Vampire: Dark Ages
Moment of Trust
February 3, 2013. 1:30 am
Hunter barely noticed the trembling human that he had clutched in one arm as he stood at the end of the length of his chain with his hand held out toward Jacob for the acid he had asked for. This would work. The acid would chew through the chain, Duke was not around to stop him. He wanted OUT of here.
There was only one problem. Jacob was hesitating.
Oh HELL no… He’s NOT going to back out now…
“What’s the problem? Hurry up!” Hunter demanded, urgency adding to his irritation. And still, Jacob hesitated. Hunter could see it in his eyes as he looked between Hunter and the man he was clutching effortlessly. He could see the doubt in Jacob’s expression as he debated.
Hunter’s expression was neutral, but in the dim lighting his eyes were almost black as he stared at Jacob. After his long speech about why he wanted to help people be better… after asking Hunter many time to let him help… giving him a hard time for not trusting anyone…
Hunter was on the verge of serious anger, but it was held at bay by the simple fact that Hunter was not surprised. Words were just words; people could never always be trusted. Jacob was no different and had just proved that.
To his credit though, he finally tossed Hunter the bottle of acid. Hunter caught it, immediately pulled it open and began to slowly pour it over the silver chain where it attached to the floor. Asking Jacob to simply break the chain had occurred to Hunter, but he wasn’t in the mood to watch a weakling easily do something Hunter wanted to do himself and couldn’t. Besides, he needed to know that this would work in the future…
“Unless you need anything else, I’m leaving,” Jacob said.
“I need to talk to your primogen,” Hunter replied. “Whose contact information do you have from your clan?” He was quite sure that Jacob wouldn’t have the primogen’s direct number, but hopefully he could put Hunter in contact with someone who did.
Jacob had done everything he could to prepare himself for this call. He had Hunter’s requested nitric acid in a thick, mostly-opaque plastic bottle. He had memorized the layout that Hunter described, the one at ground level, and the one below. He even had bought a little flashlight to attach to his keychain in case it got dark.
Hunter’s directions over the phone had made it clear that the best route to take was through the restaurant, Hobo’s. The diner had a distinctly ‘mob-owned’ vibe to it, but was thankfully empty at the moment he chose to walk through the door.
A single, young waiter had approached Jacob, and a quick lie sent him to the back office looking for a wallet. From Hunter’s description, he could now take a route through the bathroom hall by the kitchen to the downstairs. Once the man was out of sight, he hurried as fast as we he was able down the stairs.
The first thing Jacob noted about the basement was how dark it was. The concrete walls seemed damp as well. This place wasn’t a cellar or a repurposed warehouse, it was a dungeon. He ran down the hallway, looking for the doorway Hunter had described. He took the first left – as directed – and continued a bit further. On his right was a single riveted door, slightly open.
Jacob tentatively pushed the door open, being careful to try and get a look of what was in the room. When the hinges creaked louder than he was prepared for, he dropped all pretense of stealth and pushed it fully. The door was heavy, but accepted the effort without further complaint.
Before even stepping into the room, Jacob was almost overwhelmed by the scent of Hunter. It wasn’t just his flesh though, the room smelled thick with his blood – and something else. He examined the little room quickly, but didn’t see anyone. The floor was spattered haphazardly with dried blood. It wasn’t hard to discern who it had belonged to. Except for a ominous chain and shackle harness, the room was completely empty though. Another riveted door – also partly open, was at the opposite end. He approached and leaned into it.
The second door opened with less noise. At first, the room seemed completely empty. As he pushed the door further though, the sound of hushed whimpering caught his hear. A bed and a nightstand sat in the far left corner, next to where a chain was bolted by a metal plate. The chain contained Hunter.
At his feet, there was an overturned tray, broken glass and something like water all over the floor. In his left hand, Hunter firmly gripped a young man. He seemed about the same age as the fellow who greeted him upstairs, but pierced with animal fear. His eyes shifted back and forth between Hunter and Jacob as he failed to process the situation. He met Jacob’s eyes and tried to mouth something. Even though the words weren’t effectively communicated, his plea wasn’t hard to discern.
Jacob knew Hunter well enough to know what would happen next in this situation. Once Hunter was freed, he wouldn’t stop killing with just the boy in his hands or even the one upstairs. A great many people might still die before Hunter would be satisfied.
“What’s the problem? Hurry up!” he said.
I empathize with Hunter, but what if I’ve been wrong about this the entire time? What if he really is just an unstable murderer? Freeing him now all but guarantees the deaths of … many people. Why did I ever agree to this?
For a few moments, Jacob’s mind recalled all the conversations they’d shared in the last month since meeting. Hunter had showed him how cruel life could be, and he, in kind, had tried his best to repay that cruelness with kindness. Maybe that was the key here.
If I can show him that I can be trusted, that perhaps even vampires can be trusted, perhaps in freedom, he’ll find a bit of his lost humanity. But is that worth the lives of these people? Who am I to judge matters like these?
Jacob sighed as he extracted the bottle of nitric acid from his jacket pocket. Its weight felt good in his hands.
The fact of the matter is, I made a promise to Hunter. I made a promise that I would help him if I can. Even now, I can’t predict how this is all going to fall together, but I need to honor my word. If I’m going to be trustworthy, I need to at least keep to that much.
He tossed Hunter the bottle without a word. He turned to leave, but then hesitated one last time.
“Unless you need anything else, I’m leaving,” He waited a second, intentionally not looking back at Hunter. He didn’t want to know what was in his eyes.
“I need to talk to your primogen,” Hunter replied. “Whose contact information do you have from your clan?”
That was surprising. He had planned some kind of political play to seal his escape. Jacob had somewhat expected him to just skip town. What are you planning?
His question made him call to mind the promises he had just made to the Mekhet leadership: Quinton Riley and Xavier VonDutch. It stung him that he had to break one word to keep another.
Then again, they didn’t make me take any oaths about Hunter…
He turned back to Hunter. “Quinton Riley is the Mekhet Priscus. You can reach him at 503-685-5674. He’s the closest thing I have to a contact in leadership. He can get you in contact with Xavier VonDutch, the Primogen. Anything else?”
He looked Hunter in the eyes before moving to leave. He tried to not seem conflicted anymore, though that was exactly what he was.
Hunter could tell that Jacob was only barely on his side of the fence as it were. Everything about his body language screamed discomfort and doubt. Even the way he answered Hunter in the presence of a human was telling. His eye contact and lack of it spoke volumes, particularly the difference in the way he looked at Hunter verses the man he was holding.
Hunter very much recognized that look. Just like everyone else. Well, not everyone…
“No,” he said, his tone matching the cold, indifference in his expression.
Turning his attention back to the chain, he added more acid until it finally dissolved enough for him to pull it free. Then he resealed the bottle and put it in his pocket. Next was eliminating his hostage. He gave Jacob exactly three more seconds to be on the other side of the door before he snapped the human’s neck like a twig and let his limp body drop to the floor.
Jacob knew what was going to happen next the moment he heard Hunter’s reply. He backed away slowly, then started off back out the door, then down the hall and to the left. He planned on not coming out the same way he had came in. He had parked his bike in an appropriately shady lot near the manhole entrance Hunter had pointed out over the phone.
As he moved, he realized that Hunter was no longer bound to his word. As of this very moment, Hunter no longer needed Jacob – for anything. It was disappointing to think that being as pragmatic as he was, Hunter would be rather unlikely to keep to his word. Still though, that didn’t mean the end of their relationship. He had given the him the number for the Priscus. That might be enough to keep them in at least semi-regular contact.
As he sat on his bike and pulled over his helmet, Jacob did everything he could to not look back. With a nearly desperate alacrity, Jacob started the engine. The weighty thrum of it would drown out Hunter’s escape, and the light drizzle would keep him comfortably cold.
Why do I feel so guilty? What was absolutely the right thing last night … how did it become so gray and morally ambiguous tonight?
Despite the fact that Jacob knew the sun would be up in a few hours, he decided to not stay out much longer. People would likely be looking for the cause of Hunter’s escape, and he didn’t want to be around for it.