Hunting Shadows

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Chapter 29

The Blades in conjunction with the Slayers had taken control over most of the city with the fall of the Armies of the Night. Eryn and JB watched as their city went up in flames.

“Well we just destroyed the city, and took out a small chunk of the population. What’s next on the agenda?”

“Find the bastards who did this and make them pay.”

“I think Jayson said something about going after Ace.”

“Oh, Jayson! I have to find Jayson.”

“I’m sure he’s fine, Eryn. Come on; let’s head to the safe house.”

“You go; I have to find him. I have a feeling he’s in trouble. I’ll meet you there.”

“Why do you have to find him? He can’t protect you like I can.”

“It’s not about protecting me, but I have to find him. I can’t leave him.”

“Like you left me?”

“That’s not fair, and you know it. You died JB; I came to terms with that and moved on. And when you came back I accepted that as well. Besides; last year when you fought Tucker, I stayed and you told me to go; saying that we were on two distinct levels and that you had ‘other priorities’. Jayson’s my partner now, and I’m not leaving without knowing he’s at least alright.”

She turned away adjusting the backpack on her shoulders. JB just glared at the pavement.

“You can go or stay, I would like your help; but I’m not obligating you to stay.”

“Fine, run off to your precious vampire.”

“Oh, stop being a child.”

He glared at her a moment before disappearing; she breathed out slowly. She hated fighting with JB, but she would have to deal with that after she saved Jayson.

JB was giving in more and more to the reaper the more time they spent apart – and the more time they spent apart, the more they fought.

She texted Jayson, no response which didn’t alert her right away, but it was a little off; she texted his daughter – Katrina – next asking if she had seen him.

Nope; dad hasn’t replied in a bit, he’s most likely engaged in combat and can’t respond; I’ve been a little busy myself.

Where was he last seen?

Near the main hospital, I think he said something about Slayer Signatures.”

“Alright thanks.”

She clicked the phone off and made her way into the city. Her uneasiness over Jayson grew as she moved further into the destroyed city. There was rubble everywhere, and some of the buildings still smouldered and burned. She called Jayson’s crew and still didn’t receive a response from any of them. When she reached the hospital, she stopped short her eyes going wide in horror.

There was blood everywhere. Not only was the hospital a smoking ruin of rebar, cement, plaster and sparking lights but the metallic scent of blood mixed with the burnt smell of flesh and fabric hung heavily on the air like a miasmic haze.

Her phone vibrated while she stopped to take it all in, and assess the damage. The image on the screen shocked her and she snapped her jaw shut to keep from screaming in rage. Jayson was tied to a chair under a single white light. Blind-folded and severely beaten, he was slumped forward and she couldn’t tell if he was conscious or not.

JB was right; Ace and the Blades would pay. They would all pay. Resolve hardened her eyes to emerald chips and she texted Katrina letting her know she was going after Jayson. She didn’t bother wasting anymore time in the ruined city. Seeing Jayson like that had recalled the memory of JB sitting across from her in another room, tied up and getting electrocuted by David Workemshire’s men.

She vowed she would never again let her partner experience anything like that. She would never again be so weak. Taking the bike, she had stored in the garage of her house she left intending to make a stop at the safe house to pick up a few things before taking on an army.

The sun set on a city of fire; smoking ruins of rock, debris, and rubble. It created a weird smoky grey sunset with thick black clouds resting on the horizon. The rains would come and wash everything away.

She was up early the next morning; packing a backpack full of weapons; protein bars, and essential items. JB watched her quietly from the doorway; his powers fully charged, and the reaper sated and stable. His left eye was a deep sapphire blue and his right eye was a soulless black. He absently twirled a knife through his fingers.

“Do you have a plan?”

“Umm… kind of sort of… basically; find the base, sneak in grab Jayson, kill Ace, sneak out.”

“That’s a great plan; but how do you plan on doing that without getting yourself killed?”

“Haven’t quite figured that out yet.”

“I see; I’ll help you.”

She looked over at him and raised her eyebrow. JB shrugged.

“Just because I don’t like the guy, doesn’t mean I don’t respect him.”

She arched a brow and cocked her head. “Oh really?”

“Yea, I mean the guy’s a huge pain in the ass… but he makes you happy for whatever reason and I’m not that much of an asshole to let you go after him without coming with. I’m sorry for being such a jerk and asshole to you. You don’t deserve it.”

She watched him for a moment, thinking over what he was saying. “I forgive you. Come on, let’s get going.” She stroked her thumb over his cheek and he in turn, turned his head and kissed her palm. She smiled kissing him on the cheek and locking the cabin safe house door.

They met up with Katrina who led them to Jayson’s strong hold. His mansion stood outside of town in the country side. An impenetrable fortress or reinforced steel, concrete, rebar and structural integrity; it looked well-kept as usual; but without the master of the household, it felt cold and unwelcoming.

Eryn and Katrina loaded up the armoured jeep sitting in the basement garage with med kits, extra bandages, weapons and food and water rations; along with three pastry type boxes. Katrina checked everything over making sure it was ready when Eryn walked in with a map from Jayson’s study.

“I figured this could help since we don’t actually know where the base is; but Jayson marked a place down.”

Katrina smiled showing the barest hint of her fangs. “Yea, most likely; you’re really prepared for this, aren’t you?”

“It’s my job to be prepared. Now are we ready to go kick some bad vampire ass?” Eryn cocked the twin pistols in her hands for excited emphasis.

“Oh, hells yes!” Katrina laughed, her eyes glowing with an intensity Eryn hadn’t seen before.

They were on the way within the hour, and although it wasn’t a traditional girl’s escape; they still had the radio cranked and the roof down.

“Do you find it weird I’m dating your dad?”

“What brought that up?”

“Nothing really, I know we haven’t talked about it… because I was your friend first… and I don’t know; I just don’t want things to be weird or awkward between us.”

“Honestly? Yes; it does weird me out… a lot. I’m sorry for being distant and pushing you away. I just… need time to adjust to things.”

“Alright; to be honest, I didn’t realize you were avoiding me or pushing me away because of it.”

Katrina looked away guiltily and focused on the road. “I think only time can heal that. But if we’re being honest… I miss my best friend.”

“Yea, I miss those days too.”

“I mean we used to talk about sex and men and things… but now… every time I think of that; all I can think about is you and my dad and that’s beyond gross.”

Eryn laughed, a sound full of warmth and humiliation, but her eyes were smiling.

“I’m sorry about that… but if you want to talk about sex, I can tell you all the tricks JB likes to do.” She waggled her eyebrows suggestively.

Katrina laughed, but sobered quickly.

“Doesn’t it feel like your cheating on one partner with another?”

Now it was Eryn’s turn to look away guiltily.

“Yes and no. It’s complicated.”

The girls were quiet after that listening to Katrina’s I-phone blaring through the jeeps speakers.

“So, what’s the plan?”

“Figure out a back way in, sneak in, grab Jayson, Kill Ace, Sneak out.”

“Sound’s great; but its suicide to take on an entire army of Blades; which by the way are Vampires – which makes them ridiculously hard to kill.”

“Yea… I see your point… so what’s your suggestion vampire girl?”

“I’ll let you in on a secret, and if you tell anyone, I will kill you.” Katrina glared at Eryn emphasizing her point.

“Don’t tell anyone, got it. So, what’s this big secret?”

Katrina fell silent, focusing on the road until the silence became uncomfortable. Eryn poked her in the ribs spurring her from her sullen silence.

“What is it?”

Kat sighed, more out of resignation than wanting to tell her.

“All vampires have marks or tattoos that mark them as offspring of their sire – if their turned.

Those born from vampires have a slightly different mark according to their family’s name – Like a family crest. For example, my father and I share a tattoo of a tornado for Storm.”

“Alright, so why are you telling me this?”

“Because it will help you as a human fight the Blades.”

“I get it. But what happens if you got married and took your husband’s name?”

Kat barked out a laugh before she glanced over at Eryn and sobered.

“Oh, you were serious… the mark doesn’t change, because it goes by which family you were born into, not which family you marry into. However; if and that’s a pretty big IF; I did get married to a pure blood vampire and had a child, the child would carry the mark of the father’s family crest.”

“Wow; that’s a lot to take in.”

“Yea… any way, back to what I was saying before; if a human is turned into a vampire – they will bear the mark of their sire. The more complicated piece of information is that there are two different tattoos a vampire can bear – and those are family crests and clan crests.

Those are passed down from pure blood vampires; with their own covens and harems and everyone is related in their circles; and they turn humans into vampires.”

“Alright, I get it; but again… why are you telling me this?”

“Because if you stab right through the mark… it takes away a vampire’s immortality; they become as weak as humans.”

“Oh shit! Are you serious?”

“Yea; and like I said before, you absolutely cannot tell anyone. So please don’t make me kill you; after all, I know where you live.”

“I promise, cross my heart. I won’t tell anyone. The turn off should be at the next right- a hidden driveway by the looks of it.”

“Kay’ help me get the cover on.”

Katrina pulled the jeep off to the side of the road, and they got out and pulled on the tarp over the cover of the jeep. Instead of camouflage, the jeep now looked like a delivery van.

The outside was white with Julie’s Specialty Pastries; Weapons and Explosives written in bubble gum pink frosting style writing on a baby blue background. Eryn chuckled and raised an eyebrow.

“What’s with the Martha Stewart cupcakes sign?”

Kat laughed; snugging the tarp covering inside the wheel well. “Oh you know; nothing says innocuously innocent like and “undercover” weapons and explosives specialty pastry shop. The slogan is that ‘our deserts are explosively awesome’.”

“Touché, I’m all good here; if you’re ready we can get going again.”

“I’m all good, let’s go.”

They got back in and continued the last mile up the road; turning the sharp right into shadowy forest. The tree cover plunged them into near pitch darkness, the drooping branches skimming the top of the van. The pathway wound up and back twisting back on itself until they were sure they were lost; and just when Eryn wanted to backtrack, they spotted the medieval castle further up ahead through the trees.

“Looks like something from Mary Shelly.”

“Yea no kidding; now all we need is scary lightning to complete the effect.”

Once they had reached the main gate and buzzed in, lightning flashed across the backdrop of the castle and thunder rumbled menacingly above in the black clouds.

The van rumbled up the steep incline continuing towards the front entrance bumping over deep ruts and over tree roots, the weapons jostled and bumped against each other in the back compartment.

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