A Truly Dark Knight
by J L Kerr
A Forever Knight Vignette
January 1998

    Janette and Miklos had finished overseeing the last of the clean up following tonight's earlier excitement. She was just finishing one final inspection of the club before turning in for the day. Miklos had ushered the others to the basement rooms, as it was almost sunrise. They had been reluctant to retire this morning, still agitated over the altercation that had almost ensued.
    Emery, yes, that was his name, she thought with distaste. She could not believe the gall. He came to her club, and just because he was older and more powerful, he thought he could get away with insulting her and trying to order her about. Well, she'd had no choice but to evict him. Fortunately, between her, Miklos and her vampire security staff, they had been able to persuade him to leave. There was a moment when she was sure he was going to challenge them, but he had merely bowed, and then left. She and Miklos had both breathed a sigh of relief upon his departure. The anxiety amongst the community members present had been palpable. The tension stayed in the air the rest of the evening.
    As Janette turned to head for her private quarters, she heard a loud crash from the backroom. She immediately went to investigate. As she entered through the doorway, she was roughly grabbed. She tried to pull away from her captors, but she was held firmly in place.
    Her assailants had gained entry by kicking in the door from the alley. She saw a few vampires that she recognized, but more that she did not. As she looked again towards the door, she recognized the tall stately figure of Emery as he grandly walked in from outside. The first blushes of dawn were showing in the doorway. He turned and pushed the door securely shut behind him, sealing out the quickly approaching sunrise.
    She tried again to pull herself free. At her futile attempt, she heard the mocking laughter from Emery. "Well, well, my dear. <Now> who has the upper hand," he said, laughing derisively.
    Janette felt a chill sweep through her. She had not expected him to return, least of all, with his minions in tow. This situation did not bode well. Her senses were heightened, waiting for the mistake that would free her.
    "What is it you want?" she demanded. "You have no business here."
    Emery walked up to her and slapped her across the face. "You will be quiet," he hissed, and then smiled sickeningly. Janette just glared at him, her cheek stinging.
    They pushed her along with them as they all entered the main room of the club. They made a lot of noise as they shoved the tables and chairs around, to clear an area in the center of the room. Emery pulled a chair to the center of the cleared area and ordered his followers to place her in it. The rough hands shoved her into the chair and then moved to stand behind her, hands grasping her by the shoulders and wrists to hold her in place.
    "What ever you think you're doing, you won't get away with it," she said, in tightly controlled tones.
    Emery stepped forward and slapped her again. "I told you to be quiet," he said, as the others chuckled. "You will not dismiss me so easily now, not as you did earlier," he declared.
    They all turned as they heard another voice speak. "What is going on here?" asked Miklos. He had heard the noise from downstairs and came to investigate. Following behind him were some of the others who slept their days in the rooms provided by the Raven.
    Miklos and the others were immediately surrounded by the contingent with Emery, and forced back against the wall. There were many eyes glowing red in the subdued lighting, accompanied by hisses and snarls from both sides. Emery and his followers were the stronger, and held the others easily at bay.
    As Janette witnessed this, a wave of fear ripped through her mind. She was outnumbered and overpowered, and the purpose of this confrontation was becoming obviously clearer to her, as every moment ticked by. She steeled herself to bear what must be. If he expected her to plead or grovel, he would receive no satisfaction from her.
    She saw him turn and stare deliberately into her eyes. The evil madness she saw frightened her terribly, but she was determined to keep it hidden from him. Watching the others pressed back against the wall, helpless to assist her, made her feel more resigned to her fate. But none of this did anything to quench the fires of terror building within her.

    Nick had arrived home, to his loft, a short while ago. There hadn't been anything exciting happening, just a long boring shift. He grabbed a bottle from the refrigerator, and took it, along with a glass, to the chair in front of the fireplace. He turned on the stereo with his remote, and then lowered the steel shades on the windows. He poured himself a glass of blood and drank it down, then poured himself another. He set the glass on the table next to the chair, and let his head fall back against the cool leather. He closed his eyes and let his mind drift with the music.
    He was relaxed and starting to doze off when he was startled awake by impressions of terror. He sat upright in his chair, focusing on the feelings he was receiving. They weren't his, he knew that. His confusion cleared abruptly and he jumped to his feet. Janette was in trouble. He could sense it, strongly, through the vibrations in their link. He had to get to her. He had to get to her now. He couldn't wait for sunset. It may be too late by then.
    Nick went to his closet and put on as much protective clothing as he could. He put on his long coat, gloves, hat and sunglasses and then headed for the Caddy. In his mind he worked out a route so he wouldn't have to drive directly into the sun. He put up a sunshade on the driver's side window, then headed out.
    He pulled into the alley behind the Raven. It was still mostly in shadow, but the sun's rays were beginning to creep down the alley. Very soon, it would be awash in sunlight. Nick leaped out of his car and rushed to the door. He had his key ready, and was a little surprised to find the door unlocked. Once he was inside, he examined the door more closely and saw that it had been kicked in. He could sense Janette nearby. He opened his mind to his surroundings and sensed a large number of vampires. They all seemed to be out in the main part of the club. Nick headed in that direction.
    Nick's entrance had not gone unnoticed by the others. They had all heard him enter and then slam the door closed. Everyone immediately assumed it must be a mortal, as they all knew the sun had already risen a short while ago.
    When Nick entered the main room, he stopped to examine the scene before him. His first sight was seeing Janette held in a chair by two vampires standing behind her. She looked at him with her brillant blue eyes. Her dark hair was hanging to her shoulders, somewhat obscuring the bruises evident on her face. There was a small trickle of blood running down one corner of her mouth. He recognized the club regulars, standing against the far wall, facing off with a larger group, most of whom he didn't recognize. One vampire stood out amongst the others. He was standing to the side of Janette's chair and met Nick's determined look with a quizzically surprised look of his own.
    No one recognized Nick, as he was still covered in his multiple layers of clothing. They did sense that he was one of them and this surprise caused murmurs to abound. He heard a number of whisperings of wonderment, regarding his obvious passage through the sunlight. He began to remove his outerwear, never taking his eyes from the tableau in front of him.
    He removed his hat and sunglasses last, revealing his blonde hair and blue eyes. As he did so, recognition set in from most of the regulars. Janette, of course, knew it was him all along. The others did not, although it did not matter. The regulars had been hopeful and impressed when they realized a vampire had braved the sunlight with no obvious ill effects. As soon as they saw that it was Nick, their hopes deflated. Nick's unwillingness to kill, or to drink human blood, was well known. What possible help could he be against one who seemed more powerful than Janette and Miklos.
    Janette, for her part, felt tremendous relief when she sensed Nick enter. She heard the mumblings from the rest of the group, but she knew him, and more importantly, knew what he was capable of, much better than any of them. She felt very confident that Nick would rescue her. She sat in her chair, silently and stoically. When Emery turned his gaze from Nick to her, she greeted him with a relaxed knowing smile. Continuing to look at Emery with a confident stare, she said, "Nicolas, I'd like you to meet Emery. He is <not> welcome in my club."
    Janette's attitude had certainly changed, since this one entered, thought Emery. What was he doing here? He was obviously a friend of Janette's. How did he know she needed help? He didn't seem much of a threat. The others cowering against the back wall did not seem to think much of him. As these thoughts flowed through Emery's mind, he turned his attention to the one she called Nicolas.
    "What are you doing here?" asked Emery calmly.
    "Release her," ordered Nick in a deep throaty voice, his stare boring into Emery.
    Emery laughed. "Who are you to give me orders?"
    "I said release her. I shan't ask you again," demanded Nick imperiously.
    One of Emery's followers leaned over and whispered in his ear. Nick recognized him as one of the undesirables that Janette normally did not allow in her club. A few of his friends were also assisting Emery.
    "You are no one to give me orders. I've heard about you. You are weak and a coward. You are afraid to kill. You don't even drink human blood. Go back to where you came from before I decide a fate for you to suffer," he sneered and laughed.
    Nick became enraged. His eyes turned gold and his fangs dropped. "You will not harm her. I will not allow it," he seethed. The rage was erupting in him, not so much at the words spoken by Emery, but by his obvious harmful intentions towards Janette. It was true he did not like to kill any more, but given enough provocation, he was quite capable of unleashing his fury.
    "Take care of him," ordered Emery to his minions.
    Two of them rushed Nick. He was ready and quickly dispensed of them. He caught the first by the throat, then reached up and twisted his neck until he heard it snap. He kicked the other in the stomach, causing him to double over, and then he drove his elbow into the back of his neck. As the second one collapsed unconscious to the floor, Nick caught him and snapped his neck also. He had barely tossed their broken bodies aside, when he was attacked by two more. He dispatched them as quickly and efficiently as he had the first two.
    There were murmurs of surprise from the onlooking group. Janette smiled smugly at Emery, and raised her eyebrows mockingly at him. "Oh dear," she said, in sarcastic sympathy for the injury to his crew.
    Nick stood up straight and casually began tugging his clothing back into place. Looking directly at Emery, he said snarling, "it's your turn, unless you're afraid to challenge me yourself." As he said this last, his eyes turned from gold to red, blazing with rage.
    Emery was furious. He wasn't about to let this weak upstart ruin his plans. He growled and then attacked him. The fighting was intense. There were blows on both sides and blood began to flow. After a few minutes, but what had seemed like hours, Nick had Emery on his back and sunk his teeth into his throat, ripping and tearing away at the flesh. Emery fought back and tried to push Nick off of him. Nick raised himself up and swung his hand downward, with as much force as he could summon, and plunged his hand into the others chest. He grabbed Emery's heart and ripped it from his chest. Emery let loose a frighteningly eerie scream as this occurred, and then went silent as his heart left his body.
    Nick stood, holding the former life giving organ in his outstretched hand. He closed his fist tightly, squashing the heart, and threw it on to the floor next to Emery's body in disgust. He turned to face the others. He was a frightening sight. Blood covered the lower portion of his face. He reached an arm up and wiped his sleeve across his mouth, only smearing the blood more across his cheeks. His chest and arms were covered in blood.
    "Who else will challenge me?" he demanded, eyes still afire. When no one answered, or stepped forward, he growled, "release her, now."
    The others, terrified at the sight before them, quickly released Janette. She delicately rubbed her wrists where they had gripped her. She remained sitting, not saying a word. Her manner was one of casual indifference, as if nothing out of the ordinary had just occurred.
    Nick turned to Emery's followers, and quietly said, "<leave> <now>."
    They looked at each other, grasping for a sense of what to do. Emery had been so strong, they could not believe he had been defeated, let alone in the manner it had occurred. They had all been afraid of him, and this one before them seemed to have defeated him easily.
    "The sun is up. It will kill us if we leave now," said one of the small group, in a pleading tone.
    "You were dead as soon as you threatened one from my family," Nick said, snarling to the terrified group. "Now <go>." He began to slowly advance towards them, hostility etched upon his features, as he said this last.
    They fled in terror, out the back door of the club, into the now sunlit alley. Their screams were mercifully short-lived.
    The excitement for the day was over. Miklos, and a couple of the others, took the body of Emery with them for disposal as soon as it became dark. A few of the others began to clean up the spilled blood. Janette sent the remaining vampires back to their basement rooms.
    Once everyone had left, she approached Nick. "Nicolas, come. You will stay the day and allow me to express my appreciation." She smiled at him in invitation. She had been thrilled when he had leaped to her defense. She knew, once he set his mind to it, his ferocity would conquer any challenge Emery could mount. She had seen him so, many times throughout their long past.
    Nick, looking down at himself, said somewhat abashedly, "I think I need to clean up a little." He was starting to feel a little embarrassed by his actions. He did not regret that he had killed Emery, it had just been such a long time since he had been moved to such savagery.
    "Yes. I will assist you, mon cherie," she replied, as she leaned forward and laid her hand along side his face, and carefully planted a light kiss upon his lips. She took him by the hand and led him to her private quarters, where she fully intended to show him exactly how grateful she truly was.

The End