Charles disconnected the call with his sister, sighing harshly at the cryptic words she had given him. As much as he loved Cairo, he hated what the induction into the family secrets had done to her. The normally open, bright girl had been replaced with a quiet, secretive woman that spoke more in riddles than plain talk. But someone had to learn the secrets and he had already taken to the pleasures of the stars.
“Anything?” Erna asked, dropping a quick kiss on his head before sitting in the empty chair beside Charles.
“Nothing clear until I mentioned the names of our passengers.”
“Oh? And?” his Mate prompted when he didn’t continue.
“She said to trust the Pratts,” Charles said in confusion. “I’m still not sure how she got me to tell her their names, by the way.”
“That’s Cairo for you,” Erna grinned. “What she say about our mystery man, Harris?”
“Her exact words were, ‘The White Knight walks a darkened path, shadowed by deeds not his own. Before he can claim what he has been waiting for, the universe must once again test his worth.’ Then she prattled on something about kittens and angels with new wings before telling me Mom sends her regards for us and hanging up,” he finished, making a face. “I really love her, but I don’t get her sometimes.”
“The White Knight, huh, I’ve heard that before.”
“Where?” Charles asked, turning to look full at his Mate. Erna’s eyes were closed as he tried to remember, and it gave Charles the chance to just watch his lover sitting still — at least for a moment — in peace. “Well?”
Dark green eyes glared at him before softening. “Old tales, mostly from Earth. My grandmother used to tell them to use when we were little. There’d be monsters, and little girls that fought them and the White Knight always standing by their side, helping them.”
“She’d be right,” a voice noted from the doorway. Both men looked over at the couple standing there, noting the tension in the slim frames, like electricity running through a live wire. “But there’s a lot to the stories your grandmother never knew. A lot only a few people were privy to; that only three people now know,” Cilla Pratt said softly.
The Pratts stepped into the Control Room — which Charles was certain had been locked — and let the door close behind them. William led his wife to one of the far seats and stood behind her, both looked at the Captain and his First Mate steadily; his eyes blue like the electricity Charles had already compared him too; hers a soft blue. Both were focused intently.
“I take it you guys are two of those who do know,” Erna stated, glaring a them.
“Yes,” Cilla replied evenly. “And it’s a lot more complicated than you would believe.”
“Tell us,” Charles instructed, sending a brief message to Sal to keep an eye on things before turning to look fully at the couple. “I want to know what’s going on and why one of my family is currently in the medbay still unable to focus completely.”
A shiver of fear and uncertainty etched its way up Sal’s back. She looked around the medbay, not noticing anything out of place. Tai was still asleep; aided by a sedative that she had administered. The young man’s face was furrowed despite the drug running through his system and she started singing softly, hoping to easy his dreams some. As he relaxed, she glanced quickly at the security cameras. The storage bay was fine, and the halls were clear. She checked lifesigns and scowled when she noted there were four signs in the Control Room. She knew two were the Captain and First Mate. A check to the passenger deck showed only two lifesigns in the assigned quarters. That meant the Pratts were in the Control Room. A moment later a message came through from the captain tell her he would be out of contact for a bit and to take over. She scowled again. This wasn’t good. This had all the earmarks of being really bad.
The quiet whisper brought her attention back to the young man on the bed. Tai had woken partially and was looking around the room with confused eyes. She smiled and moved closer to him, stroking a hand through his short hair.
“Are you feeling better?” she asked quietly as she helped him sit up a bit. She took in the pallor of his skin and the way his eyes seemed to lose focus every other second. He obviously wasn’t better, but with males it was better to ask; they could be so touchy about somethings.
“Dizzy,” he replied faintly, leaning against her arm. “What happened? I don’t remember much.”
“You met the Captain’s surprise passenger and passed out,” she informed him, a teasing smile on her face despite her worry. “Was he that good looking to you?”
“Ha ha,” he groaned, rubbing a hand over his face. “I don’t remember him. Just snatches of a really weird dream.”
“Do you remember waking up the first time and talking to me?” she questioned with worry. He had been aware, or so she thought, for their earlier conversation.
“No, nothing,” he paused. “I remember Captain coming back and heading down to brief him, after that it’s all a blank.”
“A blank with weird dreams,” she added softly.
“Yeah,” he agreed. She watched him shiver slightly. “They were like memories, but they weren’t mine. I was someone else. I had different thoughts, different feelings, but still -”
“Tai?” Sal brushed a hand over his head, sending waves of calm emotions gently to him. There was something about those dreams, something important and she needed him calm and focused to find out what.
“I wasn’t me,” he began, fear in his voice, “but it was. Does that makes sense?” He didn’t wait for her to answer before he plowed on. “I wasn’t me, but I was. Some part of whoever I was in the dream was still, at heart, me. Or at soul. No, that makes less sense.”
She stopped him before he could go off on more of a tangent. “What do you remember of the dreams?”
He took a deep breath then let it out slowly and nodded. “There was a man; he had one eye, dark hair. But there are glimpses of earlier memories of him, with two eyes, always laughing. We were together.” A blush coloured his face and Sal fought down a grin. “He-he killed me, but he wasn’t himself when he did it. Shoved something in my heart.”
“Something?” she asked, keeping her voice quiet to avoid startling him out of his thoughts.
“Something wooden; a stake,” he said flatly. “I fell to dust. Why did I become dust?”
Foreboding hit her and Sal reached out and grabbed a hypospray with a sedative before Tai could freak out, lowering him back down to the bed as it took effect. Wooden stake and falling to dust meant vampires, but they had not been seen in centuries. Vampires had died off as a species when the humans in space began to evolve to fit their new environments. These changes meant that vampires could not feed properly off them and without an adequate food source, they all just faded away.
Tai was far to young to remember vampires. Only a select few family kept the old tales alive, just in case. But she knew that Tai’s planet and people were not among those few. So how would her little brother know about vampires? How could he dream that he was one? She stopped as the thought hit her and look at his sleeping form with pity.
The only way was if he was a reborn soul. Among her people’s beliefs, souls were only reborn if they had something left to finish. So what did Tai have left to do? And how was their unexpected passenger involved? And why, oh why, did she have a feeling the some of the others on the ship were neck deep in it too?