THE PRESENT. CHAPTER 12

The Skeleton Coast, West Africa

Gentlemen, are we in agreement?” Nosferatu sat down in the chair at the head of the table and shifted his gaze between the two men.

“I will do my part,” Tian Dao Lin said. Both then turned and looked at Adrik. “I can recover that which the KGB has,” Adrik said. “What is your timetable for all of this?”

“The X-craft launches in three days. It will take it about twelve hours to rendezvous with the derelict mothership and drain the bodies. Then it will land at an airfield close to here. At that time I will begin processing the blood. Ninety hours.”

“That is not much time to get someone up Everest to recover the blood from the Ones Who Wait,” Tian Dao Lin said.

“No, but it is possible,” Nosferatu replied.

“I will make it happen,” Tian Dao Lin averred.

Nosferatu stood. “I will see you gentlemen back here in four days.”

Puget Sound, Washington

Four days. Vampyr stared at the intelligence report that had just been forwarded to him, then walked over to the large bay windows in his mansion overlooking Puget Sound and the lights of Seattle beyond. It was a magnificent view, one that he had enjoyed for the past ten years, ever since purchasing his own private island in the Sound at an outrageous cost.

Money meant nothing to Vampyr. His assets were under so many different names and umbrella corporations that it would take a roomful of accountants several lifetimes to figure it all out, which was appropriate in Vampyr’s view, as it had taken him the equivalent of many lifetimes to accumulate it.

He did not pursue money for itself, but for what it could bring, which was a form of power. There were many forms of power and Vampyr, since his time in Sparta, had dedicated large amounts of his time to studying them all.

He had used his money to hide himself, most particularly during the recent world war in which the humans, most surprisingly, had defeated the Airlia. In all his long life Vampyr had never anticipated that the humans would be capable of such a feat. He had prepared for one side or the other of the Airlia to gain the upper hand if they ever came out of their deep sleep underneath Qian-ling or on Mars but the human victory was totally unexpected.

The Grail was lost. Lisa Duncan had made sure of that, taking it and the second mothership down with her into the array on Mars. In Vampyr’s opinion, a most brave but stupid action. He did appreciate that she had stopped the Airlia from getting a message out to others of their kind, but losing the Grail was a tremendous blow. It had always been his primary plan to recover the Grail once it was located and use it to gain the immortality the high priests had chanted about since Atlantis.

Now he felt like he had come full circle. It was all about blood. But Airlia blood now. He knew exactly what the Eldest, Nosferatu, wished to do. But he had learned one thing over his many incarnations among the humans — power could only be wielded by one. While the Eldest was so focused on bringing back Nekhbet, Vampyr did not trust him. And then there was Tian Dao Lin and Adrik. Four was three too many in Vampyr’s opinion.

He turned from the large, bulletproof windows and went over to the large globe in his study. The walls of the room were lined with books, many of them ancient, original texts that scholars would weep with envy just to be given a glimpse of. They were not for show, as Vampyr had read all of them.

Vampyr placed his hands on the globe and slowly spun it. Everest. Moscow. And in the derelict mothership in orbit.

Nosferatu and the other two were moving. Vampyr knew that power, like chess, was all about move and countermove. And allowing one’s opponent to set his own destruction in motion.

Patience. Four days was but a blink of the eye in the eternity that Vampyr had lived, but he knew it was long enough.

Time to move a few pieces.

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