1-30-2001

Yep, that's right everyone, I'm not dead! WAHAHAH! :) I had a great time while I was on vacation, and now I'm back and looking forward to writing more. Hope you enjoy this part! If you have any C&C for me (and I hope someone does!!!) please write to me privately at: katsuhiro@qwest.net

Thanks!

I am rating this part PG-13, leaning towards R...mostly because of language. ^.^ Duo can be a foul-mouthed li'l guy when he wants to.

***

Pyractomena Borealis Part XI

"Hail Mary, full of grace..." I heard myself say in a hollow voice, as if from a thousand years away.

Treize smiled beatifically down at me without showing even the slightest hint of fang. Who did he think he was kidding, anyway?? Anyone with the psychic sense of a lime would know he was a vampire, for God's sake. I guess old habits died hard...and who knew how old this particular one was. "Really, Mr. Maxwell, that's unnecessary. Is this all that much of a shock?"

My heart was beating fast, like I'd just finished running a race. Sudden adrenaline surges tend to do that to a person. /Stop that,/ I mentally told my body. "Of course not." I said, my voice surprisingly steady. Point for quick recovery, go me.

"Now, now...can't we all just at least try to be truthful?" He raised an eyebrow delicately.

Shit. Ivan had said that vampires could smell it when we lied. He hadn't been joking...this was going to make bluffing very difficult. "Alright," I said evenly, "I guess maybe I am a little surprised. I would have thought you'd be busy enough trying to take over the known universe without this whole 'King of the Undead' thing going on as well."

"King of the Undead?" Treize smiled. "I like that. You have a good sense of humor, Mr. Maxwell." He chuckled softly as he sat back down, every motion stately, like an emperor. The parallel wasn't lost on me. His chair, or throne rather, was unadorned, of the same marble that the steps were made of. Somehow, that just made it all the more impressive.

I licked my suddenly dry lips, feeling like a mouse caught in front of a snake. "What do you want with us?" I asked. It was the only thing I could think of.

"You're very direct." Treize said. "I like that. Your lives are too short to waste time on pleasantries."

Somehow, I really did not like what that seemed to imply.

"Do you know what you are?" Treize asked.

I had to doubt that he was talking about me being a Gundam Pilot. "I'm a necromancer."

"Very good. Do you know how rare that is?"

For some reason, the tone of voice reminded me of how one of my math teachers had always sounded when he was leading a particularly slow student to the solution of a problem. I didn't like it. With a great deal of effort, I swallowed the bluff that had instantly leapt to my tongue. "No." I said through gritted teeth.

"Those with even the smallest hint of the talent are so rare that they come only two or three in a century." Treize said. "One as powerful as you may come along only once in a millenium, if that."

"Isn't that special." I said, throttling my sudden surge of curiosity. Curiosity killed the Gundam pilot, and man does that suck when it happens.

"You call to the dead with a strong, beautiful voice. Even I feel the pull." His voice was soft, soothing, rolling over me in a warm wave. My stomach stopped clenching and relaxed. "There is much that you could learn." I found myself unaccountably wanting to trust Treize...all I had to do was listen, and things would make sense.

What the hell? Shinigami doesn't trust anyone on a first meeting, least of all a walking, talking nightmare. "Stop that." I said, clenching my hands into fists. My fingernails pressed sharply into my palms, the little pains clearing away some of the haze that Treize's voice had put in my mind.

"Stop what?" He sounded amused.

The texture of the air suddenly changed, and I felt it pressing me down toward the ground, threatening to make my knees buckle. Even more frightening, though, I felt like Treize was looking right through me, seeing everything that I had ever thought or felt. "Stop it!" I almost shouted, fighting to stay upright. "Get the hell out of my head!"

Treize began to laugh, and suddenly, the air returned to its normal density. I stumbled and fell back, only a quick catch by Trowa saving me from falling on my ass. He pushed me back to a full, upright position, only letting go of my shoulders when he was sure that I was steady on my feet. Treize was still laughing, and I glared at him. Whether it's by a kid or an ancient, undead jerk, no one likes being laughed at. "What the fuck do you want with me, Treize?" I asked, my voice shaking with a mixture of fear and anger.

There was a soft, throaty growl, and I looked to the side in time to see the woman that had been lounging on the steps stand up. She moved fluidly up the stairs, leaving behind a trail of warm energy that rolled over me in waves. The bits of white leather she was wearing didn't leave much to the imagination; I could clearly see the smooth curve of her hips and buttocks as she moved away. Strangely enough, the sight didn't embarrass me at all. Her entire attitude colored how she moved and how I saw her so much that I don't think it would have bothered me if she'd been completely naked. Once at the top of the stairs, she sat down at the vampire's feet, leaning against his leg and resting her chin on his knee, all the while regarding me disinterestedly with her golden eyes. "Be careful how you speak to Master Treize," she said, her voice languid, "or I will eat your tongue."

I shut my mouth with an almost audible click. Two things were immediately evident to me in this particular situation; One, I did not want to mess with the woman, because she was not kidding, and two, while she wasn't a vampire, she sure as hell wasn't human. No human leaked energy like that.

Treize reached one hand down and idly stroked the woman's hair as if she were some prize pet in need of being soothed. "While indelicately put, my lady does indeed have a point. I have been treating you, Mr. Maxwell, with more courtesy than most Masters treat each other. I would ask that you reciprocate."

I gritted my teeth and ducked my head. Since Treize was still directing all of his attention at me, I guessed that I had to do all the talking...but I was damned if I was going to apologize. I did not like being screwed with. "I don't recall Miss Manners ever saying that mind games were a part of being courteous."

"Mind games? Really...why should I waste my time like that?" Treize smiled.

Despite my efforts to play it cool, I could feel my eyes widening with shock at the realization that had just steam-rollered its way over me. Treize hadn't been trying to take over my mind or mess with my head. He just leaked energy that much. He was just that old. If he ever really tried to pull me under with his eyes, I wouldn't have a snowball's chance in hell. "Jesus..." I whispered.

"He has nothing to do with the current situation, Mr. Maxwell, though he was a good man and interesting to speak with. I apologize, however, for losing control of my power in such a manner." Treize said calmly. "I brought you here, because I wish to seek your help. Aide is always better when freely given, I think." His gaze had almost palpable weight as it swept over us. "While most of the interest has been focused on you, Mr. Maxwell, because of the nature of your talents, your four compatriots also seem to be very powerful in their own right, though none of us are quite sure what the nature of that power may be."

For an instant, I could feel his attention focused to one side of me, at Wufei. Wufei tensed. "What do you need our help for?" He asked.

"There is a great deal going on, Mr. Chang, that humans have no idea about. There's an entire world contained in the hours that humans are asleep, and we have our own politics and battles. It was not my decision to bring you into this particular dispute. Calin, the imbecile that was sent here to kill me last year, decided that for you...his death brought you to the attention of quite a few significant groups in my world." Treize chuckled softly. "Calin was sent by the vampire council because lately, we have not been seeing eye to eye and while they would like to force me to comply with their wishes, they are too cowardly to take up the battle themselves. I've heard that they've sent another of their lackeys after me already."

"We've met." I said dryly.

"I don't find that surprising. Out of curiosity, who is it?"

"Some guy named Johannes." I shrugged. "He's threatening to kill a lot of people if I don't tell him where you are."

"That's interesting." Treize smiled. "Very interesting. I'll have to ask you not to reveal my location to him. Things could get very unpleasant for everyone in Tokyo if a pitched battle between us occurs."

"That does the people he's going to kill a lot of good."

"More people will die if you tell him where I am, Mr. Maxwell. I will take care of Johannes, rest assured."

"Yeah, right." I muttered, not feeling terribly reassured. Johannes might not have been as old as Treize, but I also knew that he wasn't anything to sneeze at. Suck. "Why's he gunning for you?"

"Because, Mr. Maxwell," Treize leaned forward a little, "I wish to bring my people out of hiding and make them part of your world."

He had to be kidding.

"It would make things a good deal safer for all parties involved." he continued, "Forcing someone to continually hide puts a great deal of stress on them, and that stress often is relieved with violence. Imagine a world where vampires are subject to the same laws as the human population and can be regulated in the same manner. It would make the world a safer place for you humans."

"You're crazy." I said. "There's no way the rest of the world would go along with that."

"You'd be surprised. I've already set things in motion in Tokyo. It's only a matter of time."

I didn't know what to say to that. The thought of vampires out, just walking around in the open, made my skin crawl. It couldn't work. Besides...even if legality meant that vampires would have laws and could be arrested, the same legality would probably make it a little tough for me to shoot them on sight. No deal. I shook my head. "I don't buy it."

"You don't have to like it or agree with it, Mr. Maxwell. The sad fact is, if you wish to keep not only Tokyo, but Japan and the rest of this world in one piece you have to either support me, or at the least not hinder me. The situation here is in a very tenuous balance. This is where the ruling council of witches currently resides." Treize lightly caressed the cheek of the woman, who still had her head on his knee. "My Lady Une is the Alpha of Korpar Avgang, which is now considered to be the strongest werewolf pack in this hemisphere because with them is the vampire known as the Master of Beasts."

I glanced at the Une. Suddenly learning that she was some kind of supernatural being didn't really faze me, strangely enough. Then again, when I'd already been hit with the neutron bomb of shocks, any surprise after that seemed kind of ordinary. Werewolves, though...I wasn't sure if I could believe that. Une idly watched me in return, her golden eyes almost glowing in the soft light. I had seen eyes like that before...one the wolves downstairs.

Oh. Shit.

A small smile crept over Une's lips, as if the woman could read what I was thinking in my eyes, and she yawned languidly, tensing her shoulders in a momentary stretch that set the lines of firm muscles in sharp relief on her arms. Another wave of warm, golden energy flowed over me. My stomach tightened, as well as things a little lower. /Now is not the time or the place. Cut that out./

Ok, maybe I could believe.

"If you lead the interloper Johannes to me, and he somehow manages by some fluke to kill me, what I have been holding in check here will explode. The streets will run with blood." Treize actually smiled slightly. "And then the existence of vampires will be revealed to humanity in that way. Either way, my wish will come true. Wouldn't it be better if there were less loss of life?"

I gritted my teeth. "Yeah, no loss of life is great...but you're forgetting the same thing as Johannes did." I grinned. "Before he died, I told Calin that I am Shinigami. I don't deal with vampires or work for them. I kill them. You're not going to get any help from me."

Treize nodded, not acting even the slightest bit surprised. "All I ask is that if you choose not to help me, you also do not help my enemies. I'd rather not have to consider you my enemy in this." While his statement still stayed pleasant, I got the distinct impression that being his enemy would be bad to the tune of lots of blood, not all of it necessarily mine.

I kept my grin in place. "Johannes is a blood-sucker too. He's not going to get any help either. I just want the both of you to leave me out of your ugly little turf war."

"You'll be forced to take a side soon enough, Mr. Maxwell. I'll let you have your illusion of neutrality for now." Treize rose to his feet, followed closely by Une, and he walked down the stairs toward us. The only thing that kept me from backing up and running away was the knowledge that it was a long way down to the bottom of the steps. All too soon, I was face to face, or rather face to chest with the Master of Tokyo. Like everyone else on the stinking planet, he was taller than me. Of course. "I have a personal favor to ask of you, Mr. Maxwell," he said. Une leaned up against his back, one arm wrapped loosely around his waist.

I looked up and focused my attention on his left ear. No way in hell was I going to look him in the eye. "Yeah?"

"I would like you to look into the fires that have been occurring lately; I've lost quite a few of my people to them. Before you refuse, please consider that a number of humans have died as well, and since we tend to live close to humans, if the fires continue, more people will die."

I fought off a grimace. "I'll look into it." I said, "no promises."

"None asked for. Thank you, Mr. Maxwell." Treize held his hand out.

I shook my head and pointedly tucked my hands into my pockets. "Sorry, but no. I'm not going to make things easier for you."

Treize chuckled softly. "You still think that I'm trying to roll your mind." He pulled back his hand. "Do you know who Shinigami is, Mr. Maxwell?"

"Me. I am. The God of Death." I raised my eyebrows.

Treize took a step forward. My nose was almost touching the royal blue jacket of the uniform he was wearing, and the faintly musky scent of Treize and whatever cologne he was wearing washed over me. Below it, I could catch a hint of the dull, earthy tone of old blood that seemed to follow every vampire. "Shinigami was and still is the Devil." Treize said.

Before I had a chance to respond, the world blinked.