Chapter 3 -- 25 Years Earlier
Somewhere deep in the Carpathian Mountains forest, Jure Thanatos followed his older brother, Alin, into the rundown building that served as the headquarters of the vampire rebellion. Karayan Nelo, Parris Gregario, and the other two battalion commanders were already in the room. As the leader, Alin sat down behind the big desk and spread out a map. He started the meeting (in Romanian), “Well, today was a disaster…”
Karayan stood up and slammed his fist down on the desk. “A disaster? It was a catastrophe. We lost fourteen men today – six by air strikes before we crossed the line of departure. We cannot go on like this. We have to change our strategy.”
Alin locked eyes with Karayan, his face flushed with anger. “And what do you suggest, Napoleon?”
Karayan straightened up. “We cannot stand up to NATO with our small army. They are destroying us. We cannot face them in open combat. We need to move underground and start using terror.
“Terrorism? You mean targeting noncombatants? That will mean collateral damage. Innocent people will be killed.”
Karayan threw his hands up in the air. “There are no innocents. Currently, only vampires support us. We must convince all sapiens they cannot be neutral. If they do not support us, there will be no peace. They are either with us or against us – no in between”
Alin shook his head again. “No, no. I will not allow it. Do you think you could do a better job than me?”
Jure felt the cold barrel of a 9mm pistol in the back of his neck. Parris leaned forward and whispered in his ear, “If you move, you’re a dead man.”
“An orangutan could do a better job than you!” Karayan shouted.
At that insult, Alin’s nostrils flared, and he bared his fangs. Karayan did the same. Alin jumped onto the desk with both feet. With a loud growl, he leaped onto Karayan and grabbed his throat. But Karayan was ready for him. He grabbed Alin by the shoulders and rolled backwards. As he rolled back, he kicked Alin in the groin, lifting him up and over his head. Alin landed on his back with a thud that knocked the breath out of him. Karayan used Alin’ momentum to pull himself on top, straddling him. He grabbed Alin’s head and banged it on the floor.
The sound of his brother’s head hitting the concrete floor made Jure cringe. He wanted to jump in to help his brother, but Parris pressed the pistol into his neck even harder. A quick look around told Jure the others weren’t going to stop the fight even though no one was holding a pistol to their heads. Meanwhile, Karayan was slapping and punching a semi-conscious Alin.
Alin stopped resisting, so Karayan stopped beating him. He helped him to his hands and knees. “Damn it, Alin. Do I have to kill you?” Alin sat back on his heels and shook his head. He pulled his hair back, tilted his head to one side and bared his neck in the traditional vampire act of submission. Karayan snarled, bared his fangs and just as quickly stopped. Then he clasped Alin by the neck and hugged him. “I do not need your blood, comrade. I just want you to obey me and to be loyal to the cause.” And just like that, Alin was out as the leader and Karayan was now the commander of the rebellion in a bloodless coup.
Karayan turned to Jure. “Are we going to have trouble from you?” Jure tilted his head and bared his neck in the same manner as his brother. “Good.” Karayan hugged Jure. “There is work to be done. Effective immediately, I want you take over 1st Battalion. Parris will be our new intelligence officer. Go see your troops. Your staff is waiting for you. Don’t worry about your brother. He will be our new logistics officer. Everyone be back here at sundown. We will bury our dead and start planning our new strategy. Any questions?”
Jure was still in shock. Parris was the previous commander of the 1st Battalion. His vehicle was waiting outside to take Jure to his headquarters. It was now clear that the entire coup was well planned. It was the first time he had witnessed the traditional vampire act of submission even though little blood was lost. Personal fights between vampires seldom resulted in actual killing.