Home > The Bitten (Vampire Huntress Legend #4)(6)

The Bitten (Vampire Huntress Legend #4)(6)
Author: L.A. Banks

Berkfield sat very still. "So, you guys are like a hostage ghost-busters team?" he said as he continued to look for a possible escape route.

The man sighed. "Don't be foolish. We found hard evidence behind every myth and legend. We've catalogued demon fila, Detective Berkfield. The ancient high priests, warlocks, witches, generals, you name it, called on deities to assist them in wartimes. The new era of so-called reason has made us forget their power."

"So, you plan to do what with me and my family?"

Raking his fingers through his hair, the man looked Berkfield in the eye. "Listen carefully. We don't have much time. There are two sides of this organization - those insane enough to believe that they can open up the gates of Hell and contain what comes out of it, so that they can proceed with imperialistic desires to rule humanity. And those of us who, after having studied the phenomena, have enough respect for it to leave it alone. We know that chaos will ensue. Therefore, the group is philosophically at odds with itself and threatening to implode. That means that valuable and dangerous research will spill out into the various nations that support this work, and as we all know, anything is for sale on the black market. Do you follow?"

Berkfield nodded, but he still didn't understand his role. This whole story was too bizarre to wrap his mind around.

"You, my friend, are currently under the protective seal of the master vampire who controls this region; therefore, right now, you're in full favor. The dark side essentially has a no-hit policy on you, and the Light apparently has you covered, as well. However, the way the power shifts seem to work within the vampire world are very much like old feudal law - they wipe out anything once associated with the outgoing incumbent. Understood?"

Terror halted Berkfield's breath for a moment. He touched his throat and then his fingers slid down to the small gold cross that he never took off. "But I'm a believer," he rasped. "How could I be marked by the dark side?"

The scientist calmly reached beneath his olive green flack-jacket and pulled a long chain from beneath it, bearing a sterling silver Star of David. "I'm a believer, too. The mark isn't physically on your body. It's in your aura. That's what we measure - energy fields, if you will. Our equipment cannot pick up much more than that. All we can ascertain is that a very strong energy from the nether realms has been gathering in the region, and it has been sending out sensor tentacles in your direction. Time is nigh, my friend. We're not exactly sure what this means, but it cannot be good."

"My wife, my kids - how do I get this f**king seal off me? I didn't ask for it, I don't even understand it!"

"That's why we want you to make a decision - quickly - to come work for us. Maybe, just maybe, you hold the key to bringing both sides to a standstill, a stalemate. You were deemed a good man by both sides. You could be the key to creating world peace. We must have an opportunity to study you, understand the conditions that led up to - "

"No! I don't know! This is all so crazy!" Berkfield put his head in his hands. "I want my old life back, my kids and wife safe. I want to read the damned paper, drink beer, and worry about gas prices. I do not want to be a guinea pig, nor do I want my family traumatized."

"Then you should have never become a crime fighter, never should have made that bargain in that alley, never should have started researching otherworldly phenomena and come up on our radar. I am a man of logic. I'm a scientist with thirty years of hard research under my belt and degrees that would..." The man stopped, swallowed hard, his voice gravelly with emotion. He spread his hands before Berkfield, imploring him to understand.

"I'm no cop. I'm no weapons designer. I opened a gate in a lab and found Hell," he said in a barely audible tone. "I thought I was losing my mind, and I cried out to God to save me, and another door opened and bright light bearing a blade shut the gate. We all saw it - and all of those colleagues joined us that day." The man's gaze slid away and he held the hair at his temples in clenched fists as he stared at the locked back door. "Some said it was a group hallucination. We told our superiors and they gave us an unlimited budget. That's when I knew we were in trouble." His voice dipped to a scratchy murmur. "They don't open the financial floodgates unless they know you're close. We're so close, and so are they."

"I thought I was the only one..." Berkfield said, dazed.

"So did we," the professor said sadly. "Then we began religious research, started looking at texts we had never considered in our scientific quest." He glanced up at Berkfield. "Ever wonder why you were spared that night in the alley where your partner double-crossed you and pulled a gun on you? Ever wonder what higher purpose you are to serve?"

The two men stared at each other, only the faint sounds of traffic droning on in the background.

"But my family - "

"Will be relocated and re-identified, just like ours had to be."

"But we can't just leave our home - "

"You make your informants do it all the time. Think of it as a witness protection program for scientists, and like I said, we're well funded."

"I can't make a decision like this without talking to my wife and my kids, and - "

"All you have to tell them is that one of the drug lords you've put away is out now and looking for payback. They know what you do, so that's not too far-fetched."

Berkfield sat back. "Why me? What special skill do I bring to the table?"

His abductor leaned forward and touched his clasped hands. "You're sane, you're not on the take, you've been spared because you're a good man, and you can call this master vampire to you. We need to speak to him. Plus, you know the inside of the American legal system like the back of your hand, and you have connections. And we may need sanctuary."

"But why now?" Berkfield asked, not convinced that this was his problem or that he needed to get swept up into the madness of trying to solve it. Truthfully, it was enough that he'd learned that vampires and demons were real. He didn't need to know more, or want to know more - except how to keep them away from him and his family.

"We've forecast a problem that is about to blow up on American soil. The dark-side energy levels are off the meters. We have a small sample of its atmosphere contained, and it's expanding exponentially within the vacuum containers in the lab. More current is being drawn into it, and its density is increasing. Disturbance locations in the U.S., where we know there are dark energy fields, are almost, for lack of a better explanation, harvesting power."

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