In the Presence of Royalty
Faye stretched her long legs out in the back of the plush limousine. Someone handed her a champagne glass full of warm red liquid, and she sipped it primly. "I don't dignify the rumors," she said, as if continuing a long-running conversation. "There are some who wish to discredit me. Others wish I was dead. Well, you know, more dead." She gave a tinkling laugh, a tendril slipping loose from her pinned-up hair. "The truth is, maybe I'm not the most conventional queen. But since when are vampires supposed to be conventional?"
The shimmering black car slipped through the streets of Chicago, bright lights playing off the high-gloss surface. Usually, Faye and her companions stuck to the outskirts of the city; she preferred the expanse of empty fields and the total darkness that only rural areas provided. But sometimes she liked to venture deeper into the center of things.
"I want a new recruit. Are there any good vampires in this city?"
Since becoming a vampire, Thea hadn't really had to worry about being interrupted or caught in the act of a theft. Supernatural strength and speed had its advantages, and it helped that Thea retained years of of theft expertise after her turning. Still, even as she ran through the crowded sidewalks of Chicago, a duffel bag slung over her left shoulder, trying to avoid hitting people as the owner of the pawn shop she robbed trailed after her, raining expletives into the air and shaking a baseball bat in his hairy fists.
Thea forgot the adrenaline rush almost being caught provided.
The vampire intentionally kept from running full-out, not wanting to arise suspicion as to whether she was actually human. The Great Revelation required vampires to be more careful in keeping things low-key, and that was why Thea was essentially running at half-throttle. She glanced over her shoulder to make sure the man chasing her was still a safe distance behind, feeling her foot step off the sidewalk and onto the street. She glanced back out in front of her, crossing the street as fast as she could, even though the light wasn't in her favor. She made it halfway through the street before sensing a black streak in her peripheral vision.
Glancing to her right, Thea saw a limo heading straight for her. Wide-eyed, the vampire lunged forward, falling face-first on the sidewalk. She grunted as her nose smashed against the concrete, splattering blood. The duffel bag fell off her shoulder, bouncing off the limo's windshield.
Springing back to her feet, Thea brushed black hair out of her face, wiping the blood from under her nose with her right wrist. Her face contorted in angry frustration.
"Guh!" she exclaimed. "Fuck monkeys!"
The car screeched to a halt. Faye was already throwing open the passenger door and hopping out onto the slick pavement. She surveyed the bag on the hood of the car, then looked down at the dark-haired figure sprawled over the ground. She loomed over her for a moment, a 5'7 girl with pink-streaked blonde hair, wearing a pink dress that looked as if it were whipped up by a confectioner. And then she grabbed the bloodied girl by the arm and hauled her to her feet as easily as if she were a sack of potatoes.
"You, goth-y girl. You're one of us."
The queen tilted her head at the sound of footsteps and heavy breathing behind them. She turned on her stiletto heel, a magnificent smile on her face. "And who's this charming creature? Ooh, I like your bat."
Prying her arm from the grip of the creepy girl, Thea felt her anger subside only when the other vampire noticed the burly man with the bat. The adrenaline was still flowing through Thea's veins, which was good, since the veins didn't see much use anymore. Her sneer turned into a smirk, a dark red line connecting her right nostril to her upper lip. Thea let her tongue snake out to lick it; it tasted like a pot junkie she'd eaten the night before. Odd one that was; Thea spent the next three and a half hours craving Cheetos.
"You don't recognize him?" Thea cracked. "It's Batman. I'd be The Joker, if I weren't so smoking hot. Mouth scars are flattering on no one."
The man snarled, spittle lodged in his black mustache. "That bitch," he groused, pointing a stubby finger and shaking his Louisville Slugger, "that undead whore stole my fucking money and made off with some of my most expensive merch! Fucking leech is gonna put me outta business!"
Thea laughed. "What? Like you're gonna put McDonald's out of business?"
Faye ignored the other vampire and took a step toward the bat-wielding human. "I understand," she said softly, her ice blue eyes boring into his. "It's very hard to retain your profit margin. But I want you to listen to me, and everything will turn out just fine. Lower your bat, return to your store, and forget this ever happened." She reached out a lithe arm and cupped his jowly cheek. "Go. If you don't, my friends will eat you."
The man nodded, his eyes glazed over. He dropped the bat, and it clanked against the ground. The vampire queen watched him walk away before turning back to Thea.
"The human brain is astonishingly simple, like a one-celled organism."
Thea watched the man walk back in the other direction, a look of stunned amusement etched on her pale features. It was a sight to see; she didn't recall Jedi mind tricks being part of the Vampire Manual. Come to think of it, Thea didn't recall there being a Vampire Manual. Someone could probably make a mint off that idea. She made a point to pursue that idea further at a later date.
"Wow," she said, grabbing the strap of the duffel bag and hoisting it over her shoulder again. "Pretty fuckin' sweet. All 'These are not the vamps you are looking for' and everything."
The vampire extended her arm. "I'm Thea."
The other girl held out a delicate hand. "Faye. Why don't you get in the limo with us? We're on our way to a special party, and I'd like you to come." She reached out and brushed away a lock of dark hair where it was stuck to Thea's sticky blood. Then she turned around and clapped her hands. "Darwin!" she called. "Pop the trunk and get out here. The lady needs to stow some cargo."
A millisecond later, a tall male vampire stepped out from the driver's seat. He took Thea's bag before giving her a small bow, then tucked it safely away in the trunk of the limo before opening the door for the two girls.
"Oh," Thea said with a sideways grin when the tall male appeared. "Hi."
Something about Faye was appealing to Thea, Maybe it was the whole mind control thing -- the vampire had to admit, that was still really cool -- or maybe it was something else entirely. Either way, Thea saw no issue with just climbing into a limo with a vampire she just met. An older -- and more cynical -- vampire might be a little more careful, less trusting. But Thea wasn't in this vampire thing to be careful; she was set to enjoy unlife to the fullest, and if that included partying with other vampires in a stretch limo, well ...
Sign her up.
Climbing into the limo, Thea pointed over her shoulder. "Is he single?" she asked with an arched brow. "Does he have a brother I could turn and make my eternal sex slave?"
Faye poured another champagne glass full of blood and handed it to Thea. "Darwin will service you in any way you require. He's very dedicated." She leaned back against the buttery leather of the seats. Two other vampires were sitting across from them, a statuesque redhead and a blond boy who looked no older than twenty. "Thea, these are my lieutenants, Marla and Oscar. Marla also doubles as my accountant, that's why she wears the sensible heels."
"I killed a CPA and raided her closet. She owned over 300 different pairs of designer shoes. Quite the fetish," Marla chimed in.
The queen raised her glass and smiled. "And this is Thea. We almost hit her with the car. She's coming to our party. Isn't she pretty?"
"Damn right I'm pretty," Thea grinned, raising her glass and taking a sip. "I'm a fucking fox."
She watched Darwin enter the car again, thinking she might have to one night take him up on that servicing thing. If he was half as good as Gaye made him sound, Thea would be in for a hell of a time. Though mostly one to rob people and drink their blood, Thea wasn't adverse to the occasional romp in the hay. Having someone who could keep up for once would be a nice plus.
They sat in silence for a few moments, the limousine swimming through the nightlife that littered the streets. The humans borrowed the night from vampires and made the mistake of thinking they owned it. That grated Faye beyond anything, and she knew it was she who had to make it right.
The car pulled to a stop for a second time, outside an ultra-modern skyscraper. A human opened the door, and Faye motioned for the others to get out before her. When it was finally empty, the ethereal blonde emerged and held out her pale hand.
"Your Majesty," said a man with slicked back dark hair and a faint accent. He bent at the waist and kissed her hand with soft lips. "Allow me to show you and your companions to the penthouse. We have everything set up, just as you requested."
Faye giggled girlishly ... then struck him across the face, sending him to the ground in a crumpled heap. "Silly, I don't request." She stepped across him, her sharp heels pressing into his lumpy flesh. "I command. And I can see myself up a fucking elevator by myself." She motioned for the other four to follow her.
Majesty? Command? Everyone was treating Faye like she was a queen. Maybe she was. Did vampires have a royal hierarchy like this? Thea knew of sheriffs, but she'd never heard of kings and queens in the world of the undead before. Then again, she'd only been a vampire for a little over a year, so Thea figured there were a lot of thing about the fanged subset she didn't know.
Stepping over the crumpled man on the floor, Thea chuckled. She liked this girl already.
The elevator sailed to the top floor, dinging to a stop as the shiny steel doors parted to reveal a suite. As they entered the room, the centerpiece was instantly within view. Six humans, bound and gagged and connected to a series of tubes. A few were unconscious, but the others were squirming and whining through their gags; the fear was palpable. Vampires mingled and worked the room like any ordinary party; the only difference was they were getting their drinks directly from the humans.
"Thea," said Faye, "can you tell me the difference between Tru Blood and human blood?"
If vampires could go to heaven, this was probably what it would look like. Thea would've been smiling, had her jaw not dropped at the sheer beauty of the sight before her. Humans, literally on tap. College students had their choice of domestic and imported beers, a veritable cornucopia of alcohol; vampires now had their choice of human blood. Male or female, different blood types ... Thea could feel her mouth watering.
Faye's question snapped Thea out of her trance. "One tastes like shit?" she guessed. "The real thing, you don't have to worry about a middleman?"
The queen ran her fingers playfully through one of the human's hair. "Yes. But what not a lot of us talk about, is there's also a big difference between human blood given willingly ... and human blood taken." Faye locked eyes with Thea. "The reason why humans are so addicted to livestock is because the fear, the adrenaline, is inside every shipment of meat. It comes from the animals right before they're killed. It's the same with people."
She let go of the scared creature and spread her arms out, gesturing to the room around her. "This is a prototype for what I want to undertake on a larger scale. Mass production. Not to raise our numbers so that we outnumber humans. But to keep ourselves strong and on top of the food chain, where we rightfully belong."
The gathered vampires all raised their glasses at this. "To our Queen," said some.
So Faye was a queen after all. Thea smiled, wondering how that reality came to be. On some level, the thought of one day being quen appealed to Thea -- especially the part where Faye had the really hot man servant and the humans-on-tap idea. Thea would never give up her nights as a thief; it was far too engrained into her psychew and being for her to ever give it up. But to wield the power that came with being a queen?
Sign her up.
"Shiny," Thea said, approaching one of the females hooked up the machine, watching as other bloodsuckers poured their glasses from her vitae. It was a mesmerizing sight, especially since the redhead was still conscious. "Bet the profits would be pretty kick-ass, too. Might put those dopey bottlers outta business."
"Mmm," agreed Faye, watching Thea with a pleased look on her delicate face. "Not that I need the money, though. I own this whole building, for example." She giggled again. "I've had seven centuries to build my stock portfolio. And to think I was made a vampire a few days after my Sweet Sixteen. Well, it wasn't really sweet back then ... but I've had plenty more to make up for it."
She sidled up to the raven-haired vampire. "I knew I'd like you. If you weren't already a vampire, I'd so turn you."
Thea smiled knowingly, turning to face Faye and brushing a hand along her hair. "You could do other things to me," she answered. "I definitely won't mind."
Again, the occasional romp in the hay. The obvious sexual benefits aside, the thought of being that close and intimate with a vampire so much older than her body told, with a member of the undead so powerful, others called her Majesty and bowed ... Thea would be lying if she said her insides weren't quivering at that moment. She was feeling the adrenaline again, but it was stronger this time -- and mixed with something far more primal.
"700 years," she added with a chuckle. "And here I thought I was special cause I made it past one."
The older vampire smirked, watching the party unfold in front of her, but very aware of Thea's hand on her. "I think we should carry this conversation on in private," Faye said, grabbing her hand and pulling her toward one of the five bedrooms in the loft. "I'm feeling a bit crowded, and I've already had plenty to eat."
Thea grinned, holding onto the queen's hand and waving to the others. "Well, I hope you saved room for dessert," she quipped.
Licking her lips, Thea glanced at the other vampires in the party. Of all the bloodsuckers in this thing, and Faye chose her. Thea wasn't sure what the queen saw in her, but she wasn't about to argue or complain, nor was she about to turn down the chance to be that close and intimate to power. No vampire worth his or her fangs would.
Thea laughed to herself again. Maybe she should dart in front of limos more often.