Funerals, A Disappearance And Rescue

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Post  Naitachel on Wed Feb 01, 2012 2:53 am

It was a rather overcast day, clouds threatening to try something when someone's back was turned while not yet deciding whether it should lead to just the occasional unpleasant gust or a hint of drizzle. So far, though, it behaved... The mood in the air was resigned, unhappy, yet full of quiet bustle as the family prepared for an unpleasant activity they'd been through before... burying one of their own. Not in truth, but in the eyes of the world, it was true. And in doing so, it restricted the "lost" one greatly...

Naitachel considered his regular coat, and with a sigh left it in the closet, instead taking up Radu's longer black one. It would hide his oddities just as well as his own or even better, being longer and large for him. In a sense, it felt fitting--a kind of "memorial' to his mate, as well as being a more appropriate color for mourning than his usual beige. <Would you mind my borrowing it?> he asked Radu silently.

<Of course not,> Radu laughed. <I imagine it is yours now that I am dead, after all.>

Naitachel shrugged into the longer coat, and blinked as he looked at how the sleeves hung past his hands. He looked a bit like a kid playing dress-up. Shaking his head, he set to rolling the wrists neatly. <Perhaps. However, if you should venture out at any time, dead or not, I would very much prefer you have a coat on in this weather,> he stated with an amused smile. <I would rather you not get utterly drenched.>

Done fiddling with his clothes, Naitachel caught up his crutches and exited what had been "their" rooms to the main room of the house, looking about for the others...

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Post  Naitachel on Wed Feb 01, 2012 2:57 am

Lisa didn't bother knocking as she entered Jina's room. She was dressed to the nines, with a somewhat revealing black number complete with a large, floppy hat and oversized sunglasses. "Overkill?" she asked her twin.


Soraya fiddled with her short hair, cursing silently in the mirror as one of the locks refused to stay pinned back. "I had not thought short hair would be so much more work," she grumbled, attacking it with a second bobby pin. She was dressed in a simple black dress befitting the occasion already, and was nearly ready to go.

Vlad smartly held his tongue regarding her hair, instead commenting, "Your dress looks wonderful on you."

"Thank you," Soraya smiled, giving up the stray curl as a lost cause and advancing on her husband to straighten his tie. "I know this is hardly the first time we have done this but... I admit, this is still difficult. I dislike even playacting losing any of you. I prefer it when it is my own funeral you are all attending."

"I dislike all funerals," Vlad sighed, straightening his tie.

Soraya helped Vlad complete the task of straightening the tie. "Well, at least this one is staged," she said quietly. How many others had they attended that had not been so?

Vlad nodded, allowing her to assist, if only to be closer to her. "These always bother me, though. Especially in cases such as this one, where it was so nearly real."

Brianna entered her parents' room at that moment, dressed in a black dress herself and carrying a long red ribbon. "Mommy," she began, indicating the latter, which made Soraya smile.

"Sit," she said, indicating her vanity.

"Oooh, Daddy looks nice," Brianna commented with a grin before complying.

"Thank you, my princess," Vlad smiled, leaning down to kiss Brianna.

Soraya looked at Vlad before setting to Brianna's hair. <I agree. I wish we could avoid them altogether. Thankfully Radu did pull through.> She kept brushing Brianna's hair, as she added a hesitant, <What is especially worrisome is that this is not over, not really. Who knows who they will go after next.>

<I know,> Vlad agreed with a mental sigh. <I have thought long and hard about that particular issue myself. I wonder if, perhaps, it is not time to engage some greater security measures for all of us.>

Soraya worked to keep her expression even. <You mean I am not the only one you would like to saddle with a bodyguard?> she asked, vaguely referencing the whole Emmett situation. <Perhaps someone to remain here and oversee security at home might be a good idea?> she suggested.

Apparently oblivious to her parents' conversation, Brianna grinned brightly at Vlad, basking in her mother's attentions. "I get to keep hanging out with Uncle Radu even though he's dead, right?" she asked aloud as a faint look of contemplation crossed her features.

"You can claim to be going to the east wing to remember him," Vlad agreed. "The servants are all forbidden to enter that wing, for the sake of maintaining the sanctity of the area for the family, but you may go there whenever you feel the need."

"Of course, Sweetling," Soraya answered aloud as she tied the ribbon into a large bow. "We simply have to be careful about keeping the secret. But, as your father says, you can go there whenever you like. I am sure Radu would love your company," she promised, showering her daughter's head with a few quick kisses. "There. Finished."

<I agree. I suspect they may know something of our physiological differences. If this is true, they may suspect Uncle survived despite our best pretense. They may also go after any one of us, regardless of apparent age. We must ensure all are safe. I want to place guards on all of you,> Vlad returned.

Soraya repressed a shudder as she nudged Brianna out of the room to go fetch her shoes. "You mean all of us, right?" she spoke aloud, turning to Vlad. "You can hardly think yourself above targeting. Actually, I fear for you most of all, truth be told," she said, hugging herself protectively.

"Me?" Vlad asked, surprised. "I am merely another nephew. I am in no more danger than the rest."

"Perhaps, but you are, or were perceived as Radu's right hand man, second in charge. Though Naitachel has now taken over the company, he is, as far as we know, not susceptible to whatever it is they did to Radu. You are, and they may have made alterations to make their strategy more effective this time," she argued unhappily. To busy herself, she grabbed one of the necklaces on her nearby dresser and fiddled with it, trying to put it on.

"Perhaps, but I am clearly not his second. His spouse is. I, therefore, have no reason to suspect I am in any more danger than any other." Vlad sighed. "However, the fact that they are still out there suggests all should be protected."

Soraya looked at Vlad incredulously, but bit her tongue. "You should focus on protecting those within the company, first and foremost. That is where the danger lays," she said, grabbing her shawl and purse. "That includes you," she said. The fact that he had said he wanted to protect, "all of you," rather than, "all of us," made her uncomfortable. "Ready?"

Vlad nodded, offering her his arm. "Let us go grieve our loss, then."

Soraya sighed, trying to calm her nerves as she took Vlad's arm and followed him to the car. Having been mentally summoned by her mother Brianna appeared soon after, quickly followed by Michael, whose tie was crooked, but who had apparently not noticed.

Last edited by Naitachel on Tue Mar 20, 2012 9:13 pm; edited 1 time in total

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Post  Naitachel on Wed Feb 01, 2012 3:05 am

<I shall not venture out,> Radu assured him. <Why would I?>

<Stir-crazy? Sheer and utter boredom? The walls beginning to close in?> Nait returned with a silent laugh. <Any of the list would bother me in a short time.> Mentally noting the others' progress, Naitachel moved to the door to check on their driver.

<I have my space... my books... my own distractions here. I have managed greater periods of time without leaving my home. I do not doubt I shall manage this period without issue,> Radu assured him.

<So long as you do not suddenly start walking around with an axe and muttering about anyone by the name of "Johnny", then,> the Seraph deadpanned. He nodded to the girl waiting at the door in a neat dark suit and tie and driver's cap. "Good afternoon, Misses Datsun."

<I shall endeavor to avoid any such behavior,> Radu laughed again.

Fiona Datsun nodded back sharply. "Sir," she greeted quietly. She was intent on doing her job with the professionalism of a soldier at war.

"Uncle Nait," Tommen greeted Naitachel. "Fiona," he then added, a bit less comfortably, as he made his way to the car. "Are they not ready yet?"

"They are not here yet, so I would guess not," Nait returned with a slight smile. "So far it is just us."

Min arrived at the car with Matthias and Mircea, who was grumbling, as expected, about the hateful ties one must wear to these events.

Tommen greeted his family, almost actually smiling at Mircea for his commentary on ties. "They do feel like something of a noose," he agreed.

Naitachel shook his head and smiled indulgently at Mircea's mutterings. "Is it so very terrible?" he asked the man. "They sell some pre-tied, yes?"

"I am not wearing a clip on tie," Mircea grumbled again. "I am not five." He nodded to Tommen, acknowledging his appreciation for the support of his position.

Naitachel tried not to grin. "There is always the bow-tie..." Of course, he always skipped ties, period, taking advantage of being considered odd by society anyway.

"Those are no more comfortable," Min laughed. "They tie more closely about the neck." He mimed tying a bow, then choking to death on his tie.

"Now, now, Min, leave the pulling of your chain for your girlfriends," the Seraph laughed.

"Oh, believe me I do," Min answered with a lewd wink and a laugh.

<And by chain, you really mean...> Michael teased Min, leaving out the obvious ending to that comment as he climbed in after his aunts and Naitachel.

Min shrugged, but winked again at Michael before piling into the limo after the others.

Lisa appeared to the group, dressed to the nines in a somewhat revealing black dress, large floppy hat, and oversized sunglasses. "Overkill?" she asked them. She couldn't help but try to make this a game for fear of it striking too close to home. Instead, she chose to allow herself the penchant for the ridiculous.

Jina appeared then in a long black gown, full length black gloves, pillbox hat with black veiling, small black clutch and pearls.

Naitachel looked over at Lisa and nodded, smiling warmly in appreciation. "Yes, well, is there overkill for a star, ever? I would imagine that is not a concern."

Lisa grinned at Naitachel and curtseyed, then smiled approvingly at Jina. "We make a perfect pair, as always," she teased, before climbing into the limo.

"Don't we, though?" Jina agreed. "Lovely grieving nieces. I do hope they shoot us from our good side." She climbed in next to her twin, practicing her 'mourning look.'

Naitachel shook his head and smiled, then tucked crutches and pulled himself into the limo as well.

"Both of your sides are good, Jina," Lisa grinned before assuming her own saddened expression.

Mircea rolled his eyes at the others as he joined them in the car. Brianna bounded in after the others and perched herself in Mircea's lap.

"Um... bit crowded in here," Min offered. "Maybe we should let Nait and the twins ride in here and ask Kristov to drive the other limo for us?"

"I think we could let Nait, Vlad and his own ride here, and the rest of us single people could all ride in one," Jina objected. "It's better advertising, honestly."

"Agreed, then. I'll go get Kristov," Min said, climbing over his uncle and dashing back inside.

"I'm single," Michael protested. "What, because I'm Vlad's son I don't get to be in the party limo?"

Jina, Matthias and Mircea poured back out of the car.

"This is not for a party, however," Nait reminded Michael.

"Precisely," Jina smiled and answered through the open windows. "You must be the dutiful son, after all."

Mircea still held Brianna, reluctant to release his hold just yet, carrying her out with him. Brianna giggled as Mircea held her and kissed his cheek.

"There's a party after," Michael answered with a grin.

"Michael," Soraya warned.

"Not typically the pleasant kind," Nait agreed.

"True. It's typically filled with 'I'm so sorry's and the passing of tissues and such," Jina agreed.

"What?" Michael asked his mother, feigning innocence, though Jina had a point. Still, only a warning look from his mother made him swallow the comment regarding there at least being food and pretty women there as well. "Fine," he grumbled, settling back into the first family limousine.

Mircea kissed Brianna back quickly and cuddled her to him.

"Don't mess up my hair, Uncle Mircea," Brianna laughed. "Mommy'll kill you if you do." Still, she was hardly pushing him away either.

Tom smiled at the display as he himself settled back into the appointed limousine.

"One funeral is enough," the Seraph chuckled, eyeing Mircea and Brianna as they entered the other car.

Soraya smiled as well, though she intervened, "We should probably get going. It would hardly be seemly to be late to Radu's funeral ourselves," she said, getting up and slipping out to retrieve her daughter.

"Oh, yes. Mustn't muss the hair," Mircea agreed, smiling gently as he settled into the back seat of the second car. "I will be most careful."

Soraya smiled warmly at the sight of Mircea with Brianna. She reached in and quickly squeezed Mircea's hand before giving up and returning to her own car and settling back in herself. Who was she to interrupt such a moment? In the end, what mattered was that they made a show of unity as a family, not what order they arrived in.

"Are we all set, then?" Nait called to Fiona.

"Yes, sir, they've just finished getting settled in the other car," she reported.

"Very well. Let us go, then," Nait said.

Kristov hurried out with Min, buttoning his coat. Min dove into the back and Kristov jumped into the front and donned the chauffeur hat.

"Yup... we're off," Min called out in response to Naitachel, then noticed Brianna. "You kept her again?" he laughed. "Are you going to do this at every funeral?"

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Post  Naitachel on Wed Feb 01, 2012 3:06 am

"Mircea kept Bri again?" Michael asked as Soraya sat, which she confirmed with a grin and a nod.

<Your family is spoiling that girl,> Soraya informed Vlad, though she was smiling inwardly herself.

The two cars pulled off, rolling windows up.

<Would you desire they do less?> Vlad asked, swallowing a smile as the vehicle drew them into public view.

<Only that they perhaps not let her get away with murder,> she answered Vlad, amused. <I have no qualms about the affection, though.> She worked herself to maintain a downcast look as they approached the site of the funeral, needing to pull up the shields and make herself a mourner.

Naitachel grew solemn, and tightened his grip on his crutches. He found it all too easy to recall their near-tragedy, but resolutely fought to avoid tears. Last thing he needed was to reveal bloody tears in such an onslaught of media. <To think how close this came to becoming a reality,> he breathed softly.

Soraya nodded at Naitachel, not about to share how close his comment was to the conversation she and Vlad had had only moments before. <But it did not. Focus on that if you must, to remain strong. We are all safe.> Or at least, they were for the moment.

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Post  Naitachel on Wed Feb 01, 2012 3:08 am

Brianna giggled again and worked her small hand into Mircea's. "This is where I'm supposed to be sad, right?"

"Yes, dearest," Mircea confirmed. "This is where we are all terribly sad."

"Okay," Brianna answered, her countenance immediately changing. The girl was, after all, as interested in theater as her aunts were. Had she ever been given the chance to grow older, she likely would have become a legendary actress herself. The image she managed was of a sad, although not quite comprehending little girl who knew she was supposed to be upset, but didn't quite grasp the finality of death.

Jina looked the very picture of the perfect mourner, tears rolling down her cheeks as she cried quite prettily for the cameras.

Lisa dabbed at her eyes with a handkerchief as she emerged before placing her sunglasses back up, as though they were intended to cover her red-rimmed eyes. Tears ran down her cheeks as well.

Vlad, Min and Mircea all seemed to be genuinely grieving as each recounted the expanse of time they'd witnessed the 'deceased' suffer.

Soraya cried as well, unsurprisingly. Much as she tried to put on the brave front, she herself was still shaken by the events that had occurred. Vlad, Min and Mircea's words regarding Radu's suffering brought back only memories of those times when she had watched him hurting as such, unable to do more than offer him more of her textbooks to read as a distraction.

Matty, for his part, seemed torn between grief and relief. He, too, remembered the suffering of his uncle. It seemed to him an end to that, either by healing or death, would be far preferable to having continued it indefinitely.

Vlad put his arms around his wife in an attempt to comfort her.

<Yes, we are.> Naitachel did not bother with adding what he knew they all felt, "for now." <We cannot allow this to repeat.> He struggled out of the car with his crutches, simply trying to keep his head down and watch where he placed them as he moved out of the way for Soraya and Vlad. He drew up his shields thickly to help with his own control. How close it had come... It still cut deep, but he had to hold firm, if shakily so. To betray more secrets publicly would be even more dangerous for them all. But the Seraph knew how close it had been; he had felt Radu’s pain; he did not forget the agonizing frustration of even his own skills failing against it...

<Well, we are, thankfully, on our guards now, at least. They will not get far, even if they do try again,> Soraya answered Naitachel, wishing she believed the words.

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Post  Naitachel on Wed Feb 01, 2012 3:09 am

There was quite a large and still growing crowd present for the service. Interspersed among the strangers were a few familiar faces. Adam Archer stood, head bowed, very near the open gravesite. Sophia Brennan and her three roommates, Lori Chan, Becky Taylor and Tina Flynn, all stood together in a tight grouping. General Taggert stood near the back, whispering to the military personnel who'd joined him.

Soraya leaned in to Vlad's comfort, grateful for his presence. <Really, you would think I would stop reacting this strongly to these things,> she told both Vlad and Naitachel in self-deprecation.

Brianna walked solemnly with Mircea, clutching his hand tightly and keeping her eyes averted.

Naitachel clicked along, and tried not to flinch on feeling Archer there, so close. He remembered that one, and with what they knew now, he was all the more wary of the man.

If possible, Soraya shrunk even more to Vlad as she realized some of those who were in the crowd. <That is Archer, is it not?> she asked Vlad. <What does he think he is doing here?>

<It would seem he is paying his respects,> Vlad sighed.

<Likely story,> Soraya answered bitterly.

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Post  Naitachel on Tue Mar 20, 2012 9:55 pm

Naitachel took his place by the open grave, not far from the casket, and leaned on his crutches tiredly, slumped and somewhat lost-looking in the oversized coat. He had noted Archer near, but other than keeping a sharp mental watch with his telepathy, he didn't check further at this time. To unshield his empathy in all this would be too much, he knew.

Soraya came took her own place next to Naitachel and placed a gentle hand on his shoulder. <Hopefully this goes quickly,> she soothed, trying to ignore the uncomfortable feeling with which Archer left her as well.

Michael and Tommen followed to their own seats, and Brianna was now perched between Vlad and Mircea, holding to both of their hands tightly.

Emmett stared at Soraya from somewhere within the crowd, moistening his lips and fighting the sense of distraction as he struggled to maintain the illusion of solemnity expected during such occasions as these.

The priest finished the prayer, a bit of music was played by a bagpiper nearby, and with that the casket was lowered to its final resting place. Naitachel shifted his crutches to one hand, knelt for a handful of dirt, and reached out, letting it fall on the lid below with a final dull thud... Then the gravediggers set to adding the rest, signifying the end.

By this point, Soraya was sniffling silently, whereas Brianna was crying loudly and clutching to Vlad. When Naitachel rose, Soraya watched sadly, trying to remind herself this was all for show. That this would save their family, and that this wouldn't happen for anyone else, now that they knew Archer was after them. Once Naitachel had moved off, Soraya rose and followed suit, adding a rose and dirt herself.

Tommen and Michael did likewise, each waiting their respective turns to complete the act symbolic of setting a loved one into final rest. Mircea and Min exchanged a glance one with another as each took their turn, solemnly swearing that they will kill anyone who dares try again to make this scene a reality. Brianna, still clutching at her father's hand, also sent a flower onto Radu's casket, then wiped her eyes with the back of her free hand.

Naitachel did not go far, however, just out of the way, standing silent vigil as other family members gave their contributions to the grave as well.

Photographers moved in swiftly then, snapping photo after photo of the grieving family laying their loved one to rest. "Mister Prince, Mister Prince," they called out. "Is it true that the incident at Dragon Industries was no accident?"

"Do they have any leads?" another voice called out insistently.

Naitachel winced away from the photo-flashes. He truly wished they did not have to endure that lot on top of all this. Golden eyes glanced through tendrils of golden hair that were escaping his loose ponytail, and he simply turned his back to their questions, avoiding any answer entirely with silence. <Ready to go?> he asked the others. <The vultures are restless, it seems.>

Soraya followed Naitachel's example, knowing it couldn't be helped, but thinking it rather pathetic that the media would stoops so low as to actually badger them on this solemn of days. <I am,> Soraya said quickly to Naitachel's question.

Min and Mircea flanked Naitachel, acting as bodyguards as they pushed forward through the crowed, Vlad escorting Soraya and the rest in their wake. Mircea almost growled at one reporter before Min spoke up. "Do you mind? We are BURYING the one person in my entire life I could ever turn to and KNOW would be there for me. We are burying that one person who we could all trust..." He shook his head. "You wouldn't understand. Not one of you. You didn't know him. And honestly... not one of you deserve to."

Only once they had returned to the relative safety of the car did Soraya allow herself a sigh of relief. "Well, at least that portion is over," she said.

Min piled into his limo, next to his sisters, followed by Mircea once they'd put Nait into his own and assured themselves Vlad and his own were right behind him. Min then winked at his sisters in an effort to cover his own outburst. "And you thought you were the only stage talent in the family," he attempted weakly.

Lisa didn't respond aloud to Min, merely took his arm and rested her head on his shoulder in a show of solidarity. She knew why he had spoken up.

Min held his sister close as Mircea clasped his shoulder tightly.

The Seraph lounged on a side-seat with a sigh. "Hopefully none of them shall get through to the second part. Excessive flashing lights is enough to make one go mad, I suspect."

Soraya set to work on wiping Brianna's tears off her face gently, holding her daughter's face in her hands. "It was not real. You remember, right?" she asked the obviously distraught girl who had settled herself into Vlad's lap again, apparently needing parental presence for comfort.

<I am still here,> Radu assured his grieving niece gently. <I have no intention of leaving you.>

"Just pretending, right, kiddo?" Michael chimed in, smiling at his sister, whereas Tom glanced at Naitachel. <You okay?> he asked the seraph.

<I know,> Brianna answered all, trying to stop the intermittent sobs, <but then I started to think maybe if it was really Radu down there and I got really sad... Sorry,> she apologized.

"No need to be sorry, Brianna," Soraya soothed. There was a new air of determination coming from Naitachel, however, and she glanced at the seraph questioningly.

<No need to apologize, Princess,> Radu assured her. <Just remember that we are all still here. Still together. All is well.> Even as he said this, though, he could not shake the feeling that there was still danger looming. They would need to do something, and soon, if they were to assure his family remained safe.

<Yes,> Naitachel returned quietly, preoccupied. Worry was still eating him. Was it so hard for someone to get close and contaminate someone? Not really, as he had watched during the funeral. <Mircea, perhaps an offensive approach should be considered towards our opponents...>

<Agreed,> came back the determined reply. <Time to make them realize that it is we, and not they, who are the true threat.>

<I have a volunteer interested in helping you...> Nait told Mircea quietly. <If you can get him in, he can do the rest.> An image of Martaand's determined expression accompanied the grim message.

<I'll get him in,> Mircea promised.

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Post  Naitachel on Tue Mar 20, 2012 9:59 pm

The ride to the reception was a short one, and not much more was exchanged between the riders. Brianna had managed to compose herself with Radu and Soraya's reassurances. When they emerged, she was merely the forlorn-looking child, rather than the sobbing one, though she continued to choose to remain near Vlad, at least for the moment.

"Shall we?" Soraya asked the others as she made her way inside.

Naitachel dragged himself out of the car and tucked his crutches under his arms. "Are there other options?" he asked Soraya with a wry expression.

Vlad took his wife's hand in one, and his daughter's in the other, and solemnly led them inside.

"Not really," the redhead agreed with Naitachel as she followed Vlad in. <Though if you really wish to escape, you could likely get away with claiming overwhelming grief and disappear,> she suggested sympathetically for the seraph. She knew how difficult this must be for him. She knew how it felt to have to play the grieving widow.

Mircea assisted Jina out as Min helped his sister Lisa from the car, then they each went in, followed by a sullen looking Matthias.

"Why they would choose to bury him so late into the evening is..." one woman was heard to say as they passed.

"Hoping to avoid blowhards with cameras like you," Matty deadpanned without missing a step.

Naitachel mentally sighed. <Unfortunately, it is not overwhelming, so I cannot stretch the truth that far.> He clicked in their wake stoically. <Besides, is it any worse for any of you? Then it would be unfair of myself to escape and leave you to handle this chaos. At least in this I present myself as a greater target and spare you some attention.>

Tommen and Michael followed solemnly after, pointedly ignoring any onlookers.

<I thought being decoy was mine and Vlad's job,> Soraya teased. <But I can always make the claims for you,> she offered. <Just let me know if it gets to be too much.>

<Thank you,> the Seraph answered quietly, grateful.

The crowd slowly began to appear inside as well, and it was not long before the group was overwhelmed with those who would express their condolences, whether honestly meant or simply said out of the need to be a sycophant of sorts.

"Really," the woman huffed, tucking her camera away. "It’s unseemly. You’d think they had something to hide, planting him in the dead of night like that."

Matthias whirled on her. "We'd hoped to avoid having our uncle's burial and reception turned into a tourist attraction by classless inbreeds such as yourselves. Clearly," he finished, turning his back to her, "we'd underestimated how low you'd stoop."

Naitachel mentally noted the liars to Mircea as they passed. He felt too numb to try keeping track, himself. But when they so often sought to touch an arm or take a hand in a sign of condolence, it was easy for him to tell when they meant it... or not...

<Is that Archer?> Soraya asked, clearly having kept an eye out for the man.

<Where?> Nait asked warily, stiffening abruptly.

Matty followed in, taking Nait's hand and saying honestly, "I'm sorry," before moving toward a darkened corner of the room.

Soraya nodded toward the door. <There.> She was trying to respond to the woman in front of her, but she was so distracted the woman obviously noticed, and, with a disgruntled huff, moved along muttering under her breath.

Archer was making his way slickly across the room, finally stopping in front of Naitachel. "I am sorry for your grief," that much he could offer honestly. "How exactly did he die?" he followed up, curious to know how the virus actually worked.

Soraya glanced at Vlad. <We should go help him,> she said, before excusing herself from the latest company to make her way through the crowd.

Vlad did the same, though he was halted mid-step by two blank faced men offering their condolences who seemed determined to prevent him from getting past them.

"Excuse me," Soraya said rather forcefully as she tried to push her way between them, using her slight size to her advantage.

Golden eyes regarded Archer cautiously, though that bit of honesty was somewhat of a surprise. The man's question, though, was not nearly as pleasant to hear. "I would rather not discuss it, Mister Archer," he answered softly. "As you might understand... unpleasant memories of it all..."

Archer tilted his head in acquiescence. "I do hope he didn't suffer too much." That, however, came across as somewhat less than honest.

"I am curious about your coming here, considering you and he were at odds, one could say," Naitachel tossed back, uncomfortable at the man's animosity towards their family--and, considering that answer, Radu in particular. His hands clenched on his crutches slightly.

"I came to pay my respects to a talented scientist and honorable man," Archer answered, again honestly. "I would have preferred he was more willing to engage in a... sharing, if you will... of research. It could have been very mutually beneficial. But I admired his talent, nonetheless," Archer admitted.

Naitachel nodded solemnly. "True condolences are very much appreciated by all of us, if I may speak for the family as a whole. This will... be a difficult time for us, with him gone," the Seraph murmured sadly. "But please try to understand--if he had reservations, it was usually for very good reasons."

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Post  Naitachel on Tue Mar 20, 2012 10:03 pm

The two men started to refuse, but thought better of it as Vlad's eyes narrowed. Instead they stepped aside.

Soraya glanced back at Vlad apologetically before resuming her movement through the crowd toward Nait.

The strong sensation of being not just watched but STARED at might assault Soraya as Emmett stood in a nearby throng, his eyes glued to her possessively.

Indeed, as she was near reaching Naitachel, Soraya stopped dead in her tracks, trying to place the odd sensation. She shivered as she looked around the room, trying to find the source of her discomfort before she finally spotted Emmett. What was he doing here? She was suddenly finding herself torn between the impulse of running somewhere out of his sight and her knowledge that Naitachel likely needed backup.

<What is it, beloved?> Vlad asked her, looking around, but seeing nothing as Emmett ducked behind another guest.

"There is such a thing as being overcautious," Archer countered. "He failed to understand how many lives he'd be saving if he would just join us."

<I...> The redhead faltered, wondering if she had simply imagined the whole thing. <I thought... I thought I saw someone,> she finally answered. She had looked away briefly and now he was no longer where she had seen him earlier. <I must be tired.> She hoped that was all.

<Perhaps you should take in some air?> Vlad suggested. <If you want to go out onto the patio I'll keep an eye on Nait.>

Shaking his head, Naitachel prodded a crutch against the floor as if testing the rubber tip. It clicked... He had forgotten they were wearing down. Long hair tumbled into his eyes. "Mister Archer... please, this is neither the time nor place to debate his reasons... Cannot we simply leave it as we agree to disagree in the matter?"

"I hope you'll at least consider agreeing sooner rather than later," Archer sighed. "Before any more lives are unnecessarily lost." And with that he made his way back into the crowd.

<I suppose that is my warning,> Nait sighed softly, mentally. <A quiet threat on us all. But then, I was expecting this might occur. They would hardly leave the matter alone.> He watched Archer go, golden eyes saddened and resigned.

<Should I break his neck now or later?> Mircea asked in all seriousness.

<You know I cannot condone violence, let alone death, Mircea, only turn my back to it,> the Seraph told his brother-in-law as he straightened up to try re-tying his long hair back and out of his face. The black ribbon was too loose. He could not wish death on any creature, not even a man so cruel as Archer.

Soraya started at Naitachel's words. There was the confirmation of all of their fears. <We need to be ready for him,> she managed, though she was struggling to maintain her calm at the thought of what else their family might be forced to endure at this man's hands. <Perhaps air is indeed my best option,> she agreed with Vlad. She didn't want her reaction to overwhelm her, and it was difficult enough to keep her emotions in line with this constant stream of condolences and the heavy atmosphere. Besides, it all must already have been getting to her if she was hallucinating of sorts. She shook her head, trying to clear her thoughts before heading outside, if only for a few breaths of fresh air, before returning.

<We need to be more than ready,> Naitachel pointed out, keeping quiet on Martaand's plan to assist. It was a risky endeavor, but this confirmed to the Seraph that it would likely still need to be done.

A chloroform covered kerchief and a waiting van found her before any fresh air could...

Soraya's struggle was brief, as a fog, then unconsciousness quickly overcame her.

<Soraya?> The sudden disappearance of her mind mid-conversation surprised Nait, and he whirled to glance towards the doors, dropping his ribbon.

Sudden panic followed by mind-silence prompted many in the family to head toward the opened doors, but milling mourners seemed determined to block the way.

By the time they made it out, there was no hint of her anywhere...

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Post  Naitachel on Tue Mar 20, 2012 10:06 pm

Naitachel handed the last bit of cheese away, watching the last rat scamper off with a soft sigh, and tucked the scrap of clothing back into his pocket. It was the best he could do. With luck one of them might find her scent, knowing how far and deep they traversed the city, but there was no guarantee. The attempt was worth divesting the house of cheese, though.

"Cinderella lives," Matty muttered as he tried again to triangulate Soraya’s cell phone to no avail.

The Seraph returned inside in time to catch Matty's murmur, and nodded. "That is something, at least..."

"Did they find anything?" Brianna's pathetic voice asked Naitachel. The girl looked completely lost as she stood there, watching the seraph, arms hanging limply by her side.

"None have returned yet. The last has just left..." Nait admitted quietly, settling on his stool glumly. "I know not what else to try. The city is far too populated to search with empathy..." He slumped dispiritedly. "I wish there was more I might do..."

Brianna nodded somberly and covered her eyes with her hands, trying hard not to dissolve into hysterical sobs again. "She's okay, though, right?" she asked him, needing some form of reassurance.

"Of course she is," Matty muttered. Whatever was blocking the cell phone reception was also keeping anyone from reading her. Not even Radu could seem to find her.

Naitachel glanced at Matty, and simply twined his hands together in his lap. He had no answer he could give the child. He had no answers at all, and felt utterly helpless.

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Post  Naitachel on Tue Mar 20, 2012 10:07 pm

A weak moan escaped Soraya, sounding foreign even in her own ears. Her head hurt, her mouth was dry, her arms ached... where was she? She moaned louder as she forced her eyes open, trying to orient herself. "Cold," she managed to croak out. She tried to move her legs, her arms, tried to make herself more comfortable so she could figure out what was going on. It took her some time to realize she couldn't actually move them. She was tied up, feet touching the floor, but arms bound above her head, hanging in a cold COLD dark room.

A voice that was clearly electronically altered rebounded throughout the room via powerful speakers. "Good. You are awake."

Soraya winced and tried to move away from the voice, though her movements remained restricted. Her mind worked frantically to work out where she was, what was going on. The last thing she remembered was getting to the funeral's reception, holding Vlad's hand. There were people there, faces... faces. One in particular seemed to want to come to mind, but her thoughts remained too fuzzy to bring it back clearly. "Who are you?" she croaked again through chapped lips.

"If you are cold, there is a pile of wood four feet to your left. It is inside a burner, so you won't set this place on fire. Not that you could," the voice intoned.

Soraya frowned at that suggestion. Though she desperately wanted to follow that instruction, alarms were going off in her head, warning her that it was some sort of trap. "Thirsty," she answered instead, trying to find the strength in her legs to support her weight rather than hanging by the arms.

"You will be given something to quench your thirst once the room is made warm," the voice answered.

Soraya's memories were slowly starting to return. She had seen Emmett there, at the reception. That was someone... but would he demand she set fire to something? No. How could he know? "What do you want?" she asked stalling for time by playing the disoriented card. It wasn't all that far from the truth, though she was trying to hold on to whatever slight advantage she might have by appearing less coherent than she was.

"You have ten minutes to decide, and then the grate closes and the option to be warm will be gone," the voice announced.

Soraya frowned and began struggling against her bonds, groaning in frustration. "Let me go. I do not understand what you are asking," she said. She was starting to lose feeling in her fingers from the cold, and she was shivering.

"You have eight minutes," the voice answered back.

"Eight minutes to what?" Soraya yelled, finally finding some measure of strength behind her voice. She kicked out her feet in frustration, pulling down against the chains. "Let me go!"

"I said, let me go!" Soraya growled, still pulling at her bonds, though they threatened to dislocate her shoulder. They had apparently decided to move on to the silent treatment. Her shivering was getting worse, her fingers ached, her ears tingled and her teeth were beginning to chatter audibly.

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Post  Naitachel on Tue Mar 20, 2012 10:13 pm

Tommen paced the living room restlessly, hating the fact that it was daylight out. They should be out, searching, but instead they were stuck here, forced into hiding by sunlight. He glanced at his brother in a silent question about how their father was handling all of this, to which Michael simply shook his head. He didn't really know either.

Brianna slowly advanced toward Naitachel, grabbing helplessly to his shirt, unsure of herself. "Why would anyone take her?" she asked him, with wide blue eyes. "They can't hurt her... she's not like us, she doesn't..." she choked.

Naitachel hugged Brianna, still having no answers he could give her that were not likely to add to her fears. He knew too much already. <They warned me of possible consequences,> he sighed to Mircea, feeling guilty. <This is my fault. I should have guessed they awaited merely a reply before striking again.> The doorbell rang, informing everyone they had yet another visitor. Rising, the Seraph set the child aside, and moved to grasp crutches as he headed for the door. "Who is it?"

Tommen rose at the sound of the bell as well, frowning. Brianna remained attached to Naitachel's clothing, though he had set her aside.

Jaden, the young Indian man they'd recently hired, entered and announced, "I'm sorry to interrupt, sir. There is an Adam Archer and an Admiral Jack Taggert here to see, you. I didn't want to use the intercom, sir, in case they overheard you tell me to kick them out," he confided in a whisper.

Brianna peered at Jaden from behind Naitachel. "The bad men?" she asked. Tommen and Michael both bristled at the news, though they thought it a rather bad idea to simply throw them out. Silently, they warned Vlad, Radu, and Mircea of this news.

Naitachel glanced at Brianna, and touched her shoulder lightly. "Perhaps you had best go with Matty into another room," he suggested. "And ask your father or Mircea if he is free to join us." <We do not wish to reveal anything to them, child.>

"But..." Brianna began to protest before Michael collected her and pushed her gently. "Go on. Do as Nait says," he told her, knowing she needed a task.

Mircea came into the foyer, where the men waited. "Please, come into the sitting room. Jaden, take the children to Aurora and ask her to go over their studies with them."

Naitachel glanced at them and shook his head slowly. <Do you wish to reveal everything to them? Your anger and grief? The more of us present, the more likely something will slip. They wish to see us suffer, regardless, so why indulge them?>

The girl glanced at Naitachel again, then slowly released his clothes to go find Vlad, as requested. Matty bristled at being referred to as one of the 'children' but said nothing. He moved out, glaring at his uncle as he passed him, and dutifully being handed off to the nanny.

<I'm staying,> Tommen insisted. <I'll stay quiet, I won't interfere, but I'm staying.> The look on his face said there would be no changing his mind in this.

<I assumed so. I don't recall sending you to the nanny before,> Mircea deadpanned. <And Michael is near enough. He could stay as well.>

Naitachel clicked over to his stool and sat carefully, shaking out his usual beige coat a bit to keep his differences covered. If just for formality's sake. <You and Michael best stay where they cannot see you so easily. As I said, they wish to see our reactions, so why make it easy for them?>

Tommen sat in a nearby chair, whereas Michael perched himself on a nearby windowsill, consciously working to look at ease.

Archer and Taggert moved into the room, both frowning. "I am assuming you were attempting to send us a message?" Archer began without preamble. "My association with the Admiral was taken into account, right?" Archer continued before a slight wave of Taggert's hand silenced him.

<I hate to ask this,> Michael said, <given that I know the situation, but... are we 100% sure they're the ones that did this?>

<No, we are not. But they gave a threat already, and I have no doubt they watch for every nuance they can. They wish to see our reaction to Radu's death, to this new threat... and possibly Soraya's disappearance, which they may or may not know of.> Nait set his crutches aside. "Message?" he repeated.

"DON'T PLAY STUPID," Archer roared before Taggert silenced him again.

"Ashley. Where is she?" Taggert asked them, speaking for the first time.

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Post  Naitachel on Tue Mar 20, 2012 10:14 pm

Brianna didn't bother knocking as she walked into the study where Vlad and Radu had holed up. "Daddy?" she called in a weak voice.

Vlad held out his arms to her, looking to his uncle for guidance.

"We will find her," Radu told them both solemnly.

Brianna dashed into her father's arms. "I'm scared," she admitted.

Brianna remained with Vlad now clutching to him. "The bad men are here," she said, remembering the task with which she had been charged.

Vlad frowned. "What do you mean, 'bad men'?"

"That, erm, Archery guy and the Tiger guy," she answered Vlad.

<They are being dealt with,> Radu assured him after checking in with his brother.

Vlad rose swiftly at that. "Uncle should have summoned me," he insisted. "They could be ..."

Radu shook his head. "You are needed more here, doing what you were doing, nephew," he assured him. "You need to focus and find her."

"Can I help?" Brianna asked, sniffling.

"Yes, dearest. Just close your eyes, take a deep breath and focus on mommy. Try to feel where she is," Radu answered. Brianna nodded and, without moving from where she was, did as Radu had instructed, frowning in concentration and effort as she did so.

"I can't find her. I can't find her, I can't find her," Brianna squeaked out pathetically after several long moments more of searching. "Mommy!" she called aloud, broken-hearted.

"It's all right," Vlad assured her, drawing his daughter to him. "We'll find her."

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Post  Naitachel on Tue Mar 20, 2012 10:18 pm

Michael's eyebrow arched, though he remained unmoving, but Tommen managed to remained stoic, leaving it to Naitachel to determine how truthfully they were speaking.

Naitachel frowned, confused. "Ashley? You are missing someone?" he asked. "When did this occur?" He tried to figure out what their emotions were betraying... <Do you know of an "Ashley"?> he asked Mircea.

<Ashley Taggert. Age 19. Only child of Admiral Jack Taggert,> Mircea answered.

"Threatening her does not strengthen your position," Jack warned quietly.

"She was taken during the reception at some point," Archer told them.

Nait glanced at Mircea with surprise and alarm. <A child?> "We happen to be missing someone as well. I should ask you much the same question." He shook his head firmly. "We do not kidnap people, Admiral. Our strikes are far more open, you could say."

Taggert looked at Naitachel as if trying to determine whether or not he was telling the truth. "Who are you missing?"

"Soraya," Nait admitted quietly. "Taken straight from the reception." His eyes narrowed thoughtfully. "Admiral, perhaps if you tell us what you know of Ashley's disappearance?"

Tommen growled and rose at that admission, making his presence and frustration known. If they were telling the truth, that meant they had no real leads as to who had their mother.

Nait glanced at Tommen warningly. <We may have a mutual enemy... or, if they are behind this, an exchange.>

"She was talking on her cell phone and stepped out onto the patio so that she could hear better." Taggert sighed. "We waited inside... she hates to have other people listen to her calls."

"Do you know anything of Soraya's disappearance?" Nait asked firmly. "If only to clear that point before we move forward, Admiral."

"I know that I'm not sure if you're making it up to distract us or not," he countered quite honestly. "I hope not..."

Naitachel huffed, and twined his hands together. "She vanished on the patio as well. Possibly at the same time. Admiral, have you known of any suspicious activity, anything that we might help you search with? If we are seeking one, we may as well seek two."

"The only movement in our field of any note has been at your lab, Mister Prince," Taggert answered.

"Do you mean recent events," Nait asked, confused, referring to the recent "accident", "or has something been seen of note within the last day?"

"The whisper of the latest cancer breakthroughs have reached us," Taggert admitted.

The Seraph waved that aside. If that news escaped, it was the least of their concern. "Beyond that?"

"Beyond that, it's obvious we've noted the lab incident. That is why we're here."

"So you're saying we have no leads to go on," Michael said dryly.

Naitachel shook his head, and eyed his hands, thinking hard. "As I said, we would not kidnap. I do not believe in coincidence, however... Have you anything with her scent, perhaps?" he asked.

"Her scent?" Archer exploded. "What are you implying, Prince?"

"I may have her sweater in my car," Taggert replied, though he seemed distressed at the thought.

"Have you ever seen bloodhounds work, Mister Archer? Then trust me when I assure you there are others with keen senses." Nait thought a moment, and added, "Have you learned anything of her cell phone? Surely you might access the recent messages?"

"There was nothing notable there," Archer answered. "However, we should have been able to locate her by her the internal GPS."

"Yes, conventional means are not working... Have you any enemies capable of such technology, Admiral?" The phone in the sitting room rang. He froze, and glanced at Mircea, then the phone. No, that was not likely a good sign.

"Several," Taggert answered honestly.

Mircea called Matty quickly back into the room, then, once his nephew indicated he was ready, answered the phone.

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Post  Naitachel on Tue Mar 20, 2012 10:20 pm

"You have five minutes to warm the room," the voice spoke.

“I do not understand!" Soraya insisted desperately. "What happens after my countdown is up if I am unable to do what you ask?" she asked, forcing herself to calm down and inspect the room more closely for something she could use. Anything.

"You have three minutes to make the room warm by igniting the logs four feet to your left. If you fail to do so in that time the grating will close and you will remain cold," the voice answered.

The pitch black room around her offered nothing she could sense anywhere near her. She had only the voices assurance that there was indeed logs 4 feet to her left. She couldn't see them even if they'd been right in front of her face.

Soraya was, admittedly, starting to panic. Her shivering had grown more violent, and yet, she couldn't bring herself to comply. Something told her she would find herself in a much worse situation if she did. "How do you expect me to ignite the logs without matches or my hands?" she asked the voice defiantly.

"You have one minute to warm the room. Failure to do so will result in your own loss of life to exposure," the voice droned unsympathetically.

"I cannot do it without matches and my hands free!" Soraya insisted again, beginning to pull against her bonds with more force.

"Thirty seconds," the voice said.

Soraya cried out in frustration, as she allowed her legs to go limp under her. "I do not know what you want me to do," she said pitifully. She was shivering violently at this point.

"Twenty seconds," the voice answered.

"Let me go!" Soraya croaked, ignoring the voice trying to use her weight on the chains to dislodge them.

Soraya wound her hands around the chains as best she could to spare her shoulders as she slumped heavily against them, then jerked at them. They had to give, didn't they?

"Please," Soraya begged. "Please."

"Five seconds," the voice warned.

Where were her family? Surely they were on their way. Surely... and yet, the fact that reaching out to them mentally only ran her against some sort of wall made her hope and conviction waver. <Vlad, where are you?> she called uselessly. Only silence answered her. Soraya remained slumped over as she was, unmoving except for the shivering that still wracked her body.

Last edited by Naitachel on Sun Sep 30, 2012 6:08 pm; edited 1 time in total

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Post  Naitachel on Tue Mar 20, 2012 10:24 pm

"Can I speak to Mrs. Prince, please," a familiar male voice on the other end of the line asked.

Nait arched a brow at Mircea in silent question. "May I ask who is calling, please?" Mircea asked. Tommen and Michael both tensed at this, hoping for some clue.

"This is Emmett, sir," the caller replied. "From her study group."

<The young man from her study group,> Mircea answered. "I'm sorry, but Soraya is unavailable," Mircea replied coldly.

"Look, I know she's upset with me, but this is important. Please. It's for our class," Emmitt begged.

<Yes, he said as much,> Nait returned with a wry smile. <Perhaps he has a message?> One could hope it was a lead.

<Could he be doing this to throw us off?> Tom suggested, to which Michael rejoined, <Maybe, but then why take Taggert's daughter, too?>

<He's a punk with a severe case of overactive hormones,> Mircea replied. <He wouldn't be able to pull this off.> Aloud he said, "I'll take the message."

<But he has been intent on her, so perhaps he noticed something?> Nait wondered.

"Mr. Sherman has moved up the final again," Emmett told him. "Since she wasn't here and I didn't have anyone else decide to work with me, she's my partner. I'll be over at 4 to work on it with her."

The Seraph sighed and shook his head. So much for that hope. "Perhaps if you might get that sweater, Admiral," he murmured quietly, so as not to be overheard by Emmett on the phone.

Taggert nodded to Archer, who stood and headed out to fetch it.

Standing, Naitachel took his crutches and turned towards the kitchen, which he knew would be empty at the time. <I might try calling Lalika--she would be able to find out if the girl is dead.> "If you might excuse me. I have a call I should try first. Ashley Taggert, correct?”

"Ashley Marie Taggert Swanson," the Admiral corrected.

The Seraph whipped out his cell phone, and dialed... 0-000-000-0000... of all things... only for Lalika to pick up. "Hello?" she answered, voice oddly fuzzy with static.

"Lalika..." Nait greeted warmly.

Michael and Tommen remained sitting in the family room, staring down Taggert.

"Oh, Hi Uncle Nait! What can I do for you?" Lalika asked cheerfully.

"I need you to check on someone for me...?" Nait asked cautiously. "If... she..."

"Crossed over?" Lalika supplied gently, a sadness to her voice. "I can check. Who is it?"

"Ashley Marie Taggert Swanson," Nait said. "And Soraya as well, she.... vanished."

"Oh... Oh my! Uncle Vlad must be distraught! Okay--one minute, Uncle Nait..."

A minute passed by, silence on the line... Naitachel fidgeted uneasily.

"I'm back!" Lalika's cheerful voice returned. "Nope! Neither crossed, Uncle Nait. You're looking for both, then?"

The Seraph sighed in relief. "Yes, I am... And thank you, Lalika."

"Well... you can always cheat, you know," Lalika giggled. "Anyway, I have to go. Bye Uncle Nait!"

Naitachel hung up, smiling in relief, and returned from the kitchen, crutches clicking. He stopped to look at Taggert, then Mircea, Tommen, and Michael... Making a decision, Nait sighed. He didn't want to reveal this skill, but what choice had they? <I shall require a map, Mircea... A big and detailed one.>

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Post  Naitachel on Tue Mar 20, 2012 10:25 pm

"Four..." the voice intoned.

"I do not know what you want!" Soraya insisted. She was frozen, her body ached from the violent shivering, not to mention the persistent dryness in her throat and throbbing in her head, but she feared what would happen if she gave in.

"Ignite the logs and warm the room," the voice directed once again.

"Without matches?" Soraya persisted through her chattering teeth.

"Thirty seconds. Comply or freeze," the voice warned.

Thirty seconds? Did he just change the time allowance? Soraya thought so, but her brain was working sluggishly, thoughts coming slowly, and she couldn't be sure. She shuffled her feet under her, hoping to warm the toes of one foot by rubbing them against the opposite leg, though she refused to answer the voice now.

"Twenty seconds," the voice counted down. "Your roommate would no doubt prefer you to comply," the voice suggested as a single light appeared in the darkness just over the head of a young and terrified looking girl. She was bound just as Soraya was, though her mouth was also gagged and then covered with duct tape.

Soraya let out a frustrated groan as she shifted to the other foot, trying to ignore the threat in the counting. Even in the dark, she thought perhaps she could see the wisps of white as she breathed.

"Ten seconds," the voice growled.

The sight of the girl in front of her gave Soraya pause. "You bastard!" she cried out. "You would involve someone else, someone..." She frowned again, trying to force the thoughts to come. Could this girl be in on it? She was no Naitachel, but she should be able to feel if the girl's fear was genuine.

Tears streamed down the girl’s face as she struggled weakly with her bonds. She couldn't see Soraya across the room. That one carefully aimed dim light illuminated her and only her in the freezing room.

Well, from what she could tell, the girl was being genuine. But wouldn't she be risking them both by complying? Taking away whatever use they had for Soraya? Whatever use they had for her, whoever she was?

"Go screw yourself," she told the voice, though it was clear in her tone of voice she was wavering, and the insult was only half-hearted.

"Five... four... three..." the voice continued.

"Two... one..." the voice went on ominously.

With a defeated sob, Soraya pulled on the chains, knowing it was futile. Anger rose in her at this, at how they used someone innocent against her, at what they were doing to her, at how they had taken her. They would pay. Yes. But for now, it seemed she was cornered, and much as she hated to do it, the redhead slumped against her chains, finally as a small spark kindled to her left.

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Post  Naitachel on Tue Mar 20, 2012 10:31 pm

Mircea went to a small drawer on the desk and withdrew a fairly detailed map of the state and offered it to his brother in law.

Clicking over to towards the dining room, the Seraph set it on the table, then set his crutches aside. He unfolded the map carefully, shaking it out. Looking it over, he took a deep breath. "Heavens... I can but hope they are in the same place, or this may be more difficult than I would like."

Adam Archer came back in with a dainty looking sweater in his hand.

Closing his eyes, Naitachel held out a hand over the map, and concentrated, clearing his mind of all else but Soraya as he knew her, and this young daughter of the Admiral... Feeling for a tug, a pull, the warmth like in a game of blind-man's-bluff, as he moved it over the map slowly. It was like trying to pick out a distant bird's song...

"They're doing something," Brianna noted to Radu and Vlad from her position in Vlad’s lap as she wiped her eyes with her sleeve... "Should we go see?"

Vlad nodded, clearing his throat and lifting her onto his hip as he made for the door. Radu remained there where he was, as always since his "death", trying to get some sense of where she might be.

Sensing whatever was happening was important, Brianna managed to remain quiet as they emerged into the family room. Maybe Uncle Nait would be able to find her after all.

The Seraph frowned, straining for that feeling, that pulling in the right direction. He did notice a few other things that chilled his hand a bit. Not a good sign, really, but not what he was looking for at this time. One was so icy he yanked his hand away from it, though he continued around that...

Naitachel circled his hand, then took a finger--and jabbed it down. "There," he stated firmly, even as he opened his eyes. "They are somewhere there. Have we anything more detailed of that area? Admiral, do you know of any facilities in that area--places that might dislike you, and desire one of us in their hands?"

"We've enemies everywhere," Taggert answered. "We're a military lab, after all." Leveling his gaze at Nait he added, "And more than a few of them know how... different... your family is."

Swiftly, the Seraph sent Radu a mental image of what his finger landed on at the map, to inform him of what he'd found. <At least they live...>

Vlad was there at Nait's side quickly, staring over his shoulder.

Naitachel arched a brow at Taggert wryly. "And in this specific city? Port Chester, it seems to be called? Surely they have not their bases everywhere. I would prefer not to have to canvass an entire city, thank you, when specific locations would make that easier."

"I don't know of anything there," Taggert frowned. "Archer?" he asked his counterpart.

"No, sir," he answered.

Sighing quietly, Naitachel looked back at the map... then glanced over at Mircea. <I suppose then I need another. Might Matty find such on the internet? The more specific our hunt, the better... and faster.>

<Already looking,> Matty answered flatly.

<Thank you, Matty,> Nait returned. He nudged a chair with a foot and sat down on the corner, rubbing his hand. There had been something out there fit to set terror in him. His hand still tingled at the memory of that cold. "At least both still live," he consoled all. "With that, we have hope."

Tommen had clasped a hand on Vlad's shoulder and was peering over his shoulder at the map, trying to puzzle out what on earth was in Port Chester. <How you holding up?> Tom asked his father as he peered at the map.

<I'm not sure,> Vlad answered, sounding drained.

<She'll be okay,> Tommen said encouragingly, trying to be the strong one in a situation he knew must be wreaking hell on his father.

<Of course she will,> Vlad answered, trying hard to be just as strong.

<Three possible places,> Matty told them after a moment. <One's right at the harbor. Large privately owned area...>

<If you print out those three, perhaps I might narrow it down further?> Nait suggested.

<Printing it now,> Matty answered. <The other two are off the coast on private islands.>

Nait arched an eyebrow at Taggert and stated with a mischievous smile, "My help in this is inadmissible in court, I was told."

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Post  Naitachel on Tue Mar 20, 2012 10:32 pm

The light over the other girl shone again. Her head lolled to the side and she was visibly shaking.

"Hang in there," Soraya managed to croak at the girl, her own voice tense and shivering. "We are getting out of here. And they will pay."

"It seems your fire is inadequate," the voice said.

The redhead growled in frustration at the voice. "I did what you wanted! Fire takes time to kindle properly. I cannot help that!" she argued.

"Pity," the voice said dully, as the grate began to close between Soraya and the fire.

Soraya let out a moan that was a mixture of pain and anger as the fire beside her grew in size. She couldn't in good conscience submit this girl to whatever torture they had intended for her, angry as it made her.

The grate opened back up as the fire grew in intensity and size. "Very good," the voice congratulated her. "If Ashley stops shaking in the next five minutes, we will leave the grate open. Provided it is not because she has expired."

"Ashley," Soraya spoke up hoarsely, clutching to the girl's name as a reason to stay aware, coherent. "Ashley, look at me."

The girl's head shifted slightly as if she were trying to comply, but she couldn't seem to focus. She still shook visibly as she stared into the darkness where the gentle voice came from.

"Ashley," Soraya called more forcefully, trying to will her back. She knew that building the fire too large may warm the poor girl up TOO quickly, which was no good either. "I need you to look at me. To listen. To take as much control of yourself as you can," she said, forcing herself to do the same against the fog that nipped at the edges of her mind.

"It seems you have failed," the voice announced. The grate began to close again. "What a shame. There were such high hopes for you."

"It will kill her if I warm her up too quickly!" Soraya said, resuming the pulling on her chains.

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Post  Soraya on Tue Mar 20, 2012 10:48 pm

Soraya sobbed loudly. "Please... please, she will die if you do not let the fire do its work slowly."

"You have one minute," the voice answered mercilessly. "Warm the room and the grate remains open. Fail and it closes."

"The fire is started, the room is warming. There is nothing more I can do without setting the girl herself on fire," Soraya protested, pleading with her silently to come back to her, as it seemed both of their lives depended on it.

"What a shame," the voice answered without a hint of pity.


Naitachel set his crutches aside and stretched a bit (not wings or tail, though), as they tended to put him in a less than comfortable posture. He glanced towards Matty and sighed. <I suppose it best I "cheat" yet again in determining our target... We must find them, and soon, if they are in hands of yet another military group. What was done to Radu was bad enough--we cannot chance further.> "When we find where to go, I intend to go myself." He glanced back to Mircea and Vlad, almost apologetic, as he knew they couldn't dare the daylight.

"We'll all go," Taggert announced. "Mister Prince, you can ride with me. I'm sure you want to find your wife as much as I want to find my daughter. I've got room for five more, if you need it."

<We can take our cars, no?> Tommen suggested. <At least we'll be on site when the sun goes down?>

<Do you think you might resist the temptation of emerging into daylight if she is in pain?> Nait asked Vlad worriedly. <Though Tommen has a point.>

"We'll take our cars," Vlad replied aloud to them all.

"I wanna go," Brianna said as Michael and Tommen rose to go.

"Probably best you stay here, kiddo," Michael said, glancing at Naitachel for support.

"You'll stay here," Vlad told her. "I need someone in case whoever took her calls. I need someone to have our backs here."

Naitachel looked to the child and shook his head gently. <There will be fighting, little one. And I wish for someone to stay with Radu.> "Brianna... I do not think Soraya would approve. I am sorry." <He is vulnerable if we all depart.>

"But...." Brianna began protesting. <Uncle Radu doesn't need looking after. He's fine.>

<Not if strangers come and look for evidence of his passing while we are gone,> Nait answered ruefully. He didn't trust Taggert as far as he could throw the man.


"You need to pull yourself together," Soraya told the girl, pleading. "Any faster warming up and I will kill us both," she said, consciously trying to stop her shivering as well.

The girl moaned softly, a pathetic sound that barely carried across the room.

Frustrated, Soraya relented only a little, increasing the fire nearest her slightly. Though she knew the fire hadn't increased so much, she could feel its heat on her skin. Too much, and yet not enough in her shivering, broken state. As the heat increased, her body slowly became more and more limp, until she hung, slack, on the chains that bound her.

"Good." The voice smiled. "But it seems you have chosen yourself over her. Very well." The grate nearest the girl began to close.

The girl was so cold by then she'd lost even the ability to shiver.

Soraya remained unmoving despite the voice's prods. Anyone who knew medicine would know that though outwardly she was warming up, her vital organs likely remained hypothermic.

The grate nearest the girl closed with a resounding thud and the light above her went out. A loud grinding sound filled the room as a thick wall of the same metal the rest of the room seemed made of began to slowly close off the space between them.


<He's fine,> Brianna insisted. <Mommy isn't.> It was clear in her voice that she was desperate to go, desperate for word on her mother rather than staying here. Her protests had turned into wide-eyed whimpers. "I wanna go!"

<Please, child,> Radu called to his niece. <I know you wish to be with them, but there are dangers I cannot face alone.>

Matty hurried down the stairs, balancing two laptops, a tablet and a cell phone in his arms. "I'm ready," he told them.

Clearly not believing their story, knowing that it was simply done to keep her out of the way and that there was, essentially, nothing she would actually be able to do should someone actually try anything, Brianna merely made her way to her nearest corner and slid to the floor there, curling up into fetal position as she glared at the others angrily.

Naitachel sent Brianna an apologetic look and turned to Matty, and winced slightly. He didn't dare try his method of divining over a laptop screen... "Where are we headed, then? Do you know?" he asked the teenage vampire.

"I've narrowed it down to three places, but I'm pretty sure this one's the most likely." Matty indicated the printouts he'd prepared for each of them, clutched in his hand. "We're a good hour and a half away if traffics good." He blew his hair back from his eyes in frustration. Nobody was honestly foolish enough to expect traffic to be anything but miserably slow and backed up at this hour.

Naitachel took the printouts offered, and set them on the nearest table, taking a deep breath before closing his eyes and trying to feel again which was most likely... "I can get there faster," he stated determinedly. "We needs must move swiftly, I am certain."


Soraya knew that using her powers to warm the girl would kill her just as quickly, if not more so than if she abstained, and therefore remained as she was, appearing unconscious to the world. It was the only option she felt she had, that perhaps they would warm her up out of some small mercy once she was out of sight. It was all she could think of as she herself began to feel the real strain of fatigue overtake her again. It wouldn't be long before she herself was unconscious again.

The sound of the voice's cruel laughter filled the room. "Test one: failed." The grate beside her closed just as the wall clicked into place, leaving her in darkness as the temperature began to rapidly fall again.

The redhead barely had time to hope that she had done the right thing before unconsciousness found her.


A slender finger stabbed one page. "There." Nait opened his eyes, and frowned at it.

“So let's go, then," Michael said, peering over Naitachel's shoulder.

"I may take my bike--it is easier through such traffic," Nait told Michael, before looking to Matty. "If you might guide me through my phone? If I might arrive ahead, perhaps I might see the situation and pass word back."

"Archer, call in backup," Taggert ordered on his way out the door.

"Done," Matty agreed, taking his armloads out to the car in his brother's wake.

Tom and Michael wasted no time following after, glancing back to see if Min or Mircea were following.

Nodding, Nait went to his bike, kick started it and set his crutches in their side-sling on the vehicle, set his phone on the Bluetooth attachment, and pulled on his helmet... then gunned it out of the garage.

Min and Mircea both hurried, each tucking weapons into their pockets.


What must have been a few hours later, Soraya groaned and struggled to open her eyes, trying to remember why it was that she was so uncomfortable, and what was so wrong about this situation.

The grate was closed but the room was warm, though still completely dark. Her ankles were chained with that same hateful metal to the floor, allowing her to move only about three feet in any direction, but her arms, though still cuffed together, were no longer above her head. She lay upon the hard floor, surrounded by silence.

Soraya sat up, struggling to remember what had happened. Where was she? "Vlad?" she called weakly.

There was no answer, not even an echo. It was as if the sound simply failed to carry beyond her.

Soraya rubbed at her temples and drew her knees up to her chest when a flood of memories hit her. Curses. Had she remembered, not been so disoriented, she could have continued to act unconscious. Well, at least it seemed she had survived. Which mean the girl probably had as well, no? Now, however, she had to figure out what this new situation entailed, though it was slowly becoming apparent; they expected her to start a fire to illuminate her surroundings.

"Once my family arrives, you will have but moments to live. Just long enough to see your doom as it descends upon you," she said to whoever was listening, for she had no doubts someone was. Then, rather than allow herself to panic, though it nipped at her heels, she lay back down and tried to allow sleep to find her again.

"Once your family arrives, we will move on to the next phase," the voice replied calmly. "They have disappointed us in their tardiness."

Soraya didn't visibly respond, though she shivered at the voice's words.... Next phase? It was a trap. She was bait. That filled her with more dread than she could admit. Silently, she sent out a plea, <Stay away. It is a trap! Please, stay away.>

The words became her mantra, though she knew it was useless as she remained unmoving on the floor.

"You could try to escape. To warn them off." the voice suggested. "it would be futile, of course. But you could try."

"You have already cost one life. Will you cost them theirs as well without even trying to warn them away?" the voice asked blandly.

Soraya gritted her teeth, refusing to be riled. The girl was alright. She had to be. She also knew that reacting was likely just what they were looking for, and given their careful preparations, something told her they weren't joking when they said it was futile to try to escape.


On the roads, Naitachel darted gracefully between cars and through traffic, using his empathy and telepathy to catch sudden moves before they could be a danger as he wove his way towards the warehouse Matty had identified. "Matty... the next turn?" he asked, seeking additional direction.

"Right ahead, then on for twenty one miles to the Beacon exit," Matty answered.

"Got it," Nait acknowledged, swinging around the turn and whipping between lanes to get around other motorists. Then he gunned it down the highway.

"She'll be fine," Michael echoed Tommen's earlier sentiment, though he sounded less sure as their own car sped down the highway. "And by the time we get there, it'll be dark out. We'll make quick work of that place."

"Of course," Vlad answered again, sounding hollow and distant.

Naitachel cut the motor as he drew closer to the destination, and stopped to park a few blocks away. <I am here,> he told the others, tucking his crutches under his coat this time, instead looking about and taking to a roof to carefully get a glimpse of what lay ahead.

The warehouse lay large and mostly empty. The sounds of vermin scurrying across the dusty floor carried through the great expanse, echoing throughout the building.

Gracefully, Naitachel bounded as silently as he dared to the shadow of a nearby building, then hummed to draw a rat to him. Kneeling, eh sought to ask it what it knew of the place...

The animal spoke of being displaced for a long time as workers and builders came. He spoke of loading docks and crates and ships and sailing across vast seas.

But of that one building, Naitachel insisted...

The animal repeated his late, as if that should have answered all questions.

<Anyone there now?> the seraph asked. <Anything edible within it?>

The animal told of his great family, scrounging for bits left by workers now gone.

<Have you found this scent?> the angel asked, passing on what Soraya's was like.


"Do you suppose the great and terrible tyrant Admiral will forgive you for allowing his daughter to die so easily? Or will he blame you and your family for it?" the voice taunted.

The redhead covered her ears with her arms, trying to block out its words. "Then you will be the one to blame, not me," she muttered half-heartedly.

"My guess is, there will be no mercy for you and yours from this day forward. She was his only child, after all," the voice continued, ignoring her response. "You could have saved her. You chose yourself instead."

"The task was rigged," Soraya answered angrily. "Had the fire been larger, her skin would have warmed quickly, but her inner temperature would have remained frozen. Blood would have rushed away from her vital organs and she would have died either way. You are still the ones who caused this to happen, not me or mine." She realized she was rising to the bait and forced her body temperature to remain as it was, to regain control of her breathing and herself, as she settled back into her would-be slumber.

"Had you chosen her, warming fluids would have pumped through her veins as they did through yours, when your arms were bound upwards and the IV's were in place. You had only to choose her to save both of you." The mechanized voice said all of this without inflection, "You failed her."

"You lie," Soraya responded through gritted teeth. He had to be lying. Had to be.

The voice did not respond. It had said all it felt needed saying and now left Soraya there alone in the absolute pitch black silence.

Soraya fell silent in kind, willing sleep to take her so as to relieve her of her worry, guilt, and fear.

The temperature of the room began to fall, as if whomever was in control felt the need to taunt her further.


The tiny animal sniffed then squeaked. That parcel was in by workers. It was not carried out, but neither was it here.

<How and where did it enter?> Nait asked the rat to show him.

<Anything?> Tommen asked Naitachel, looking as somber as ever.

It came through the loading bay as all other parcels do, the animal answered, seemingly losing interest as the hope of food in exchange for talk seemed to be fading.

Naitachel touched the small creature on the head with a finger, thanking it and giving it his blessing.

Matty worked feverishly over his keyboards as the car jerked and bounced from one lane to the next, still far too distant from their destination.

Cautiously, Naitachel set his back to the wall, and lowered mental and emotional shields, looking for people... and specifically, Soraya and the girl...

He should have felt something. The vermin in the floors below. Ants. Worms. Something. Instead, there was an absence of sound or sensation beneath them. It was as if there was no earth beneath the warehouse at all. No life of any kind existed as far as he could sense beneath his feet. There were dock workers a good distance away, spitting and swearing and laughing and grumbling and chatting without a worry beyond their next break and the bills to be paid. But no life near him at all.


It wasn't long before the redhead began unconsciously hugging herself and drawing her legs in, trying to keep her warmth in. She wasn't going to react this time. They had, after all, supposedly killed their only bargaining chip against her. What reason did she have to cooperate now?

<Trap. Stay away. Trap,> she recited silently.

Soraya began to perceptively shiver, teeth chattering as well, though still she stubbornly remained on the floor, as she was. "Go to hell," she murmured, tightening her fetal position.

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Post  Soraya on Tue Mar 20, 2012 10:52 pm

<Uncle Nait?> Tommen sought out again, looking for some form of news.

<She is here... somehow... But something is blocking all sensation of life. This is odd...> Nait answered them. Daringly, he darted over to the warehouse, and smiled grimly. If it was a device that did this...? With a hand to the building, he gathered his power, and "pushed" it... enough to short a light bulb nearby.

The cars began to pull in one by one.

<Blocking sensation of life?> Tom asked, arching an eyebrow at his father in a manner so reminiscent of Soraya herself.

The sun was only just sinking beneath the horizon, forcing the vampires to wait those last few moments for the darkness to win out.

<Beneath the place... There should be something,> Nait explained. <Even the earth has life... The Mara can tell you that.>

<So whatever is happening, it is under the warehouse?> Tom answered, anxiously peering at the horizon for the sun to disappear.

Taggert exited his car and ran for the warehouse, followed by Archer. He turned after a few steps, noting the others remaining within their cars. "What are you waiting for?" he demanded.


Radu paced in his library, attending closely to what his own were doing so far outside his reach.

Brianna hadn't moved from her position, still glaring accusingly at the empty room as though that would do her some good.

The sound of things being dropped on the floor, papers rifled through, doors and drawers opening and slamming shut in her uncle's former office, there near the parlor, carried through the hall toward her.

"Try the East wing," a voice ordered. "You take the west. You two, upstairs with me."

<Is that you?> Brianna asked Radu, confused at the sudden noise. Swiftly, however, she was on her feet to meet whoever was making that noise.

Her uncle's office was absolutely trashed. His antique furniture upended and broken, his papers scattered, his books torn up. All was ruined. The culprits were now off to other points in the house.


<Yes.> Naitachel bounded over to meet the others, and shook his head at Taggert. "Not yet, Admiral," he sighed. "But if your men might try securing that place? We need to find the way beneath."

As suddenly as the question was asked, Taggert shook his head. "Nevermind. I forgot you're... er... allergic to sunlight. Correct?" He glanced toward Archer, who looked confused.

"They are?" Archer seemed surprised by that bit of information.

"Hereditary. Whole damned family," Taggert confirmed before turning on his heel and heading swiftly into the warehouse.

Naitachel glanced wistfully back where he'd left his bike, then shook his head and glided after them with his usual grace and long coat trailing behind, crutches still with his vehicle. "Somewhere there must be a means of accessing below..."


Soraya didn't know how long it had been since she had curled herself up defiantly on the floor. The weight of the darkness and its cold pressed in on her, and seconds seemed like hours. Or perhaps hours seemed like seconds. There was no way to tell down here. All she knew was that she was freezing, afraid, and the sensory deprivation was certainly having the intended effect.

Her mind began running away with her, creating sounds and images that couldn't possibly have truly been there. Or could they have been. She dug her nails into her own skin as a means to keep herself rooted to reality, to ensure she was, in fact, still there and breathing. Just to feel something.

The room around Soraya filled with a deafening pulsing sound.

There remained no other input, but that ear shattering BOOM BOOM... BOOM BOOM... BOOM BOOM... reverberated all around.

Soraya covered her ears swiftly, trying to block out the sound. She curled in on herself even more tightly, the sound piercing through her head like an arrow. It took her some time to realize her own voice added to the cacophony, as she screamed. "STOP IT!"


Brianna frowned and called out in warning to Radu, dashing off toward the East Wing, pushing away the fear she felt both for herself and her Uncle.

<Hide, child. Do not let them find you,> Radu warned Bri.

Brianna stopped at Radu's warning, but it was too late. She had nearly made it all the way to the East wing.

"You guys, in there," a man's voice directed, just around the corner from where Brianna had halted. "The rest of you, with me."

The girl dared a peek around the corner, hoping to at least send her Uncle something useful in his own defense. <I think they're looking for you.>

<They seek me, my research, or both. Let them find either if they will. Do not interfere,> Radu agreed. <Let them find whatever they will... except you. >

<But...> Brianna protested, <They could hurt you... they could hurt us. And what if they took Mommy?> Still, she retreated and hid in a nearby closet.

<They won't be allowed to hurt any of us. I promise,> Radu answered. <Just do not come out until I call you. Promise me.>

<I promise,> Brianna answered in a small voice as she shrunk further into the shadows the linen closet provided.


Taggert and his men looked for some sort of hidden trapdoor.

Vlad and his family waited impatiently for the sun to finish going down.

Naitachel glanced about, then closed his eyes, centered his mind, and reached out a hand blindly, silently requesting extra guidance and praying it may be answered... He had stretched his rights in this search a great deal, "cheating" in the human world. Would he be allowed one more "hint"?

The faintest sound answered Naitachel's prayers. They were clearly in the right place, though the entrance was still obscured.

That wasn't quite what Nait was hoping for, but it was something. He strode to where he'd heard the sound, tapping with a foot on the floor, listening with expert and acute hearing for hints of a way below.

Michael and Tommen were proverbially chomping at the bit, watching the sun as it disappeared over the horizon.


The sound, and the air, seemed to leave the room where Soraya lay abruptly.

Now there was no light... no sound... and literally, no air.

It took a few moments for Soraya to register that the sound had stopped. Blessed respite compared to the assault it had been on her ears and throbbing head. It took her a few more moments to realize that it was suddenly much more difficult to breathe. Almost impossible. She gasped loudly as she tried to suck in whatever little precious oxygen she could get, putting her hand up to her throat instinctively. There was no doubt in her mind that they had finally decided they were through with her. She was going to die.

The only thing she could cling to was her family's faces.

The moment she passed out, they entered in fireproof suits and began prepping her for dissection. Time to see what REALLY made her tick.

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Post  Soraya on Tue Mar 20, 2012 10:56 pm

The moment the sun disappeared, Tommen and Michael were both out of the car. "What've you found?" Tom asked Naitachel as he joined him.

"Here!" Naitachel announced, hopping on it a few more times for extra measure. Then he knelt, resting a hand on the panel, trying to find the edges, sense anything from it...

Vlad, Min and Mircea were right there, as well, flanked by Jina and Lisa.

"What did you find?" Taggert asked as he and his men joined them.

It seemed as if there was some sort of void beneath his hand. That same sort of void that blocked them from reading Soraya or Ashley was now preventing him from knowing what was beneath them. Yet that, in itself, told them what was there.

Grimacing, Naitachel gathered some of his energy, and flared it through the panel, hoping to disable the mechanism and unlock the trap door. Of course, he forgot he was kneeling right on top of it. "This is the way in... somehow..."

"Stand aside," Taggert ordered.

"You stand aside," Mircea growled, nodding to his kin. Together, they sought handholds and pulled, hoping Naitachel had managed to short out any locks.

The Seraph scrambled to move aside, straightening to his feet. He curled his tail around his ankles. <Mircea... did you bring Radu's Mara-made blade?>

<He insisted,> Mircea confirmed.

However, their efforts were for naught, as the lock did indeed short out, the panel slid to the side and the entire group fell... and fell... and fell....

Naitachel yelped, spreading wings and tail instinctively, and dove to grasp the nearest human, then another, knowing this fall could kill them, and making what effort he could in the close confines to slow their descent to something safer.


Brianna remained crouched in the back of the closet, waiting for the men to leave, or to try something that would require action... something.

The sound of breaking furniture, shouting and weapons discharging, followed by painful, terrified screaming filled the house.

<Uncle!> Brianna called, frightened. Blindly, she dashed out of the closet, fangs bared and ready to come to his aid.


Was this heaven? If it was, then why were her lungs burning so? Then again, who guaranteed that she had gone to heaven rather than... The redhead groaned unintentionally, which startled even her.

"Alive," she whispered, struggling to open her eyes, blinking heavily against the lights.

Soraya was bound to a gurney, her chest and abdomen exposed. A fire proof suit clad group stood around her prepared, it seemed, to perform surgery of some sort. The tools seemed odd for delicate work, however. A saw… a spreader...

When Soraya finally managed to focus her eyes enough to realize what tools were being prepared, her fear returned three-fold. "What are you doing?" she croaked, voice full of panic.

A low laugh seemed emanate from the one she'd addressed. "It's called an autopsy," it answered after a moment.


Whoever Nait had grasped first, he swung to rest against his back, yelling, "Hang on!" He might be able to grab one more... The landing was a bit rough, those in his hands being set down abruptly, yet safely--the one against his back having a softer landing due to his wings.

Tom and Michael both landed on their feet, though the younger Prince hobbled sideways, suggesting he had injured his ankle in the landing. He did what he could to hide this fact from Taggert's men, knowing he wouldn't be able to explain how quickly it healed.

Min didn't bother trying to hide anything at this point. Instead, he landed and proceeded to catch as many of Taggert’s people as he could in an effort to prevent them from damage. Vlad sighed and followed his family's lead, though Mircea refused. If they couldn't tuck and roll let them splat. After all, they were still the ones who'd helped "kill" his brother, and he wasn't going to forget that, even now.

"Where are we?" Tommen asked, looking around and trying to get his bearings. This was particularly difficult given the odd, muffled quality this place had. Particularly involving their extra-sensory abilities.

At his uncle's disapproving look, Min shrugged. "If Nait can't hide, neither should we. We're family," he answered. "Besides, they're here WITH us, remember?"

Tommen caught a few of the men himself, following his kin's lead, glancing sideways at Michael questioningly. Michael simply shook his head, indicating his foot would be fine if given just a few extra moments.

"Let's move out," Mircea spat, refusing to dignify Min's excuse with a reply.

<Shall I carry you?> Jina asked Michael.

Naitachel let go of those he'd grasped and the one on his back slide off, then folded wings closed over his coat. No point hiding them now, when they'd been seen. Looking about, he wondered where they were, and what may lay ahead. "Is everyone well?" he asked quietly. He tried to see if he could sense anything...

<I'll be fine,> Michael answered Jina. <Let's just move.>


Soraya pulled against her binds. "Autopsies are for dead bodies..." She knew she was stating the obvious, that they would hardly care, and yet what else could she do but try to convince them?

The sick laughter returned as the one who'd spoken grabbed the saw and fired it up, enjoying her fear as he slowly brought it closer and closer to her chest...

"VLAD!" Soraya shrieked, turning her head sideways. Where were they? They should have been here by now. She shut her eyes tightly, clenched her fists and gritted her teeth, preparing for the pain.

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Post  Soraya on Tue Mar 20, 2012 11:01 pm

The sound of her scream tore through the tunnels, spurring them all to action. "This way!" Vlad called as they all began moving in unison, paying no heed to the human's trying and failing to keep up with them.

Michael and Tommen fell in step behind the others, glancing at Naitachel as the moved to ensure the seraph remained with them.

<You may wish to draw it. It can cut through steel, after all, like paper--and may hasten our entry,> the Seraph suggested to Mircea as they ran. He kept behind the vampires, knowing he was little use in a fight. For a "cripple", he could move damn fast, loping with the ease of an ostrich.

Mircea drew it as he tore up the hall.

"The door! The door!" one of the fireproof suit clad beings called out to the others. They tried to close it even as their enemies approached.

"Leave it," a voice answered over the intercom into the room.

"But, they'll..." the suit wearer began.

"I said leave it," the voice demanded.

"VLAD!" Soraya called again, struggling against her binds in a panic. "It is a trap!" She didn't know how it was set, or where, but she knew they had to be planning something given their earlier commentary.

Something felt... not right... too easy, too suddenly found... <Be careful!> Nait called ahead.

The vampires entered the arena as the warning reached them.

Naitachel tried to skid to a stop, wings flaring open...

A wall slid between Soraya and the vampires. Another between the vampires and the seraph. One last between the seraph and the soldiers.

"So glad you could all join us," the mechanized voice greeted them. "We were starting to think you'd given up."

"Ah, heavens," Nait groaned, looking around... This was... not good.

"No!" Soraya called as the wall lowered. She tried to kick, to bite those closest to her at the sight of her family captured. What had she been thinking, calling out of them? She should have maintained her warning!

Tom and Michael nearly banged into the wall themselves. Tom even tried to dive under it unsuccessfully to get to his mother before it fell completely.

"I understand there's an issue with sunlight... how serious is it really?" the voice queried.

The voice let all in each "room" hear his question, curious how each would react.

Soraya cried out again at the voice's words. "NO!" The saw that was plugged in nearby suddenly caught fire, sending sparks flying.

Naitachel didn't wait. He moved to the wall between himself and the vampires, and pretended to rest his head against it, as if defeated... hands setting on it lightly... That same damn material. Had he been held here long, himself, it would deplete him to nothing. However, he had energy left yet. And so... he sent a surge through the wall. No, with that kind of announcement--he simply could not wait. One might just hope they thought him oddly just heaven-blessed...

The fire-proof suit clad one holding the saw dropped it, stepping back. The voice laughed. "Self-preservation is a beautiful thing, isn't it?" it asked almost conversationally.

The wall near Naitachel sparked... and slowly released. It didn't slide... the mechanism was fried... but it no longer sealed, either.

Mircea took the Mara blade and slashed at the wall between them and Soraya, smiling grimly as it sliced through the wall like a warm knife through butter.

"Oho... nice toy..." the voice cooed. "I must have one. A trade then... the UV lights stay off... and you relinquish the blade. Deal?"

Naitachel brightened, and immediately set a shoulder to trying to push the damn thing up. Heavens, it was worse than a faulty garage door! <A little help here?> Nait called as he cracked that door up a bit.

Michael moved to help Naitachel, placing his fingers under the bulk of the door and helping the seraph lift it up easily.

The Seraph's muscles were protesting the strain and lack of appropriate leverage. He grinned at Michael in relief. "Mind keeping that one up? I shall see if our helpers have caught up." <Need my aid, Mircea?> he asked. The Mara's blade seemed to be working well, though.

"Self-preservation?" Soraya spat back, emotion moving back toward anger. "LEAVE MY FAMILY ALONE!" she yelled, setting fire to the rest of the nearby tools, before realizing her binds were starting to lose resistance as well, likely due to her own increased body heat.

"Ahh... so then the truth is proven. You truly didn't care for the life of your fellow captive. You would move the heavens for your family... but still watched her die..." the voice sneered. "You are no better than I am after all."

"I was trying to protect her," Soraya answered, though she quickly realized she was merely taking the bait. Instead, she gave one final yank, snapping the binds on her left arm.

"Can you get through?" Tommen asked Mircea, leaning against the wall between themselves and his mother, hoping to find some amount of give there.

In answer to Tommen's question, Mircea slashed again at the wall.

"How many of you are susceptible to sunlight?" the voice asked before the lights slowly began to fade up in the enclosed areas.

Nait called to the voice, "You should ask the maker if you want one--but for that, you should meet him first. I do not recommend that, if you are sane." He hurried back through his "cell" toward the opposite wall that had fallen into place, intent on getting that up, too.

"Nait!" Vlad called. <A note to shatter them?> he asked as he followed in his uncle’s wake.

Naitachel glanced up, nodded, but grimaced. <Cover your ears, please.>

<Sure... I'll be fine. Don't worry about me,> Michael quipped, perhaps a little sardonically as he stood, arms raised, holding the wall up. "This is actually a great workout."

The vampires knew better than to wait. Each covered their ears and waited as the light crept upward.

Taking a deep breath, the Seraph shrieked, a sound fit to break not just standard glass but bulletproof glass as well. He would do most heavy metal artists proud...

Soraya used her free hand to begin undoing the binds holding her. At the sudden invasion of Naitachel's voice, Soraya flattened her ear against the gurney, using her free hand to cover the other ear. Knowing her family was just on the other side of the wall made the redhead even more impatient to get out of the binds. She needed to see them, needed to know they were unhurt.

Michael had managed to lift his shoulders and arms enough to cover most of the sound, though he still cringed at Naitachel's screech.

Vlad moved to cover Michael's ears, protecting his son taking precedence over his own comfort.

The voice LAUGHED as the lights shattered.

<Perhaps we should let this one meet Terhon,> Naitachel mused, a bit unnerved by that laughter. <They truly sound insane enough to amuse him.>

The moment Naitachel's scream ended, Soraya resumed her work in trying to remove the minds that held her torso and right hand. She needed to get to them, to make sure they were safe.

Michael sighed apologetically at his father. <You okay?> he asked when the sound had ended.

The Seraph turned back to the door between the humans and themselves. He could but hope their allies were still well enough to be allies yet on the other side...

Mircea finished cutting through the wall, to the sound of applause over the intercom.

Nait asked quietly, <Shall I fry our audience's ears? Or just the intercom?>

Soraya finally managed one of the bindings around her chest, then worked on her free hand, struggling to keep her composure as she worked.

Mircea approached Soraya, tossing those in the fire proof suits who attempted to prevent him from reaching her aside as if they were rag dolls.

The redhead reared on the movement behind her, stilling her hand just in time to realize that it was Mircea and not an enemy she was about to set ablaze. "Mircea?" she asked, almost as though she wasn't sure she was actually seeing him.

< She lives,> Mircea answered as he tore the hoods off of the fireproof suits. "Do your worst," he dared Soraya as he tore the last of her bindings free.

Vlad blinked, still not registering the sound of voices past he ringing in his ears, and yet he could guess what his son was asking him as he saw his mouth moving. He nodded, then moved to help with the door.

<I'd say ears if we didn't risk having the same effect ourselves,> Tommen answered. <Probably just the intercom.>

<Once I get the other door freed, then,> Naitachel agreed. <I only hope we still have allies on the other side. Or shall I wait?> A hand hesitated on it, and he looked over his shoulder at the others uneasily. <How is Soraya?>

Tommen and Michael were both clearly beyond relieved at Mircea's news. Michael nearly lost his hold on the door in the process.

"Do it, Soraya." the voice taunted. "They were going to DISSECT you. They were set to cut you into tiny pieces and inspect you beneath a microscope. Will you let them off so easily?"

Soraya sat up, and crossed her arms over her chest, covering herself in this state of pure vulnerability.

<Good...> Naitachel sent Soraya a burst of wordless relief and joy. Naitachel couldn't help but wince at the voice over the intercom, his hands shaking. He rested his head against the door between them and the humans, eyes closing. He did not handle death well, but his family knew his stance on it. He could only hope to request mercy, though he understood if they did not agree. He knew by now not to get in the way of their anger--he would only be gently set aside, out of the way again.

Soraya almost gave in to Mircea’s nudge, though the voice's words stopped her. Instead, she grabbed a nearby hospital robe, then tried to leap off the table, though she was surprised to find her legs were still like jelly from disuse and from the cold, and she fell to the floor. Her response to Naitachel was a mixture of relief, confusion, fear, and countless other emotions she could hardly place a name to.

Min moved swiftly to gather his sister in law up in his arms, but only after wrapping her in his coat. <Vlad helps Michael. He is here, though.>

The Seraph returned a gentle, soothing warmth, reassurance and happiness to Soraya.

Tommen met Min and his mother as the entered, and, after hugging her tightly, he moved next to Michael. <I've got this,> he told Vlad, moving to hold the door up in his place.

Soraya answered Min with a weak nod, looking him over to make sure he was uninjured before looking for her sons and husband. She held tightly to Tommen as he hugged her, and nearly cried in relief when she saw Vlad there. To Naitachel, she smiled when she saw him. <How did you find me?> she asked him.

Naitachel looked over his shoulder, hand still on the door out, and offered Soraya a slightly nervous smile, a guilty expression, as he knew his methods had been not exactly what he was permitted in this world. <I... cheated. You could say I stretched the rules somewhat.>

Vlad rushed to her and drew her close, holding her as if he were afraid she might disappear if he let go.

<Shall I... open the door? We do not know what waits on the other side...> Naitachel warned. <We may wish to be prepared.>

<Go ahead,>
Mircea answered, standing ready with the Mara blade as Min and the twins took positions behind him.

<Thank you,> Soraya told Naitachel, not sure exactly what, "cheating," involved. As Vlad collected her, however, warmth and gratitude flooded through her, and she held to him as tightly as she could. <Thank the gods you are safe,> she told him and the others. <Perhaps we should get out of here.> Still, she held to Vlad without giving any signs that she would be willing to let go anytime soon.

Tom nodded to Michael that he had a hold of the door, giving him the ability to move forward into a defensive (or offensive, if need be) position for when Naitachel fried this next door. Michael quickly hugged his mother, as well, before moving into position for the door’s opening.

Nait closed his eyes, and sent a surge through the door to fry it, then held a wing around his body protectively as he shouldered it, starting to get the door up. "Do not shoot, please!" he called as he did so, hoping their "allies" were still exactly that--and might heed his request.

Taggert held up a hand to prevent the returning allies from being fired upon. "Did you find them?" he asked. "Where's my daughter?"

"Don't you love family reunions," the voice asked. "Too bad not all among you could experience it. Go on, Soraya. Tell them how you let his daughter die to save yourself."

At the mention of Taggert's daughter, Soraya quickly put two and two together. Her grip on Vlad tightened and she hid her face in his shirt. "I did not..." Soraya answered weakly. "I was trying to protect her."

"We should ask the one laughing," Naitachel returned grimly.

"How you... what?" Taggert asked, paling visibly. "No. Where is she?" his voice rose. "Where is my child?"

Naitachel glanced over at Mircea. <Can you find her by scent, perhaps?> "What... does that mean, Soraya?" he asked gently. "This audience appears to like getting a reaction from us all... I would very much like to ask the speaker some questions... in person," he added for Taggert.

"Show me her body," Taggert called out to the voice after noting Soraya's reaction. "Show me my daughter."

Soraya's face remained buried in Vlad's shirt. "They were freezing us to death... I thought I was helping her." All she wanted was to be out of there.

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Post  Soraya on Sun Mar 25, 2012 3:25 pm

The Seraph set a gentle hand on Soraya's shoulder, offering what soothing he could apply to her after such trauma. <You did what you could. Fear not--it may be lying. I cannot tell, however--not disguised this way.>

"I've got a better idea," the voice responded. "How about if I show you Soraya's?" the mechanical voice laughed maniacally. "Now the final test begins... at least the final test for this semester." The voice paused a moment to be sure he had all of their attention before asking. "Can you find your way out of the maze that's been building around you, my dear lab rats, and make it back home before they find what they're looking for?"

“Lab... rats...? They?" Nait mused, reaching out with his senses to see if there was other life near... Yet there was nothing to be sensed in any direction beyond those that were there with him.

Soraya glanced at Naitachel gratefully, though she was obviously still distraught over the idea that something she had done might have caused someone's death. At the voice's announcement, whatever color she remained drained from her face. "Show them my what?" she asked, trying to reason out whether it meant her body or... "Brianna!"

<She is at home, with Radu,> Nait told Soraya reassuringly.

<Exactly!> she answered, eyes filled with fear. <They meaning whoever it sent to the house, and what they are looking for must be her.>

Vlad's hearing might not be quite restored, but Soraya's fear reached him nonetheless. Mircea didn't wait for his nephew to catch up though. Instead, he began slashing his way through the walls, determined to get them home.

"You are brave behind walls and mechanics," Nait called to their audience. "A coward's way of battle." He looked about for the intercom itself...

"And yet so effective," the voice giggled... yes, GIGGLED. "See you at home...."

And then there was silence....

"You've got a house full of domestic help, don't you?" Taggert asked. "They're not going to go after your child with them all there, are they?"

A look of horror overtook Soraya's features. "Whyever not? They took me from a crowded funeral!" she answered Taggert. "We have to get home!" If at least they could warn Radu....

Grimacing, Naitachel followed Mircea swiftly. <Allow me--you can get through faster if I fry them.>

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Post  Soraya on Sun Apr 01, 2012 3:26 pm

By the time they returned to the shaft they'd fallen down, Naitachel was starting to stumble, fatigued by frying door mechanisms with that absorbing substance within them. It ate his energy like a plague, and their surroundings didn't allow him to recoup anything at all, draining further by containing the same. The longer he stayed here, the worse off he would be, and the Seraph knew it.

Min lifted Nait and carried him to the car, following Mircea, Vlad, who was carrying Soraya, and the others.

Soraya clung to Vlad with barely contained panic, trying not to count the seconds as they ticked by. She knew they were progressing as fast as possible, and Naitachel was showing the signs of fatigue.

"Home," Mircea told the driver.

"We'll get there faster if..." Vlad began.

"We're being followed still," Mircea cut him off.

"Wait!" Nait protested. <What of the missing girl? Surely we need to ascertain her whereabouts, as well!> he reminded them. Ashley, if still alive, was in danger still. And if they failed their "allies"... the boding was not good.

Soraya cringed again at the thought of the girl. <Something tells me that wherever she is, she is beyond our help, whether by location or...> she dared suggest, guiltily. She felt even guiltier about the fact that she was so desperate to reach Brianna that she was willing to overlook searching the grounds in favor of reaching her daughter.

"You shall not need me," Nait protested again. "At least allow me to linger a bit behind." <I need to at least make an attempt for the girl. You shan't need me in a fight, not worn as I am and close quarters like home. I doubt our "allies" will retain me at this moment, so I should be safe enough--especially as a hope for finding the girl. Please--it is a chance to turn these enemies from targeting us! Besides, my motorbike and crutches are here.>

<I can't leave you behind like this,> Mircea said simply. <I fear what one might do to you without a guard at this moment.>

<It is worth the risk,> Nait returned firmly, <if it prevents another try for one of you like was done to Radu. They are far more likely to guard me well, being a hope of finding her--he cares greatly for his daughter.>

<Who knows what other traps are set?> Soraya added, pleading as she looked at the seraph.

<Yes, and who knows what were laid at home, as well?> Nait reminded them.

<But at least at home you would not be alone... Radu is alone with Brianna right now. We need to get home,> Soraya insisted. The last thing she wanted now was for the seraph to be hurt while they were far away.

Golden eyes flashed. <This is our chance to prevent further danger! Or would you rather we repeat this with our current "allies" as well?>

<Then one of us should stay with you, in case you need support,> Mircea decided.

<However you wish, just hurry,> Naitachel agreed hastily, slipping from the car as soon as it reached a halt. If anyone was going to stay with him, he wasn't giving them much time. He rapped on the car for it to go on almost as soon as he was clear of being run over himself.

Soraya looked away. She was too tired, too frightened and cold to do much more. The truth was, though she would hardly admit it to herself, was that she feared that Nait might indeed find the girl... or rather, she feared what state he mind find the girl in. Consciously, however, she genuinely worried about the seraph. Mircea's decree that someone would stay made her breathe in relief.

<Should I?> Tom asked Mircea.

Mircea nodded. He hated to ask Tom to do that, but he wasn't about to leave Nait there on his own.

Tom nodded and jumped out of the car just before it pulled away. "Should I carry you?" he asked the admittedly haggard-looking seraph.

Naitachel shook his head firmly. "No. Better to not reveal more than we must, please. I can run for now, if you keep with me." With that, he broke into a lope back towards Taggert and his team.


The room into which Brianna entered was covered in papers, broken furniture and blood, both the red and black varieties.

"Uncle?" Brianna called out, equal parts frightened and hesitant.

The sounds of screams and struggles moved deeper into the east wing.

"Uncle!" Brianna called again, this time dashing forward to help him in whatever form he needed.

A hand fell upon her shoulder and a triumphant sounding voice called out, "I've found the child!"

The sound was immediately followed by the crunching of bone. "Run," Kristov told her as he flung the body aside with sharp talons.

<Stay hidden, child. Remember...> Radu answered. <Please, stay hidden...>

Brianna shrieked as she was captured. She had been so set on reaching Radu that she hadn't realized someone else was there. Her own fangs had bared in surprise and anger, but though she knew she could do a significant amount of damage herself, she retreated to hide under a nearby table.

Another intruder leaped upon Kristov's back, driving the blonde to the ground.

<Kris!> Brianna called out, fighting hard against the urge to intervene.

Katarina dove in, knocking the man off of her brother, her face shifting into a sharp beak and taking hold of the man's throat.

Kris scrambled up and moved toward Brianna. "That's not very hidden," he told her, trying to usher her along to a safer place.

Brianna grimaced and emerged from under the table, fangs still showing at the smell of the man's blood.

"Hide those, missy," Kris whispered. "There are still intruders about."

Brianna tried to retract her fangs, though the process took considerable effort. "Go help uncle," she pled.

He opening the back of the piano cabinet. "In there and I will," Kris assured her.

Brianna glanced up, then scrambled in, still not happy to be doing as much.

Kris closed her up inside it and dashed off. Moments later, the piano cabinet was hit hard.

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