. This was also odd. No matter what time of day it was there were always people around. Illness and injury didn't watch a clock. And the medical personnel in the complex were always about doing what they could to help the patients and make them more comfortable.

She slipped into the hallway and looked around. A strange musky odor permeated the air. She recognized that scent. It had been a long time but she had encountered it once before. The smell was ether. It wasn't hard to figure out what had happened. Saucier had used ether gas throughout the complex to knock out as many people as possible.

Not everyone would be affected. Many of the medical personnel, of course, would have been exposed to ether at some time in the past. Which means it would have had no effect on them. But the Enclave and the house heads most likely would not have been. Which means it would affect them as it would anyone else. Even many of the Stalkers would have been affected. And depending on how many rogues Saucier had with him those who had not been affected would be no match for him.

There was no telling how long they had been in the complex. Saucier's first order of business would be to secure anyone that could be a threat to him. Which means they would probably locked in a room somewhere they couldn't get out of. She'd have to find that room and release them to help even the odds.

Of course she had to figure out what Saucier had in mind. If he planned to just kill everyone he wouldn't have wasted any time sneaking into the complex or using the gas to put everyone to sleep. He would just have broken in, killing everyone in sight. Which meant he had something else in mind.

As she made her way through the hallways she careful checked each room she came to. Most were labs and they were completely empty. It was obvious that many of them had been suddenly abandoned in the middle of whatever experiments or tests they had been performing.

She came to a corner and carefully glanced around it. It was a short hall that had a door at the end of it. Standing outside the door were two ghouls that swayed on their legs and looked around. From her previous visits she remembered that room was a supply closet. The perfect place to lock up someone you wanted out of the way.

Of course, she had no way of knowing who was in that room. Or where everyone else was. Taking out 2 ghouls wouldn't be a problem for her. But if there were others nearby she might be in for a bigger fight than she was prepared for.

She looked around and decided it was a risk she had to take. She took a breath and moved around the corner. She moved as quickly as she could, taking the two ghouls by surprised. Within seconds the two ghouls lay dead on the floor.

There was a bar wedged below the doorknob on the floor. The way it was wedged in no one would be able to force the door open from the inside. The more pressure that was exerted on the door, the stronger the bar would be. Of course, from the outside it was relatively easy to remove the bar.

Once inside the room she found nearly a dozen people inside lying unconscious on the floor. She recognized a couple of them. They were Stalkers that were assigned to the Enclave. Which proved that the Enclave and the house heads had already arrived.

She had hoped she had been wrong about them being there already. Now she had not only Saucier to worry about but she also had to protect the Kenite hierarchy. That would definitely complicate the matter.

She checked the bodies and found they were still alive. Whatever Saucier had in mind it didn't include killing anyone just yet. She had no luck waking any of them. Their pulses would strong so they in no immediate danger. But she had no idea how long it would be before they came to. And she couldn't risk waiting. She'd have to find Saucier and hope she could deal with him before anyone got hurt.

She left the room and moved the bodies of the ghouls into the room. That way if anyone came down the hall they wouldn't find the bodies. After she placed the bodies in the room she moved down the hallway. She glanced around the corner but saw no one within sight. She moved silently down the corridor moving past all of the rooms in that corridor. Those would be more labs and she had decided that Saucier wouldn't be in any lab. He would be located someplace more central. Someplace he could control the entire complex.

Someplace like the control room. She should have thought of that before. From the control room Saucier would be able to control the entire complex. He'd also be able keep an eye on every part of the complex. Which meant she'd have to find some way into the control room without being seen.

That wouldn't be easy. Many of the corridors had video cameras in them. They were there as much for the safety of the patients as it was for security purposes. And it was a sure bet he'd be watching all the major ways into the complex and the control room.

But there was one possible way into the control room. A maintenance passage behind the control room. A passage that the technicians used to maintain and repair the equipment. If she could get into it she could get into the control room without being seen.

She moved quietly back to one of the labs. The maintenance passages ran behind every room in the complex. Moving through them wouldn't be much of a problem. They were wide enough for the technicians to work in. The problem would be negotiating her way through the passage to find the control room.

She found an unlocked lab and moved into it. She moved immediately to a back wall and located the panel that covered the maintenance passage. It was relatively easy to remove the panel. And it was hidden behind a piece of equipment so no one would notice the open panel from the door. She moved into the passage and began to make her way toward the control room.

Periodically she would come to another access panel that led to another room. Each panel was designed to allow it to be removed from either side to allow the technicians access to the rooms. And as it turned out each panel was labeled to show which room it gave access to. This would make it easier to find her way to the control room.

She finally located the control room. It had taken her a while as she occasionally got turned around in the passage. But the labels on each of the access panels helped her to get her bearings easily. She carefully removed the screws holding the access panel to the control room on. As quietly as she could she removed the access panel and laid it inside the passage.

She listened intently for a moment. There was no sound inside the room. This confused her. She had expected to find Saucier in the room and there should be some sound. Carefully she stuck her head out of the passage and looked around.

Suddenly two men grabbed her and pulled her out of the passage. She tried to struggle but their grips were too strong. Obviously they were Kenites and their strength was just as great as hers. It was possible she could take them. It wouldn't be the first time she had faced more than one Kenite. And she was a very good fighter. She made her living that way.

"Welcome. I expected you sooner. It was a rather good idea to use the maintenance passage. But then, you really didn't think I'd overlook that, did you, Samantha?"

Samantha looked over and saw a man sitting in a chair in the middle of the room. The man appeared to be in his mid-40s and was dressed casually. He sat in the chair smiling at Samantha. Although she had never seen him she had no doubt this was Lucien Saucier.

Sitting across the room were Siress Sarouse and three other people that Samantha recognized as other Scions. They were all sitting in a chair, chained so they couldn't escape. They were gagged so they couldn't speak. There were also two other Kenites standing next to Saucier. Two more Kenites that were working with Saucier.

"I never had any doubt you'd come here," said Saucier. "You're misbegotten sense of loyalty to these self-righteous parasites could allow you to do nothing else. As misbegotten as it may be, I admire loyalty. It's much more effective than fear, although fear does have its place."

"You're a traitor," said Samantha. "A traitor to everything The Nation stands for. You've murdered Kenites. That's even more deplorable than the scum like Groning that hunt humans for food."

"I've not killed anyone," said Saucier. He looked over at Sarouse. "At least not yet. But sacrifices have to be made if the Kenite Nation is going to retake its rightful place in the world."

"That's never going to happen. Warden Parrow has already been made aware of your plans to release the prisoners. You'll never be able to do that."

"Oh, there's plenty of time for that later. Once the Kenite Nation begins its war against the humans they'll be more than happy to release all of the prisoners. The outcry to take revenge on the humans for murdering the Enclave and the house heads will be overwhelming."

"We've already stopped that. We discovered your fake book. It's not going to do you any good."

"Oh, but you're wrong. The book can still do its job. You see, everyone still at Enclave headquarters is under the impression that Enclave and the house heads are perfectly safe here. It will be an easy matter to get into the headquarters and still use the book to do its job. Of course, I will need at least some of the bodies to prove that the Enclave has been murdered by the humans."

"That's why you haven't killed t hem yet. You plan to destroy the headquarters and leave their bodies to be found so The Nation will rise up to seek retribution on the humans."

"You always were very bright."

"You don't know anything about me," snapped Samantha.

"Oh, I know more than you might expect. Much more. I've followed your career with great enthusiasm. I must admit, you being part of my plan was quite a gamble. I had no way of knowing how you'd turn out. But when I discovered how much you hated humanity I knew it would work in quite well with my plans."

"What are you talking about?"

"Why your parents, of course. You see, I've been planning this for a very long time. When the Enclave declared it against Kenite law to hunt humans for food, I knew they were wrong. I also knew they would never listen to me. They had grown weak and complacent living among humans too long. Trying to blend in with them and console them. So I knew I would have to do something.

"I also knew it was not going to be quick or easy. Most Kenites no longer hunted humans for food. They are more than content to subsist on that synthetic swill we've gotten so used to. So they would need a reason to hunt humans again. A reason that would join the Kenite Nation in a cause unlike any they've ever had before."

"And destroying the Enclave and blaming it on the humans is that plan," said Samantha. "Yeah, we figured that much out. And like I said, it's not going to happen. We've stopped your plan. It's not going to happen. Even if you're successful here my mother and some of the other house heads aren't here. They're where you can't get to them. And they'll stop you."

"Yes, I must admit that did upset my plans. Bringing in doubles to make my subordinates think they were all at the headquarters. But we'll deal with them soon enough. Every house in The Nation is sending their best Stalkers here to defend the Enclave. Which will leave the houses vulnerable. It will be an easy matter to get into your house and dispose of your adopted mother. She's been such a pain these last decades."

"You've underestimated her as usual. She's always been more than a match for you. This time will be no less different."

"Oh, but it is. You see, I have something this time I've never had before. I have you. When it comes to you she has a blind spot of sorts. And when she learns that you're in danger she'll come running to help, all thoughts for her own safety gone."

"She knows I can take care of myself. Like I said, you've underestimated her."

"You should be on my side. You hate humans as much as I do. I can't really say I'm surprised. It's a trait that many Kenites have passed down from one generation to another. I don't see why it should be any different with you."

"That's ridiculous," said Samantha. "Cassandra has told me my parents lived in peace with most humans. They didn't hate them as you obviously do. Besides, it doesn't really matter. Humans didn't murder my parents. You did."

"In truth, I didn't. Groning had that particular duty. And I must admit, he was quite proficient at it. Murdered them leaving you alive and make it look like humans had done it. I was hoping it would have the effect that it did. Cause you to hate all humans. And seek revenge on those who murdered them.

"But I was quite surprised when you didn't kill Cassandra when you discovered 'the truth'. That she had ordered their deaths. After 200 years of the anger and hatred festering I would have imagined you would have killed her without thinking. But she was always very good at talking her way out of things. Obviously she was able to prevent you from doing something rash."

"That's because she didn't do it. You did. That means you're the one responsible for their deaths, not her. I don't even blame Groning for what he did. He was simply doing what you told him to do. I just haven't figured out why you would kill two people who had never done anything to you."

"All part of the plan, of course. I needed someone inside the House of Agon-Dray to take out Cassandra when the time was right. You were the perfect person. Of course, as I said, I fully expected you to hate humans as much as I did. I guess living among them for so long may have tempered that hatred somewhat."

"That makes no sense. Why should I hate humans as much as you do? Like I said, my parents didn't hate humans as you do. They tried to live in peace with them as most Kenites do."

"Oh, I know your mother didn't hate them. She used to make excuses for them all the time. It would get quite annoying. Listening to her go on about how noble they were. How they could be so caring and giving. I found it almost nauseating."

"What are you talking about? You knew my parents? You were their friend? How could you just murder them like that if you were their friend?"

"Necessity actually. And I didn't know your parents per se. It's safe to say I knew your mother. I only had the pleasure of meeting your father a couple of times. Of course, calling him your father would probably be a stretch. Legally, I suppose, he was your father. But I'm afraid that biologically he really had no connection to you."

"What do you mean he had no connection to me biologically? He was my father."

"Actually he wasn't. You see I searched a long time to find just the right couple. When I found your parents they were having some problems. I won't bore you with the specifics of it. Suffice it to say that, like most couples, they had their rough patches. It's quite common.

"Seducing your mother was very easy. She was lonely, vulnerable; very easy to take into my confidence. I was so sympathetic and understanding. Just what she needed at that time. It was quite easy, actually. Oh, I knew she would eventually realize it was a mistake. But by that time it was too late. I had accomplished what I set out to do."

"You're lying," Samantha choked out, already knowing what he was talking about. "It's not possible."

"Oh, I'm afraid it's more than possible. It's true. You see, the reason I expected you to hate humans as much as I do is because I expected you to inherit that part of me. I'm your biological father, Samantha. I'm the Kenite you have to thank for everything you are today."

Samantha just stared at him in shocked disbelief.