>> I/ Blade I

I/ Blade I ( 2)

: I/ Blade I.

I/ Blade I

INT. PEARL'S BEDCHAMBER - NIGHT

As Blade listens, Pearl reaches for his trackball, attempting to delete the document currently on his monitors -- but Blade lunges forward, sinking the tip of his sword into Pearl's fleshy throat. Pearl freezes.

BLADE (eyeballing Pearl) Don't be. You're another notch on my sword hilt, nothing else.

Frost's DEEP LAUGHTER drifts from the speakerphone.

INT. FROST'S PENTHOUSE, POOL - NIGHT

Frost settles into his chair, enjoying the cat and mouse.

FROST You're quick, Blade, I'll give you that. In the space of an hour you've crossed my familiar, destroyed a blood bank -- (beat) Now here you are in the heart of our archives, terrorizing our curator.

PEARL'S VOICE He has a knife to my throat, Frost! He --

FROST (cutting him off) You're history, Pearl. Have the good grace to die with some dignity. (beat) Round one to you, Blade.

INT. PEARL'S BEDCHAMBER - NIGHT

CLICK, the line goes dead. Blade tosses his satchel on the bed, opens it. Inside is a hand-held UV lamp hooked up to a nine-volt battery. Pearl eyes the device, fearful --

PEARL What is that?

BLADE A sun lamp. We're gonna play twenty questions. Depending on your answers, you might get to have yourself a tanning session.

Blade looks to Pearl's monitor and SEES a digitized image, the SAME MANUSCRIPT Deacon had been studying earlier.

BLADE What were you in such a big hurry to delete just now?

Pearl hesitates. Blade turns on the lamp. Pearl HOWLS as the harsh light falls upon him. Blade flicks the light off.

Pearl cringes, GROWLING, his face smoking profusely. Exposure to the UV rays, even for one short second, has made his face blister like a plague victim's.

PEARL (relenting) It's an epistle, a letter Frost has been translating -- it prophesizes LaMagra's return.

BLADE And who is LaMagra?

Pearl hesitates again -- Blade turns on the lamp for a longer time. Pearl thrashes, covering his face. His hands blacken, the skin sizzling away to expose the finger bones beneath. Karen has to avert her gaze --

Blade turns off the lamp. Pearl SNARLS, his body quivering with poisonous rage.

PEARL LaMagra is The Sleeper!!!

Blade leans in close so he's eye to eye with Pearl.

BLADE Where's the original, Pearl? You must have it around here somewhere.

Pearl sweats blood, his flaking, slug-like lips quivering.

PEARL The vault --

Blade follows Pearl's eyes to an armored door, then he stands back, handing the UV rig to Karen.

BLADE If he moves, cook him.

Blade approaches the vault door, sizing up its locking mechanism. He pulls an explosive charge from his combat belt and secures it to the door, arming it with a BEEP!

PEARL Please, I'll give you the combination -- you'll damage the documents --

BLADE That's the point.

Enraged, Pearl LUNGES from his bed. Karen triggers the UV rig, flash- frying him to a blackened crisp. Pearl quivers, his enormous body smoking like a piece of charred meat.

Blade looks back at Karen with newfound respect. She shrugs.

KAREN He moved.

Blade turns back to the vault, setting off the charge. BOOM! Blade kicks the damaged door in, knocking it clear off its hinges --

INSIDE THE VAULT,

ancient papers flutter through the smoky air like wind-borne leaves. Blade and Karen SEE a lucite-encased document -- fragments of an ancient, calligraphied papyrus.

KAREN What are these?

QUINN (o.s.) Curiosity killed the cat.

Blade and Karen spin --

-- QUINN,

Mercury, and a number of other vampires stand at the entrance to the vault.

QUINN (grins) Hola, amigo. Remember me?

Karen triggers the UV light, but Mercury ducks under it, ripping it from her hands, crushing it. In a split-second, the she-demon has her claws around Karen's throat.

As Blade reaches for his rifle, the vampires converge on him like quicksilver. They drag Karen and Blade out --

PEARL'S BEDCHAMBER

The vampires fling Blade against the wall, pinning him.

QUINN You took my arm, Blade. But that's okay, I'm growing a new one --

Quinn lifts up his "arm". A skeletal forearm has grown from the stump. It's got cartilage, sinew, and muscle, but no flesh yet.

QUINN Nice, huh? Think I'll ever play the piano again? (shrugging) You can slice him, you can dice him, and the man just keeps on coming.

Blade struggles violently, but Quinn is upon him, pounding his fist into Blade again and again and again -- giving him payback with compounded interest. When it's over, Quinn steps back, winded --

Blade's head hangs down. He gasps, wincing, every breath sending a red hot poker to his gut. Quinn grabs a hold of Blade's jaw, forcing his head up.

QUINN Stay with me, sweetness, I'm not through with you yet.

Quinn pulls Blade's jacket open, sees the bandoleer of mahogany stakes. He tugs one out, admiring it.

QUINN Teak. Nice craftsmanship. (to the others) Now here's a man who takes his job just a little too seriously, don't you think? (back to Blade) Which reminds me, Blade, think I owe you one --

Quinn stabs the stake into Blade's shoulder. Blade CRIES OUT, tries to pull free. Karen, who's being held by Mercury, averts her gaze.

QUINN Actually, if you want to get technical, I owe you two.

As Quinn reaches for another stake, Blade starts to laugh.

QUINN What's so funny, bright eyes?

BLADE I'm expecting some company.

It's then that Quinn notices the micro ear-coil radio receiver in Blade's ear. As we MOVE IN on it, we hear a tiny VOICE squawking from it:

VOICE (filtered) Get down!

Blade kicks his feet out, sending Quinn flying backwards. He tears free of the vamps holding him and DIVES forward, knocking Karen to the ground just as --

BOOM!!! The wall of Pearl's bedchamber EXPLODES INWARD, knocking Quinn and the rest of his cronies to their feet.

WHISTLER

stands in the smoking hole where the wall used to be, brandishing his cane in one hand and an automatic rifle in the other. He balances the rifle against his hip like an over-the-hill gunslinger and OPENS FIRE on the vampires.

Blade rolls, snatching up a fragment of the parchment which has blown free from the vault. Seconds later, he and Karen are fleeing after Whistler, retreating back through his newly created exit.

INT. TUNNEL - NIGHT

The three of them find themselves ankle-deep in a flooded sewer tunnel running parallel to the archives. Whistler pauses, wheezing from overexertion.

WHISTLER Christ, I'm too old for this. Somebody get me a goddamn wheelchair.

Blade leans against the tunnel wall, GRUNTING as he yanks the stake from his shoulder. He then pulls out a light-stick, snapping it, illuminating the area in a GREEN GLOW -- disturbing waves of GLITTERING COCKROACHES.

Meanwhile, Whistler pulls another explosive device from his backpack and sets it against the tunnel wall, arming it.

KAREN How did you find us?!

Whistler taps a tiny radio headset curled around his ear.

WHISTLER We keep in radio contact.

KAREN (incredulous) You've been listening in the whole time?

WHISTLER You think I'd let him run loose without a chaperone? Blade ferrets their rat-holes out, I map them. Then we blow them all to kingdom come.

Whistler finishes arming the explosive device. It BEEPS. He turns back to Blade and Karen, referring to a handheld navigation device.

WHISTLER There's a subway line due East of here. We'd best make tracks.

INT. PEARL'S BEDCHAMBER, ARCHIVES - NIGHT

An EXPLOSION rips through the bedchamber, mushrooming outward --

INT. BLACK PEARL - NIGHT

The EXPLOSION continues expanding, sending tables, drinks, and zaibatsu clientele flying.

INT. TUNNEL - NIGHT

As the group splashes through the water, a FIREBALL chases them down the tunnel. They duck into an alcove, narrowly avoiding the flames. Whistler WHOOPS with excitement, loving every minute of it. But his triumph is short-lived, for now we hear --

-- a deafening chorus of HIGH-PITCHED VAMPIRE WAR CRIES coming from behind. Karen hazards a look back --

THE VAMPIRES

surge down the tunnel like a pack of hungry wolves on high-octane. There must be a dozen of them now and Quinn is right in the lead.

Our trio hustles along, but Whistler stumbles, tumbling and sliding down a washout. The steep incline of the washout makes it virtually impossible for Whistler to climb back up to the main tunnel.

KAREN Whistler!

WHISTLER Go on, I'll be fine!

Karen hesitates, but Blade yanks her down the tunnel --

BLADE He can take care of himself! GO!!!

They race through the twisting warren of tunnels, taking one turn after another, the vampires hot on their heels --

INT. SUBWAY TUNNEL - NIGHT

Blade and Karen stumble out into a larger subway tunnel, which widens into a station stop up ahead. We can see the RED TAIL-LIGHTS of a train just pulling away from the platform -- Blade and Karen re- double their efforts, lungs burning, legs pumping like mad. Just as the train enters the next tunnel --

-- they leap, dragging themselves up onto the back of the rear- passenger car. Blade SMASHES his fist through the emergency exit window, then lifts Karen up, helping her climb through into the car --

-- but the vampires are still coming! Crawling along the tunnel walls on all fours, limbs a blur, claws striking the concrete and spewing out sparks. Closing fast. Too fast.

QUINN

springs forward, snagging Blade's ankle with his "good" hand. The vampire's weight threatens to haul Blade down. Blade reaches to his back-scabbard, unsheathes his sword --

THUNK! Blade brings the sword down on Quinn's good arm, cutting it off at the wrist! Quinn falls to the tracks, tumbling head over heels back into the darkness --

THE AMPUTATED HAND,

which continues to clutch at Blade's ankle, starts to melt. With a cry of disgust, Blade kicks the thing away. He turns and climbs through the window --

INT. SUBWAY CAR - NIGHT

Karen helps Blade inside. He sinks to the floor of the otherwise deserted car, exhausted. He's looking ashen now. The whites of his eyes are shot through with red.

Karen gets a good look at Blade's wounds -- the front of his jacket is soaked in blood. She reaches for him --

KAREN You're hurt --

BLADE Nothing that won't heal by dawn.

Blade reaches into his jacket and pulls out the small, gas-powered pistol-injector we saw Whistler inject him with earlier. He tries to load one of the ampoules into it, but because of his wounds, he's not having much luck --

BLADE (frustrated) I need help with this --

Karen nods, inserting the ampoule into the gun. Blade shrugs off his jacket, holds out his arm. Karen pauses --

KAREN What am I injecting you with?

BLADE (weakly) Serum -- it's a human hemoglobin substitute.

Karen locates a vein, presses the injector against it -- Blade tenses, grits his teeth, fights to keep his body thrashing as the serum enters his bloodstream. He grips the wall behind him -- actually digs his nails into the metal surface -- the agony he's going through is excruciating, like nothing we could imagine.

When it's over, he slumps forward, spent, vulnerable, flushed with sweat. Karen stares at him --

KAREN You're one of them, aren't you?

Blade turns away from Karen, filled with self-loathing.

BLADE Not quite. I'm a hybrid. Half-human, half-vampire.

Off Karen's surprised reaction, we --

CUT TO:

INT. WHISTLER'S WORKSHOP - NIGHT

The loading elevator CLANGS to a stop. Blade throws the gate open. Karen helps him out. Now that they're safely back, the last of Blade's strength seems to dissipate.

WHISTLER

is waiting for them, sitting at a workbench.

WHISTLER What took you so long?

BLADE Don't even start, old man.

Blade throws his sword aside, then moves off into the shadows, disappearing beyond the curtains. Karen looks to Whistler --

KAREN Why didn't you tell me the truth about him?

WHISTLER We weren't sure we could trust you.

Whistler sighs, removing his glasses.

WHISTLER Blade's mother was attacked by a vampire while she was pregnant. Ultimately, she died, but her unborn child lived. Unfortunately, he'd undergone certain genetic changes while in the womb --

Whistler reaches for a pack of cigarettes, pulls one out. He thumbs a match, fires up. Takes a long drag --

WHISTLER I found Blade when he was thirteen. He'd been living on the streets, feeding off the homeless. Apparently the Thirst manifested itself at puberty -- (beat) I took him for one of them at first, almost killed him, too. But then I realized what he was.

CUT TO:

EXT. EDGEWOOD TOWERS, PENTHOUSE - NIGHT

Frost stands at the window, looking out at the glimmering cityscape before him.

INT. FROST'S PENTHOUSE - NIGHT

Frost turns away from window. Quinn, Mercury, and the other vampires from the Black Pearl stand before him. Quinn cradles his amputated stump with his newly grown arm.

QUINN He took my fucking hand! Again!

FROST You seem to be in the habit of losing them fairly often, Quinn. Maybe the amputee lifestyle just suits you.

The other vampires laugh. Quinn stares them into silence.

QUINN We need to find him, tonight.

Frost claps a hand on Quinn's shoulder.

FROST Down, boy. Blade's not going anywhere. I promise. Right now, though, we've more pressing business -- (off Mercury's look) It's time Dragonetti paid the piper.

CUT TO:

INT. WHISTLER'S WORKSHOP - NIGHT

Whistler studies Karen, exhaling another lungful of smoke.

WHISTLER Blade's unique, you know. A one in a billion anomaly. He can withstand sunlight, garlic, even silver. But he still has the Thirst.

KAREN What happens if he doesn't take the serum?

WHISTLER The Thirst overcomes him, just like the others. It's not something he can control. (sighs) The problem is, time's running out. His body's starting to reject the serum. And so far, all my efforts to find a cure have ended in failure --

KAREN No offense, Whistler, but you're not exactly working with state of the art equipment here. You might have missed something.

WHISTLER (pointedly) Which is why you're here. We could use someone with your experience.

A beat passes between them and Karen knows where she stands now. In for a penny, in for a pound. Whistler reaches for Blade's sword.

WHISTLER This used to be mine, you know. It's been passed down through the centuries, from one hunter to the next --

Whistler extends the sword, sighting down the length of it. He takes a few practice parries -- it's obvious he used to be quite skilled in the art of swordsmanship.

KAREN Why do you hunt them?

WHISTLER Habit, mostly, just like this.

Whistler gestures with his cigarette. He finally stubs it out, his wistful reverie vanishing like so much smoke.

WHISTLER I had a family once -- a wife, three daughters. Then a drifter named Deacon Frost came calling one evening --

KAREN He killed them?

WHISTLER Eventually. He toyed with them first. He made me choose, do you understand? Which order they would die in --

Karen stares at Whistler, horrified.

KAREN How did you escape?

WHISTLER I didn't. He was cruel enough to let me live. (slapping his brace) Even gave me a souvenir to remember him by.

Karen nods -- it's all falling into place for her now.

KAREN And now you're using Blade to exact your revenge?

WHISTLER (pointedly) Frost's bodycount keeps rising, and I'm not getting any younger, am I?

Just then, we hear a SCREAM come from Blade's room, sounding more like the cry of a beast than a man. Karen takes a step towards Blade's room --

WHISTLER I wouldn't go in there if I were you. It's best to leave him alone when he's like this.

KAREN I'll take my chances.

INT. BLADE'S ROOM - NIGHT

Karen enters. It's dark, just a trace of moonlight.

KAREN Blade?

No answer. Then Karen SEES him -- crouched in the corner of the room like some kind of nocturnal animal.

KAREN It's dark in here.

BLADE You get used to the darkness.

Karen takes a step towards him.

KAREN Whistler told me about your mother.

Blade clutches the silver locket in his hand. It swings back and forth, like a pendulum.

BLADE I can't close my eyes without hearing her scream.

KAREN Those aren't real memories. No one has that kind of recall.

BLADE I do. I remember from day one. People staring at me, sensing I was different. Watching the fear grow in their eyes, knowing in their hearts I wasn't human.

KAREN If you're not human, then why do you bleed like us? I've seen vampire blood, you don't have it running through your veins.

Blade looks at Karen, his lambent eyes glowing in the moonlight.

BLADE Just get out of here.

KAREN Blade --

Blade turns, his eyes glowing with preternatural fury.

BLADE I said, GET OUT!!!

Karen backs away, startled by Blade's vehemence. She exits, leaving him alone with his demons. He holds up one of his empty serum ampoules, crushing it in his fist.

FROST'S VOICE Rise and shine, little wing.

EXT. THE BURNING GROUNDS - JUST BEFORE DAWN

FADE IN on Dragonetti, his face covered with a black condemned man's hood --

Frost stands before him, grinning like the Cheshire Cat. He's dressed from head to toe in a black motorcycle suit -- boots, gloves, a visored helmet tucked under one arm. Mercury and Quinn are standing nearby, similarly attired.

We're on a stretch of rocky coastline, tucked away in a secluded cove. Dragonetti has been stripped bare, chained like Prometheus to an ancient standing stone.

DRAGONETTI (straining) What is this? Where am I?!

Frost steps forward, pulling Dragonetti's hood off. Dragonetti stares at his surroundings, horrified.

FROST When was the last time you stopped to appreciate a sunrise, Dragonetti? Three, four hundred years?

Frost checks his watch, then looks to the ocean. On the horizon, a sliver of gold appears.

FROST How do you like that? Right on time.

DRAGONETTI (snarling) The other elders will never let you get away with this!

Just then, the TWELVE VAMPIRE ELDERS emerge behind Frost, forming a circle around Dragonetti. All wear business suits, gloves, along with high-tech "sun masks" to protect their faces from the light's lethal rays.

They stare at Dragonetti like a silent jury. His face darkens, anger rising -- but there's a desperation in his eyes now too. He speaks in the secret tongue:

DRAGONETTI (subtitled) Don't you see, you fools?! He'll betray you too! He's planning on invoking LaMagra himself!

The vampires just smile and shake their heads.

FROST The wheel turns, old fang. Guess you just got a little too long in the tooth.

Dragonetti's cries are cut short as Frost forces the aging vampire's mouth open, ripping out his fangs with his bare hands. Dragonetti GURGLES and SHRIEKS, sounding like a dying animal.

Frost turns to face the Twelve now, his eyes bright with victory. He pulls on his motorcycle helmet, as do Mercury and Quinn.

Behind them, Dragonetti struggles furiously against his chains to no avail as the first faint rays of daylight fall upon him, channeled inward by the natural formation of the cove --

Dragonetti HOWLS, his skin beginning sizzle and smoke. Then he catches fire like paper beneath a magnifying glass. He thrashes about as his flesh starts to run from his body.

THE VAMPIRE ELDERS

watch, impassive, protected by their masks --

-- when suddenly, TWELVE FIGURES rise up behind them, clad in bike helmets and black leather, just like Frost. The intruders grip each of the Elders in a strangle hold, ripping their masks off.

FROST Dragonetti was right. You were fools to trust me.

Frost flips down the visor of his helmet even as --

THE RED SUN

rises in all its fiery glory.

One by one, the vampire Elder's heads catch fire, skullflesh sizzling away -- burning down the line of them in successively building intensity until all twelve EXPLODE in a conflagration of BLINDING WHITE LIGHT.

Frost and his compatriots are blown off their feet by the sheer intensity of the occult blast -- a blast which sends the skeletal bodies of the Elders SLAMMING into the rock wall.

When it's over, Frost picks himself back up. We SEE that the only thing left of Dragonetti and the others are --

THIRTEEN SHADOW SILHOUETTES

permanently etched onto the rock's surface, just like the bombing victims of Hiroshima.

INT. WHISTLER'S WORKSHOP - DAY

Karen stands at a lab table with Whistler, preparing a number of blood sample vials. They are surrounded by host of new medical equipment -- from centrifuges to genetic sequencers and beyond.

Blade emerges from his room, looks to Karen. As if by silent agreement, last night's words go unacknowledged. He straps on his bandoleer of stakes, secures his scabbard.

WHISTLER Going somewhere?

BLADE China Town. I need more serum. (re: new equipment) What's all this?

KAREN I made a trip to the hospital last night, borrowed some equipment.

BLADE (sarcastic) For your miracle cure?

WHISTLER She's been making real progress, Blade. (to Karen) Show him --

Karen looks to Blade, who shrugs. She opens a refrigerator, removing a syringe filled with blue fluid.

KAREN This is sodium citrate. It's an anti-coagulant. We use it to treat blood-clots sometimes. Vampire blood is thinner than humans, though. Watch what happens when I introduce some into a sample --

Karen gestures to the microscope. Blade takes a look --

BLADE'S POV

Vampire blood cells swirling about.

Karen injects the contents of the syringe onto the slide of cells -- the reaction is immediate. The vampire blood turns black, then begins violently bubbling.

Blade lifts his head away from the microscope just in time -- the blood on the slide atomizes, exploding outward in a fine mist which bursts apart the glass lens of the scope.

Whistler laughs, thrilled with the results.

WHISTLER Can you imagine what a dash of that would do on your sword?

Whistler claps his hand on Karen's shoulder in approval, then limps away, quickly busying himself with another project. Blade moves to follow, but Karen stops him --

KAREN Before you go, I'd like to take a sample of your blood.

Blade grudgingly rolls up his sleeve. As Karen takes her sample, Blade looks to Whistler. The older man brings a handkerchief to his lips, coughing into it.

KAREN Is he sick?

BLADE Cancer.

Karen watches as Blade's blood flows into the vacutainer. She fills the first, then inserts another.

KAREN You care about him, don't you?

BLADE We've got a good arrangement, that's all. Whistler makes the weapons, I use them, the vampires die -- end of story.

Karen finishes. Blade rolls up his sleeve.

KAREN (pointedly) My mother used to say that a cold heart is a dead heart.

BLADE Your mother sounds like a Hallmark greeting card.

Blade slips his Casulls into a shoulder holster, then shrugs into his leather jacket, donning his sunglasses.

BLADE I'd wish you luck, Doc, but I never put much stock in optimism.

He heads towards the elevator.

EXT. CHINATOWN, STREETS - DAY

Blade makes his way down a street lined with vending stalls -- passing MERCHANTS peddling exotic vegetables and cheap curios, butcher shops with rows of roast ducks in the window, tyro GANG- BANGERS lounging at the entrance to a video arcade.

BLADE'S POV

Even though the streets are crowded, the people seem to make way for him, avoiding eye-contact.

Blade turns into a dark alley, ducking into the doorway of a hole-in- the-wall herbalist shop.

INT. HERBALIST SHOP - DAY

A bell atop the door JINGLES, announcing Blade's arrival. We're in a dusty, cave-like room filled with baskets and bottle-lined shelves featuring things like "Toad Spleen Extract" and "Barking Deer Wine". Joss sticks burn, sending wispy tendrils of incense into the air.

At the back of the shop, an elderly CHINESE MAN in a cardigan sits in front of a battered television, watching a boxing match. He's eating a bowl of litchi fruit. On the counter nearby, a SPIDER MONKEY watches attentively.

BLADE How's it going, Kam?

KAM (re: calendar) You're a week early.

BLADE I was in the neighborhood.

Kam sets his fruit bowl aside, leads Blade through a curtain into a back room.

INT. HERBALIST SHOP, BACK ROOM - DAY

Kam hands Blade a leather valise. He opens it -- its lined with tiny ampoules of scarlet-colored serum. Blade pulls one out, holds it up to the light.

BLADE Whistler says I'm building up a resistance to it.

KAM I was afraid that might happen.

BLADE Maybe it's time to start exploring other alternatives.

KAM There's only one alternative to the serum.

Blade nods. They both know what that "alternative" is.

BLADE Yeah. I know.

Blade closes the valise and tucks it inside his jacket.

BLADE Thanks, Kam. (thinking) One other thing. Have you ever heard of a vampire called the Sleeper?

Kam shakes his head. Blade pulls out the parchment he took from Pearl.

BLADE I found this in there archives. I need to find someone who can read their language.

Kam studies the parchment.

KAM I've heard about a woman named Miracia. Some say she's a mayombero, a Santeria witch. Supposedly she lives in that tent community down by the city dump. I'm told she only sees people at night.

Blade nods his thanks and heads back through the curtains.

EXT. CHINATOWN, STREET - DAY

Blade emerges from the alley into the sunlight, then hears his name WHISPERED on the wind.

VOICE (o.s.) Blade.

Blade spins, scanning his surroundings -- did he really hear his name, or was it just the wind?

VOICE (o.s.) Blade.

Again, the taunting voice calls him. Blade's gaze finally settles on --

A MAN

sitting on a bench in the deep shade, his face obscured by the Chinese newspaper he's reading. There's a LITTLE GIRL sitting stiffly beside the man -- a look of pure terror written on her face.

MAN Afternoon, Blade.

The man lowers his newspaper. It's Deacon Frost. He's wearing sunglasses, but otherwise, he's seemingly unprotected by the sun.

Blade reaches for his .454 --

FROST Easy.

Frost's hand rests on the back of the girl's neck. We see his claws extend, caressing the flesh beneath her chin.

FROST Wouldn't want our little friend here to wind up on the back of a milk carton, would we?

Blade reluctantly lowers his hand. Frost smiles. He takes in a deep breath of air, savoring it.

FROST Beautiful day, isn't it?

BLADE (confused) How can you be out here?

FROST I dabble in pharmaceuticals, medical research. We've developed a type of sun-blocker using octyl salicylate, a few others things.

On closer examination we see that Frost is wearing a translucent lotion on his face. He touches a finger to his cheek, rubs some of the lotion between his fingers.

FROST It's not very effective in direct sunlight, but it's a start. The goal, of course, is to be like you, "the Day-walker".

BLADE I don't buy it.

FROST Why not? The future of our race runs through your bloodstream. You've got the best of both worlds, Blade. All of our strengths and none of our weaknesses.

BLADE Maybe I don't see it that way.

FROST Oh, so it's back to pretending we're human again, is it? Spare me the Uncle Tom routine. You can't keep denying what you are. You're one of us, Blade. You always have been.

BLADE You're wrong.

FROST Am I? You think the humans will ever accept a half-breed like you? They can't. They're afraid of you. (pointedly) The humans fear us because we're superior. They fear us because in their hearts they know their race has become obsolete.

Frost watches the marketers stream past, sneering in contempt.

FROST Look at them, just an endless stream of cattle in a mad race to the slaughterhouse.

Frost lifts a silver flask to his mouth, taking a swig of blood. He smacks his lips, sighs contentedly --

FROST The pause that refreshes -- (offering it to Blade) Care for some? Smells good, doesn't it? Pungent, with just an irrepressible hint of iron.

BLADE Pass.

FROST You sure now? I bled a newborn for this. You won't find a drink that's sweeter.

It takes every ounce of Blade's self-control to keep from attacking Frost -- and Frost senses this, pressing his sharp thumbnail against the child's jugular.

FROST Tell me honestly, do you really get the same rush from that pasteurized piss-serum of yours? (off Blade's look) You're surprised I know about your serum? You shouldn't be. I know everything about you.

Frost leans forward, grinning.

FROST You can't keep walking the razor's edge, Blade. The day will come -- and soon, when you'll have to choose between our kind and their's. If I were you, I'd take care not to wind up on the wrong end of the fang.

A bead of sweat runs down Frost's neck, washing away a minute amount of the sun-blocking cream. The patch of exposed skin instantly blackens. Frost gazes upwards at the sun.

FROST Love to continue this chat, but it appears I'm melting.

Frost rises, taking the little girl by the hand. Blade follows, his hand resting on the butt of his Casull.

BLADE You're not going anywhere.

FROST (growling) Watch me.

Frost's eyes flicker towards the street -- a CITY BUS is rumbling by. In a heartbeat, Frost hurls the little girl forward --

-- out into the path of the oncoming bus!

Blade has a split-second to act. It's Frost or the girl -- and for a moment we actually think he's going to go for Frost --

-- but then he DIVES forward, scooping the girl into his arms, throwing themselves out of the bus' path. The bus misses them by a hair. By the time Blade looks up again --

-- Frost is gone. Blade rises, cursing, scanning the street as market-goers gather around him.

WHIP PAN TO --

SOMEONE sitting astride a motorcycle, watching Blade from the roof of an elevated parking garage. The rider is clad from head to toe in a helmet and black leather -- Mercury.

EXT. ABANDONED FACTORY - DAY

Blade's Olds cruises into the gated grounds. It zips down the ramp way into the loading elevator.

BACK BY THE TRAIN TRACKS --

Mercury's cycle rolls into frame. She picks up a radio handset and keys it.

MERCURY (into radio) This is Mercury. Tell Deacon I've found their hiding place.

CUT TO:

INT. WHISTLER'S WORKSHOP - DAY

Blade enters through the loading elevator, finding Karen and Whistler hard at work. She turns as he approaches -- SEES him back-lit by the sun. She looks pale, the whites of her eyes are streaked with red.

BLADE Any progress?

KAREN Some. It's been slow --

BLADE You don't look so good.

KAREN I'm just tired, that's all. We've been up all night.

Blade nods, not buying her explanation. He shoots a glance to Whistler, which doesn't go unnoticed by Karen.

KAREN Excuse me.

Karen turns, heading for the back of the workshop.

INT. WORKSHOP - BATHROOM - NIGHT

Karen enters a dingy bathroom, turning on the overhead bulb. She studies her reflection in the mirror above the sink, then grimaces as she peels the dressing from her wound -- the wound is clearly infected, gangrenous.

BLADE (O.S.) It's started.

Karen spins, startled. Blade stands behind her. He grips her jaw, turning her head so he can better view the wound.

BLADE You've got another day or two at most.

Karen nods, shaken. As she moves to leave, Blade reaches for her arm, stopping her.

BLADE For what it's worth, I'm sorry.

KAREN You make it sound like I'm already dead.

Blade just stares at her. Finally, she pulls away.

EXT. WHISTLER'S WORKSHOP - DUSK

CLOSE ON Karen as she moves to the grimy outer windows, watching the sun go down, an unmistakable look of dread creeping over her.

CUT TO:

EXT. LANDFILL GHETTO - DUSK

Windy. Urban desolation. Blade stands on the perimeter of a sprawling cardboard and plywood squatter's ghetto which has sprung up around the city dump. CHILDREN and DOGS forage for salvageable items, while in the distance, dumptrucks grind over the dunes of refuse.

MOMENTS LATER,

Blade is winding his way through the maze of makeshift homes and ashcan fires. A CROWD quickly closes in around him, suspicious. A BRUTISH MAN steps forward, challenging him --

MAN Extranjero. Quien es?

BLADE I'm here to see Miracia. Kam sent me.

The man turns to his fellow squatters, WHISPERING. After a heated debate, a GAUNT WOMAN steps forward, motioning --

WOMAN This way.

CUT TO:

INT. WHISTLER'S WORKSHOP - NIGHT

Whistler and Karen sit at a work table. Karen is looking at a blood smear slide through a microscope.

KAREN All right, let's start with the basics -- why do vampires need to drink blood?

WHISTLER Their own blood can't sustain hemoglobin.

KAREN Then vampirism is a genetic defect, just like Hemolytic anemia?

Whistler nods.

KAREN So what about gene therapy?

Whistler looks intrigued. Karen continues.

KAREN Basically you'd have to re-write the victim's DNA, alter it so that the DNA will produce proteins capable of generating hemoglobin.

WHISTLER How?

KAREN With a retrovirus. It's injected into the bone marrow cells, it causes the host's DNA to mutate. They've been using them to treat Sickle-cell anemia.

Whistler can hardly believe what he's hearing.

WHISTLER You're serious? You actually think this could work?

Karen pauses -- we can see in her expression that there's something she's been holding back.

KAREN On me, yes. On Blade, I'm not so sure -- (gravely) The problem is, Blade didn't contract the vampire virus from a bite like I did. He was born with it. The irony is, I could probably cure every vampire but him.

WHISTLER Then we're back to square one, aren't we? Sooner or later, the Thirst always wins.

At that moment, the lights in the workshop flicker, then go out. Karen looks around the room, alarmed.

KAREN What happened to the power?

WHISTLER (concerned) I don't know, but the back-up generator should've kicked in.

A few seconds pass. The back-up generator still hasn't activated. Whistler moves to the window --

WHISTLER UV floodlights are down too.

As Whistler reaches for a flashlight we hear the sound of GLASS SHATTERING coming from the other end of the workshop. Whistler shines the flashlight in that direction. We hear more sounds now -- water draining, glass tinkling.

Whistler raises a finger to his lips, signaling silence. He edges towards the black-out curtains, Karen falling in behind him.

INT. WHISTLER'S WORKSHOP - TANK ROOM - NIGHT

Whistler and Karen enter, cautious --

THE TANK

containing the vampire child has been smashed open. It's empty now, with just the steadily draining blood seeping across the floor in a widening pool -- and a trail of tiny BLOODY FOOTPRINTS leading back out into the main workshop.

INT. WHISTLER'S WORKSHOP - NIGHT

Karen scans the shadows, eyes alert. We hear a WHISPER, then a teasing, childish, GIGGLE.

Whistler moves the flashlight in a slow circle, shining the beam over every inch of the room. And just as he's about to complete his circuit --

THE CHILD

leaps from where it had been hiding overhead! Karen SCREAMS. Whistler is knocked to the floor, the flashlight spinning from his hand --

The feral child lands atop Whistler, HISSING like a cobra. Its macrocephalic head seems to morph, twisting into grotesque proportions. And just as it's about to strike --

ZZZZING! Whistler withdraws a silver rapier which had been hidden inside his cane. He lunges forward --

WHOOSH! The child takes off like a blue streak, sending test tubes and medical equipment CRASHING to the floor. It zips past Karen --

WHISTLER Get it!!!

Karen snatches up the flashlight, chasing after it as Whistler struggles to his feet --

Karen sweeps the flashlight around, catching only fleeting glimpses of the child as it darts through the workshop. She reaches a shelving unit where Whistler's weapons are stored, grabs one of the modified pistols --

Karen tries to draw a bead on the creature. She FIRES, misses, FIRES again -- she's getting more unnerved as the seconds tick by and the creature is moving closer and --

-- suddenly it's right in front of her, flying through the air, fangs bared!

The child knocks Karen back against the wall. It's at her throat, sinking its claws into her neck. Karen chokes, forcing Whistler's pistol under the monstrosity's chin --

-- but then the creature morphs again, transforming into a beatific little cherubim of a child -- and Karen hesitates, because the child seems so goddamned human now and its eyes are luminous, pulsing and hypnotic and --

-- suddenly Whistler reaches in from behind, YANKING the vampire child's head back, FIRING a pistol into its skull. The creature slumps --

Karen cries out, disgusted, flinging the corpse away from her. As it continues to writhe --

THUNK! Whistler swings his cane-rapier down on the creature, brutally decapitating it. Finishing the job. Then he looks to Karen, winded.

WHISTLER Understand this -- they are monsters. Hesitate for even a moment, and you've lost.

FROST (O.S.) Words to live by, Whistler.

Whistler spins, eyes wide. He knows that voice.

DEACON FROST

steps into the pool of illumination thrown off by the flashlight, followed by Mercury and Quinn.

FROST It's been a long time, hasn't it, "old friend"?

EXT. LANDFILL GHETTO - MIRACIA'S CABIN - NIGHT

Blade is led to a plywood cabin crowded with candle-lit altars -- garish pictures of Saints and demons abound, alongside bottles of roots and herbs steeped in alcohol, human bones, voodoo dolls.

MIRACIA

sits on a sagging couch outside, clutching a deck of well-thumbed Bicycle playing cards. She's ancient, with a mouthful of gold-capped teeth and cataract-clouded eyes. Blind.

MIRACIA Is something wrong, my friend?

BLADE You're blind --

MIRACIA There are other ways to see. Sit.

Blade approaches, uneasy. Miracia deals out the playing cards on a rickety table, setting them in nine piles which take on a cross formation.

MIRACIA Perhaps you have brought me something -- an offering for the orishas?

Blade tosses a handful of bills on the table. Miracia nods, then flips over the first card in the center pile -- a one-eyed Jack. She sighs, grave --

MIRACIA Hold out your hands.

BLADE I didn't come here to get my palms read. I need something translated.

MIRACIA Show me.

Blade removes parchment fragment from his jacket and sets it on the table. Miracia traces her fingers over the ancient paper, touching her fingertips to her lips.

MIRACIA Sangre. Written in blood.

She runs her hands over each line as if it were written in Braille. Some of the candles gutter, then extinguish themselves as the wind around them rises.

MIRACIA This is an old tongue, from an old world. It concerns LaMagra.

BLADE Who is LaMagra?

MIRACIA The vampire God. This speaks of His return.

Miracia's fingers search the parchment again.

MIRACIA "-- there will come a Day Walker." (reading) "His blood will call the Sleeper from beyond the Veil of Tears."

Blade stares at Miracia, shaken.

BLADE His blood -- ?

The old woman nods, reaching for a smoldering cigarette.

MIRACIA The Day Walker's blood is a disparador -- a trigger, you see? For LaMagra's return. One need only consume it and the spirit of his ancestors will settle upon him. (reading) "And the Sleeper will rise from the shadows anew, cleansing the world in a Tide of Blood."

BLADE (recalling the phrase) "The Blood Tide".

MIRACIA (nodding) Yes. The vampire apocalypse. It is said that all who feel its taint will succumb to the Thirst.

BLADE How do I stop it?

Miracia shrugs, spreading her hands.

MIRACIA The Great Wheel turns, my friend. The Dark is rising. How would you fight a shadow?

Miracia sits back, slumping into her chair. The candles have burnt themselves down to nothing.

MIRACIA I am tired. Dawn is coming.

BLADE But I just got here --

MIRACIA You've been here longer than you think.

Blade rises, looking to the horizon. Incredibly, dawn is coming. As he stands there, mystified, the wind picks up, sweeping the parchment fragment out of his hand. He tries to snatch it back, but the fragment is quickly borne away. He watches it disappear into the sky, then turns back --

Miracia is gone. Blade glances around him, but she's nowhere to be found.

CAMERA PULLS BACK,

isolating Blade amidst the ghostly squalor. From our vantage point, he looks like any other homeless phantom.

INT. WHISTLER'S WORKSHOP - DAWN

Blade steps out from the elevator into the workshop --

The place has been trashed. It looks like a tornado touched down in his absence. Blade pulls out one of his .454s, cautious --

BLADE WHISTLER?!

-- and then he stops dead in his tracks.

WHISTLER

has been strung up by his arms against the far wall, tortured and left for dead. In response to Blade's voice, a MOAN escapes the dying man's lips.

Blade rushes to the wall, cutting Whistler down with his sword, gently lowering him to the floor. As he cradles the old man in his arms, Blade sees the primary wound -- two ragged puncture marks along Whistler's throat.

BLADE Jesus, Whistler, what did they do to you?

Whistler opens his eyes, struggling to speak --

WHISTLER Frost took her --

Whistler spasms and coughs, wincing from the pain.

BLADE Don't try to talk --

WHISTLER Listen. You have to -- finish me off. You don't want me coming back.

BLADE No, we can treat the wounds --

But Whistler is shaking his hand.

WHISTLER Too far gone, you know that.

Blade's at a complete loss.

BLADE Whistler, I can't.

Whistler clutches at Blade's arm, his eyes burning with conviction.

WHISTLER Yes you can. Now get on with it.

As much as he'd like to deny it, Blade knows that Whistler is right. He pulls a stake from his bandoleer, hesitates.

BLADE Whistler, I --

WHISTLER (cutting him off, more gentle now) I know. (forcing a smile) Just be quick about it, will you? Do it right.

Blade fights back tears. With a wretched moan, he turns his head and drives the stake into Whistler's chest. Whistler GASPS. Blade wraps his arms around the older man, holding him tight as the life runs out of him, rocking back and forth --

After a while, the rocking stops and Blade lays Whistler on the floor. Then something catches his eye --

A SHARP VIEW-CAMCORDER

resting nearby, labeled, "PLAY ME". Blade reaches for the camcorder, cues the tape -- Frost's face appears on the tiny built-in screen.

FROST Hello, Blade. By the time you watch this, Whistler will no doubt be winging his way to Heaven, thanks to your capable hands. If it makes any difference to you, he put up quite a fight.

Frost touches a deep gash which runs across his cheek.

FROST Now, I'm sure you're wondering about Ms. Jansen's well-being. She's alive and kicking -- "ambulatory", as they like to say in the trade. Whether or not she remains so is entirely up to you. (beat) I'll make this as easy as possible for you, Blade. You can find us at the Edgewood Towers. We'll be waiting with baited breath.

The tape cuts to static. Blade throws the camcorder against the wall. It shatters into a dozen pieces.

Blade turns now, his eyes falling on the medical equipment Karen brought from the hospital. He moves to the refrigerator, removing a canister labeled "SODIUM CITRATE". Then he draws his sword. We can practically see the wheels turning within his mind --

MOMENTS LATER,

Blade stands before the open flames of one of the furnaces, heating his sword in the fire. He withdraws it -- it's molten red.

Blade turns, dousing the molten hot sword into the sodium citrate canister. The refrigerated liquid reacts with the heat, causing the sword to STEAM and HISS.

When Blade withdraws the smoking sword, we SEE that the gleaming steel has changed colors, taking on a bluish tinge, just like the sodium citrate it was immersed in. Blade smiles to himself, satisfied.

CUT TO:

INT. FROST'S PENTHOUSE, INNER CHAMBER - DAY

Sparse decor in a Neo-Japanese vein. Minimalist lighting. The walls are glass. Recirculating pumps send a constant stream of water cascading down them.

Karen is escorted into the room by Mercury. She gestures to a chair at the end of a long table. Karen sits.

FROST

leans forward out of the shadows, resting his elbows on the table, hands steepled together.

FROST Well, here we are, Doctor.

A cigarette appears in Frost's hand. In the blink of an eye, the cigarette is lit, burning. The movements are so quick we barely have time to register them.

KAREN Why haven't you killed me yet?

MERCURY Deacon likes to play with his food before he eats it.

Frost laughs. Karen tries to keep calm. The longer she keeps them talking, the longer she remains alive.

KAREN How many of you are there?

FROST A few thousand scattered about the globe. In the past, we've had to restrict our numbers for fear of discovery. That won't be necessary after tonight.

KAREN What happens then?

FROST The Blood Tide. Our long-prophesied holy war against the humans. There's a force, you see -- a spirit that exists in our blood. I've discovered a way to invoke it.

KAREN LaMagra --

FROST That's right. The answers were there all along, of course, scribbled down in the forgotten languages of my kind. Waiting for someone with the patience to decipher them. My elders were foolish enough to dismiss them as wives tales. But I knew better. (beat) Imagine my surprise when Blade turned out to be the key which would set that force free.

Frost sits forward now, impassioned.

FROST LaMagra isn't a physical being. He's a spirit, requiring a flesh and blood host in order to manifest himself.

KAREN You.

FROST Who better to usher in the Blood Tide?

Karen shakes her head, protesting --

KAREN There's no need for any of this. Your condition can be treated. Whistler and I were working on a cure when --

FROST What makes you think we want to be cured? Blood is only part of the equation. The hunt, the killing, that's what the Thirst is really about.

KAREN But you use blood banks --

FROST Only as a last resort. Preserved blood is inferior. There's no flavor left to it, no life. (rising from his seat) Fortunately, I've found a way around that particular obstacle.

Frost moves to the end of the room. He pushes a button. With a HUM the wall slides open, revealing something Karen wishes she'd never seen -- living blood banks.

THREE SEDATED HUMANS

have been hooked up to IV feeds which replenish various nutrients as their blood is drained from them. Shunts have been implanted in their forearms which serve as taps.

FROST Under these conditions I can keep a donor alive for years, producing anywhere from fifty to a hundred pints of blood. (admiring his charges) Of course, this is just a pilot program, really. Once the Tide comes, we'll need to expand production. So many more mouths to feed --

Karen turns away, overwhelmed by revulsion.

KAREN You're a monster.

FROST Why? Because we live at another species' expense? Your people farm cattle and veal, don't they? Fattening them up with steroids? It's called evolution, Doctor. Survival of the fittest.

Frost stares at Karen with an intense, uncompromising gaze.

FROST I have a wake-up call for the human race. You're no longer at the top of the food chain.

EXT. SKYSCRAPER ROOFTOP - DAY

BLADE'S POV

A telephoto view of Frost's penthouse. The windows are polarized, blocking out the sun's harsh rays.

Blade lowers a pair of binoculars. He's standing on the roof of a building across the street. He hefts an air-launcher rifle up into firing position --

BANG! An iron spike trailing a steel cable rockets through the air between the two buildings, sinking into the concrete facade of Frost's penthouse. Blade secures his end of the rope. He slips a pulley over the rope, grabs hold of two handles, and leaps off the roof ledge!

WHOOSH! Blade slides towards Frost's penthouse, a good twenty stories above street level. A second before he reaches the windows, Blade lets go. Momentum sends him CRASHING through in a shower of glass.

INT. FROST'S PENTHOUSE - DAY

An ALARM is ringing. Sunlight streams in through the broken window. TWO VAMPIRE GUARDS who have been caught in the sudden swath of light are burning up before our eyes. Blade climbs to his feet --

A THIRD VAMPIRE

leaps at him. Blade spins, flipping the vampire over his shoulder, sending him straight through one of the other windows --

EXT. FROST'S PENTHOUSE - DAY

The vampire tumbles earthward, SCREAMING as the sun's rays ignite his body, falling like a human comet.

INT. FROST'S PENTHOUSE - DAY

Blade unsheathes his sword and heads out into the hall --

INT. FROST'S PENTHOUSE, HALLWAY - DAY

To Blade's right is the inner chamber with the "waterfall" walls. As ANOTHER VAMPIRE approaches, Blade readies his sword --

VAMPIRE You think I'm afraid of that toothpick of yours?

BLADE You should be. I've made some improvements.

And with that, Blade thrusts his blackened sword forward, right through the vampire's chest.

The creature SHRIEKS and atomizes -FWOOSH!- flying apart in a fine- beaded spray of blood mist.

Up ahead are a set of steel doors with a time-lock mechanism. Blade draws a Casull, BLASTS away at the lock, then shoulders the doors open --

INT. FROST'S SLEEPING CHAMBER - DAY

We are in a windowless, vault-like room dominated by a series of high-tech STAINLESS STEEL SARCOPHAGI. Think of a hyperbaric coffin, each unit possessing a small face-plate window through which the sleeping subject can be viewed.

Blade unsheathes his sword. He grabs the lid of the first sarcophagus, HEAVING upward. With a PNEUMATIC HISS, the lid rises, belching out a cloud of condensation mist.

As the mist clears, revealing the occupant within, Blade raises his sword, ready to plunge it downward -- only it's not Deacon Frost who rests beneath him, it's --

VANESSA,

Blade's mother!!! Although some thirty years have passed since the events of our prologue, Vanessa looks exactly the same -- vibrant, beautiful, full of life. Her eyes open.

VANESSA Jason.

Blade gasps, uncomprehending.

BLADE Mother -- ?!

Vanessa rises from the sarcophagus, tears staining her cheeks.

VANESSA I've missed you so much, Jason. (drawing closer) You have no idea what I've been through, how much I've wanted to see you --

Blade falters, his mind reeling. What he's seeing is incomprehensible -- his mother is dead. Yet, here she is in the flesh, reaching out to him and --

-- flashing a mouthful of viper-like fangs! She SNARLS and strikes, brutally raking her claws across Blade's face, knocking the sword from his grasp --

A TRIO OF BLACK-CLAD VAMPIRES

led by Mercury step from the shadows where they'd been waiting all along. They're armed with tasers which they fire en masse --

Blade is hit by the taser darts from all sides. He writhes as electricity courses through him, then collapses in a heap. He labors to lift his head, looking up at Vanessa --

BLADE But you -- died --

VANESSA (a hellish smile) Deacon brought me back.

BLADE Fight him --

As if on cue, Frost appears at Vanessa's side, wrapping a proprietary arm about her waist, kissing the nape of her neck. She leans into him -- an act of practiced intimacy.

FROST She can't. She's one of my thralls now. She has about as much free will as a puppet on a string. (looking at Vanessa) You love me, don't you, Vanessa?

VANESSA Yes.

Frost kisses Vanessa hungrily. Then he kneels and reaches into Blade's jacket, retrieving a vial of Blade's serum.

FROST What do we have here? Your precious serum? I don't think you'll be needing this anymore.

Frost crushes the vial in his fist. Blade struggles to reach Frost, stretching a palsied hand upwards --

BLADE Please --

VANESSA Listen to your father, Jason. It's going to be a better world.

Blade stares at Vanessa uncomprehending.

FROST Don't look so surprised, Blade. You've spent your life looking for the vampire who fathered you. Well you can rest easy now, you've found him. (gripping Blade's chin) Daddy's here.

Blade's eyes widen in shock. Frost simply laughs.

FROST It's true, Blade. You've got my blood running through your veins. (smiling) Thirty years ago. A moonlit street, a woman on her way home alone. You were conceived the night I tore my fangs into your mother's flesh.

Frost swings his fist into Blade's skull. Everything goes black.

CUT TO:

INT. ARMORED TRUCK - NIGHT

FADE IN as Blade opens his eyes, still groggy, his face beaded with sweat. Feverish. His hands have been bound tightly behind his back with manacles and chains.

KAREN

sits nearby, watching him. From the steady rocking motion and the SOUNDS of traffic outside, it's evident that they are in the back of a moving truck.

KAREN Are you all right?

BLADE (weakly) I've been better --

BLADE How long have we been driving?

KAREN (shaking her head) I don't know. I woke up just before you did --

As he struggles to sit up, she crosses over to him. Blade shuts his eyes for a moment, fighting a wave of pain.

KAREN Is it bad?

BLADE (nodding) We get out of this alive, maybe I'll take that miracle cure of yours.

Karen doesn't respond. Instead she looks away. How in the world is she supposed to tell him this?

KAREN (quietly) It won't work on you.

BLADE What are you talking about?

Karen forces herself to meet his gaze.

KAREN Your condition's congenital, the genetic mutations occurred in utero. All the other victims contracted vampirism after birth.

Blade stares at Karen, disbelieving. Who could imagine a more horrifying irony? She's crying now. She can't help it.

KAREN I can't cure you, Blade. I can cure myself, but I can't cure you. (beat) I'm so sorry.

Blade's head sinks, the last vestiges of hope draining out of him.

And then, as if the final stake were being pounded in, the truck lurches to a stop. We hear the ENGINE being killed, then FOOTSTEPS approaching, and then a series of BOLTS BEING SHIFTED as --

-- the back of the truck is thrown open. Frost stands there, grinning, flanked by Mercury, Quinn, Vanessa, and a half-dozen other VAMPIRE ASSOCIATES.

FROST Welcome home, children.

EXT. THE BANK OF EREBUS - NIGHT

Blade and Karen are dragged from the back of the truck, which is revealed now to be an armored car.

THE BANK OF EREBUS

rises up before them. A towering beaux-arts edifice situated in the heart of the city's high-priced financial district -- one of the many institutions owned and operated by the vampire enclave.

Frost starts up the marble steps towards a grand, triple-arched entrance flanked by Corinthian columns. Karen and Blade are dragged along after him.

INT. BANK OF EREBUS - ATRIUM - NIGHT

Frost leads his vampires into a high-ceilinged atrium, moving towards a bank of elevators -- one of the doors of which is outfitted with a high-tech hand-key ID system.

Frost places his palm on the ID screen. The screen GLOWS GREEN, acknowledging his identity. In response, the doors HISS open.

INT. SECURITY ELEVATOR - NIGHT

Blade and Karen are pulled inside the elevator. The control panel buttons have vampire glyphs, rather than numbers. Frost presses the bottom one. The doors close with a WHOOSH and the car descends -- down, down, down.

Frost glances over at Karen, smiling amiably.

FROST On its surface, this building houses one of the city's oldest financial institutions -- and for over two-hundred years its served our corporate needs. Look beneath the surface, however, and you'll discover another truth entirely --

The elevator CHIMES, having arrived at its destination. The doors HISS open, revealing

INT. THE TEMPLE OF NIGHT

A vast, barrel-vaulted chamber lined with recessed tombs stretches out before us -- an underground cathedral of sorts, wrought from alabaster and marble. Restrained. Elegant. Replete with dark splendor.

FROST As above, so below.

Torches burn in wall sconces, casting everything in a warm, amber glow. Frost takes in the beauty of the place.

FROST Welcome to our hall of ancients, Doctor. We call it the Temple of Night.

Blade and Karen are led to the middle of the room, where a stone altar rises up from a dais. Blade is roughly thrown to the ground. He kneels there, eyes cast downward. Broken. His system being assaulted by the devastating effects of the Thirst.

Quinn and Mercury pick their way through Blade's discarded gear. Quinn picks up the punching dagger, admiring it.

Frost turns to Mercury, who's been holding Blade's scabbarded sword.

FROST Let's see this sword of his.

Mercury draws the sword, handing it to Frost. He sights down the length of it, testing its weight. With a flick of his wrist, he lashes out, slashing Blade's cheek open.

FROST Still quite sharp, I see.

Blade feebly struggles to rise. Frost clubs him on the back of the neck with the sword pommel. Blade crumples. Karen tries to pull free, but Quinn holds her tight.

KAREN Blade --

FROST You're wasting your breath, woman. He can't hear you now. It's the Thirst, you see? It already has him in its grip.

Frost reaches down, dragging Blade's head up by his hair. Karen watches on as Frost continues to taunt him.

FROST How long has it been since you had your serum? Twelve hours? More? You must be quite thirsty by now.

He crouches down so he's eye to eye with Blade.

FROST What does it feel like? Is your blood on fire? Are you burning up inside? Give in to the Thirst, Blade. Embrace your true nature.

Blade shivers, grits his teeth, it's like he's going through heroin withdrawal.

BLADE -- go to hell --

Frost smiles, his eyes burning with an infernal glow.

FROST I've got news for you, Blade. We're already here.

Frost turns to the others, motioning.

FROST Take him to the sanctuary. It's time he was bled.

The other vampires retreat, dragging Blade along with them. Karen is left alone with Frost and Quinn.

FROST I'd let you watch the proceedings, Doctor, but I'm afraid that privilege is reserved for members of my own race. Don't worry, though, I've made alternate arrangements for you.

Frost motions and Quinn drags Karen towards --

THE MOUTH OF A PIT

some forty feet deep, its lichen-encrusted stone walls worn smooth over time. As Frost gestures to the yawning darkness beneath them, Quinn forces Karen towards the edge.

FROST We call this the Bone Pit. It's where we keep our mistakes, the ones who couldn't successfully make the transition from human to vampire.

Frost reaches out, caressing Karen's neck, puncturing the soft flesh beneath her chin with a razored fingernail.

FROST They'll feed on anything, given the chance -- animals, corpses, even other vampires.

Frost nods. Karen struggles against Quinn, but it's no good. In a manner of seconds, she's falling --

INT. BONE PIT - NIGHT

-- making a decidedly rough landing on a heap of bones far below. She GROANS, taking stock of her battered body.

UP ABOVE,

Deacon watches from the lip of the pit, amused.

FROST Of course, a strapping young woman like yourself -- well I think you just might be considered finger food.

And with that, he's gone, stepping away from the pit.

INT. TEMPLE OF NIGHT - BLEEDING CHAMBER - NIGHT

We are in a small, elevated antechamber which is situated above the main vampire sanctuary.

BLADE,

now weakened to the point of collapse, is being lashed to a rack-like device by iron chains.

Mercury and her cohorts move efficiently, quickly securing him. When they are through, the rack is hoisted up into the air via a series of winch-driven chains.

With every turn of the winch crank, the chains are drawn tighter, causing Blade to CRY OUT, until at last, he is suspended in mid-air, spread-eagle.

FROST

approaches, still carrying Blade's sword.

FROST It's been a long road, hasn't it? Such a pity Whistler led you so far astray.

Frost cocks his head to the side, studying Blade's face.

FROST I don't blame you, though. I want you to know that. Even after all you've done. I understand, Blade, I really do. It's the human side of you which has corrupted your reasoning, made you weak. But we'll take care of that, won't we?

Blade struggles to lift his head, forcing himself to match Frost's gaze, shaking with hatred.

BLADE I'd kill myself -- before I turned into something like you.

Frost just smiles and shakes his head.

FROST No you wouldn't. I'm going to bleed you dry, Blade. All the poison that makes you human. (drawing closer) When the Tide comes, you'll be begging me put you through the Change.

Frost lifts up Blade's sword, methodically slitting Blade's wrists one by one. He makes the cuts lengthwise, opening up the cephalic and basilic veins with surgical precision.

Blood wells up from the fresh wounds, running down Blade's forearms, collecting in a cistern beneath his feet.

Frost watches the steady, inexorable process, then nods, satisfied. He looks to the others who are gathered behind him, watching on with silent reverence.

FROST It's done. We should ready ourselves for the ritual of invocation.

Frost leads Mercury, Quinn, and the others from the sanctuary.

Blade struggles futilely against his bonds, crying out in frustration, his body eventually sagging from exhaustion.

VANESSA (O.S.) There's no use fighting us, Jason.

Blade looks up, focusing now on --

VANESSA,

who has remained behind. Blade stares at her. As terrible as his physical torment is, his mother's betrayal is infinitely worse.

BLADE How could you be a part of this?

VANESSA These are my people now. I'm one of them.

BLADE You don't have to be.

VANESSA You don't understand. I've killed, I've hunted, and I've enjoyed it.

She draws closer, caressing her son's face. There's just a hint of creepy eroticism in her action, a dash of incest.

VANESSA I wish you could see the world as I do. Deacon opened my eyes. There's no turning back from that.

BLADE I don't believe that.

VANESSA You will. Time is on our side. Sooner or later, the Thirst always wins.

Vanessa turns away now. Blade cries after her --

BLADE Mother!

Vanessa pauses, looking back, smiling cruelly.

VANESSA Your mother died the night you were born.

And with that, she's gone, melting into the shadows.

CUT TO:

INT. THE BONE PIT - NIGHT

Karen rises, wary, taking in her shadowed surroundings.

HEAPS OF HUMAN BONES

are piled against the pit walls -- skulls, rib-cages, femurs, tibias -- all picked clean of flesh. Some of the skulls have large, canine- like fangs -- the remnants, no doubt, of long-deceased vampires.

Suddenly we hear a WHISPER of sorts, the soft CLINKING of bone fragments grinding together --

Karen spins, trying to place the source of the sound. Then she hears the SOUND again. Behind her now, closer.

REVENANT (O.S.) Karennnnn --

Karen looks up with a growing sense of dread.

A FACE

emerges from the darkness. Pallid, cadaverous, shedding its desiccated flesh. Lidless eyes like black marbles slick with Vaseline. A mouth like a raw wound.

REVENANT Karreennnnnn. I never thought I'd see you againnnnn.

Karen backs away, realizing who she's standing before.

KAREN Curtis?!

What used to be Curtis SNARLS, knocking Karen back into the drift- pile of bones. It pins her to the ground, kneeling above her, gurgling through its gutted trachea.

CURTIS REVENANT Tell, me, Karennn -- ever have second thoughts -- about us?

Karen SCREAMS, trying to force the revenant away from her, but it lunges closer, lolling its distended tongue over her mouth in a pathetic approximation of a French kiss.

She fumbles behind her, choking, grabbing hold of a human femur, blindly swinging it upward --

CRACK! The blow shatters the Curtis-thing's jaw. It rears back, falling to the side.

Karen crawls out from under its weight, swinging the femur again and again --

CRACK! CRACK! CRACK! Karen pummels the howling horror, driving it back until the femur actually splinters in half. The creature's head hangs at an awkward angle now, its neck broken -- but still it advances, dragging itself back up.

Sobbing, Karen retreats, clutching the splintered femur like a makeshift dagger.

Curtis charges at her, a blur of slashing claws. At the last moment, Karen ducks, thrusting the bone dagger up into Curtis' chest --

Curtis impales himself, right through the heart. For one split- second, his eyes widen in surprise --

-- and then he goes into a death-spasm, vomiting up a spray of caustic vampire blood-bile, spattering Karen. She sinks to her knees, GASPING, as the thing that used to be Curtis shrivels up, melting away into burbling puddle.

After a beat, Karen rises and moves to the pit wall, running her hands over the lichen-slick surface, searching for a way out. The mortar between the brickwork is ancient, crumbling.

Karen looks to the ground, reaching for one of the splintered femurs. She pounds it into the mortar between two bricks -- and it holds, working as a makeshift piton.

Karen reaches for another broken femur, lodging it a foot above the first. She hauls her body up now, suspending her weight from the two makeshift pitons. Again, they hold.

Trembling from exertion, Karen pulls the right piton free, hanging solely from her left hand now. Though her handhold is precarious, she manages to swing the right hand up again, pounding that piton another foot above the left.

In this slow, torturous manner, Karen begins to climb her way up out of the pit.

INT. TEMPLE OF NIGHT - BLEEDING CHAMBER - NIGHT

Blade hangs from his chains, head slack, eyes half-lidded and lusterless. His skin has grown ashen as his life's blood has been bled away.

Mercury appears before him, accompanied by Quinn. She bends in close to kiss Blade lightly on the lips.

MERCURY It won't be long now, lover.

Quinn draws alongside her, hefting Blade's punching dagger. He places it against Blade's throat, slowly applying pressure. At this point, Blade's too weak to even resist.

QUINN We should finish him off.

MERCURY (shaking her head) No. Deacon wants him turned.

Quinn releases Blade, disgusted.

QUINN Fucking waste, if you ask me.

As Mercury and Quinn exit, the CAMERA DROPS DOWN to the cistern beneath Blade's feet. We follow the blood which has collected there as it flows into a crude drain and --

INT. SANCTUARY - NIGHT

-- emerges from the ceiling of the sanctuary below. The stream of blood is directed down the channels of a spiral column, where it finally pools into a waiting chalice.

PULL BACK TO REVEAL

the sanctuary in full. A large circular chamber, the perimeter of which is lined with recessed alcoves housing the remains of the vampire ancients, set into the sanctuary walls like cells in a hive.

DEACON FROST

stands in the center of the chamber, allowing Vanessa to clothe him in ceremonial regalia -- gleaming, centuries-old armor. He pauses, kissing her hungrily.

Having finished suiting up, he turns to face the vampires who have been faithful to his cause -- Mercury, Quinn, a host of others. A hush settles upon them. There's an excitement in the air, a sense that something remarkable is about to happen.

FROST Tonight is the night we've waited our entire lives for. Tonight, the blood-dimmed Tide is loosed upon the world. Tonight, the Age of Man comes to an end.

The vampires bellow out a CHORUS OF CHEERS, their voices resonating off the stone walls like thunder.

CUT TO:

INT. TEMPLE OF NIGHT - BONE PIT - NIGHT

Karen's hands appear over the lip of the bone pit. She heaves herself up, collapsing onto the floor --

-- but there's no time to rest. Even now she can hear the VAMPIRES CHEERING. She drags herself to her feet, letting the voices guide her.

CUT TO:

INT. ANTECHAMBER - NIGHT

Karen slips around a corner, guarded, searching. She SEES Blade strung up before her, seemingly lifeless.

Karen studies the chains which bind Blade, following them back to their source at the winch. She releases the brake on the winch crank, sending the chains RATTLING down through the overhead pulleys which suspend them.

Blade crumples to the floor, lying still. Karen is at his side in an instant --

KAREN (whispering, urgent) Blade.

Blade's eyes flicker open, fixing on her. Inhuman. He's shaking like an alcoholic going into delirium tremens.

INT. TEMPLE SANCTUARY - NIGHT

Vanessa hands Frost the chalice containing Blade's blood. He lifts it up for all to see. The vampires begin to chant en masse, some long- forgotten invocation in the vampire tongue.

FROST (grinning, to himself) "And what rough beast, its hour come round at last, slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?"

Frost lifts the chalice to his lips and begins to drink.

CUT TO:

INT. ANTECHAMBER - NIGHT

Blade tries to sit up, gripping Karen's wrist --

BLADE Get out of here --

KAREN I'm not leaving without you.

BLADE You don't understand. The Thirst --

He clutches his stomach, experiencing phenomenal pain.

BLADE (gasping) -- tearing me -- apart.

KAREN I know. Take some of my blood.

BLADE No --

KAREN It's the only way. You know that. We'll never get out of here alive if you don't.

Blade suppresses a shudder. Simply keeping himself from attacking her takes every ounce of his resolve.

BLADE I can't -- I won't be able to stop --

KAREN Yes you will. The human side of you is stronger. I know it is.

Karen matches Blade's gaze, steeling herself. The truth is, she's terrified.

Blade stares back at her. At this moment, he wants what Karen is offering more than anything he's ever desired. And so he rises --

CUT TO:

INT. TEMPLE OF NIGHT - SANCTUARY - NIGHT

Frost continues drinking down the blood, when suddenly, a force seizes his body. He throws his head back, eyes rolling to white, flinging the chalice aside.

And as the vampire incantation reaches a fevered pitch, we SEE the stone tomb tablets off the vampire ancestors beginning to judder -- as if some force within were trying to break free --

CUT TO:

INT. ANTECHAMBER - NIGHT

Karen turns her head to the side, baring her neck, offering herself to Blade. Blade opens his mouth. His canines elongate. He lowers his head --

-- and starts to feed. Karen involuntarily stiffens as Blade's teeth puncture her skin and we --

CUT TO:

INT. TEMPLE SANCTUARY - NIGHT

Frost shakes, possessed by an unseen force. A wind picks up from nowhere, swirling about the chamber, accompanied by a strange HUMMING.

Suddenly, one of the tombs BURSTS OPEN. A WRAITH-LIKE SPIRIT rushes outward in a fountain of light, penetrating Frost's body.

Then ANOTHER TOMB SPLITS APART. Then ANOTHER, and ANOTHER -- until a torrent of SPIRIT-WRAITHS are surging into Frost, buffeting him about like a scarecrow in a cyclone.

Mercury, Vanessa, and the other vampires back away, apprehensive, humbled by what they're witnessing.

CUT TO:

INT. ANTECHAMBER - NIGHT

Blade moans, sinking his teeth deeper. Karen's head rolls back. Her eyes open -- glassy, unseeing -- as a wave of ecstasy overtakes her.

She shudders, her breath quickening, falling into a synchronous rhythm with Blade's. Her fingers dig deep into his back, clawing downward, tearing into him --

She's not Karen anymore -- she's a red blood cell, an erythrocyte, spinning in a river of plasma, roaring up Blade's femoral artery, racing towards the pumping chambers of his heart which beats like the deafening breath of God, which blots all other sounds out of existence and we're --

CUTTING BACK AND FORTH NOW

between Frost's transformation and Blade's, each of them growing stronger by the second, caught in an ever-increasing feedback loop of expanding energy until --

BLADE NO!!!!

Blade tears himself from Karen, his pulse racing as --

CUT TO:

INT. TEMPLE SANCTUARY - NIGHT

-- the invocation of LaMagra reaches critical mass. Frost is consumed by a hellish force, unable to withstand the onslaught of spirit energy any longer.

CUT TO:

INT. ANTECHAMBER - NIGHT

-- Karen clawing at Blade, tears streaming down her cheeks.

KAREN Don't stop --

But Blade grips her by her shoulders, shoving her back. Karen stares at Blade, wide-eyed, as if waking from a trance. She touches the raw wounds on her neck, shaken --

KAREN My God --

Blade rises to his full height. His strength has more than returned, it's been doubled by the infusion of real blood. And there's something else in his gaze now too -- an animal fury that was missing before. Blade has taken one giant step closer to the darkness.

KAREN (hesitant) Are you -- all right?

Blade pulls at the chains manacled to his wrists, SNAPPING them apart like toys. He flexes his hands -- fingernails lengthening to tapered points. And he smiles, offering us a view of his canines, which have elongated into fangs.

BLADE (near-demonic) Never been better.

INT. TEMPLE SANCTUARY - NIGHT

The aftermath. Smoke hangs heavy in the air, occluding the area where Frost had stood. As it dissipates, Mercury and the others creep forward, apprehensive --

MERCURY Deacon?

FROST

stands with his back to us, his body trailing wisps of occult fumes. As he slowly turns, we catch a glimpse of his eyes -- burning with an awesome, inner fire.

FROST No longer.

BLADE (O.S.) Frost!!!

All heads turn --

BLADE

stands at the balcony overhead, Karen at his side. He leaps from it, somersaulting down to the floor below, landing on his feet like a predatory cat.

BLADE Who dies first?

FROST (growling, to the others) Take him.

Quinn GROWLS, stepping forward, armed with Blade's punching dagger. He offers his second "new hand" up for view.

QUINN Grew another hand for you sweetmeat -- (tossing the dagger to his new hand) -- and now I'm gonna kill you with it.

Quinn charges. Blade meets the vampire head-on, dropping into a low kick and sweeping the vampire's legs out from under him. He spins behind Quinn --

BLADE Let's see if you can grow a new one of these!

Blade hooks a finger through the metal ring at the end of his jacket sleeve, pulling out a retractable strangle-wire which he twists around Quinn's throat.

Blade tightens the wire, decapitating Quinn. The headless body staggers about, then drops to the cavern floor. Blade scoops up his punching dagger --

BLADE Next?

Mercury and the other faithful vampires charge en masse. Blade launches a spinning wheel kick into the first vamp's face, SNAPPING its neck --

Mercury has Blade's .454 Casulls. She aims them at him --

MERCURY Have a taste of your own medicine!

As she FIRES, Blade tucks and rolls, knocking one of the guns from her hand. The guns spins across the floor, where it's scooped up by --

KAREN,

who takes aim at an approaching vamp, BLOWING it away.

Meanwhile, Blade traps Mercury's other hand, disarming her, flipping her over his shoulder. He hefts his Casull, BLASTING her into eternity --

A bloodbath ensues. Blade moves like speed-personified, FIRING off one, two, THREE HEADSHOTS with brain-numbing accuracy, cutting down the vampires where they stand.

It's an orgy of gunpowder smoke and showering bodily fluids and -CLICK-CA-CHING-CLICK!- Blade and Karen have spent their bullets and --

FROST (O.S.) Enough!!!

Blade turns to face --

FROST,

who's advancing, clutching Blade's own sword in his hand. He thrusts the sword forward --

Blade presses the grip-trigger on his punching dagger -CHING!- the two side blades spread out. We hear the RASP and CLANG of metal on metal as Blade manages to trap the sword-point between two of the dagger blades --

For a moment, both men are eye to eye, their weapons locked together, then, Frost forces Blade backwards --

What happens next is the most blindingly-fast sword fight ever exposed to celluloid. Both men, fueled by super-human speed, lunge and spin across the cavern floor in a blurred ballet of lethal moves.

Frost lands a powerful blow on Blade's shoulder, the sword-edge biting deep into the flesh. Blade SCREAMS. Frost withdraws the sword for another strike --

-- until Blade sees an opening and takes it, slicing Frost's left arm off at the shoulder --

The severed arm releases Blade's sword, but the arm doesn't fall! To Frost and Blade's mutual surprise the arm floats in mid-air, bleeding red, quivering like zero-G liquid, then SLURPING back to Frost's arm- stump to re-attach itself!

Undaunted, Blade slices the punching dagger into Frost's mid-section, meeting only liquid-like resistance. The moment Blade withdraws his dagger, Frost's flesh seals itself up again.

Blade hesitates now, uncertain -- and Frost laughs, understanding what has happened.

FROST You're too late, Blade. I'm already changing. Don't you see? The Sleeper has awakened. I'm not just Frost anymore. I'm becoming a god now, blood incarnate.

Even as Frost utters the words, his body begins to ripple and morph, bleeding red, taking on the characteristics of liquid. He doesn't walk so much now as flow. He's become a three-dimensional creature of animated blood! A blood demon.

ON KAREN,

as she watches Frost's transformation, wide-eyed. She SEES Blade's discarded sword, reaches for it -- suddenly, a SHADOW moves on the periphery of her vision --

VANESSA

rushes at Karen in a near-blur. The SNARLING hellion is upon Karen in an eye-blink, SLAMMING her down against the temple floor, pinning her.

VANESSA Did you think I'd forgotten you, you little whore?

BACK TO FROST,

who towers above Blade, swaying back and forth in his new, liquid- like form.

FROST You can't hurt me anymore.

WHOOSH! Frost rises upwards on a spiraling column of blood, HOWLING WITH LAUGHTER, then just as suddenly --

-- splashes back to earth, spreading out in a widening pool. In the blink of an eye, he streams through Blade's feet, re-solidifying behind Blade. Blade spins, swings his dagger --

Once again, Frost morphs into blood-form. He races around Blade in a series of spouting arcs, turning from blood-form to solid and back again in a series of split-second transformations.

Blade whirls, striking with his dagger and missing every time --

WHOOSH! Frost suddenly dissipates, SPLASHING away into a million zero-G blood bubbles, vanishing. Blade spins, unnerved, trying to pin-point his foe's next manifestation.

BLADE Where are you?!

Frost's voice answers from all directions.

FROST Everywhere.

A DROPLET OF BLOOD

spatters the floor at Blade's feet. Blade looks up --

A SHOWER OF BLOOD

rains from above, coalescing into Frost as he sweeps down on Blade like a giant bird of prey, crushing him against the temple floor.

FROST You want my blood so much?! Take it!

Frost's arms elongate and liquefy, flowing into two snake-like spouts of blood -- the rest of Frost remains solid. The blood-spouts twist around Blade's neck, melding together, completely encasing Blade's head in a bubble of blood.

Blade claws at the blood-bubble as if it were a solid object that he could dislodge, but his fingers just pass through it!

BACK TO VANESSA

as she wraps a hand around Karen's throat, choking her.

As Karen struggles, she frees a hand, sliding it down to her hip pocket, digging something out -- Whistler's vampire mace canister!

She forces it up between them, triggering a jet of TOXIC MIST into Vanessa's face --

Vanessa recoils, HOWLING, her head smoking as if it were doused with formic acid, skin sloughing off from her skull. Karen lunges for Blade's sword --

BACK TO FROST AND BLADE

Blade is drowning in Frost's blood. His eyes bulge. Oxygen bubbles stream from his mouth. Frost leans in close, his face a twisted mask of insanity.

FROST I was wrong about you, Blade. You were never one of us. You're a traitor to your race.

KAREN (O.S.) Get away from him!

Frost looks up -- Karen is wielding Blade's sword. She brings it down on Frost, severing the blood-tendrils which envelope Blade. The blood-bubble dissolves instantly, flowing away from Blade's face. He gasps, chokes in air --

Frost backs away, horrified. His blood-tendrils don't reform. Instead, the lay where they fell, solidifying into crystalline powder.

KAREN Blade!

Karen flings the sword at Blade.

THE SWORD

spins end over end, its mirrored surface reflecting coruscating pinwheels of candlelight as Blade catches the weapon by its hilt.

Blade rises, advancing on Frost, sword outstretched and Frost retreats, uncertain now.

BLADE Guess you're not quite as invulnerable as you thought.

FROST You're wrong -- a few minutes more, and my transition will be complete. Even your sword won't be able to affect me then.

BLADE You don't have a few minutes, Frost.

Frost eyes Blade warily, then lunges towards Vanessa, sweeping behind her. Blade follows, but even as he raises his sword to strike, Frost spins Vanessa around, using her body as a shield!

Blade hesitates, stopping the sword in mid-strike, catching his mother's gaze -- her face is monstrous now, scarred by Karen's poisonous mace. Piteous, really.

Frost smiles, for he's found a final weakness of Blade's to exploit.

FROST (laughing cruelly) Just as I thought. Still chained to your mother's breast after all these years.

In the same instant, Vanessa's features morph, taking on the angelic, youthful vibrancy she possessed in the locket photo.

FROST (gloating) You're too human, Blade.

BLADE (steeling himself) It's because I'm human that I can do this.

Frost's eyes widen in shock, but he has no time to react, for --

Blade is already LUNGING forward, driving the sword-point through Vanessa's chest, on into Frost's heart! It strikes the stone behind them, SHATTERING and --

Frost and Vanessa HOWL AS ONE, their SCREAMS rising to an unendurable intensity as the two vampires go nova, exploding into an expanding ball of light and ATOMIZING BLOOD.

Blade is thrown back off his feet, having to shield his eyes from the backlash of occult energy as a near tidal WAVE of blood surges over him --

EXT. BANK OF EREBUS - CITY STREET - NIGHT

Every door and window of the bank is BLOWN OUTWARD from the force of the EXPLOSION. While along the street, manhole covers flip from their moorings, spinning up into the air like dimes, being buoyed by geysers of blood.

INT. TEMPLE SANCTUARY - NIGHT

Silence, just the steady DRIP-DRIP of liquid draining. The underworld temple gleams with a crimson sheen now.

ON BLADE

as he stirs. He's been blown clear across the sanctuary by the force of the blast, soaked to the quick by blood. He rises to his feet, retrieving the hilt of his shattered weapon. At his feet --

THE SWORDBLADE

lies in pieces. Amidst them, we find the singed remains of the locket -- Vanessa's face barely recognizable beneath the grime. Blade stoops to pick it up.

KAREN (O.S.) Blade?

Blade turns. Karen moves to him, searching his eyes. Which side of Blade's soul has won out? Human or vampire?

Then she SEES the tears rimming Blade's eyes, the first he's shed in a lifetime. Human.

They embrace, holding each other that way for a long, long time. And we --

DISSOLVE TO:

EXT. ROOFTOP, BANK OF EREBUS - DAWN

Blade and Karen stand on the rooftop, watching as dawn slowly creeps across the silent city.

KAREN I never imagined I'd be so happy to see the sun rise -- (turning to him) It's over, isn't it?

BLADE For them. But for me --

He lifts his face towards the rising sun, letting its warmth wash over his upturned face.

BLADE I feel like it's finally beginning.

And on that note we leave them -- TWO FIGURES, silhouetted against the new day.

FADE TO BLACK.

<<<

I/ Blade I.
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