Jack and Cassandra
It was one am. Jack and Henry stood outside of their club. In a little more than a year, it would belong to someone else. Jack was selling off his and Henry's interests in Nightlife, Inc.
It wasn't that the clubs weren't profitable. Indeed, the clubs were very profitable. It was just time to move into something different. All vampires had a sixth sense that warned them of trouble and also warned them when it was time to move. Jack's sixth sense was letting him know about two things right now. The first was the time to make an investment change. Jack had, after the first of the year, slowly began to unload his and Henry's shares in Nightlife, Inc. and reinvest the monies in another area. The second was trouble.
Some humans are able to feel the tingle of the ozone on their skin right before a severe thunderstorm. It was similar for a vampire, but much more intense. It was a feeling of discomfort, making a vampire lethargic to the point where they lost interest in feeding. It really was a psychic phenomenon. The larger the trouble, the more intense the feeling. Henry was feeling it now as well, as he had vampire blood in his veins and arteries. But for Jack it was very, very intense. The last time he had this feeling was in 1815, in New Orleans, when there was a very ugly vampire war.
There was no vampire constitution as such. Over the millennia, a series of customs and rules evolved which guaranteed vampires would survive and thrive. The first rule was that one vampire would never violate another vampire's haven or sanctuary. The exception was during a vampire war, and wars were rare. Jack had only experienced one vampire war in his three hundred-odd years as a creature of the night. This feeling felt exactly like the feeling he had during the last vampire war.
The other "rule" was the rules of covens. Covens were loose groupings of vampires, varying in size from three to as many as twenty. Vampires were very solitary creatures, socializing with humans for food and their ghouls for support. But covens were necessary to keep in communication with other vampires. Originally, covens were organized in the same geographic area. In the second half of the twentieth century, with cell phones and the Internet, covens could be scattered.
Jack belonged to a small coven and it had no real leader. Since everyone came from the same bloodline, originating with Marie, the entire coven felt the uneasiness in the night air. They began to collect in the northern Delaware-southeastern Pennsylvania area. There was strength in numbers.
Jack and Henry stayed just north of Wilmington. Marie and Greg Bates moved from New Orleans into Greg's townhome in West Chester. The final member, Jeanette, who was only one hundred-fifty years old, moved to Gap, Pennsylvania, just east of Lancaster. The coven was together. The coming crisis was more important, at the moment, then making money at the clubs.
Henry bid his master good night and went to bed. He had daylight work to do. Jack stood outside the club near the front door and tried to think through the psychic maze muddling his brain. And, in an instant and for the first time in over three hundred years, he felt fear. An icy finger traveled down his spine, and Jack froze. He knew, in this instant, he was in a situation that could cause him to suffer the Final Death. He also knew he could come out of it more powerful than he had ever been.
"Jack. Jack Williams."
Jack felt the words in his mind rather than heard them. He had no idea who was addressing him. He did know, however, that it was a very, very powerful vampire and he had better be careful. He scanned the parking lot, seeing only a dark blue Acura idling in the southeast corner. Jack thought for a moment before deciding on a course of action. He chose to speak, and he picked his words carefully.
"I am Jack. Please be so kind as to show yourself. This is my sanctuary."
Jack watched as the Acura moved slowly from the corner of the parking lot and stopped in the space directly in front of him. The engine shut down. The door opened, and a woman approached. She was of average height, with a voluptuous figure, raven hair falling to the middle of her back, and deep, dark blue flashing eyes. She was dressed in a peasant skirt, Birkenstocks, and an off-the-shoulder white blouse. Her skin had an olive tint. She wore gold hoop earrings. To Jack, she looked to be a vampire of Egyptian descent. And Jack knew, for the first time in his vampire years, that he was looking at an antediluvian. He also knew she could destroy him in an instant if she so chose.
"I am Jack," he said, clearly. "How shall I address you?"
"I am Cassandra," said the woman in a clear and firm voice. "I wish you to be my ally in the coming struggle. Will you, Jack, join me in the coming crisis, or shall I ruin you now?"
"I will join you," said Jack, bowing his head. He knew that this was no idle boast. Antediluvian vampires were over one thousand years old. They were rare in the extreme. And they were extremely powerful. Jack had to be careful.
"Excellent!" said Cassandra with a smile. "There is a powerful vampire near Lancaster who has gone insane. He needs to be destroyed. Jeanette, who is a member of your coven, is in no danger. I will make sure she remains safe, and she will be safe if you follow my orders. Will you follow my orders?"
"Yes," said Jack. The psychic uneasiness he had felt was now explained. It was to be a vampire war. He stood with all of his senses attuned to Cassandra and listened.
"I have a ghoul named Susan," said Cassandra. "On Monday, she will apply at this club for employment. You will hire her. She will do any work you require, from waiting tables to dancing on the pole and helping with the books. She will also assist Henry in his ghoul duties. It is imperative that she be seen doing this. Understood?"
"One week from Monday," Cassandra continued, "Susan will move in with you and Henry. You will continue to run the club, with Sue in your employ, until I direct you otherwise. Some time after September One, Sue will take a four-day trip to Berne, Switzerland. Henry will transport her to and from the airport. The details will be forthcoming at a future date. Any questions?"
"Just one," said Jack. "Who is to feed Susan?"
"I will tend to her feeding, Jack," answered Cassandra. "Now, after the girl returns from Berne, she will continue living and working here. I will fill you in on the details of my plan as things become clearer. For now, this is necessary until we can move against the insane vampire. But is of paramount importance that Susan appear, for all practical purposes, to be your ghoul. Understood?"
Jack responded with a simple "Yes."
Cassandra smiled, got back into her Acura, and drove away. Jack collected his thoughts. Insanity was the only real disease vampires suffered. When they became insane, they usually watched a sunrise or went to sleep and never awakened. But there was third option. The insane vampire developed a Napoleon complex. They wanted to rule the world and herd people like cattle. And that was very, very dangerous.
Jack headed back into the club. He would leave a message for Henry to hire Susan on the spot when she appeared. He headed to his study, logged into his very secure PC, and began to document the night's events.