42 A Debate Between Leaders

The General was getting very impatient, as the convoy he was moving had slowed to a near standstill. It got the point where all the vehicles stopped moving completely, which had reminded him of the traffic jams he remembered as a child back in the old days of California. But that was a long time ago and congestion like that had gone extinct, so what was slowing them down? He stepped out of his command truck and made his way the front of the line and up to the commander who was herding the undead. There were hundreds of them tied together, as they never released them until they had a target to run towards that was more appealing than them. He tapped the soldier on the shoulder to get his attention.

"Sir!" The soldier said, realizing he was there. "Sorry about the delay!"

"What the hell is going one, soldier?" The general asked.

"It's the undead, Sir." The soldier replied, "They're refusing to move forward."

"Completely?" The general asked, walking closer to the line to see for himself. He got on top of the roof of one of the vehicles to get a higher view of what was going on, and the young man was right; the source of the blockage was the undead themselves. They were refusing to move forward, every single one of them. As the General looked on, the dead were refusing to move beyond a certain point, as if a line had been drawn into the Ground and they were unable to cross it.

"What's in their way?" The general asked.

"I don't know, Sir." The young man replied, "It's just empty road in front of them. We tried to go around it, but it doesn't work. It's like an invisible barrier is there and the undead can't pass through it."

"Can we pass by that point?" The General asked.

"Yes, we can." The soldier replied. "We've had a few scouts to well beyond this point. Yet for some reason the undead won't go beyond this point."

"This is damned strange." The general said, getting off the top of the vehicle. "I want to speak to some of these scouts."

"Right away, Sir!" the soldier called out, running off to carry out his orders.

"The General walked back to his own vehicle and waited for someone to come to him. The young soldier returned minutes later with another soldier, who was no doubt the scout he ordered to speak with.

"Sir," the Scout said, saluting him. "You wanted to speak with me?"

"I did," The General said, "What did you see out there?"

"There's a small village not far from here," The scout reported, "Decent walls from what I can say and there are probably at least a few thousand in there, maybe more."

"Not bad for out here, away from the cities." The General noted, "Answer me this: when you checked out this village, did you see any undead wandering around."

The scout paused for a moment to ponder the question.

"Now that you mention it," The scout started, "I did not."

"That can't be a coincidence," The General noted, "For some reason this village is able to keep the undead away from their walls. How are they doing that?"

"Maybe we could ask the vampire," The scout said.

"What did you say?" The General asked.

"I saw one of the trucks that passed our checkpoints outside Denver." The scout replied, "It came out through one of the gates and drove away. The people we are looking for are likely there."

"And we can't use the undead to attack them," The General said, his frustration growing. "Thank you, soldier. You're dismissed."

As the scout and the soldier he came with walked away, the Sergeant he was riding with since the cabin exited the vehicle to join him.

"Have you ever seen anything like this?" The General inquired of the Sergeant. "The undead are refusing to budge an inch towards this town."

"I haven't seen it, but I've heard about it happening." The Sergeant replied.

"You have?" The General said, looking intrigued. "Where do I dare as had this happened before?"

"Salem," The Sergeant answered, "I've been told that a witch's cauldron repels the undead, as they're driven away by light magic. So this means there are more than just Vampires in this town."

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"Witches?" The General said, with a tone of relative disgust. "Dammit."

The soldier from the front of the convoy came back, looking rather winded.

"Sir," The boy wheezed. "There is someone here to speak with you.

"Out here?" The General said, looking back at the boy. "Who is it?"

"I'm not sure," The boy replied, "But he's a vampire, and he's asking to speak with he person in charge."

The general looked at his sergeant and then back at the boy.

"A vampire?" The Sergeant said, "Are you sure about that?"

"He can fly, Sir." The boy replied, "And he looks rather pale. So I'm pretty confident he is one."

"So… he wants to talk, eh?" the General said, "Alright, I'll bite. Then let's go meet this blood sucker."

The General with his Sergeant following behind him walked out to where the vampire was waiting for him, was about twenty feet beyond the mark where the undead refused to push forward. The large looking figure was wearing a black uniform that looked rather formal, with a red sash that made him look like a dictator from a fascist nation. He stood there with arms crossed, waiting to be addressed by someone of authority.

The soldiers made a path for the General to walk past his own undead and through the invisible barrier that was holding them back. Once he was through, the large vampire turned to face him, hoping that his wait was over.

"I take it you're the man in charge of his unit?"

"I'm General Davis," The general replied, "And you are?"

"My name is Cornelius," The large vampire replied, "I am the Dark Prince of Transylvania, and I represent the vampire council. I am here to inform you that your presence violates an agreement we made with your government."

"Excuse me?" General Davis asked, rather confused. "What agreement?"

"Agreements that were negotiated when I spoke to your President in Sacramento," Cornelius said, as he slowly started to walk closer to the general.

"When did that happen?" The general asked.

"A short time ago," Cornelius repeated, "About two days after Denver was destroyed. We had a long discussion about what happened that day, including your army's conflict with one of our citizens."

"So you know one of your vampires killed my troops?" General Davis asked.

"I do, as does your President." Cornelius said, "And we came to an understanding during that meeting that no actions would be taken against that vampire. Your president assured me that you would be ordered to stand down. Did you not receive those orders from your superiors?"

"Why would my government allow someone to get away with murdering our soldiers?" the general asked, refusing to acknowledge the orders he did in fact receive but chose to ignore.

"Because the conflict that occurred was caused by your own incompetence." Cornelius said, "The reason this incident occurred in the first place, was because you did not give us sufficient warning to your attack on Denver. Had we known, we would have ordered any vampires in the area to stand down and get out of your way, like we did in Portland last year. You went into Denver without consulting us, making this all your fault. For this reason, your President has agreed to not pursue this vampire and the matter according to him is closed."

"The matter is not closed to me!" General Davis called out to the Dark Prince.

"I can see that," Cornelius said, noticing his anger. "Where is all this hostility coming from? Did you know someone that was killed at that roadblock?"

"The loss of any soldier is one too many," The general replied, doing his best to avoid the question.

"While I might be inclined to agree with you," Cornelius said, "We cannot be held responsible for this conflict if we were not given sufficient warning to avoid it. Your government has already accepted responsibility for it and apologized to the council for not letting us know before the attack occurred. You were ordered to disengage your search for my citizen, and I command you know to follow those orders. Stand down, and head back for California."

"Or what?" General Davis asked, boldly challenging him.

"Or I will lose my temper," Cornelius answered.

"I don't take orders from any blood suckers," The general called out defiantly, "I want you to surrender that vampire to my custody or I will attack that village."

"That is unfortunate," Cornelius said, feeling rather disappointed.

The general was about to turn to his own men to give his own orders, but Cornelius used great speed to close the distance between them. Cornelius suddenly appeared beside the general and grabbed him the neck, his large hand easily gripping onto the man's neck. The actions of the Vampire took all the soldiers watching with surprise, as they were now pointing their guns at them both. Cornelius didn't even look at them as they presented no danger to him. The Dark Prince gently began to squeeze the general's neck, letting him know that his own life was now in danger.

"General Davis," Cornelius said, whispering to him. "I need you call out your second in command, and do it quickly."

"Sergeant!" General Davis called out.

The Sergeant he was speaking with came running out to aid his general, but stopped just short as Cornelius raised his other hand to stop his advance.

"Sergeant," Cornelius started, "Your division were given orders handed down from the President of California to stand down and return to Denver."

"Says you," The Sergeant replied, just as defiant as his general.

"Your doubts are understandable," Cornelius conceded, "But if you do not believe me, then I suggest you contact your people and confirm the orders yourself."

"Why are you asking me to do this?" The Sergeant asked.

"I'm asking you to do this because the general has been relieved of his command." Cornelius answered, as he then grabbed the general with both hands.

"No!" The general cried out, "Wait a minute… you can't…"

Cornelius didn't bother to listen and the generals screams could be heard by everyone close by as he tore the general's head off, causing him to die instantly despite the fact that his body was still twitching like a chicken. Cornelius dropped the General's body to the ground, which was still lightly twitching as it fell. He turned to face the Sergeant, while still holding up General Davis' head.

"You are in charge now," Cornelius said, dropped the head to the ground as well before walking closer to him. "If any of you come anywhere near that village or fire a single shot at it, then I will come back out here and rip all of your damn heads off. Have I made myself clear, Sergeant?"

"You have," The Sergeant replied, "I will confirm the orders after you have vacated the area."

"Return to Denver as ordered," Cornelius said as he started to back away, "And you'll never see me again."

"Was it really necessary to murder the general?" The Sergeant called out.

"I'm afraid so," Cornelius said as he started to float into the air.

"How can you be so sure?" The Sergeant asked.

"The details are above your pay grade, Sergeant." Cornelius said as he started to rise higher into the air. "But I can assure you all means were exhausted before making that decision. This is the way it has to be."

"I don't understand," The Sergeant called out.

"And you never will, so don't trouble yourself with it." Cornelius responded, "Just verify your orders and go back to Denver."

Before another word was spoken, Cornelius shot up into the sky with great speed and was gone. The Sergeant watched the vampire zip away and then turned his attention to the body and its severed head lying on the ground before him. He slowly walked over to the had and knelt before it. He sat there looking at the head an the open eyes of his fallen commander. Moments later one of the other soldiers came out to speak with him.

"Sir," the man asked the Sergeant, "The men are rather upset, and are unsure what we're going to do next. What are you orders?"

The Sergeant took a deep breath and got back to his feet. "I want someone to get a body bag and to store the General's remains so we can take him home for a proper burial."

"Of course," The soldier replied, "Anything else, Sir?"

"I want our artillery units to come forward," The Sergeant said, angered by the murder of the man he considered his mentor. "We're going to attack that damn village."

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