“It’s only a small dragon. Practically not even a problem at all.”
When a child is abducted by aliens, the child’s guardian angel joins forces with the monster under the bed to save them.
“She needs a hospital.” Ant took pulled me into a shadow and took the girl from my arms as I bent over and lost the contents of my stomach. Walking through the shadows always did that. Ant carried the girl into the Emergency room and was back outside before anyone could ask him any questions. Not that they would have remembered anyways, his magic was just that simple. No one remembered him unless he wanted them too. In the beginning there is no telling how many times I’d met Ant before he let me remember him.
“I couldn’t make you forget me.” Ant said softly as his hand rubbed the back of my neck while I bent over trying not to get my vomit on my shoes – or his. But the feeling had stopped and I was able to stand up right.
“You could just trust me.” Ant laughed.
“I do trust you.”
“Anger is a rare color on you.” A voice in the shadows sounded cold and distant though she stepped into the light of the street lamp outside the alley we were standing in. She was short, her hair cut short. The auburn color was purple in the yellow light and her skin was paler than the moon above. She was beautiful in the way a cobra was. Deadly and scary.
“Il Cane, I presume.” I smirked.
“He didn’t attack you.” She said. The dual swords that hung at her side stayed in place. It was a matter of fact not a threat.
“He killed kids.” I growled. “He fed on them and took away their future.”
She nodded. “Perhaps. But who are you to judge?”
“I didn’t judge. You did. You made him my problem.”
A small smile slide across her lips. “He expected a trial.”
“He expected me to be..”
“You,” she interrupted. There was no smile left on her lips as she took a step closer baring her fangs at me. “He expected the boy but he got Mors Praetor instead.’
“Who?” I asked.
She only smiled. Then turned to Ant. “He will do.” She said and then turned into the shadows and was gone.
“I will do what?” I frowned at Ant.
He smiled, “You are now back up plan number four.”
“If Il Cane ever goes rogue again. You will be the last line of defense against her.”
Ant laughed, “Don’t worry, it will have meant, Tony, myself and Ryan have failed in our jobs.”
“To kill your mother. Yeah thanks. I can see you hating me for it.”
Ant shook his head, “She won’t be my mother, and I’ll likely be dead.”
I stood staring at Ant in the shadows. “What does Mors Praetor mean?”
“Death Consul, in literal translation. But it means you’ll do the job if you have to, no matter the cost.”
“But I don’t kill.”
Ant laughed, “You do. My mother is afraid of you. It’s not you she’s afraid of though, it’s your anger. You just proved her right tonight. It wasn’t about protecting the dead girl. It was anger that he’d tried to feed in front of you – again. It wasn’t the anger of the past, it was the moment. It was hard to breathe in the room when you were the righteous fury that all Venatori have. But you don’t. I’ve seen you before, this was different. And I think we should all be afraid of you.” Ant grinned, “But don’t worry, I’m not afraid of your weak ass.”
“We have a ring to get to, walk?” Ant stepped into the shadows and offered me his hand.
“Fuck no. We walk.” I turned to walk to the street behind us. Ant followed with a laugh that echoed in the alley.
The basement of the 8th street building where Frankie’s kiss was located was dark and damp and I shivered at the memories it tried to pull out of my head. Ant put his hand on my shoulder then passed me – he was going first. I resented the protection a little, but that was just Ant. He would have done that with his father as well. Tony rarely came with us on anything on this, but he had a few times. They could almost be twins if they weren’t father and son. Age wise they weren’t that different in comparison with their long lives. Cari had met Tony when she was training to be the Enforcer with all the Council members. He had been ten. When he was twenty five he and Cari had the sordid affair. And it continued until Cari had been a vampire for about fifty years then Cari did the horrible thing of slaughtering a town in her hunger. Tony and his father helped cover it up. But a few years later the Vampire council found out and forbid Tony and Cari from seeing one another feeling Tony was the reason instead of the true reason. Their last nights together conceived Ant with Magic. And thus begins the story of one of my best friends
Ant was trained by Cari to be a protector. She was not the most loving mother, so Ant and I had a lot in common in that regard. His father was absentee just like mine. And just like mine Ant’s father wasn’t at fault, his father didn’t know he existed for much of his life either. And it’s been a long life.
Ryan was about 18 years older than Ant, but when you’ve been a live for eight hundred years it the difference hardly matters. Ryan had gone from father figure, to brother, to best friend over the years. They were my friends now and I trusted Ant would let me do my job, but he’d also protect me if anything bad were to happen.
We descended into the sub basement where you could hear the train rumbling past below us. The smell of blood grew with each step we took closer to the door at the end of the hall. “I’m glad I ate before I came here.”
“The whole kiss looks like it’s killing.” I said as I passed the last empty room that was covered in blood splattered walls, none of it fresh.
“Mother will look into it. Frankie is this way.” Ant pushed open the door in front of us. The smell hit me long before I saw anything. The stench of decaying blood, the putrid smell of bodies long since drained of blood. I choked back the gag reflex that threatened to empty my stomach from the smell. My senses were already pulled back and I could only do so much before my body reacted to the stench. Hopefully long enough to deal with Frankie.
Frankie sat against a wall with a small porcelain doll in his lap. Except at second glance the doll was just a girl who was nearly dead. Her eyes were glazed over with lust filled eyes. Her body limp and pale from loss of blood. The red stain at her neck stark against her pale skin as Frankie looked up.
He saw Ant and he smiled, his fangs visible in blood stained lips. And then he saw me and he stood up, dropping the girl. I wove air and caught the girl before her limp body fell completely lifeless to the floor. She was human but I wrapped her in the elements a last ditch effort to keep her alive while I felt the fury of the crime. The girl was no more than fourteen. There were other bodies of similar girls lying around the room. Long since dead but she was alive.
There was a growl in the dim light and Ant took a step to the side to keep Frankie from bolting out the door. His face showed no emotion and I was certain I wasn’t as calm. I felt the snarl on my lips. The heat in my face. I was angry. Who wouldn’t be seeing this thing taking the life of the future generation. Killing a child in cold blood.
Ant spoke softly into the dim light, “Your rights have been revoked. The Council sees your deeds as against the clan. And you are now submitted unto Venatori justice per the Clandestine Providence and the Law of the Aeternus. Your death shall not be avenged.” With each word of the formal denouement Ant took a step back towards the door. His only job was to keep the creature from fleeing. Ant didn’t try to protect me now. If I died under his watch it would be all my fault.
The man looked at me, “You don’t kill.”
I grinned at him. “You don’t know me.”
“I know who you are.” He sneered, “Just a weak boy who doesn’t play by the rules. I heard about how you cheat.”
“There is no cheating when it comes to life.” I shrugged. “You won’t play fair, why should I?”
“This isn’t some game.” Frankie growled.
“No, this is the end of the road for you Frankie.”
“Where is my trial?” He laughed.
He should get one. And if he didn’t attack me he likely would at least get a reprieve. He wouldn’t die today, maybe tomorrow morning at the top of the building staked to the top of the roof for the sun to rise. A death fitting of what he’d done. A slow torturous death until nothing but ash.
Ant audibly shuddered behind me. He’d felt the thought, seen it in my head. Sometimes he could do that. But most of the time he stayed out of my head. It was a trick most vampires of his kind had, but Frankie was embraced from the Incubus line – Damien must be so proud of his progeny. Not that I had ever met the man myself.
Frankie lunged for the girl and tried to pull her from the grips of the air. I growled and let the anger rise. In my hand I formed a razor sharp line of air, and in a quick moment the offending Vampire’s head was gone from his body. Spurts of blood splattered the ceiling and the walls, and everything else it’s path as it fell to the ground.
Fire erupted from the body. I stared at the body as I burnt it to the same ash I had been thinking about moments before. And then I left the corpse to burn and went to the girl who was still alive, barely breathing, but alive. “You’ll be alright.” I said as I lifted her gently in my arms. All fury was gone except for the edge that kept the fire going. I let the anger fuel the fire, burn it away like the creature who had invoked it. This was the second kill in my lifetime that had been murder in my heart. He hadn’t attacked me.
Ant’s arm around my shoulder made me look over at him. “Don’t make it more than it is. His life was over. If you did not end it I would have been back to do the job on the Council’s order. My mother already said he was the Venatori’s problem now.”
“My problem.” I sighed and started the slow walk out of the building.
The city was still bright with street lights even though it was closer to midnight than not. The Night Life building was a bright beacon in the ever-changing skyline of New York. Every light was on it was busier now than it was during the day. The lobby was a mall full of all types shopping. I felt vampire energy but there was also dragon and therian energies all around me. And there were even humans shopping in the Macy’s and stopping at the coffee shop with the bright red plus sign as a logo. Sinful Delight was big around the City and was growing popularity around the world thanks to a great marketing team.
I headed for the stairs to run up and visit a friend. Though this wasn’t a pleasure call. We had business to attend to. A vampire was running around killing kids and leaving the bodies for their parents to find the next morning. Dealing with dead bodies was painful to begin with, but when you were dealing with grieving parents my heart ached. I had to bring someone in to pay for the crime.
I pushed the doors open and I stepped through a ward set by Il Cane to prevent random people from entering. It didn’t prevent me any longer, but it once had. My relationship with her son had its perks. I didn’t need to call out to see if anyone was around. A blond stuck his head out of the door with a bright smile that reached his green eyes. He looked no more than sixteen but he was over eight hundred years old. “Hey Nox!”
“Hey Ry. Ant ready?”
“He’s finishing up. You can hang here, he’ll be by when he’s done.” Ryan Elliot was Il Cane’s Chevalier – one of many – but the only one who was bound in life and death. Kill one and you killed the other. But you be just as hard-pressed to kill Ryan as to kill his master. She trained him, and eight hundred years was a long time to pick up a lot of tricks on surviving.
Ryan lead me into a small apartment that served as a waiting room. I went straight for the coffee machine and made myself a cup of hot black coffee. “Your bosses pushing for a kill.”
“No more so than usual. But this is five kids dead, Ry.”
He sighed. “I know. Cari warned him.”
“What she say?”
Ryan’s smile said more than what he did, “Not much. It was mostly in Italian.”
“Which you completely understand,” I noted sipping on my coffee.
“It doesn’t translate well. Something about losing your head in the most uncomfortable way possible.” Ryan smirked, “As if there was a comfortable way to do that.”
“With Cari, I think there might be.” I joked.
Ryan’s smile grew wider as he nodded knowingly. “She leaves it to you. You have given us enough time to deal with the situation. And if the Venatori get involved maybe it’ll send a message.”
“What message is that Ry?” I sighed, “That the Venatori have no problem taking a life?”
Ryan’s smile never faded. “No.” But he said nothing more as Ant stepped through the door with a damp towel in his hand. He smelled of fresh blood and sex and I tried not to judge. A vampire had to eat after all. His partners were willing and able but most importantly willing.
Ant sighed, “I should have eaten sooner I apologize.”
I shrugged. “You have to eat.”
He grinned. “If I’d known you were coming sooner…” He let the sentence trail off into what could have been as he sat down next to me. For being completely straight he did enjoy flirting with me. Ant’s hand fell against the back of my neck as he put his arm over the back of the couch to rest comfortably. I tried not to nestle into the comfort he was offering. I was working.
Ryan stood up and took my nearly empty coffee cup from my fingers, “Let me refill that. Afterward, it might be necessary to have a spar or a run. Though I think the comforts of the fist might work better. A bad day?”
I shook my head, “No worse than any other – except this case.”
Ant sighed. “Mother says Frankie lies. She would have killed him herself but she has no proof.”
“Why does she need proof?”
“Same as you. The Council requires that there was wrongdoing but Frankie has not been caught in the act. Only what you smelt on him and in the room.”
“The Venatori don’t care.” Ryan added, “You could just kill him, and no one would say anything.”
I growled, “And if he’s not the one!”
“We all know he is.”
“And if he isn’t?”
Ant sighed. “Then it was murder.”
Ryan added, “But the Venatori would be happy and off your back. And the Vampires won’t retaliate.”
“And there would still be dead kids.”
Ryan sighed, “You can’t save everyone. Frankie is hiding something.”
I shrugged, “And until we figure that out, he lives and I cover up the deaths of drained children because some sick vampire is draining them and leaving them in creative positions suggesting the things they did with them afterward.” My heart was racing. My fists were driving the black painted nails into my palm.
Ant squeezed the back of my neck and I released the tension. Fuck! I groaned as I stood up and started pacing.
“Mother says we can find him with the rest of his kiss down on 8th.”
I didn’t say it was time to go, but Ant stepped in next to me as I headed out of the door. “Good luck!” Ryan called out after us. His voice was tinged with sadness as he didn’t get to come. His job was to protect Il Cane. He stayed at her side, but sometimes he came with us. But not tonight and I didn’t ask what the difference was. Not that anyone would tell me – it was vampire business, not mine. The pain of not belonging ached in my body.
Ant sighed, “Ryan’s right after this we need to get some of those bad vibes out of your head. A good beating should do it.”
I laughed, “From someone else that could be taken in a very different light.”
Ant rolled his eyes, “Only with your old circle. No one here would think of touching you.”
I pouted. Ant shoved me across the stairwell with a laugh. “You know what I mean.”
I grinned at him. “I do.” The banter helped lighten the mood as we descended from the top of the Night Life building and on to the street to find the child-murdering vampire that was plaguing the City night after night. I let my anger fester inside of me even as Ant tried to calm me. But his empathy wasn’t as strong as his mother’s or father’s, he was a warrior not a nurturer though I loved how our friendship had grown.