I paced the room, my right hand on the wall so I could get some idea of where I was. My left arm I held cradled close to my chest; Vladimir had left after burning me and true to his prediction I was not healing. It hurt like hell.
The room seemed to be twenty feet or so square and other than the bed and nightstand had no furniture. I had sadly broken the bed, it seemed as though the frame had shattered down the middle under the impact of my speed. Although I felt the outline of a door, there was no handle that I could feel. I was stuck here, at least for the time being.
I didn’t know what was really going on, but knowing Vlad he had some insane scheme or another. Most likely the idea was to use her as a puppet to overthrow The Tribunal and then kill her off and assume command. That seemed simple enough, but without knowing the politics and background of the situation she might as well be … blind. How fitting.
Sighing in resignation, I sat on the broken bed and lit a cigarette. What a fucking pain in the ass. I didn’t even have a way to kill myself. A sound reached my ears. It was faint, but it sounded like an argument. I focused my hearing and the voices became more distinct.
“-seems to think she’s well in hand, but I don’t know. This is the Angel of Destruction we’re talking about.” A female voice said.
“Well, as to that… if she were going to destroy everything don’t you think she’d have done it already? There must me something to that serum he claims to have developed.” This was obviously a male voice.
“I suppose you’re right. Still… I have a hard time trusting Vladimir. He’s …”
The two moved off and I lost track of their conversation but at least I knew that not everyone agreed with my captor. That was some consolation, even if I was trapped, blind and powerless in a room without a door I could open at least I had one or two people who might think Vlad was… unreliable.
Well fuck. At least I had something to go on. I focused, but everything was silent.
Why did my Gift work to allow me to hear and move quickly but not to heal or to Destroy? What had he done to me?
I stayed seated, taking advantage of not needing to breathe, allowing myself to be perfectly still. Now I could hear soft footsteps on the carpet in the hallway outside. There were three of them.
“You sure she’s in there?”
“Yeah, and she’s helpless too.”
“I owe her for the last time we met.” I recognized that voice, “Cairo, 1948. She killed the target I was supposed to be protecting and I didn’t even find out until the next morning. As a result the bombing only killed a couple dozen when it should have killed hundreds.”
Shit. These were members of The Reapers who I’d messed with before they had recruited me to join their ranks. I couldn’t remember their names, but that didn’t matter. They were here to kill me and I was nearly helpless.
I reached out and tried to access any dregs of my Gift, more out of habit than anything else. To my surprise, I found I could still feel Cor through the Mindlink. When I attempted to touch him, I felt something radiating from him like heat from a stove. I pushed it away and focused on the problem at hand.
Rakk was an ancient being, I was surprised he had survived for this many centuries simply by being a brutal, efficient killer. I supposed he managed to kill his enemies at a rate that equalled how rapidly he created them. Gem was relatively new, she had only joined The Reapers a year or two before I was recruited. She earned her name not only because of her power, but also due to her obsession with precious stones.
I wasn’t sure about the third, but I guessed it was most likely Gem’s shadow, a Korean man who she had managed to give the Final Kiss but still maintain an iron clad amount of control over. Most of us know how to give simple commands to our ‘children’ but Dog did whatever she said without question or hesitation. This was not going to be easy.
What should I do? I knew the answer. I stifled a chuckle and moved next to the wall near where I could feel the nearly invisible door opening. What I should do was kill all three of them when they assumed I was helpless. There was a marked difference between ‘helpless’ and ‘nearly helpless’ and this was something these pieces of shit were about to find out.
The door opened with a whisper of technology. I would have appreciated the machinery under normal circumstances, but now I was focusing on the footsteps and the sound of their breathing. Wait… why were they breathing? Either they had lost the control needed to shut their lungs off or they were arrogant enough to believe I wouldn’t hear them. Judging by my past experience with them… it was probably both.
I swung my right arm in a blurring arc that moved from waist to neck height. I couldn’t see
them, but I damn well knew they were there somewhere. I connected solidly with one of them, and felt the crunch of bone as my forearm slammed into something softer than it was. Now I was thankful for all the training and conditioning Svenka had insisted I keep up with.
“I ain’t always gonna be there to watch your back baby and that Power is gonna fail you one day. You can make your body something that you can always count on though, and I can help.”
The instant I made contact, I spun low, whipping my leg in a powerful sweep that knocked my target off his feet. My intention was to jump on whomever this was and bite them, but I was out of time time. The only advantage I’d had was surprise, and that was long gone, now the fact that they could see and I could not made my defeat all too easy. Well, that and the fact they still had their Gifts.
I slammed into something impenetrably solid; that would be Gem. A deep canine growl of anger rumbled and a jaw filled with horrendous teeth closed around my leg announcing that Dog had been the recipient of my first attack. Something slithered around my waist and brutally strong, abnormally jointed fingers gripped my throat.
“So the parasite’s parasite survived.” Rakk’s breath smelled of death. Not the stink of decay though, the scent of old death; long rotted flesh, cast off snake skin and dried bones. “Well, I will have to fix that little inconsistency.”
The growling increased in volume and Gem snapped her fingers. The teeth released slightly. “Dog has a point. I thought we were just going to hurt her. Since she cannot heal.” Gem spoke in a precise accent that I couldn’t place.
“You really hold a grudge.” I managed to croak before Rakk’s fingers completely cut off my airflow. I’d forgotten how much it hurt to be injured. A crunch told me that he’d crushed my windpipe completely.
“Of course we do, but it’s not just that we have hated you for years. You killed him and he was going to make us Gods again.” Rakk hissed, “But you ruined everything with your stupid -”
“That is enough.” Gem interrupted, “You are telling her things she does not need to know.”
“I don’t care.” Rakk purred, “I’m going to kill her so it doesn’t matter anyway.”
I twisted slightly and Dog’s teeth clamped down, slicing me to the bone. My body shook as I attempted to scream in pain. Dog let go with a whine and began a long howl that trailed off into a bubbling gurgle. “NO!” Gem screamed.
Rakk let go of me and I fell to the floor, trying to keep the blood from flowing out of my wounded leg by sheer force of will but knowing it was only a matter of minutes before I would enter Final Death. At last, I was truly getting what I wanted before Vladimir had ‘rescued’ me.
Blood splattered on my face. I couldn’t stop myself from licking it, my instinctual self-preservation kicking in. A small, warm hand touched my throat and my leg. To my intense surprise, the wounds healed. Not all the way, but the bleeding stopped and my crushed larynx re-formed to the point where I could breathe and speak.
“Now you will tell me what you have done to Dog.” Her voice was a deadly whisper in my ear. “I have hidden this Gift for a century and now I must use it to heal one of my most despised enemies.”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about.” I said, my vocal chords burning from the pain. “He bit me.
Maybe whatever cocktail of shit Vlad gave me that keeps me from being able to use my Gift is blood born.”
“Vlad may be an idiot, but he wasn’t lying when he told me he hadn’t done anything to you.” She said, “Try again.” A knife slammed into my abdomen and pain exploded through my mind. The blade was twisted and withdrawn. I writhed on the floor for a few agonized minutes before the blood was carelessly splashed on my face again. I hated myself for not being able to resist its coppery scent.
“I tried to help him but it’s like his blood was turned to mercury and this blade came out of your guts without a single drop of vitae on it. When he bit you there was no bleeding.” Gem said, “Now my sweet little puppy is on the floor, whimpering in pain and I can’t do anything about it.”
“Where is Rakk?” I asked, trying to organize my thoughts. No blood? But I had felt it oozing out of my lacerated leg… hadn’t I?
“Do not fret about that one.” She said airily, “He may be flexible and hideously powerful but nothing breaks one of my barriers. Now let’s try again.”
“Vlad told you I no longer possessed my Gift too didn’t he? I’m obviously blind and powerless otherwise you’d all be de-aaaaa!” Her knife had pierced my right eye this time and it was impossible for me to keep from screaming.
“All right, I believe that you’re blind.” Gem said calmly, “Now convince me that your Gift has truly been taken.”
I couldn’t consider trying to speak, the pain was just too intense. At this rate I’d just tell her whatever she wanted to hear just to make it stop. I opened my mouth to beg her to kill me but all that came out of my mouth was a pitiful mewling cry.
The answer hit me in a flash. It was blood. Somehow I was surviving without any blood in my system. Gem’s blood spattered on my face again, but this time I lunged up at her, my mouth gaping. I didn’t feel hungry but that didn’t mean I wasn’t starving. My mouth found her wrist and bit. The sun rose inside me.