Chapter 3:

Beneath the Underworld

Blood and Silver

Netempus was made as a social experiment to observe the psychological differences in people that lived with the same technology their entire lives and people who lived with the constantly changing technology of the modern age. The head of the experiment chose the nineteen eighties for the simple reason of nostalgia. However, the city was not built in an idealized way. The city made sure to encapsulate the good, the bad, and the ugly of the decade.

In one of the “bad” parts of the city, Nadia stepped out of Alice’s liquor store. Although it was very early in the morning in the beginning of January, it was still quite warm. Even so, Nadia didn’t take off her jacket. She walked down the street the store was on. The road was populated with the cars of people trying to get ahead the morning rush hour. After walking about a dozen blocks, she turned into an alleyway. The alley she had turned into was a maze between brick buildings. She traversed her way through this maze before coming to a sudden halt.

She stood before a door with two red x’s spray-painted on it. Nadia knocked on the door multiple times at seemingly random intervals. In truth, she was being extremely careful in how much time was between each knock. After she finished her knocking, the sound of locks being undone could be heard. After the locks were undone, the door swung open.

The one opening the door was a young girl who looked no more than 12 years old. She had red hair tied up into pigtails and aqua eyes. Her skin was pale, but not nearly the snow white tone of Nadia’s. She wore a frilly, pink lolita dress, a pair of pink high shoes, and a pair of thigh-high white socks. A look of recognition came across her face as she let Nadia in and closed the door.

“Welcome back, Lady Nadia”

The girl bowed before Nadia. After doing so, her expression changed from serious to exited. She put both hands in front her chest, clenched in fists.

“Tell me, tell me, how did it go with that manager girl?”

“I made sure that she wouldn’t keep too much to herself anymore,” said Nadia, smiling.

“So how did you punish her?”

“My boots were dirty, so I had her clean them with her mouth,”

“Eeeh? You mean you didn’t cut her?” said the girl, disappointedly, “you’re no fun sometimes, Nadia”

“Well, I did make her bleed from the mouth a bit after kicking her, if that’s any condolence to you,”

“Only a little bit,” the girl pouted, “I bet she would’ve been way cuter if she had a cut or two on her face,”

This girl that Nadia was speaking with was a twelve year old girl named Beatrix. While you might not be able to tell due to her chipper demeanor and cute appearance, she was a sociopath and a sadist. She had been assigned to door duty for the Cruxius family home a year ago. Since then, conversations like the one they were having became commonplace. Normally someone assigned to door duty would be severely punished for conversing with a Cruxius like this, but Beatrix was an exception.

Beatrix was considered a prodigy. She was intelligent, deceptive, and knew how to mask her sociopathy. These were all crucial skills for a member of the Cruxius family. As such, she had already been chosen as a member of the Cruxius family, though she had to wait until she was 18. Her wedding date had already been chosen, as had her groom.

“Hey,” started Beatrix, putting back on her excited face, “You know it’s only two-thousand and three days until our wedding,”

“YOUR wedding,” corrected Nadia, “it’s not that big a deal for the groom,”

“You could at least act excited,” Beatrix began to pout again, “besides, at this rate I’ll be your first bride,”

“I doubt it, a lot can happen in six years,”

Nadia had been assigned as Beatrix’s groom because she was also a sadist. Additionally, Nadia and Beatrix were already pretty close since before Nadia became a Cruxius. When she was still fully human, awaiting her 18th birthday, Nadia would tell Beatrix stories of her killing people and torturing them, which they both enjoyed. Beatrix had become attached to Nadia during that time, which eventually led to their “engagement”.

“Anyways,” said Beatrix, putting her serious face back on, “Lady Natalia has called a family meeting. It will begin in an hour, and is being held in the chapel, per usual,”

“Thank you for telling me, Beatrix,” said Nadia as she walked past the girl.

After walking past Beatrix, Nadia traversed down a set of stairs. When she reached the bottom of the stairs, she reached a hallway with two elevators. Nadia entered the left elevator, pressed a button, and began to descend. After waiting for about twenty seconds, the elevator stopped. Nadia stepped out into a large, well-lit room. The floor was made of stone tiles, with a red rug in the center of the floors. Ahead of where Nadia was standing was a large set of double doors flanked by two staircases. Both led straight up to an upper level. On each side of the upper level were hallways with many doors.

This large room was the main hall of the Cruxius mansion. It was a large underground complex that housed most members of the Cruxius family. It had been built on millions of dollars, countless hours, and less than legal labor. Along with bedrooms, which were each extremely lavish, the mansion also housed a movie theater, a dining hall, servant’s quarters, a brothel, and a chapel. However, the chapel wasn’t used for prayer, but instead for marriages and family meetings.

Nadia walked up the stairs and took a left. After doing so, she went down seven doors before entering one. As she entered the room, a voice came from inside.

“Lady Nadia, is that you?”

Nadia closed the door behind her and looked to see a purple-haired woman tied to her bed wearing nothing but black lingerie and a blindfold. The woman was one of Nadia’s former bridesmaids, Lisa.

“I don’t think can wait much longer, Lady Nadia,” said Lisa as she rustled about, “I need your treatment as soon as possible,”

“The only thing you need,” replied Nadia, “is to be reminded of your place. I decide when to treat you,”

Realizing she had an hour before the meeting, Nadia began to take off her shoes.

“Of course, Lady Nadia,” moaned Lisa, “when you see it fit, please punish me and remind me of my place,”

A smile crept across Nadia’s face as she removed her jacket.

“That’s much better, but you still need punishment,” said Nadia as she grabbed a whip off of the wall, cracking it, “I hope you enjoy welts,”

“Thank you very much for taking the time to teach a lowly wench like me her place, Lady Nadia,”

Time for Nadia to kill off the next hour.

• • •

“Leaving already?” Moaned Lisa, now sitting naked and unbounded under the bed’s covers.

Nadia was putting her clothes back on as she said this.

“I got a meeting in ten minutes,” said Nadia, “so I’ll be gone for at least half an hour,”

Nadia finished putting on her boots and got up. She walked to the door, opened it, and looked back at Lisa.

“I want you out of my bedroom by then”

“As you wish,” said Lisa, disappointed.

Nadia left the room and headed back to the main hall. Once there, she went back down the steps and turned into the door between the stairs. Once she opened it, she came into a small hallway that led to another large set of double doors. On the sides of the hallway were more doors. Nadia headed straight on towards the set of double doors. She opened them and entered the chapel.

The pews were populated with women dressed in a variety of clothing, most of them opting for dresses. This exclusively female population was no accident. It was something that stemmed from the origins of the Cruxius family. As with the other vampiric families, the Cruxius family was founded on an ideal. For example, the Zaccan family was founded as a religious cult. For the Cruxius family, their ideal is one that comes directly from it’s founder, Natalia. That ideal is:

Natalia liked being surrounded by beautiful women, and having those women accompany her at night.

Nadia knew who all the people in the chapel were, but there was one particularly familiar face in the crowd. It belonged to to Sophie, who had become a Cruxius only a few months ago. Nadia’s former bridesmaid smiled as she waved at her. Nadia gave a subtle wave back. Nadia went down several rows before sitting down in a pew near the front, all alone. She looked up to the altar where Natalia already stood. She had not changed in the slightest, though that was to be expected of a vampire.

After about ten more minutes of waiting for everyone to arrive, Natalia began to speak.

“Welcome members of the Cruxius family,” spoke Natalia with an air of regality, “I’m well aware that many of you have things to do, so I’ll begin the meeting now. Felicia, if you would take the stage,”

A blonde woman wearing a purple dress stood up from her seat near the back of the chapel. She leisurely walked down the isle before she eventually reached the podium.

“Here is my report on the current state of the slave trade and our personal slaves:” started Felicia, “Since the last meeting, our daily traffic has increased by an average of four men per day. The average psychological state of our personal slaves has become more docile. There have been less extreme psychological cases among slaves, and therefore less slaves made into food”

“You say extreme psychological cases have gone down, but I happen to recall a certain slave spilling the blood of one of our family members since the last meeting,” said one of the women in the crowd.

“While that uproar was certainly more extreme than any we’ve had in the past, the actual number of outbreaks have decreased,” responded Felicia.

Exchanges like this were common at these meetings. That was because the purpose of the exchanges were to share information amongst the family. Normally, only those who were head of a certain trade or a crucial part of the organization went up to the podium, while the rest of the family members asked questions and listened. This would go on until all of the members slated to speak did so.

Felicia continued her report for a while before she finished and headed back to her seat. Natalia then called another family member to the podium. They came up and gave a report on drug dens before sitting back down. The meeting continued on like this. All the while, Nadia listened intensively to each and every report. For most members of the family, there were only a few reports that they needed to pay attention to. For Nadia, however, her duties required her to pay attention to all aspects of the organization.

“Nadia, please step up to the podium,” said Natalia an hour after the meeting began.

Nadia got up from her seat and walked up towards the altar. When she reached it, she turned towards the crowd and immediately began her report.

“The overall state of security is as follows,” started Nadia, “The increased amount of slave traffic has resulted in an understaffing in defense during trafficking. The drug plantations on the city outskirts have the same defenses, as the size of the plantations have not increased...”

Nadia continued on about staffing for defense, resources for weaponry, the current supply of weaponry, potential cracks in patrols, etc, etc. She listed these things for almost every branch of the organization. Drug trafficking, brothels, extortion, human abduction, and many more branches of the Cruxius organization were brought up during her report. After the longest report of the day, Nadia had one final thing to say.

“Also, Sophie apparently has a crucial report to make regarding the defense of the Cruxius mansion,” said Nadia, looking at Natalia, “so I would like her to give the report amongst everyone here”

Natalia nodded her head, giving the ok to Nadia’s request.

“Thank you,” said Nadia as she stepped down from the altar.

Sophie got up from her seat and smiled widely as she walked up to the altar. Just like Nadia, Sophie wasted no time to begin speaking.

“So the other day I was looking at the blueprints for the mansion,” Sophie spoke in a childlike manner, “and I found a really big problem in it,”

A few faces in the crowd turned sour. New members of the family normally needed some time before truly integrating themselves, but Sophie was especially despised. Many Cruxius members took things especially serious, so they found it hard to swallow Sophie’s chipper attitude.

“You see,” continued Sophie, “because of the system used for artificial lighting in the chapel, using a small space outside of the chapel with lights throughout that is filtered through stained glass, and the fact that the exterior room is connected to the air ducts, it’s possible for someone to interrupt one of our meetings by sneaking through the ducts and breaking through the windows”

A look of confusion and distain spread across the crowd. It was a collective look of “is this bitch serious?”

“Sophie,” spoke up Nadia, “That problem has been brought not only by me, but also by the head of slave labor and the head of construction projects. Why do you bring it up again? Do you have a solution to propose?”

“Well,” Sophie said, “Not exactly. In fact, I have no clue how to fix the problem,”

“HUH!? A woman in the crowd suddenly shot up, “So why the hell did you bring it up then!?”

“Well,” satrted Sophie, as she put her finger to her lips, contemplating, “probably because I’d feel bad if I didn’t tell you it was being exploited right now,”

Another look of confusion shot across the crowd. They began to look about. As they did, Nadia’s ears perked up. She heard something. Footsteps. Many footsteps outside of the chapel. Nadia was just as confused as the rest of the crowd, until it finally clicked. Nadia turned to look at Sophie, eyes wide. Sophie’s lips curved into a wicked smile, showing her fangs.

Just then, two more sounds pierced Nadia’s ears.

Gunfire and glass shattering.

You can resume reading from this paragraph.