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Chapter 8.4 - PERKS

Cain’s wings splayed against the backrest as he rammed the young vampire into one of the booths. The crossbow went flying, its trigger hitting off the cushioned booth sending a bolt skittering across the floor.

Although more substantial, bigger and overall stronger than the brat, Cain still found him to be slippery and able to wriggle free quickly enough. As Luke slithered under the table, Cain lunged and grabbed his ankle, pulling him back.

Growling and hissing, Luke tried desperately to latch onto anything to give him purchase, resistance, against Cain’s grip. He grabbed onto the table’s central support, and he clung for dear life.

Cain ripped the table from its fastenings, sending it crashing into upturned chairs. He flipped Luke on his back, savage, and dragged him free from the booth. Kicking and writhing, Luke searched for something to use against his attacker. His fingers curled around the stray cross-bolt.

Mustering all the strength he had, he pulled himself up and thrust the bolt into Cain’s forearm. It served its purpose, taking the vampire-come-angel by surprise, making his grip loosen. Luke scampered off towards the bar, skidding and stumbling on the bloodied floor, his boots leaving swirling patterns in his wake.

He glanced at the battling vampires and his one-time elites - including his brother. For a split-second, their eyes met, mutual hatred passing between the siblings.

The updraft of beating wings overhead made Luke dive in behind the bar. Too late. Cain landed ahead of him, wings rigid, talons and fangs primed, looking a million times more ferocious than Luke recalled from years ago. In his hand, he carried the bolt which Luke had used to aid his getaway.

Giving him no time to assess any escape route, Cain pushed him back against the mirrored wall. Optics and free-standing bottles fell and smashed, shattered glass littering the counter and floor. Shards sliced into Luke’s hands and legs as he struggled against Cain’s unforgiving grip.

Pushing against Cain’s chest, he stared at his hands. They were cut through to the bone, his blood tracing down over Cain’s torso. His injuries were not knitting together. “Why am I not healing?” he whined. “I have your blood in my veins; I should heal faster!”

Cain sneered, and his voice was guttural. “You are about to die, and you wonder why you are not healing?” He guffawed then rammed the cross-bolt just below Luke’s collar-bone, cracking the mirror behind and pinning him to the wall. The young vampire screamed and thrashed some more.

“Deluded to the last, aren’t you?” Cain said, his sharp fangs almost nicking the youngster’s face. “In fifty years you have fed your arrogance, your greed, your lust for flesh and all that glitters, but still you know so little about your boundaries?”

Luke stilled. He looked into Cain’s eyes, their unfathomable depths, a doorway to the wisdom of millennia, of pain, revelation, loss, guilt. And power. “Tell me,” he mouthed. He needed time to work out an escape. He fought a pained grin as Cain obliged.

“Behind me is a mangy mob of crazed bloodsuckers. You recently turned them, didn’t you?”

“Most, but not all; some of my elite did too.”

Cain scoffed. “Your elite!” He glanced in the broken mirror, images distorted, a kaleidoscope of bodies battling and bloody. The Fallen and Luke’s three ‘traitors’ fought hard, numbers were depleting, but slowly. His eyes focused on his prey once more. “It amuses me that you could not fathom losing and giving blood has the same effect. It weakens you. And going by the mass of degenerates you have produced, it would take days for you to recover fully.”

“But, you - you healed so fast! You are insanely strong - ”

“I have millennia of experience, I am the first of my kind; Nephilim, and I have drunk the blood of angels. It has its perks.”

Luke started to laugh, low, to begin with, then it escalated, turning maniacal. Cain’s brow furrowed, his grip tightened.

“And turning so many into vampires also has its perks,” Luke chuckled. His eyes crossed the room to the stage.

Cain’s head snapped around. A group of the deranged fledgelings were running towards Becky and Riley. The wounded man was crawling over Becky, pushing himself upright, facing the blood-hungry mass. He was trying to protect her.

Cain’s jaw dislocated with a loud click, and he faced Luke a final time. The maw of razored teeth and elongated incisors clamped over Luke’s face. With a brutal tug, the skull split, skin and sinew tore from bone, the young vampire’s screams lost in the gaping jaws of death. Ensuring he would never breathe again, Cain tore out his throat, slit open his chest and crushed his heart. He yanked the body off the cross-bolt and launched the whole bloodied mess across the heads of battle.

Cain then made haste across the room to where another section of the mob was already attacking Riley.

The mob split, about twenty of them scurrying to the mutilated body of Luke Dubois as it skidded across the floor away from the Fallen and their three comrades. The remaining numbers were dealt with, rapid, precise, then the five allies made their way to where the young leader’s body was providing a feast for the others. The feeding frenzy, engrossed in the bloody corpse, was efficiently dispatched.

Turning, Nick saw another group of fledgelings attacking Riley, they were shredding the poor guy, and two of them were now looking hungrily at Becky. From the corner of his eye, he saw Cain shooting across the room towards the stage.

“You should leave!” he said urgent, desperate, facing the three vampires.

Cole stared at him. “What? No! I have business with Cain,” he said, breathless, spent, angry.

A shrill outcry rose above the pounding music. Becky!

“Another time,” Craig injected, panic rising at the sound of Becky’s screaming. “Please! Go! We will let you know when the time is right.”

Cole’s jaw tightened, his eyes fierce as he watched the father of vampires plough into the group attacking the humans. His failure in ensuring Riley and Becky had safely escaped the building now prevented the long-overdue confrontation.

“Go! Quick!” Craig enforced, glancing over his shoulder at the scene behind. “His mind is on other matters. He will not be thinking of the three of you. There is nothing to be gained this night.” The two Fallen then rushed to help Cain.

It was hard for Cole to stifle his anger. He looked at Fergus and Tony.

“You lied about Cain being the only one who could kill Luke, didn’t you?” Tony asked.

Cole hung his head and sighed. “Yes. I saw a perfect opportunity to get to Cain. Your killing Luke would have ruined that. Cain somehow managed to evade me for years, though I believe he never knew I was watching him - always just within reach and then - gone! I thought tonight would be different.”

“Well, everything is up in the air on that front now, “Fergus added, decisive. “Let’s heed what Nick and Craig say. Another time, Cole.”

Reluctantly, the watcher agreed.

Riley lay a few feet from the PA system, bloodied, torn. Dead. The vampires had not held back, their ferocity fuelled by the taste of fresh blood. And now they had Becky, cornered, taunting her.

Cain rammed into them, sending several sprawling across the stage. They quickly regained their footing. Enraged, they attacked Cain.

Immature though they were, they still fought tooth and nail, literally. Fangs tore at him, articulated fingers gouged and lacerations peppered his skin wherever they could access. They tried to disable his wings, jumping on his back and gnawing at the feathered appendages. They were like giant mosquitos, immune to repellents.

Infuriated, Cain spun around, his wings unfurling, snapping taut. He clawed and slashed at his assailants, their determination and vigour taking him by surprise.

Nick and Craig arrived, their presence giving the vampires added zeal; a new menu.

Screams pierced the air. Cain looked over to where Becky had remained. Two vampires were on her.

“NO!” he roared. His wings snapped out as he spun, whipping the vampires still attacking him. His primary feathers were like razors, slicing the attackers open; entrails spewed onto the stage, dismembered limbs skidded through the steaming piles of organs.

As Craig and Nick continued the fight, Cain rushed over to Becky. Savagely he grabbed the two vampires and pulled them away. With every ounce of strength, Cain smashed their skulls together; their faces busted to a bloody pulp. He gripped the first vampire and tore it apart like paper then repeated the act on the other. He cast their broken bodies away, they landed on the deck, silencing the music and changing the lighting to stationery spotlights.

Silence befell the room. Finally, all the rogue vampires and their makers were dead.

Nick and Craig stood, tense, exhausted, bereft of words as they watched Cain. He moved, slow, reluctant, towards the limp form at the edge of the stage.

Becky lay, wounded, bloodied, her clothes rent, neck and upper chest torn, bite marks on her arms and legs.

And she was deathly still.

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