Chapter One: Plan of Action
Jasper Whitlock stood over the final one of the night, making sure that it wasn’t dead, officially. He had already effectively ended the individual’s human life. As he glanced around, finally moving back a pace, he saw with satisfaction that many of his new creations were starting to become what they were meant to be. He called a passing soldier over. “Did you take care of those ones down there?” He pointed to the south end of the field.
“Yes, Sir.” The male ducked his head swiftly. “All are accounted for.”
“Good. Return to base then. I’ll finish up here.” Among the many undead, there were still a few that remained quite human, and alive. It was too late for a doctor even reach them, and they couldn’t remain living, after what had happened on that field. They had seen too much. Jasper was sorry about that. He tried to take as few human lives as he could get away with. It was his way of dealing with Maria’s madness, though it never helped. He turned and faced the army of newborns that were waiting for his orders. “Take them all out.”
He moved, knowing there would be no stopping them once they had started. He headed back to the main tent. He had to talk to Maria about this life style. It didn’t feel like they were getting anything accomplished, even though Maria promised him they were. Now he was beginning to doubt it. The war had long since been over. There was no more need for such nonsense.
As he wandered through the numerous bodies that lay around almost as far as the eye could see, he had to reign in the amount of emotion he had been bombarded with. Even if he wasn’t the one doing the killing, emotions were one thing he could barely get away from. Maria found this most useful, when the newborns would wake up, and want food immediately. Jasper had thought nothing of it. Until today.
He approached Maria’s self-appointed quarters, and waited for her to come out. He was not really one for upfront confrontations. He didn’t have to wait long. Maria came out short, as if she sensed his presence.
“Major Whitlock. I trust everything is in order?”
“Yes. But, I need to talk to you.” He wasn’t going to allow her to flatter him anymore, with his fancy titles. He really despised his rank now. It was because of that that she had changed him to begin with.
Maria could tell Jasper was troubled. She tried to smooth it over. “We’ve nearly conquered all of this territory. One or two more stops, and we…” Her head whipped around. Jasper glanced up too, and froze.
There stood a boy, with his older brother. The younger of the two didn’t look too much older than may nine or ten. Jasper straightened up, looking at Maria. What would she do? Certainly she wasn’t going to kill an innocent child. Maria nodded to Jasper. He knew what that meant. His sire wanted him to put the younger boy to sleep. He had already guessed that the older brother would become a part of Maria’s growing army. He walked over to the boys casually. “Hey there.”
The younger of the two looked up at Jasper, as he moved closer to his brother. “We didn’t mean anything by passin’ sir. Sorry.”
“We was just looking for something good to eat…” His elder brother said now. He had a protective arm around his brother. “Ken and I lost our mother just a few days go.”
“I’m sorry…” Jasper wondered if the woman might’ve been one of his or his companions’ victims. He put his focus on the task at hand. He had to separate the boys. “I can tell you where to get a good meal.” It was the truth. There was a restaurant not too far away. “But I think it might take a while to get there.” As he spoke, he sent out waves of calm, and relaxation, concentrating on the younger boy Ken. “We could take a jeep.” From a distance that the boys’ human sight wouldn’t see, Maria was waiting impatiently. Jasper sighed to himself, and he continued his work. Ken was beginning to sway tiredly. His elder brother held him. “And what is your name?” He questioned the other now.
“Lawrence.” The boy replied. “Kenny, come on. It’s not time to sleep…” He was puzzled by the boy’s sudden drowsiness.
“Well, Lawrence. I’m Major Jasper Whitlock. It would be my pleasure to help such a noble young man as yourself get some food. Why don’t you let me take your younger brother to my quarters. He looks like he could use a good rest.” He regretted every word he was saying. He knew that neither would see the other again.
“I dunno, Major.” Lawrence had picked up his brother, and was cradling him close. “Father said we should stick together..”
Jasper frowned inwardly. This was going to be a little trickier than he expected. He discretely gave Maria a motion that meant he’d deliver momentarily. He turned his eyes on Lawrence. “But he’s very tired, you see..” His work had been done. Ken was extremely drowsy, and whining to be allowed a rest.
“Just go with him…” Ken mumbled. “He’s a major. He can’t mean us any harm…”
How naïve children are…Jasper thought sourly. He only wished Ken’s innocent words were the truth. He hated that the child trusted him falsely. All he would do is bring him pain, when he woke up and his brother was gone forever. He waited while Lawrence debated inwardly about this. He tried to send out a vibe of trust to the boy. Maria was getting impatient. “If we’re to go, we must do it now. They will more than likely close if we delay.”
“Yes,Sir.” Lawrence recognized authority.
Now to reassure him… Jasper let them get in front of him. He didn’t want to lose them, if the elder brother decided to bolt. He could feel his unease. As they walked, he continued to give off vibes of trust, relaxation and calm to Lawrence. If he could completely disillusion him, his capture by Maria would be even easier. At his tent, Jasper laid a hand on Lawrence’s shoulder. “I can’t let you in here.” He took the now deep asleep Ken into his arms. He was thankful he was wearing his usual coat, so that the chill of his skin did not disturb the child from his slumber. He laid him down in his own bed, and glanced to his roommate, who was eyeing him curiously. “Hands off this one.” He told him firmly. His tent mate looked disappointed, but he nodded. His rank was lower than Jasper’s, and he knew better than to defy him. Jasper came out, smiling at Lawrence. “Now, let’s go see about that food.” His own stomach hurt now. And Lawrence’s fear was making him smell almost irresistible. He quickly pulled himself together, as he put an arm around the boy, and led him to his new life.
“I can’t do this anymore…” Jasper spat, dropping Lawrence’s corpse. He had drained the body far past the point where it would be suitable for changing. It was spiteful, and Maria would be displeased, but in the end, Jasper knew it was a more merciful outcome for the boy. He was angry with her for having the little boy killed. Jasper’s plan had been to try and get him away. He wasn’t completely ruthless. Children were where he drew the line. . The killing just gave him more fuel for his argument against her now.
“Listen…” Maria could feel Jasper’s foul mood.
“No, you listen . I can’t live like this anymore.”. Jasper said now. “You can’t possibly understand how I feel every time I kill another. I feel everything, and nothing at the same time.“ His eyes glittered intensely, pleading silently for her understanding. He had the sense that Maria wouldn’t let him go without a fight.
“You belong with me. I need you here.” Maria was trying to calm Japer’s mood.
“Fine.” Jasper wasn’t going to argue right now. He had made his decision. He wasn’t of his mind to change it. He calmed her down quickly, and left.
Jasper had spent night after night, since being turned preying upon humans, making vampires for Maria’s army. He grew wary of this constant cycle of the unbridled slaughter of innocents.
He went back to his tent, muttering under his breath. He needed a plan, before he could attempt to leave. He watched as several people walked by. Many were going to the local bar not far from town. He caught sight of Peter, a former colleague of his, and he wandered over to him. “Hey.”
“Oh, hey, Jasper.” Peter blinked at him. “ Did the meeting not go well with Maria?” He knew already what the answer to that would be.
“No. Not as such…” Jasper shook his head. “Peter, I need to get out. It’s too much.” He thought of the last feeling his final victim of the night had thought.
Jasper wasn’t sure what kind of failure he’d meant. He didn’t want any of it — Maria’s sick games, the fearful and painful deaths he dealt. He was being used, and Jasper wondered why he hadn’t realized that a long time ago.
“Come away with Charlotte and I.” Peter suggested. “We won’t mind having you.” He smiled invitingly. “It won’t be easy going, but it would better than being someone else’s toy.”
It was tempting. Jasper had to admit that. And he was looking for the way out. Peter had just offered him one. “Let me think about it…”
“Now is as good a time as any, Jazz.” Peter pointed out. “She’ll be distracted with your new recruits for hours. Let’s get out of here, while we can.”
Jasper nodded. He had to agree. He didn’t want to stay at that encampment one more night if he didn’t have to. “I’ll go get some things together. I’ll meet you at the entrance. Maybe we can come up with a good reason for all of us to be leaving at the same time.” He had a good idea already. He went back to his tent, and finding it empty, began to prepare a pack with clean clothes. Finally, I’m going to be free to do things my way. He had to admit the sound of that made him even more anxious. He wasn’t sure what was to come, but he knew whatever it was, he could handle it.