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31 August 2016 @ 03:35 pm
But the Horror of the Shade: Chapter Eight  


Chapter Eight

Nina sat in a hard chair with Eve on her lap. She couldn’t say for sure where she was, but it was in a large, open space and it was freezing. Since it had been so hot out lately it was actually a nice change, but she worried for Eve who was in her pajamas. The room was dark as well, not so dark she couldn’t see, but dark enough that she wasn’t sure how many vampires were actually in the room with her.

She might question exactly why she wasn’t bound and why Eve had been allowed to remain with her, but she didn’t because it was obvious the vampires were afraid of Eve. Nina had no clue what had happened when Eve had bitten that vampire at the house, but it was visually impressive and had certainly made an impression on the vampires. They would have to fight both of them to get Eve away from Nina and clearly none of them wanted to risk their erstwhile comrade’s fate.

Nina tried not to think about what was going on but focused on soothing Eve’s crying and rubbing her head. Eventually Eve’s crying ebbed out and eased into sleep as the exhausted child finally couldn’t keep hold of consciousness any longer. Nina wondered if whatever it was she did took something out of Eve each time. But now that Eve was asleep, Nina began to try and figure out exactly what she could do.

She couldn’t think of anything. She was alone with a child and she had no means of communication and nowhere to hide or run. She didn’t even know where she was though since it had only taken them a short while to get there, she imagined they weren’t too far from the house.

All she could do was listen. She may not be as in tune with her wolf as George was but she had the enhanced senses of a werewolf and she focused on hearing whatever she could pick up from the vampires.

It was mostly nothing. They didn’t appear to be keen talkers, but about half an hour after Nina had started actively listening, the vampire who had grabbed her and Eve came into the room, followed by their leader, Snow, Mitchell had called him.

“How is our guest?” Snow asked in a low voice and Nina had to strain to understand.

“Kid’s sleeping now, betcha,” said the voice of a young girl, that little girl vampire Mitchell had called Hetty.

“Nothing to report,” said another vampire.

“Then we must act quickly,” said Snow. “The ghost will have recovered entirely by now and though I’ve set up wards, we have exhausted the spiritual resources in these parts.”

“Why’d you go and waste those?” Hetty asked nonchalantly.

“Finding a ghost who had previously lived in that house who could invite us in and making sure their ghost did not interfere was the only way we could have acquired the child so quickly,” Snow said sharply. “You are aware of that.”

“Yeah, I know, but you still haven’t been forthcoming with why,” said Hetty.

“We have no secrets here,” said Snow.

“I know that,” said Hetty, “but do they?”

There was some distant grumbling too distorted for Nina to make out.

“My friends, this is neither the time nor the place,” said Snow. “We shall reveal all at the proper time. The question becomes, how to deal with the immediate threat.”

“Just kill it,” said a voice and Nina stiffened.

“Why ever would I do that?” asked Snow.

“She’s a threat. You saw what she did to Kione.”

“A remarkable demonstration, but it changes nothing,” Snow replied.

“She could destroy everything!” came a different voice.

“She could be the very answer we crave,” said Snow.

“Maybe she’ll turn you,” said Hetty in a mocking tone. “Others better than you have lost control of weapons before.”

“I have it all under control and I will not lose it, Hetty, thank you,” said Snow sternly. “I don’t wish to discuss the matter any further. What I do wish to discuss is how we will vacate this place.”

“It’s still dark out,” said someone, almost reluctantly. “We have the vans ready for the docks, arrangements are all made.”

“Excellent,” said Snow. “Thank you for your efforts.”

“I still say we ought to kill her here and now,” mumbled someone else.

There was a sharp cracking sound and then a faint cry before something thumped to the ground.

Nina covered Eve’s ears and turned away just in case.

“Does anyone else object to the common good?” asked Snow.

There was silence and Nina guessed Snow had certainly won that round. His words intrigued her though because it obviously meant his plans for Eve extended beyond getting rid of a possible threat. Nina didn’t know what for, but she was automatically against it.

There was the almost silent clicking of shoes and then Snow appeared in Nina’s limited vision.

“What do you want?” she asked tartly as there was no point in pretending he wasn’t there.

“We shall be moving in ten minute’s time,” said Snow. “Please make sure Eve is comfortably secure and everything will move very pleasantly.”

“Why should I?” asked Nina.

“Because,” Snow said, smiling, “it is convenient to have you here for comfort, but I could just as easily shoot you and I do have humans in my employ who could carry the child. Even were she to bite them, the different directions of that bite would serve my purpose.”

“I obviously don’t speak evil, so do you mind translating that for me?” asked Nina.

“If she bites them and nothing happens, I’ve lost nothing, if she bites them and they become werewolves, I simply have new and better servants.”

Nina sucked in the air behind her teeth, beginning to understand.

“The vampire she bit,” she said, “you don’t care.”

“So long as she does not bite me, she is powerful leverage,” said Snow. “The War Child shall make my weapons of war.”

“She’s a child only, plain and simple,” said Nina. “You are a monster.”

“So are you, my dear,” said Snow, walking away. “So are you.”

Nina couldn’t exactly argue with that, but her brain began to work overtime, trying to figure out how she could use the information she’d observed to her advantage. Clearly the vampires weren’t all on the same page. Most of them viewed Eve as a threat to be eliminated and had probably been taught nothing but that according to Mitchell. The higher ups clearly had a different purpose in mind for Eve, their own weapon, to punish those of their own ranks and make others to control. It was sickening. Maybe Hetty didn’t want that and was that why she was not supporting Snow?

Nina didn’t have time to think about it for very long. There was a vast explosion close by and Nina rocked in her chair, clutching Eve to her, covering her ears. Her own ears rang and bits of plaster fell from the ceiling but Nina’s lips curved up.

“Bless Tom and his home-made bombs,” she said, preparing to move.

***

George kept his eyes on the road, but he wanted to look back at Mitchell and Tom in the back seat. Tom was holding something massive in his lap and George made himself drive slowly because it wouldn’t do anyone any good if they were all blown to kingdom come at the moment.

Annie kept flitting in and out of the front seat which was as distracting as hell, but she was scouting ahead to figure out where they were supposed to go.

Mitchell and Tom had been pretty persuasive and the vampire-turned-human they’d left chained up in the barn had really not had much of a choice about giving up where his vampire overlords were. The only problem was figuring out exactly what he meant by the warehouse off the dirt road outside of town. There were a lot of warehouses outside the city.

“Do you think if a vampire bit him he’d go vamp again?” Tom asked Mitchell.

“I don’t know,” said Mitchell. “It still doesn’t seem possible at all.”

“It took Tom weeks to change,” said George. “Why’d that happen so fast?”

Mitchell shrugged.

“Maybe cause Tom’s thing is tied to the moon and it needed that to trigger the change. Vampires are made relatively right away, guess it can be taken away just as easily.”

“Right, likely enough,” agreed Tom.

“He seemed fine,” said Mitchell, almost as if he was talking to himself. “He was just human again, same age and everything. Do you think he’ll start aging normally and then die an old man?”

“Why not?” asked George. “No wonder the vampires are so bloody petrified.”

“It’s unthinkable,” said Mitchell, his tone suggesting very much that he was thinking about it.

George had the flitting thought that maybe it would be something Mitchell actually wanted before he suddenly swore and jumped.

Annie had popped back into the car again.

“We’re two minutes out,” she said. “Follow my finger, George.”

George sighed, but did as she asked.

Soon enough they were parked close enough to make a quick getaway and far enough that they wouldn’t be spotted right away. At least George hoped that was the case.

He, Mitchell, and Tom huddled against the side of the warehouse, waiting for Annie.

She rent-a-ghosted beside them.

“I don’t sense any other ghosts,” she said, “so I’ll find Nina and Eve and get them out. Tom, give me a distraction.”

Tom smiled.

“Got just the one.”

“This can’t just be a smash and grab job,” said Mitchell. “They’ll keep coming unless we kill them all. This is the first time I’ve seen all the Old Ones gathered in one place in a century.”

“Cut off the head of the snake it is then,” said George, not minding the idea at all.

He was just angry enough to wish he could be a wolf right now and tear into the fiends who had taken his family.

“Stay here then,” said Annie and left to do more reconnaissance. When she returned she looked optimistic as only Annie could. “Okay, distraction in front,” she said, pointing. “I will go in the back. Buy me time and then run like hell before the big finale. Got it?”

“You make a fine general, love,” said Mitchell and Annie broke into a most unmilitary like grin.

“I’ll be happy to demonstrate more of my abilities later, soldier,” she said and disappeared.

George tried not to roll his eyes but he really had no control over it anymore.

He and Mitchell waited to the side while Tom set off his distraction and then ran through the smoke and debris inside.

George’s nose ached like anything and it was hard to breathe, not just because of his nose but because he was pretty sure at least one of his ribs was already cracked.

None of that really mattered as his adrenaline took over and he swung his stake at the first thing that ran up to him in the chaos.

To his right Mitchell was fighting and Tom was elsewhere. George shoved his shoulder into the vampire, grateful Tom had taught them all some fighting tips.

He couldn’t see very well and he tried to rely more on his other senses so he instinctively ducked and avoided being punched by someone else sneaking up behind him. George threw himself to the left and the vampire attacking him tripped over a body on the floor. George flung himself on top of him, staking him.

A sudden scream split through the air and George knew that somewhere Tom was transforming.

***

“Take us out of here now and I love you,” Nina said. She had never been so glad to see Annie in her life.

Annie smiled and reached out her hands.

“I wouldn’t do that if I were you,” said Hetty’s voice.

Annie turned and Nina saw the little girl standing ten yards away.

“Why not?” asked Annie.

“Snow has set up wards. If you try your ghostly trick, you won’t make it out, you’ll get shredded.”

“You’re likely lying,” said Nina.

“Likely,” said Hetty, “but you see, I like this world the way it is. There needs to be conflict and balance and all that other crap.”

“So you want to help us?” asked Annie sarcastically.

“Goodness no,” said Hetty. “Like I told Mitchell before, your child knows not friend from foe, so keep him away from her, okay? In the meantime, I’m leaving and I suggest you do the same. Only exit this room first before the actual exit.”

She winked and then was gone.

Nina didn’t have time to think about it.

“Let’s go,” she told Annie.

Annie was standing with her head cocked to the side.

“There is something odd in this room,” Annie said. “I think she was telling the truth.”

“Then let’s get moving,” said Nina, shifting Eve onto her hip.

“Take my hand,” said Annie, and they ran forward together.

There were still vampire guards at the door to the room and Annie waved her hand, smashing them into the opposite wall.

They went through the door and into a room of chaos, smoke and fire and bodies everywhere.

Nina could just make out a few grappling figures in the smoke and the figure of a wolf tearing through the vampires.

Eve woke up and began screaming and Nina tried to comfort her to no avail.

Snow loomed up in front of them and he still somehow managed to look like he was in control of the situation.

“This is unfortunate,” he said. “I see we should not have left any of your friends alive.”

Annie stayed in front of Nina for which Nina was grateful, even if all she wanted was to tear Snow’s heart out.

“You will stay away from my family,” said Annie, “or there won’t be a corner of the globe you can hide from me.”

Nina opened her mouth to say something but she was suddenly outside, standing next to their car, holding Eve, who was still wailing.

“Why didn’t you kill him?” asked Nina, her moral compass not having any issues with the idea at all, which should have been frightening to her but wasn’t.

“He’ll get his, I promise. Got to nip in for the boys now.” Annie smiled viciously.

She disappeared again and returned with a fallen-on-his-knees-and-dripping-blood-from-his-nose George and a one-arm-raised-in-attack-and-stake-sticking-out-of-his-leg Mitchell.

Eve was still crying but Nina dropped to her knees anyway and hugged George with one arm as best as she could.

“Are you okay?” he asked, clinging to her and getting blood absolutely everywhere.

“What about Tom?” Nina heard Mitchell ask. “He’s only got about ten seconds.”

“Get in the car,” Annie said and vanished.

Mitchell hoisted Nina to her feet and shoved her toward the car. He put an arm under George and dragged him as well.

Annie and a naked Tom rent-a-ghosted into the back seat while Mitchell hastily got into the driver seat, swearing as he put his injured leg on the pedal.

Nina sat next to him on the front seat, holding Eve, and putting her hand back behind her to grasp George’s.

Mitchell peeled out and a second later a glorious explosion lit the sky behind them and Nina watched with satisfaction as the entire warehouse went up in flames.

The heat from the blast slammed into the back of the car and Mitchell yanked the gear shift back and accelerated as fast as he could away from the bits of burning debris falling all around them.

“We need the hospital,” said Nina quietly.

“I’m going to the one in the next town,” said Mitchell. “Too many questions.”

“Ever the secretive bastard,” said Nina fondly.

“You know me so well,” said Mitchell, swearing again as he dodged around a bit of burning wall.

Nina sat back and Eve finally quieted a bit and looked up at her.

“Safe?” she asked.

“Baby, we are safe,” said Nina. “Daddy and you and me are safe.”

“Unca John?” asked Eve, perking up a bit.

“Right here, darling,” said Mitchell.

“Annie Annie?” asked Eve.

“Never better, sweetheart,” replied Annie from the back seat.

“Unca T?”

“Here,” said Tom like he was in school.

Nina sighed. Yes, they were all there and they were all safe.