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Friday, 12 December 2008

The Rising - Chapter 71: Training Begins

Skinner shut the door behind me. I knew he wouldn’t slam the door on me but the stone walls of the dome-shaped hall magnified the sound ten-fold. Everyone stopped what they were doing to turn round and look at me.

One man was standing on the ground, looking up at the rest of the men and women as they moved gracefully from one wall to the other and stopped where they landed. He approached me and shouted at the others. ‘Get back to work! We only have a few hours.’

We shook hands. He was just under six feet tall and clad in black combat gear, with a face as pale as any vampire’s. He was one of the friendlier creatures of the night I had met in my life as a vampire, a life I hoped would be mercifully short.

Welcome. My name is Peter. I take it you’re here to join this group of misfits?’

I guess so.’ As soon as I replied, I could tell he was reading into the tone of my voice.

You’re a rebirth, right?’

It’s that obvious, is it? Yes, just this morning.’

Well, you seem to be taking it well. Some rebirths can go a bit crazy on their first day. What’s your name?’


Okay, Tom. How do you feel about being a vampire?’

Beats being dead, right?’

Peter erupted with laughter.

Exactly. That’s the best attitude to have, Tom. I’ll start you off easy with these guys but be warned: they’re coiled tightly and ready to pounce. You see, there was an attack on the humans yesterday and they weren’t allowed to go. Neither was I. They didn’t want to send everyone out for the attack, so now we’re all looking forward to tonight’s operation.’

What’s happening tonight?’

Honestly? I don’t know. All I know is it’s big. Bigger than last night. And if Roxy sent you down here then she wants us to get you involved.’

I looked at Peter blankly like I didn’t know what he was talking about.

Of course, you don’t know what happened last night,’ he said. I was grateful he hadn’t mastered the art of reading my mind. ‘We launched an attack on the humans at one of their military outposts. There were hundreds of them and only a handful of vampires. We almost wiped them all out but only Roxy got back here alive.’

Propaganda obviously isn’t exclusively the domain of the human species, I thought.

You’re so lucky to be joining us now, at the beginning of the Rising.’

Sounds exciting.’

My heart felt like it jumped into my throat. Our small band thought we were doing something important, like we could make a difference. Jane and the doctor were trailing round the city picking up bits and pieces and they thought that meeting with Doctor Forrest would give them a chance of coming up with a permanent cure. But I realised the truth.

We haven’t got a chance.

How long would it take the doctor to finish his work on the cure? Weeks? Months? I had no idea what the hell this guy was talking about but something told me the Rising wouldn’t stop and wait for our set of amateurs to catch up. I hadn’t known any of them for a decent length of time. For all I knew, they had no hope of finding the first set of documents, never mind everything else we had to do.

So what do you need me to do?’ I asked.

We haven’t got long,’ Peter said, ‘We’ll need to get you through some of the basics. I haven’t been told much but what I do know is that the mission will be fairly simple. No weapons, no direct combat. If there is a problem, the only ability we will need is to fly away.’

Okay. Sounds pretty cryptic to me.’

I know, but missions this critical cannot be revealed until just moments before they begin. With a bit of luck we’ll be able to feed tonight.’

With that comment, the feeling of belonging that had been growing inside me during our conversation left me alone with this bloodsucker. He may have been charismatic, but he still stood for everything I didn’t want to become.

Have you flown yet?’ he asked.

Well, I fell half way to the floor when Roxy’s friend threw me down the big hole outside.’

He laughed again. ‘That’s a good start. Falling halfway is better than hitting the floor. When you’re done here you’ll be doing loop-the-loops.’

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