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The other two stared. There had not been a ‘Plan C’ - although it had been joked about occasionally - at least they had thought it was in jest. ‘Plan Cultivation’ for which it stood, was a massive breeding frenzy which had been thrown into the odd conversation now and again.

“Surely not!” Fergus said. “I had to order yet another cull recently following the failures! Luke knows procreation comes at a cost. He was just lucky some of us stabilised.” He stared at Tony and Cole, horrified.

The watcher nodded. “But Luke saw first-hand what Cain could do fifty years ago. Now, Cain is stronger than ever. Luke can’t possibly execute his plan with so few, can he? He will need others who have successfully survived the transition to strengthen numbers and chances. Furthermore, you will be expected to participate. Will you?”

The computer whizz shook his head, explicit denial. Cole then turned to Tony, his eyes posing the same question.

Luke’s older brother scowled. “You know fine I hate what he did to me! I never have, nor ever will do it to anyone else.”

Cole nodded, understanding. Fergus and Tony were feeders; they had no choice; it was how they survived, but, unknown to Luke, Cole had steered them in the direction they should take.

“And when are you going to come clean?” Fergus asked Cole. “We’ve managed to keep your secret, although how Luke hasn’t sussed it out - considering - is a mystery.”

Cole dug his hands in his jeans’ pockets. He sighed, heavy. “I’m good at keeping things hidden, myself included. I have harboured years of resentment,” he said, ruminating, glancing at the laptop. “But now...”

“Luke is an arrogant little prick,” Tony suddenly voiced savagely. “Always was. His ‘rebirth’ made him more-so.”

“Such sibling loyalty,” Fergus quipped, knowing Tony enjoyed a rant about his younger brother when the opportunity presented itself.

“Loyalty?” Tony guffawed, bitter. “Luke was father’s golden boy until he discovered his precious son was gay, then the scales were readdressed. Luke was quickly dethroned from the Dubois pedestal. Fuck! He did not take that well. Bitter and twisted doesn’t come close. He was ecstatic I bet when Cain swept through the estate.”

“Your father was no saint himself,” Fergus pointed out.

“Don’t I know it! I tried to get away for years. I hated my family, they didn’t like me either. Other than Luke, funnily enough. He found me and decided to make me like him - this - bloodsucking thing! And he’s still a power-hungry little maggot. He’ll stop at nothing to get what he wants. You’ve no idea how much I wished the vampire had finished him before he left that day.”

“I didn’t fare too well at my brother’s hands either,” Cole reminded him.

“No, but that was an accident,” Tony rebuked.

Cole scoffed. “Yeah. Something like that. Then again, so was Luke.”

“Hmph! Well, maybe you’ll get some closure soon.”

“It’s not me who needs closure,” Cole answered, holding Tony’s gaze.

“I suppose. At least Luke’s desire for me to meet the Fallen actually fell in our favour,” Tony said. The other two nodded. “It’s only regrettable we have to participate in this game to try and make things right.”

The watcher nodded, a forlorn smile twitching his lips. “I know. None of us knows how this will fare. It could all be for nothing.”

“Maybe,” Tony agreed. “But, we’ve come this far. Luke always believed he was privileged and never forgave father for disinheriting him or treating him like scum once he found out his truth. And now he’s deluded enough to think this new dynamism Cain possesses should be his as well? With his twisted mind, I think you’re right; he’s prepared to sacrifice a lot of innocents to get what he wants.”

Cole shuffled from one foot to another, pensive. “No more sacrifice,” he mumbled.

Fergus stood. “Truth is, we don’t know what Cain and the Fallen can do against an entire nest. I would wager, however, the three of them will not be easy targets.”

Cole nodded, resigned. “But Luke now has a bargaining chip - Becky. Having looked at these photos again, I can tell it’s not just infatuation on her side. Cain does have feelings for her - deep ones. And you don’t pass through millennia without such emotions becoming fierce once they take root. It will be a bloodbath, one way or the other.”

“Then, for the time being, we will keep up appearances. And, we have to also keep that little douche-bag, Riley, and Becky safe. Somehow.” Fergus concluded.

Cole, looking at them both, smiled. “Yes. Thank you.”

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