The Holocene Pax - Chapter 3

Matt sat gingerly down on his bed, trying not to shove it into the wall like he had twice before. Once he was settled again, Don grabbed his seat from where it lay upturned and sat in it beside Matt.

"I want you to list for me what you know about vampires, in as few words as you can. Try and remember the order in which you list, too."

Matt held up some fingers and began to could off, squinting one eye. "Let's see, can't be out in the day, stake through the heart, allergic to garlic, weak to holy water, uhm... suck the blood of virgins, sleep in a coffin, turn into bats, night vision... I'm losing track here."

Don held up one hand, his head bowing forwards. "Ok, I'll run through those first. False, true, false, kinda true, half true, false, false, true."


Don sighed heavily. "Bloody Bram Stoker started a long string of misconceptions that have only been perpetuated by movies and terrible action novels. Some of it is fact, but usually not quite how you would think."

"Care to elaborate on that? I think I'm worse off than when we started this conversation."

"Daylight has no effect on vampires such as myself, beyond taking away some of our natural advantages. A cat can hunt in the day just as well as it can at night, but the prey is more vulnerable at night. This led to the misconception about catching on fire and whatever when exposed to daylight.

"Similarly, the blood of virgins thing is a distortion of the facts. Vampires and wolves have a strong need to hunt, but we honestly couldn't care if the prey is a virgin or not. We just prefer them to be healthy. It is the need to hunt and kill that has earned us the reputation for being reliant on blood.

"Most of the rest is just crap. Garlic, crucifixes, entering houses uninvited- they pose no more problem to me than they do any other man. Holy water does cause pain for us, because it actively tries to erode the cohabitation of souls, but I doubt you've ever even seen real holy water. Holy water takes real concentration from a saintly person, not a couple of words from someone who doesn't even know what the words mean."

"What about the stake through the heart and sleeping in coffins?" Matt asked.

"If I drove a stake through your heart, would you die?" Don paused significantly. "As for the coffin thing, no one sane likes to sleep in coffins. We have our share of nutjobs, but sleeping in coffins is still extremely unusual.

"As for the other two you mentioned, bats and night vision, I do have extraordinary night vision, but I cannot turn into a bat. Truth to be told, I do not change much at all: the body tries to match itself to how the soul is shaped, but it's unusual for us to change beyond growing claws and teeth, and our eyes slitting. When I'm hunting my nose might flatten, but that's about as far as it goes."

"How about super strength? My legs are ridiculous, and I know you're strong enough to stop that."

"Yeah, all members of the Blood Pact are inhumanly strong. The only human I've ever been bested by was a Viking woman who was defending her newborn. So think of it like being in a constant state of extreme adrenalin."

"Why were you fighting a Viking woman? Wait, how old are you?" Matt sized up Don with suspicious eyes.

"It's a long story fraught with misunderstandings. As for my age, I'm not telling. Suffice to say that vampires can, if they're smart, live for a very very long time."

"So all of this is the result of a having a second soul?"

"Yes. It takes a lot of life force to keep your body and mind in motion. Double the available force, and what you get is... extraordinarily intense." Don snapped his fingers, smiling. "Here's a good analogy: the human body is like a dam, that is powered by the water coming out from the turbines at the bottom. If you double the volume of the water behind the dam, the force of the turbines is going to be a lot more than double."

"Won't that wear out the body though? Like getting twice as many miles on a cars."

"Cars aren't self-repairing. Your body is made up of countless self-replicating cells, which are now working at a rate that would blow the top off of current medical science. Furthermore, even science acknowledges that a great deal of aging is purely mental. Your mind is a bit different, a bit more ruthless than it was, a bit more unrelenting. You will only age when you're healing from an injury. Stack up enough injuries and you'll become an old man, but stay out of trouble and you might never even hit middle age."

"So... do I have the same powers and junk that vampires do?" Matt looked at his legs. "I get the feeling I won't be growing claws."

"No, no claws for you. Or teeth. But you can grow the natural weapons of the goat at will: the horns. The goat is not a hunting creature however- when faced with a fight, your instincts will be to knock your opponent senseless, and then grow your hooves and escape to higher ground. We have discovered the hard way that satyrs love to leap up on top of light poles and powerlines."

"I guess it's pointless to ask this, but you're not undead and have a reflection, right? I still have a shadow and everything, right?"

"Weren't you listening earlier? If anything, we are more alive now. And yes, we both still have reflections and appear in photographs, and still have shadows. Note of interest, we actually started the mirror myth. Helped us out a lot to regain trust when people saw us do things we shouldn't."

"What about werewolves? Are they allergic to silver and change in the full moon?"

"No and no. The only exception is that a lot of them like hunting in the full moon. Don't ask me why, I don't understand it myself."

"Anything else I should know about myself? Any other weird powers or restrictions?" Matt regarded his hands with distrust, as if expecting them to turn to hooves at any second.

"Don't eat meat, it'll make you violently sick. Don't touch a sheep if you don't want to suffer a massive erection. Try not to spend all your time perched on high places: spend quality time on flat roofs instead, to help with that urge. And most importantly, no sex."

"Got it, I... wait, what!"

"You heard me. No sex." Don regarded Matt calmly.

"The hell not?!"

"Vampires and dires pass themselves down via biting. A mixing of saliva and blood, for at least a couple of seconds. Satyrs do it through intercourse. A mixing of fluids."

"That's ridiculous." Matt was aghast, staring at Don like he was crazy.

"I didn't invent the system, our ancestors did. And besides, a sustained bite and intercourse are much them same from a social perspective. It was intercourse that brought you into this world the first time, and intercourse that brought you into the world you are just becoming aware of." Don leaned back a little, folding his arms. "And judging from your body language, I would say that the latter intercourse was also your first time. I am sorry for that. Do you want to talk about it?"

"A vampire is asking me to discuss my sex life with him. No, thanks, buzz off."

Don leaned his head back and laughed, his fangs glinting in the light for a second. "I expected as such. It was Rose, wasn't it? She hasn't admitted to it yet, but everyone knows. Unless it was Zach. But you don't seem to swing that way."

That bit information startled Matt out of his foul mood for a second. "It works that way too?"

"Of course. It could be done orally too, before you get any ideas."

"This sucks." Matt flopped backwards. "I thought I had gotten a break, just once, and instead it completely overturns my life."

Don made a somewhat sympathetic face, the kind that shows that he had been in the same situation long ago. "Not how you were expecting to spend the summer after your senior year, I know. But brighten up- you're in good hands. We're much more organized than we were a thousand years ago. Hell, we're more organized than we were fifty years ago."


Laughter greeted Matt's plaintive question. "Boy, where do you think you are? You're smack in the middle of a Blood Pact campus, a facility run and owned by the Blood Pact. Tomorrow I will be introducing you to some of my fellow staff."

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I will make a point of this later in the story, but I am deliberately blowing a lot of the big dramatic secrets of the Blood Pact. I hate it when stories have the characters reveal powers (that they have supposedly had the entire time) one episode at a time. Don is (and therefore I am) deliberately laying pretty much all the cards down in front of Matt, one right after the other. The idea is that Matt (and therefore the audience) will have at least an inkling as to what is available later on, and there won't be any of this deus ex machina crap.