Disclaimer: I own nothing but the original plot points and any original characters therein. No copyright infringement intended.

A/N: This is yet another companion piece to the story Serendipity - backstory, if you will. The first of such pieces is Reemergence, then Damned, and now this, Requital. I hope it sheds some light and that you find it a worthy read. If so, please leave a comment or two? I love them all.

As for the next chapter of Serendipity, it's in the works and I hope to have it posted later today.

Love and light,

~Spudz

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His cloak, black as the moonless night that shrouded him, billowed and snapped in the breeze as he stood, still and silent, atop the high desert bluff. At his flanks stood his Elite, two to a side, and arranged in neat ranks behind them, a contingent of grey-clad fighters, thirty strong. Their backs were straight, their solemn red eyes fixed forward; as always they were ready.

This night they would face a formidable foe - a force that had regained their most fiercesome commander, thus becoming a risk once again - and they knew, without their most gifted — Alec, Aro's bright and shining star — they would likely face defeat.

"Their sentries have been neutralized, Master."

"Excellent work, Demetri. Alec, dear one, you know what to do." The directive was merely a whisper on the wind, but the one it was meant for heard it clearly.

"As you say, Master."

With no discernible change in the youthful guard's expression, he called up his gift; its manifestation marked only by an insidious shadow which billowed out, roiling along the landscape, spreading quickly to fill every dip and crevasse as it overtook the valley below.

It would have struck terror in the clueless horde gathered in the camp, had they been paying attention. But by the time their blood-drunk, reveling minds registered a problem, it was too late. All their senses were stolen, their bodies shut down, no longer in their control; frozen in place, mute, blind, utterly susceptible to the death that had come for them.

All but one, that was…

As was his habit, he sat alone on the far side of the camp, refusing to take pleasure in the spoils of blood and terror that was their Maker's reward for another victory.

When he perceived the quiet alarm of the first of those affected — their rising panic, terror and confusion — he tipped his head back and closed blackened, tormented eyes, his lips curved with the barest hint of a smile.

Unlike the rest, he knew exactly what was happening, and he welcomed it.

This was the end.

It would be over soon.

And all he could feel was relief...

Until Alec's gift reached him.

Then he felt nothing.

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"We found him, Master."

Aro didn't look up until he'd wrenched the head from the female who'd been the leader of the group — Maria. She'd been a particular pain in his ass through the years, thus his desire to be here to end her personally. That, and he had a promise to keep.

With nonchalance, he tossed the head in the nearest pyre, leaving the rest of her to a guard to burn. Then, with a lip curled in disgust, he dusted his hands together and focused on the being held between Felix and Demetri, his two best fighters.

Their skills had not been needed it seemed, as the notorious Major Whitlock had succumbed — voluntarily, Aro had no doubt — to Alec's gift.

Stepping forward, he laid a hand - almost gently - against the deceptively angelic-looking cheek, instantly reading every thought, dream, horror, shame, and hope the male had ever had.

"Such a waste…" he muttered with grudging respect but also pity in his eyes as he dropped his hand and stepped back.

"Now that you've read him, shall we dispose of him, Master?"

Aro's vacant gaze sharpened and snapped to focus on his most powerful guard. "No, Felix, I have made a promise and he shall be spared. Though ... regrettably, he cannot go unpunished."

They watched curiously as he signaled a vampire forward; one who had traveled with them since their arrival in America, known only, it seemed, by their Master, Aro. "Sebastian," Aro said with a gesture toward the insensate vampire suspended between the two Elite Guards, "this is the one we discussed. You may proceed."

The vampire, who couldn't have been older than sixteen when changed, scrunched his brow. "Are you sure? Look, I told you, the one time I did this, it—it worked but … didn't end well. It was pretty fuckin' brutal, bro. I showed y—"

Aro cut him off with a casual wave. "Yes, yes, but he will be left in the hands of a skilled physician who, I am certain, will do all in his power to see he survives."

His piercing gaze pinned the nervous looking teen vampire as he continued, "After the laws this male has broken, this is the only concession I can extend; the only concession my brothers would agree to.

"Now, please, do not be tiresome, young one," he drawled with a raised brow as he swept a hand toward the last and most notorious member of Maria's coven, "kindly proceed and leave the rest to me."

The vampire — Sebastian — blinked, then looked down with a shake of his head. "O…kay, man, but don't say I didn't warn you." With that, he stepped forward and cupped the face of El Diablo in his hands, his eyes taking on an unholy glow as he called up his power…

…and revoked the gift — or curse — of immortality.

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Leave a review? Thanks guys!

~Spudz