Vampire 2.0 – News Ticker

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News Ticker

Franks was seated in a large recliner, a television remote clenched in a hand that was a far cry from the slender, talented appendage he’d had for his entire life. Now it was swollen, tinged blue, and equipped with a set of fingers the size of sausages. It was the worst of the changes that had been occurring in him since leaving Tepes’ sanctuary; things that should have been easy – like operating the remote – were now frustrating affairs that took far longer than they should have.
Franks wasn’t concerned. With his knowledge and skills he was certain he could remedy the situation; a transplant or two was certainly within his grasp, even if he had to have the minions do the fine work. They could be overridden by his commands, turned into puppets, and all his old skill would work through them. In the meantime, he had been keeping a journal of the changes, looking for a pattern that eluded him.
All of that was a secondary concern, however. First in his mind was the state of the world and how much longer it would be before the children of the night brought him Tepes, or at least the vampire’s heart on a platter. So far, they seemed more than willing to oblige. One had even gotten close, the mental static claimed, but had failed. Probably because that one had been new, made only moments before his psychic command had gone out. A fledgeling had poor odds at disposing of their king. But her death had provided valuable information. Vlad was in Vegas, Franks now new, and through him, all the children knew. Even now they were converging, building their strength and combing the back alleys of the neon paradise.
Even better, Vlad apparently had a weak point. A human woman. Her image had come clear from the dead fledgeling, along with all sorts of useful information on her name, usual hangouts and habits. That had been distributed through the network as well. Find the woman, find Tepes had become a mantra in the mental link.
In front of him were dozens of televisions, each of them tuned to a different news station. Even if he’d been in the mood for something other than current events, regular programming had been disrupted on all but the seediest of cable networks, being overruled by the more pressing concerns of the moment. They were all different stations, from all over the world, but they all carried the same message.
Monsters are real, and they’ve gone mad.
Franks’ lips split in a grim smile as his eyes fluttered from screen to screen, drinking of the burning buildings and scattered bodies that the networks were no longer seeing fit to censor. Some of the newscasters were trying to remain as calm and presentable as possible, though he could see beads of sweat forming underneath their pancake makeup and greased hair, while others had apparently left the area, leaving interns or less camera savvy staff to take up the slack. More than one had a young person in shredded jeans and an offensive t-shirt clinging to the microphone like a life preserver, staring wide eyed into the camera as they attempted to make sense of what was happening around them.
Several of the channels were showing static, or a sideways, cracked view of the street. More than one newshound had been attacked or devoured, becoming the news instead of relating it. Some of those were even now speaking their first, disoriented thoughts into the hive-mind the children of the night shared, not understanding what had happened or what they were yet.
Franks supposed that ushering them in calmly was something their previous lord would have done, or instructed the creatures that turned them to have done; he was not interested. Let them sink or swim as best they could. They would be tempered in the fires of the chaos he had unleashed, and only the worthy would remain to greet the new day when Tepes’ head rested on Franks’ desk.
As he surveyed the news, watching Paris burn, New York riot and Detroit turn into a DMZ, Franks occasionally reinforced his single command, sending a pulse over the mental network that connected them all, reminding the stalwarts and informing the fresh fledgelings that their goal was simple: destroy Tepes. He attributed the crawling sensation across his skin, the odd cracks and creaks from within, as being nothing more than mental static; attributing it to any kind of change in himself was intolerable, and linking it to the swelling in his fingers or the way the recliner was slowly sinking further into the ground under his weight was a leap his mind was not yet ready to make. Why should he, when on monitor #3 he could watch a hairy seven-foot tall beast – he wasn’t sure what it was, perhaps a wendigo? – leap towards a newscaster, tear the head from the body, and then begin its own impromptu newscast while using the severed head as a meat puppet? Far more entertaining.
Something nagged at him, though. Perhaps he was lord of the night, master of all the creatures of darkness, but he was no closer to his true calling now than he had been before following Vlad’s backtrail to the source of his power. Perhaps even further away, as the upgrades he had installed in the vampire were the closest he’d ever been to creating life.
Perhaps he should devote less time to the news, and more to his experiments. With the power he now held, bringing back Tepes would seem like child’s play. Who knew what sorts of things he might create now?
So thinking, he pushed himself from the chair, ignoring the flap of rancid flesh that peeled from his back and glued itself to the brown leather, or the small rain of maggots that drifted down to the floor. They tried desperately to squirm away, but his heavy tread reduced them to paste as he plodded out of the room.

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