Blood Moon, a Halloween Fic
by Sara

Lieutenant Archie Kennedy looked out over the water,
and the visible shoreline. Once again, loyalties had
changed, and the Spanish had become allies. He
listened to the voices of the crew as they told
stories, fables, and generally unbelievable tales of
Halloweens past. A smile crossed his face as he saw
Oldroyd watching Styles with wide eyes as he swallowed
whatever tale Styles was weaving for his benefit.
Kennedy turned as familiar footsteps heralded
Horatio's presence.

"Calm night." Horatio commented as he drew a bit
closer.

"Hmmm, a bit chilly too." Kennedy answered after
briefly looking at Horatio before turning his gaze
back out over the water.

"Something bothering you?" Horatio asked. His brow
was furrowed with concern, and Archie tried to smile
to alleviate some of his anxiety.

"No, I've just been listening to too many of the
crew's stories. It's not that I believe them, but
strange things do happen out here."

Horatio didn't answer. He, too, looked out over the
calm water. With a practiced eye, he looked about to
find any breath of wind, but there was none. The only
thing visible was a huge full moon. The glow from it
seemed to light Archie's fair hair from within -
giving him an almost unearthly appearance. Archie,
completely oblivious to any physical attributes within
himself, shook his head before a shudder seemed to
rack his whole body. Horatio started towards him,
hand outstretched, visions of Archie's past fits
jumping to the forefront of his mind, before he
realized there was no fit forthcoming.

"Strange sensation." Archie murmured, almost to
himself. He gave himself another shake as though to
remove some image from his thoughts.

"What is?" Horatio asked. Archie looked up at him,
but Horatio had looked back at the men, pretending
disinterest in whatever it was that seemed to be
bothering Archie.

"Nothing." Archie paused, his fingers and gaze
suddenly mobile. "I... I... will you...."

Horatio looked at him, but realized Archie was miles
away, even as he stood before him. Silently, Horatio
backed slightly away. Archie, with a vague gesture,
acknowledged Horatio's change in position, but said
nothing more. For long minutes, Horatio waited for
Archie to continue, but finally realized he wasn't
going to finish his thought.

"I must start my watch." Horatio said as the ship's
bell rang. Archie nodded vaguely in his direction,
before again becoming lost in his own thoughts.
Horatio reluctantly turned away, to head for the
quarter deck. He relieved Cleveland, and, after
taking stock of all the necessaries, looked back to
where Archie had been standing. There was no one
there. For a moment he looked frantically around
before he finally noticed the shrouds swaying. He
looked up to see Archie's boot heels as he headed for
the fighting top. He relaxed then, and looked about
the deck.

Archie continued his steady climb. The brief thought
crossed his mind how much Horatio disliked heights.
*It's the only thing I can easily do better than he.*
Horatio would have given him a wry smile if he'd seen
the grin of devilish enjoyment cross Archie's face at
that moment.

With a final pull, Archie yanked himself onto the
platform. As he'd suspected, it was deserted. There
was a lookout stationed on the foremast, and another
on the mizzen, but no one had been stationed on the
main. *I can finally sit in peace.* With a sigh, he
sat back and gazed up at the moon. He let his
thoughts drift, bad memories and good coming into
sharp focus before fading again into the background.
He shuddered as thoughts of Simpson came unbidden, his
taunts, beatings, comments, and worse. He remembered
listening to Horatio tell him what had been said after
he'd left The Lamb after Clayton had been shot - "This
isn't over...."

"He'd dead!" Archie said, aloud. "He truly no
longer has any hold over me."

The determination in his voice, unfortunately, was
not echoed in his heart. He looked down at the deck,
saw Horatio pacing on the quarter deck, the hands
still circled around Styles as his tale must have
gotten even more unbelievable. He sighed as he looked
at his hands. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw
something moving, backlit by the moon. His head
jerked up as all his senses tried to focus on that one
motion. *It's probably just a gull. I should ignore
it. There's no way it could be anything else.* A
sudden bark of laughter from the hands distracted him.

"Cor, there's no sooch thing as vampires!!!!!"
Oldroyd's voice floated up from the deck.

"Oy, would Oi lie to yeh?" Styles responded. Archie
grinned to himself as he envisioned the large man's
expression of innocence as he looked at Oldroyd.

************************************Archie's grin
faded as he again saw a flicker of motion out of the
corner of his eye. This time he got a better look at
the figure. His blue eyes widened as he registered
what the thing appeared to be - the shape of a man.

Startled, Archie shook his head and blinked his eyes.
He got to his feet, and walked to the edge of the
platform, hand clinging to the ratlines to help
maintain his balance. The figure seemed to disappear,
and he looked around. Neither of the lookouts acted
as though they'd seen anything, and no one on deck was
calling out an alert either. He scanned the sky, but
he didn't see anything more.

Shaking a bit he sat back down. He tried to regain
the peace he found when he'd first climbed to the
fighting top, but his mind kept reliving the sight of
the figure's silhouette against the moon. *It's
nothing. You saw nothing. It's just your imagination
because of that story Styles was telling.* Gradually,
he began to relax. Sighing deeply, he looked back out
at the peaceful sky. The only figures he saw were
shorebirds gracefully arcing through the clouds, and
tranquility again suffused him.

He was surprised out of his thoughts by a yell from
the mizzen mast lookout. Archie jumped to his feet to
see if he could what caused the alert. The crewman
was racing towards the deck, and after a quick glance
around, Archie followed. However, before he could
reach the deck, the crewman was surrounded by his
mates, and the officers had to force their way through
to hear his report.

Crewman Roberts was incoherent and gasping - both
from fear and the speed with which he'd descended.
"A....a....a man...." he panted.

"Roberts, what did you see, man?" Horatio demanded
sharply.

"He...he was f-flying" Roberts answered.

For long moments, Horatio said nothing before he
snapped, "Don't be ridiculous, man. How many spirit
rations have you had?"

Archie paused, mid-step, as Roberts' words sank in.
He strode towards Horatio, and steered him out of the
group of seamen.

"Horatio," his eyes were wide, "perhaps you should
talk to Roberts alone." His voice was cautionary.

"What are you talking about, Archie?" Horatio's voice
was still sharp. "The man is obviously drunk."

"Maybe not. Let me talk to him, and maybe we'll get
the full story from him." Archie's eyes pleaded with
Horatio to let him try. After a moments hesitation,
Horatio nodded permission.

Archie and Horatio returned to the men, and Archie
said to Roberts, "Come with us. I know you aren't
drunk, or not any more drunk than usual."

The crew chuckled as Archie's quip spread through
their ranks. Even Roberts relaxed as a sheepish grin
crossed his face. Feeling much more calm, Roberts
followed Archie and Horatio to a corner of the deck.

"Oi told ya whot Oi saw, sir." Roberts said as soon
as Horatio was facing him.

Horatio didn't respond, but looked to Archie for his
questioning to start. Archie saw the look, and with a
slight node turned to Roberts.

"What exactly did you see, Roberts?" Archie asked.
He'd decided blunt would be the most effective method
of questioning.

"Well, sir, Oi started me watch. There wasn't mooch
to see - too dark but for the moon."

Archie and Horatio nodded as they waited for him to
continue. With a nod of his head, Roberts went on.

"The only noise was me mates list'n to Styles."
Roberts stopped again as he flashed a huge grin,
"Styles ëas a way w'stories."

"I know, man." Horatio burst in impatiently.

Archie discreetly shushed him by stepping on his
foot. "Were you listening to Styles?" he asked with
apparent disinterest.

"Oi can't ëear mooch from oop the mizzen."

"Of course not," Archie agreed, "but did bits drift
up to you?"

"Mebbe some." Roberts thought for a moment, "Oi
couldn't ëear everything though, sir."

"Did you hear enough for it to...." Archie hesitated.

Roberts looked at him shaking his head. "Oi know
whot Oi saw, sir, and it didn ëave nowt to do with
Styles."

"What exactly did you see?" Horatio cut in.

Roberts squinted off into the distance before
answering, "Oi saw a man, sir. ëE was flying. Oi saw
ëim against the moon." He looked directly into
Archie's face as he finished, "Oi ëaven't been
drinking, or list'ning to Styles." He looked from one
officer to the other.

Horatio dismissed him, and turned to Archie. "Well,
what do you think?"

Archie didn't say anything. Finally, he turned to
Horatio and said, "I saw something, too, Horatio. I
don't know what it was. I only caught a glimpse, but
it did appear to be a man."

Horatio turned his back to Archie. He walked away a
few steps before turning back.

"Are you sure, Archie?"

"As sure as I can be." Archie answered. His face was
serious, completely devoid of any humor. With a sigh,
he turned away from Horatio, as Horatio had done to
him, and headed for the ladder below decks. Before he
descended, he looked back to say, "You know I'm not
drunk."

Horatio didn't respond, but instead watched his
friend disappear below. His face was puckered with
concern as he returned to the quarterdeck to finish
his watch.

Archie reached his cabin, and with a heavy heart
closed himself in. He sat on his bunk, head held in
his hands. In his mind's eye, he saw the figure
against the moon superimposed with Horatio's look of
disbelief. *Maybe I didn't really see anything. It
must have been the light, or I'm just tired.* He
leaned against the wall, depression settling on him.
As he let his mind wander from topic to topic,
memories of Simpson surfaced. *"It's been a long
time...."* echoed and re-echoed in his head. He
shuddered as he remembered Simpson's tone.

**********************

 

Archie was startled from his thoughts by a midshipman
knocking on his door. He opened it, to find the boy
panting from exertion.

"What is it?" he demanded.

"Captain wants to see all officers in his quarters,
sir. You'd better go right quick." The boy knuckled
a salute, and vanished down the corridor to wake up
someone else.

Archie grimaced a bit, but pulled on his jacket and
headed for the deck. On his way, he met up with
Bracegirdle.

"Evening, Mr. Kennedy. I trust you weren't too
deeply asleep before summoned." Bracegirdle said
affably.

"No, sir, I was to start my watch soon, so I wasn't
asleep." Archie answered with a tight smile.

"Very good, Mr. Kennedy." Bracegirdle replied.

They knocked on the Captain's door together. At the
sound of his sharp "Come" they entered.

"Ah, Mr. Kennedy, Mr. Bracegirdle, I see we are now
all accounted for." Pellew said as the door closed.

The two officers found seats, and waited for Pellew
to continue. Archie sat as far from Horatio as he
could, but found himself looking over to see if his
disbelief was still there.

Pellew waved a piece of parchment, and began to
speak. "Gentlemen, I have received word from the army
officers stationed here that we are to meet with the
Resistance and their compatriots. I have selected Mr.
Bracegirdle and Mr. Hornblower to accompany me ashore
to act as my aides. In my absence, Mr. Kennedy is the
ranking command officer, with Mr. Bowles to assist
him." He nodded at the officers in question, and all
four nodded in acquiescence.

The briefing continued with few interruptions. At
it's conclusion, Horatio caught Archie's sleeve. "Are
you ready for this?

Archie looked solemnly at him before answering, "I
am. What I told you before, perhaps I was mistaken,
but doesn't it seem strange that two people had the
same vision?"

Horatio was saved from replying as Archie quickly
left.

*********************

*********************

A short while later, Pellew, Bracegirdle, and Horatio
landed ashore and made their way up the beach where
they were met by the army officers. Afer getting
their accommodations settled, Pellew and Farrar, his
army counterpart, headed for the council room.

"There is another gentleman who will be joining us,"
Farrar said as they walked, "he's a Frog, but he
doesn't fight."

"Why is he a part of this meeting?" Pellew asked.

"He came to our attention as a result of his efforts
working with the wounded of both sides." Farrar
replied. "There's one more things about him you
should be aware of..."

"And that is?" Pellew prompted.

"He's a monk, but before he took up that calling, he
was a soldier. He's still adept at strategy." Farrar
finished.

Pellew said nothing as they halted before a closed
door. Farrar reached for the knob, but Pellew stopped
him.

"How do you know he's still adept at strategy?" he
asked, eyes narrowed.

Farrar, still poised to open the door, nodded. He
dropped his hand and stepped back.

"Without seeing our plans, he was critiquing them."

Pellew's eyes widened. "Can we trust him?"

"Hmmm, we can use him. His criticism was equally
against the Spanish and French forces." Farrar
shrugged in a very Gallic mannerism. "Shall we?"

Reluctantly, Pellew nodded, and they went in.

"Darius, may I present Captain Sir Edward Pellew of
His Majesty's frigate *Indefatigable*." Farrar said
with a flourish. "Captain, this is Darius."

"Captain, it is a pleasure to meet you." Darius said
with a smile of greeting.

"As it is for me." Pellew replied. He looked about
the room. It was filled with maps, troop movements,
and other topographical information. Trying to be
unobtrusive, he looked at the notes Darius had made.

Darius followed his eye, with a smile, he handed
Pellew the parchment. "This battle was over a week
ago," he said, "the French lost the ground they'd
gained two days before - I was looking to see if
either side should have been able to capitalize on any
perceived advantage. I concluded there were
opportunities lost on both sides."

"I am more familiar with naval tactics," Pellew said
as he looked over the parchment. "You, however, seem
experienced in land maneuvers."

Darius took the parchment back and walked around the
table. With his back to Pellew, he said. "I led
battles before I abandoned the world and killing." He
held up his hand to stop Pellew's next words," Before
you ask, they were not battles you are familar with.
My experience is still useful, but I use it to help
neither side. I am a monk, as you can see, my only
intent in leaving my sanctuary is to be of service to
the wounded, dying, and dead. I leave the planning
and fighting to those more willing."

With his obvious neutrality established, Pellew,
Farrar, and Darius began their discussions.

******************

Horatio, Bracegirdle and the army aides sat on the
veranda of the house. They knew their superiors were
inside deep in discussions, but they sat, some
smoking. Horatio was restless.

He finally stood up, and began to pace. The army
officers looked at him curiously, but Bracegirdle
distracted them. After ignoring his pacing for as
long as possible, Bracegirdle finally interrupted him.

"Mr. Hornblower, perhaps a walk on the beach would be
beneficial." he suggested.

Horatio stopped, mid-step. He looked at the other
men and flushed. "My apologies, gentlemen, I....if
you will excuse me.

At Bracegirdle's nod, he left.

He walked along the shore looking out at the Indy
gently bobbing at anchor. The full moon illuminated
his way, and a feeling of peace tried to creep through
him. He stopped and sighed. Just as he was about to
continue his walk, he heard a rustle of fabric behind
him, and as he turned, he heard,

"It's been a long time, Snotty."

Horatio stared in disbelief, his logical mind
repeating, *This isn't real. It's not happening.
It's a trick of the light and ocean. I'm not seeing
this!* He turned to walk further down the beach, but
with the same rustle of fabric, Simpson was agin
before him. Horatio changed directions, but still
Simpson appeared, smiling sardonically at Horatio's
attempts to elude him.

"This isn't real." Horatio said aloud, ignoring the
figure before him. "Simpson is dead. This isn't
happening."

"Do you believe in ghosts, Snotty?" Simpson taunted.

 

Horatio headed for the lights of the house, until
Simpson caught his arm.

"Could I be a figment of your imagination? No, you
don't have one, do you, Snotty." Simpson hissed into
his ear.

Horatio whipped around, startled.

"Did you miss me?" he asked.

Horatio backed up a few steps, thoughts of the
strange sightings on the ship jumping to mind. He
shook his head in disbelief.

"C'mon, Snotty, answer me." Simpson drawled, his
voice growing hypnotic.

"I...I...." Horatio suddenly knew how Archie felt
when Simpson appeared from the shadows of the
*Justinian* so many years ago.

"So, you made lieutenant." Simpson continued in the
same tone after looking at Horatio's new uniform. "Am
I supposed to call you ësir' now?" After waiting for
Horatio to speak, Simpson continued, teeth glinting in
the moonlight. "No, I'm dead, so don't have to call
you anything, but you will call me ëMaster.'"

Horatio shook his head to try to dispel the foggy
feeling which pervaded him. "Never!" He ground out
through clenched teeth.

Simpson lunged towards him, but Horatio evaded him,
the fogginess beginning to fade. With quick steps, he
headed towards the lights of the house with Simpson's
mocking laughter following.

After Horatio moved away, Simpson smiled evilly, and
leapt into the air. Horatio, again hearing the rustle
of fabric, looked back, but Simpson was gone. He
shook his head, and looked up as a shadow crossed the
moon. He saw a faint reddish tinge mar it's
brightness.

*********************

*********************

Simpson landed on a deserted hill a couple of miles
away. A short time later another figure flew in.

"Good evening," the newcomer said as he walked up to
Simpson.

"You made good time." Simpson snarled.

"Did you really think you could out fly me?" the
other asked. "I made you. I am your Master. I will
always be able to find you."

"La Croix, how soon will I be able to bring someone
across?"

La Croix pinned him with an icy blue stare. Simpson
fidgeted slightly under the scrutiny.

"Do you think you have enough control not to feed
completely?" he asked, his tone dead.

Simpson matched his glare. "If I've already fed, I
will be able to stop."

La Croix circled him. "It sounds as though you've
selected both victim and child." He noted.

"I have," Simpson agreed. He smiled again, but this
time the reddish moonlight seemed to coalesce in his
eyes turning them red. The light glinted off his
teeth where fangs had suddenly appeared.

La Croix noted the change, but said nothing. His
immutable gaze remained fixed, and after long moments
of fiendish smiling, Simpson continued, "Yes, I have
selected my victims - two officers I used to serve
with; one a weakling, and the other filled with
senseless stupidity."

"Their names?" La Croix prompted.

"The weakling, Mr. Kennedy, I shall feed upon." He
smirked in anticipation. "While the other, Mr.
Hornblower, I shall bring over."

The reddish cloud suffusing the moon seemed to
intensify. La Croix gazed contemplatively at it. "Do
you think they will be easy to take?" he asked as he
turned back to Simpson.

"They will have no one to protect them." Simpson
replied. His smirk turned back into the wolfish
smile.

*********************

Archie stood his watch on the quarterdeck. All was
quiet with the ship at anchor. After raking the deck
with an experienced eye, he looked at the sky and
shivered.

In the silence, he heard the men talking as they went
about their tasks. He listened harder as one of the
older hands caught Matthews' arm, and pointed to the
moon.

"Cor, that's a blood moon, that is." he muttered to
Matthews.

"Get back to work," Matthews replied gruffly, "D'ya
want ta get the ëands all riled again?"

The other man shook his head, and went back to work.
Matthews paused, looked at the sky, and his shiver of
apprehension echoed Archie's.

"Aye," Archie mumbled to himself, "that is a blood
moon." Images of the figure flying replayed in his
mind, along with Styles' tall tale about vampires.
"It's Halloween. That's why we're so edgy." he said
to himself.

Mr. Bowles, who'd come on deck to double check
everything was as it should be, heard him, but said
nothing. He headed for the taffrail, and stood
quietly watching the men and Archie.

***********************

***********************

Horatio reappeared at the house where they were
berthed. He hesitated on the porch before readying
himself to enter. He jumped, startled, as a hand
emerged from the darkness to touch his arm.

"My apologies, I did not mean to frighten you." A
voice, with a French accent, said from the darkness.

Instinctively, Horatio began to draw his sword, but
his hand was stayed as the figure moved into the
light. The man wore a monk's robe, and he held out
his hands to show he carried no weapons concealed in
the garment's capacious folds.

"My name is Darius. I have been helping with the
dead and wounded. I was brought here to assist you."
the man's tone was conciliatory, and his face was
gentle beneath his cowl.

Horatio eyed him suspiciously. He was interrupted in
answering by the door opening, and Pellew striding
out.

"I see you've met." he said to both of them.

"Not officially," Darius replied with a smile, "but I
assume this is the illustrious Mr. Hornblower you were
telling me about."

"Aye, that it is." Pellew said. "Well, Mr.
Hornblower, aren't you going to introduce yourself?"

Horatio stammered for a moment before turning to
Darius. "I'm pleased to meet you, sir, even in these
circumstances."

Pellew eyed him appraisingly before asking, "What
circumstances are those, Mr. Hornblower?"

Horatio swallowed convulsively and looked from Darius
to Pellew and back, "Ah, the fact our two countries
are at war, sir." He tried to smile, but it died on
his lips at the look Pellew turned on him.

"Mr. Hornblower is unaware of my neutrality in this
conflict, Captain Pellew. Please do not censure him
for his...lack of knowledge."

Pellew inclined his head towards the Frenchman ,and
gestured for he and Horatio to precede him inside.
Darius smiled, blue eyes twinkling, as he entered the
house. Pellew caught Horatio's arm.

"Darius is an ally, Mr. Hornblower, please be so good
as to remember that."

"Aye, sir." Horatio said as Pellew released his arm.

Pellew gestured for him to enter, but Horatio
hesitated.

"Well, Mr. Hornblower, what is it?" he asked in
exasperation.

"Sir, something strange happened when I was on the
beach earlier." Horatio paused, his head still feeling
a bit foggy.

Pellew waiting for him to continue, but when no more
words seemed to be forthcoming, he prompted, "Well, go
on."

"I saw and spoke to Mr. Simpson, sir." Horatio nearly
whispered.

Pellew looked up at the reddish moon before taking a
deep breath and facing Horatio again. "What do you
mean, sir? Mr. Simpson is dead, and has been for
years."

"I know, sir." Horatio answered, "But I saw him as
clearly as I see you now."

Pellew harumphed and entered the house.

******************************

******************************

Horatio, to escape Pellew's skepticism, found a dark
corner in which to ponder his encounter on the beach,
his thoughts finally clear. He sat back, enveloped by
the chair, deep in thought. Deep fatigue suffused him
as he let his thoughts drift. Pellew's words came
back to him. *"Mr. Simpson's dead, and has been for
years." I know, Captain, I saw you kill him.*
Absently, he rubbed his arm where Simpson had grabbed
him. *Simpson is dead. Therefore, I didn't see him,
so tonight was an aberration of moonlight, fatigue,
and strange surroundings. Perhaps I am going mad.
Would I be this coherent if I were mad?* his thoughts
raced until he emitted a small groan of frustration.

A hand appeared over the arm of the chair and lightly
shook him. *"Kennedy, I said wake Hornblower, not me
and the whole damn ship!"* echoed in Horatio's ears at
the light touch. He jerked upright to look into the
light blue eyes of the monk, Darius.

"I didn't mean to frighten you," Darius said, "but
you seemed to be in the middle of a nightmare."

"No...well, perhaps." Horatio stuttered.

"If not a nightmare, a memory?" Darius queried as he
watched for Horatio's reaction. He stiffened. "Would
you rather speak to your captain or Mr. Bracegirdle?"
Darius half turned as if to go in search of them, but
Horatio stopped him.

"No, that is not necessary." He straightened. "I'm
fine."

"So young and confident," Darius murmured. "Never
displays weakness - always in control." He smiled and
seated himself close to the banked fire.

Horatio watched him covertly, but Darius made no
further attempts to speak to or question him. The
silence grew longer, and Horatio began to fidget. He
stood, grabbed the poker, and re-kindled the fire. As
the flames began to crackle, he broke the silence.

"I am not always in control." He looked at Darius
who was gazing into the fire.

"Aren't you?" Darius asked, eyes never wavering from
the flames. "You may confide in me, Mr. Hornblower,
and I shall not betray your confidence."

"Are you a priest that you speak so?" Horatio
demanded, but his tone betrayed uncertainty.

"Yes, as well as the humble monk you see before you."
Darius replied with a serene smile.

"I do not hold with confession." Horatio stated
bluntly.

Darius let that statement linger for a moment. "That
is your right, Mr. Hornblower, but perhaps your load
would not be so heavy if you shared it with someone."

Horatio eyed him suspiciously, but there was a slight
weakening of his resistance.

"Why don't we merely sit and enjoy the fire together,
and leave such serious discussions for another time."
Darius suggested.

Horatio drew his chair closer to the flames, and the
two men sat companionably together, in silence.
Eventually, they both stretched their legs out and
relaxed. Horatio broke the silence.

"Why did you take orders?" he asked.

Darius tensed a bit as images of his past raced
through his mind. "I saw many dark and terrible
things, Mr. Hornblower. I could no longer take part
in the killing, so I retreated into the sanctuary of
the Church."

Horatio looked at him, a bit startled. "You took
part in killing? Who were you at war with?"

"Anyone who was there, Mr. Hornblower." Darius said,
heavily. "I led armies, and generally succeeded in my
battles. I was an excellent strategist, still am, but
I decided I could not be a part of death anymore. It
was both the easiest and most difficult decision I
ever made - many of my comrades still question it."

Darius turned to smile wearily at him. Deliberately,
he resumed his relaxed pose, but Horatio could still
see the tension.

"Do you ever miss the challenge?"

"Of planning?" Darius asked, his eyes boring holes
through Horatio's.

"Yes," Horatio answered, eyes lighting up, "the
challenges of planning an attack, and watching as it
takes shape around you."

"And watching those around you fall to someone else's
strategy?" Darius added. "Your friends, countrymen,
and comrades dying."

Horatio sat in silence. A couple of times he opened
his mouth to speak, but no words came out. He shifted
uncomfortably.

"Are you ready to speak about your problem yet?"
Darius asked.

When Horatio looked at him, all he saw was concern.
He nervously twisted his hands in his lap.

"I saw something tonight, but since it couldn't be
real, I didn't really see it." his words got softer as
he finished, almost as if he were thinking aloud.
Darius waited patiently for him to continue. "I must
be going mad." finally slipped through his clenched
teeth.

"You are not mad, Mr. Hornblower." Darius stated,
"What did you see?"

Horatio stood and began to pace. For awhile, Darius
watched him, but soon his gaze returned to the fire.

"Do you believe in ghosts?" Horatio suddenly asked.

Surprised, Darius looked at him. "Logically such
belief makes no sense, but there are many things logic
cannot explain." he answered.

Horatio absently rubbed his arm again. As he did, a
slight expression of pain crossed his face.

"Are you hurt?" Darius asked.

"No," Horatio answered, confused, "Why do you ask?"

"Your arm," Darius pointed. "When you rubbed it, you
winced. It looked like you were in pain."

Horatio looked at his sleeve. He pressed on his arm,
and gasped as pain finally registered. He removed his
coat, and rolled up his sleeve. Darius stood as
Horatio's face drained of color.

"What is it?" he asked, as he gently pushed Horatio
into his chair.

"My arm," Horatio extended it, "Look at it." his
voice had a note of terror in it. Darius looked down
to see a bruise in the shape of a hand clearly etched
on Horatio's skin.

"Who grabbed you?" he asked, noting the newness of
the bruising.

"A ghost." Horatio answered.

Darius sat down again, eyes searching Horatio's face.
"Mr. Hornblower, no ghost gave you that mark."

"Then how? He's dead. I saw him die." Horatio said.
"Captain Pellew shot him as he tried to kill me."

Darius froze. He'd not felt the presence of any
other Immortals, but one could have been too far away
for him to sense. "You say he died. How do you
know?"

"The captain shot him through the heart." Horatio
answered. "The whole crew watched him die on that
beach. But, Darius," Horatio looked at Darius
searchingly. "You don't seem as shocked as..."

Darius took a deep breath. "Mr. Hornblower," he
said, "I have seen and experienced many strange things
- very little surprises me."

Horatio looked at him again. His eyes were huge in
his now pale face. "This isn't the only strange
sighting this evening." he said. Darius indicated he
should go on. "Before we came ashore, both a lookout
as well as a good friend saw something. I first
dismissed it as intoxication, but Mr. Kennedy doesn't
ever drink his full ration much less enough to get
drunk."

"What did they see?" Darius asked, his tone
carefully noncommital, but visions of Immortals
dueling and dying racing through his mind.

"They said they saw a man flying. He was silhouetted
against the moon." Horatio's skepticism was still
clearly evident in his tone. "But since men can't
fly, they must have been mistaken."

"A man flying?" Darius repeated. Horatio looked
confused as he caught the note of relief in Darius'
voice. "You're right, men don't usually fly, but..."
his words trailed off as he mentally completed his
sentence, *if Immortals exist, then why not men who
can fly.*

"At the time," Horatio said, his expression
quizzical, "I attributed the sighting to a horror
story about vampires one of the crew was telling."

The stories Darius had heard throughout the centuries
came back to him. The living dead, much as he was,
but hunters of men, not each other. A peculiar brand
of immortality - feeding on human blood, unable to see
the sun without it burning and killing them, repelled
by garlic, weakened by crosses, able to be killed by a
wooden stake through the heart or fire, and, lastly,
the ability to fly.

"...Styles' tale told of men with inhuman strength
and speed, with the ability... to... hypnotize...
their victims...." Horatio's words slowed and stopped.

"Does something there remind you....." Darius
prompted.

"Simpson." Horatio answered. "He appeared suddenly;
was before me no matter which direction I turned, and
he tried.... I don't know."

"What else?"

"He said I would call him ëMaster.'"

The last bit of lore surfaced. The vampire's ability
to make other like themselves - the ability to create
children. The final difference between his race and
theirs.

"Myths are sometimes borne of reality, Mr.
Hornblower." Darius said softly. "Tonight of all
nights, I think all things are possible."

"Where do you find logic in this?" Horatio demanded.
He felt as though huge hands had grabbed his
universe, torn it to shreds before his eyes, and now
he was left trying to find a way to reconcile the
events.

"I have lived a long time, Mr. Hornblower, and seen
many things you would not be able to answer with
reason or logic. Call this a freak of nature, but
until we find out what or who it is, I don't think
anyone is safe."

"No one was ever safe from Simpson." Horatio
murmured, looking at his hands.

"The man you saw who'd tried to kill you?"

"Aye. If, and I don't believe it is, but if what you
say is possible, then I know who he will go after -
Mr. Kennedy."

"Your friend." Darius stated.

"Yes, my best friend." Horatio replied.

**************************

**************************

Archie ascended the rigging to the fighting top. He
settled back, and looked down at the crew working
below him. *I wonder what Horatio is doing?* he
thought. His gaze shifted to the still reddish moon,
and another shiver of apprehension coursed through
him. As he sat, he grew colder and colder, the weight
of command sinking into him.

Periodically the crew looked up at him perched high
above them - off watch, but not. Matthews and Styles
exchanged concerned looks, but kept to their duties.
Mr. Bowles, from his station on the quarterdeck,
watched over all. As he sat, Archie began to get
sleepy. As he dozed off, memories of Simpson, his
time aboard *Justinian* and his incarceration
surfaced.

"ëJack's missed you, boy.'" Archie's eyes flew open
in panic. He looked around, but saw no one.
Gradually his breathing slowed. "A lieutenant now.
Are these new times, Mr. Kennedy?" a voice hissed in
his ear.

Archie yelped, but the sound was choked off by a hand
covering his mouth. Startled, Archie clawed at it.
Strong hands turned him, and his eyes widened in panic
and disbelief as Simpson came into view.

"Quiet, boy. I'll kill you if you make a sound."
Simpson's eyes narrowed. He slowly removed his hand
from Archie's mouth.

Frantically, Archie looked at the deck, but no one
was looking up to see them. He tried to back away,
but ran into the sturdy mainmast.

"Did you think I was dead and gone?" Simpson drawled
as he leaned towards him. "You should know - it'll
take more than a bullet to kill me." He'd leaned so
close Archie could feel his breath on his cheek.
Unnerved, he tried to push Simpson back, but instead
felt a sharp pain followed by blackness.

Simpson laughed as he picked him up. The hands heard
the sound and looked up to see a figure flying away
carrying Archie's limp form.

"Sir!" Styles cried, as he and Matthews raced for the
ratlines. Mr. Bowles pulled out his gun, but realized
they were too far away. Styles reached the fighting
top first, but all he found was Archie's hair ribbon.
With a bleak look, he held it for Matthews to see.

Simpson reached shore and dumped Archie on the
ground. He circled him, still laughing. La Croix
emerged from the shadows.

"You're brought him here. Now, how do you propose to
lure the other?" he stood with his arms folded.

"That's already been taken care of," Simpson answered
from where he'd crouched beside Archie's unconscious
form. "A messenger is on his to way to Mr. Hornblower
now with news of Mr. Kennedy's disappearance. He
won't be able to stay away."

La Croix appraised him - eyebrows raised. He walked
over to them, and knelt next to Archie. With a cold,
but soft, touch, he turned Archie's face towards him.

"He's your prey." he stated. "He reminds me of
another of my children - he wouldn't be happy in this
life either." He let go of Archie's chin, and let his
head rock back to its original position. "Such a
pity."

"Why?" Simpson demanded, standing.

"Why, what?" La Croix replied with a ghoulish smile.

"Why or what is a pity?"

"Were it not for his weakness, real or supposed, he
would be an attractive addition to our race. Look at
him, and imagine him luminous."

"He's a pathetic weakling, suitable only for
feeding."

La Croix stood and moved away. He looked at Simpson,
his expression unreadable. "Are you sure?"

Simpson's reply was interrupted by Archie's groan.
La Croix disappeared into the shadows, but his words
lingered. Simpson watched Archie as he awoke.

Still prone, he rubbed his jaw where Simpson had hit
him. His eyes flew open as memory returned.
Abruptly, he sat up. Simpson laughed, a cold and
menacing sound.

"Where are we? How did we get here?" Archie asked,
trying to hide the panic in his voice, but not
completely succeeding.

"Frightened?" Simpson drawled.

Archie looked around. He noted the waves coming onto
the beach, but had no memory of HOW they'd gotten to
shore.

"What do you want from me?" Archie demanded.

Simpson knelt next to him to breathe into his ear,
"What have I always wanted from you?"

Archie tried to back away, but Simpson stopped him.
"But, that's no longer all I want from you." Simpson's
voice had deepened, and Archie felt himself relaxing.

A small voice in his head screamed at him to fight
back, but Simpson's voice was louder. Without
realizing it, Archie got to his feet. He stood with
his back to Simpson, and his unbound hair fluttered in
the breeze.

"You are mine, Mr. Kennedy, always were and forever
will be." Simpson droned in his ear. Archie's head
fell back, and Simpson's hand encompassed his throat
as his fingers lightly ruffled Archie's hair.

Simpson's eyes changed color and his fangs appeared.
Still murmuring, he bent toward the pulse throbbing in
Archie's neck.

********************************

********************************

Horatio and Darius were still talking when thundering
footsteps, followed by fists pounding on the door were
heard. Startled and concerned, both men jumped to
their feet and headed for the entryway. Before they
could get there, a servant, closely followed by Farrar
and Pellew, let in the frantic messenger.

Pellew, recognizing the panting man as one of the
Indy's midshipmen, demanded a report.

"Sir," the lad gasped, "Something horrible has
happened!"

"What is it? Where's Mr. Kennedy? Did he send you?"
Pellew snapped.

"No, sir," the boy panted, "It's Mr. Kennedy, sir,
he's been taken."

Horatio, without thinking, pushed forward. "What do
you mean ëtaken'?!" his tone was sharp.

Pellew flashed him a quick glare, but prompted,
"Answer him, sir, what do you mean!"

The boy looked from Horatio to Pellew and back as he
gulped for air. Finally slowing his breathing a bit,
he said, "Mr. Kennedy stood his watch, same as usual.
But, instead of going to his quarters after it ended,
he climbed to the fighting top." the boy's eyes grew
large as he continued, "He'd been up there a while
when we heard someone laughing. We looked up to see
Mr. Kennedy flying away with another man."

Horatio had Simpson's image flash before him. He and
Pellew looked at each other, suspicion and disbelief
etched into their features.

"When they fell into the water, was someone sent out
to rescue them?" Pellew asked, impatiently.

"They never did, captain." The boy gulped. "Mr.
Bowles saw it too, and he sent me to report to you."

"Men cannot fly, sir." Pellew stated.

Darius moved slightly ahead. "Captain, if I may?" he
asked.

Pellew waved permission.

"You said they flew away. Did you see where?"

"To shore," the boy answered, eyes huge and confused.

Darius and Horatio looked at each other. They
started out the door as one.

"Sir, it wouldn't hurt to search the beach." Horatio
said, halfway out the door.

Pellew didn't answer, but he didn't stop them either.
Once outside and a slight distance from the house,
Darius pulled Horatio to a stop.

"Mr. Kennedy," he started.

"Yes," Horatio answered impatiently, "What?"

"He was a favorite target of Simpson's. You think
Simpson took him?"

Horatio didn't answer, but started for the beach at a
near run. Darius followed.

"Do you know where to find them?" he called.

"He wants me, and he knows I'll protect Archie....Mr.
Kennedy, so...." Horatio's expression was set, but his
twisting hands betrayed his feelings.

"Where are you leading us?" Darius asked, a half step
behind Horatio.

"He wants to be found, so I'm heading for the last
place I saw him." Darius heard the controlled panic in
Horatio's voice.

As they hurried towards the path over the bluff to
the beach, Darius fingered his crucifix. They reached
the top of the bluff and the reddish moonlight
illuminated the tableau of Simpson, fangs bared,
leaning over Archie's neck.

Horatio began to cry out, but Darius wrestled him to
the ground. "There's nothing you can do for him!" he
hissed.

"Archie...." Horatio gasped, still trying to break
free of Darius' hold.

Darius peered back over the bluff, and his expression
abruptly changed to surprise. Horatio scrambled up
next to him. Together they watched the battle between
life and death being waged, but were unable to help or
stop it.

***************************

***************************

Simpson, vampire senses extended to their limits,
heard Horatio and Darius' approach. Distracted, he
looked up to see them stop at the top of the bluff.
He smiled.

"Here's your little friend, Archie," he breathed into
Archie's ear.

The little voice in Archie's head grew louder in
response to Simpson's comment. *Horatio* the voice
whispered. Archie tried to fight the hold Simpson had
on him, but nothing seemed to happen.

"When I've finished you off, Mr. Hornblower is mine."
Simpson's tone was triumphant.

*No!* the voice inside Archie screamed, *I won't let
that happen!*

The triumph Simpson was feeling bled into his hold
over Archie, diminishing it. Gradually Archie began
to break free. He struggled against Simpson's
physical hold on him.

"No, no, no, Mr. Kennedy, you aren't going anywhere."
Simpson's voice grew deeper again, but the insistent
voice in Archie telling him to fight was even louder.

Suddenly, Archie threw his head back. He hit Simpson
full in the face which allowed him to break free.

Simpson let out a guttural yell as he lurched back.
Archie stumbled a few steps away, but stopped, dizzy.
Simpson grabbed his arm. The pain of his grip broke
through more of the fuzziness in Archie's thoughts.

"You can't get away, boy," Simpson hissed, "you never
could!"

Archie's eyes, which throughout had been closed,
sprang open. He jerked his arm ineffectually in
Simpson's grasp.

"I'm not the same scared midshipman from all those
years ago. You have no hold over me anymore!" his
voice rang out confidently. His defiance palpable.

Startled, Simpson let go of his arm.

On the bluff, Horatio and Darius also heard Archie's
declaration. As one, they stood and started towards
the beach below.

"Do you still think there's nothing we can do?"
Horatio asked, the slightest note of sarcasm audible.

Darius held up his crucifix as a talisman. "I think
all things have changed now, Mr. Hornblower."

About halfway down the bluff, Archie saw them coming
towards him. Frantically he tried to wave them away.
When they didn't stop, he started edging towards them.

"Horatio, no!" Archie yelled, "You aren't safe here!"

Darius slipped something out of his sleeve and passed
it to Horatio. He glanced down to see a wooden stake
which he recognized as kindling for the fire back at
the house.

"What do I do with it?" he asked.

"A stake through the heart will kill him." Darius
answered.

Horatio nodded dubiously as he called out, "No one is
safe here, Archie."

Simpson looked from Horatio and Darius back to
Archie. Suddenly he lunged for and caught hold of
Archie. Staring into his eyes, Simpson began to speak
using the same hypnotic tone from before.

"You are mine, boy. There is no escape and no rescue
for you." he smiled and bared his fangs.

Archie tried to pull away, but Simpson wouldn't let
go. Darius and Horatio quickened to a run to try to
get to Archie in time.

"NO!" Horatio yelled.

Simpson glanced over at him as Archie again tried to
pull away. Simpson yelled as he saw the crucifix.
The sight weakened him enough for Archie to slip from
his grasp. Steadily, Darius continued towards
Simpson, crucifix outstretched. Slightly stunned, and
a bit frightened, Horatio followed a step behind.

"You'll never hurt another soul again!" Darius called
out.

"No!" Simpson cried, trying to back away from Darius
and the crucifix.

Darius kept coming. Archie had moved a few paces
away, trying to regain the defiance he'd felt so few
minutes before. As Simpson backed towards him, Archie
tripped him, and, startled, Simpson fell to his back
in the sand.

"This night you will die." Darius said. He turned to
Horatio who readjusted his grip on the wooden stake.
"Are you ready?"

Horatio nodded, and together they advanced. Archie
moved to a position behind them and followed. Darius
kept the crucifix where Simpson could see it, so it
could continue to weaken him. As they drew ever
closer, Darius lowered the crucifix over Simpson's
body, and without warning a shaft of fire sprang from
it to Simpson. An unearthly howl ripped from Simpson
as the flames hit him. He tried to squirm away.

"I will NEVER call you Master!" Horatio stated as he
drew his hand back, "nor will you ever hurt anyone
else!"

"Don't..." Simpson pleaded. The crucifix again
spurted fire as it came too close to Simpson's body.

"Kill him, Horatio," came a determined voice from
behind them. Horatio spared enough of a glance to see
Archie's look of naked hatred and determination.

Briefly Horatio closed his eyes, and, without
realizing it, said a quick prayer. "Help me, Archie."
he said. Archie grabbed hold of the stake above
Horatio's hand. Together they drew back, and, with
yells, flung it down. The strike was perfect, and the
stake drove through Simpson's body.

Together, Archie, Horatio, and Darius backed away.
Simpson let out an unearthly scream as flames seemed
to engulf him, and in an instant nothing was left of
him but dust.

"Is it over?" Horatio asked breathlessly.

Darius looked at the pile of dust and nodded. They
turned to Archie who was blinking like someone who'd
just awakened. Shaking his head to dispel the final
vestiges of Simpson's control, he focused on Darius.

"Who are you?" he asked, his voice sounded dazed.

"I am Darius, Mr. Kennedy," he answered. "It is a
pleasure to meet you. I wish it could have been under
different circumstances."

For a moment, no one said anything, and then Archie
began to giggle hysterically. Horatio and Darius
glanced at each other before joining in.

***********************

***********************

Back at the house, Pellew, Farrar, and Bracegirdle
were sitting together. No one was speaking, and the
tension was palpable. They heard the shriek, and as
one stood, reached for coats, and raced from the
house. Once outside, they ran for the beach.

************************

La Croix, from his hidden vantage point about halfway
up the bluff opposite the path Horatio and Darius had
taken, watched all.

"So, the boy is a weakling, Jack." He muttered. "You
misjudged him - a fatal miscalculation."

He watched a while longer, glowering down at the
humans on the beach. His thoughts wandered to another
beach a few years before. *I rescued you, Jack, as the
last drops of life ebbed from you. You learned
quickly to embrace the life I gave you, but your
hubris was your downfall. You let yourself be blinded
by your wants, but forgot to plan.* He made a
disgusted sound at the back of his throat. *I tried to
teach you to keep exterior distractions out of your
thoughts while you toyed with your prey, but you
didn't remember those lessons.*

La Croix leapt into the air, thoughts still churning.
*Both times your death stemmed from your inability to
control yourself. You were a waste of my time, Jack.*

*************************

Back on the beach, Horatio, Archie, and Darius
regained control of themselves. Still emitting
intermittent spurts of giggles, Archie asked, "What
was he?" and his whole being sobered.

Darius looked at him, a deep bruise coloring his jaw
and the beginnings of a black eye, "Somehow he became
an evil beast."

Archie's expression clouded and his blue eyes were
guarded, "He always was." he said quietly.

Horatio watched Archie with concern puckering his
features. "He can't come back now. At last, we are
truly free of him."

Archie looked at him and swayed a bit, Horatio
steadied him with a supporting hand. "We thought we
were before, too."

Horatio's reply was interrupted by the appearance of
Pellew, Farrar and Bracegirdle. They all stopped,
dumbfounded, by the bruised and bedraggled appearance
of Archie standing surrounded by Horatio and Darius.

"Mr. Kennedy," Pellew called out as he strode towards
them, "I thought I'd left you in command of the ship,
but here you are."

"Aye, sir," Archie answered, drawing himself upright,
"I did not leave the Indy willingly."

Pellew's eyes were searching Archie's face, noting
each bruise and contusion. "No, it doesn't appear you
did," his tone softened a bit. "Come back to the
house, I will require a full report, but not out here
under that infernal moon." he gestured skyward as he
turned on his heel.

Bracegirdle let Pellew pass him, and joined Horatio
and Archie. He, too, noted the bruises and Archie's
general appearance. He smiled as for the third time
Archie impatiently brushed his hair out of his face
just to have the wind blow it back.

"You must have quite a tale to tell, Mr. Kennedy."

Archie looked at him, fatigue etched into his face as
he stumbled a bit. "Aye, that I do, sir, but..." his
voice trailed off.

"It can wait ëtil morning, lad." Bracegirdle
answered.

Horatio looked at the moon as they walked, gradually
the reddish cloud dispersed until it shone clear and
white. A tired smile crossed his face as he looked
around at his friends.

**************************

The next morning, Archie presented himself before
Captain Pellew. The latter sat, shuffling papers,
before finally looking up. He gestured for Archie to
sit, and gruffly cleared his throat.

"How are you this morning, Mr. Kennedy."

"Fine, sir, a bit sore." Archie tried to smile, but
it was too painful.

"I've already heard Mr. Hornblower's report of last
evening's events, but I'd like to hear anything you
can add."

Archie swallowed nervously. "Much of last night is
unclear, sir," he said, "but I'll do my best." Pellew
nodded for him to continue. "Do you know about the
sightings aboard the Indy before you came ashore?"

"Yes, do you have anything to add?"

"No, sir." Archie proceeded to relate the events of
the evening as he remembered them with Pellew sitting
in silence until he finished with, "The first thing I
remember clearly was Hor...Mr. Hornblower asking if it
was over."

"Mr. Hornblower and Darius completed some of the
events you don't remember. It's good to have you safe
among us, Mr. Kennedy."

"Thank you, sir."

At Pellew's nod, Archie got to his feet. Stiffly he
walked to the door, "Sir," he turned, "did Mr.
Hornblower also think he saw Mr. Simpson?"

"He did." Pellew's tone softened at the pain and
uncertainty in Archie bruised face and voice.

Archie left the room to find Horatio and Darius
waiting for him. Together they went out on the
veranda.

"Are you alright?" Horatio asked.

Archie looked at him, "Yes, I'm finally alright."
Despite his physical pain and fatigue, Archie looked
at peace.

Darius looked from one to the other. He knew there
was more to that exchange than the surface layer. He
also could see that somehow those horrific events
closed the door on some painful memories for both men.
He smiled understandingly.

The End