Tate stood on one of the steps leading up to the big rig’s passenger seat. He had the door open, leaning over the seat as he rummaged through the glove box. The setting sun was nearly gone; the last splashes of pink across the horizon along with it.
The naturally tanned young man reached into his black tactical vest for a flashlight and clicked it on. No light. He clicked again and again, smacked it around and finally threw it out the other side of the cab. “My flashlight doesn’t work either! What the fuck is an EMP?”
Deborah didn’t answer him.
Tate rolled his eyes, and then strained to read the shiny laminated maps he found. “What’s that Deborah? You get to volunteer me for a suicide mission automatically because I’m not a big enough pussy for James to beat on his own? Solid logic. Just solid logic.
“Why send the mother and children away with a mechanic that spends more time fixin’ cars that smashin’ skulls? You tried to make a big speech about how you and me are the best chance to take out twelve vampers with machine guns, but I think you just want to get us killed.
“You want me to get killed for revenge for killing a few of your people and almost killing James. I get that. But you wiped out my whole fucking village and made me watch. You think I don’t deserve some compensation for that shit? I think you definitely tipped the fucking scales of karma right fucking there.
“I will admit that I’m grateful that you let Megan live this long. What kind of deal did y’all make? You kept her alive for a blood bag until you got so far?”
Tate jumped when he realized she was standing right below him. “Whoa!”
As little light as there was, Tate had no problem seeing her white skin glow against the backdrop of darkened sand. The athletic woman’s red eyes and wild platinum blonde hair were an equally unsettling combination.
Deborah seemed to stare through him, “You talk too much.”
“Well I’m so fucking sorry for being a little worried here. We got, what, a shotgun, two pistols and a tire iron?”
“Yep. Are we on the map?”
He tossed it to her, “Fuck if I know. I can’t fucking read in the dark.”
Deborah flipped through the pamphlets before tucking them in one of her own tactical vest pockets. She had torn out wires from the drone that James had shot down and turned them into a makeshift sling for the shotgun. She drew a pistol and checked her shells, “What’s your count?”
He tapped the pistol tucked in the back of his pants, “Twelve rounds, no more clips. You good?”
“I’m fine. Keep looking.” She walked around the front of the truck.
Tate knew there was nothing left in the truck. He jumped down and walked over to the yellow Humvee with scorch marks all over the rear bumper. Dragging a finger across the black, some of it came off. Tate strained his eyes to examine it some more. “Deb, did you see anything funny back here?”
Deborah was at the front of the Humvee, under the hood. She made her way back, “Like what?”
Tate dropped to his back and looked, “Not sure. Looks like a bagpipe, but with two pipes.”
Deborah laid down beside him, “I doubt the bitch driving this had a metal bagpipe installed.”
“No shit.” Tate looked down, suddenly aware of how nice her legs were. Too bad she wants to fucking gut me… But that’s kinda schway though… His eyes shifted up to hers.
She stared back.
“So what I was thinking was…”
“It’s a flamethrower system.”
“I can smell the burnt fuel, and you see the prongs above each pipe?”
“Yep.” The what?
“They rigged tasers to ignite the sprays of kerosene. But with the EMP, we can’t use anything here.”
“Any luck with the mini-turret on the hood?”
“Plenty of ammo left, but we need serious machinery to get the gun off. This yellow beast is just a sitting slug now.”
“I really, really wanted to use this thing.”
“Yep.” Deborah slid back out to her feet, “I still don’t see any movement.”
Tate stood up and walked to the hood, “Do you need a drink?”
Deborah actually looked a little surprised.
“What? We might as well stack the deck as much as we can.”
“I appreciate it, but I’m good.”
Tate waited for her to return the gesture, but her small grin slowly faded.
“Seriously, I’m good.”
Tate crossed his arms, “Well maybe you could share something then?”
“I assume you can give me the white stuff like Gian did. That would be a huge boost right now.”
Waves of disgust emanated from Deborah’s face, “What, the fuck, is wrong with you? Do you think I’m gonna drop my pants for a quickie right now?”
Tate’s eyebrows shot up and he held his palms out to protest, “No, no, no! Not that white stuff! The, uh, the leech juice. I forget what we called it already. Ya see, after you tied me up like a broken rag doll, Gian kissed me, and I felt all good again!”
Deborah was beginning to walk backwards. “So… I think I’m missing something.”
“Okay, he untied me first, but still, don’t judge a man for liking that. Second, it wasn’t just a kiss. He like, spit or threw up in my mouth, and that healed me up real good. Remember when I turned you into a punching bag?”
Deborah’s expression slowly switched back to deadpan, “Oh. I remember now. I wondered what they did to you. At first, I thought they turned you, but I could still smell your blood and see your veins moving. So I just have to spit in your mouth for that?”
“Well, more than that.”
“It sounds like you’re making this up.”
“Believe me, I’m not into banging corpses. No offense.”
“I believe that. Fine.” She stepped closer.
Tate wasn’t sure what it was, but he was suddenly gaining an erection. Oh fuck. Do vampers know when that happens?
With any other woman, Tate would be trying to smell her breath, or watch their bosoms rise and fall with each breath. Deborah approached him like something out of a nightmare, but for Tate is more of a sexy nightmare. There was no breathing, no body heat to feel. Her eyes naturally terrified and excited him.
Her voice was soft, “What are you waiting for?”
Tate didn’t think this woman was capable of flirting, let alone seduction. He couldn’t even think of a smartass comment, his jaw seemed open on its own.
Deborah’s open mouth sealed with his. Tate glanced up at the emerging stars before his eyes closed. There was a distant memory that told him there was a reason for this, but something in his head clicked, that he should just stop thinking and enjoy this. Instinctually, his hands reached for Deborah’s hips. Her hands clenched his wrists and pulled them to the sides, painfully, unstoppable compared to him.
Tate felt Deborah pull away, he felt his head inch forward after her. His eyes slid open.
Deborah’s bright red eyes refracted the dying light. She told him, “I don’t know what Gian did, but I don’t think I can do it.” She released him, “Sorry.”
Tate launched forward and kissed her again. One hand slid behind her neck and the other grabbed her firm ass. Their lips slid across each other’s, puckering and sucking, until Deborah bit Tate’s bottom lip, just a little too hard.
Deborah then grabbed Tate by the collar, and steadily shoved him to arm’s length. Her eyes penetrated his, “I’m not her.”
“You don’t mean that. You’d die for her.”
I know. “She hates me as much as she hates you.”
“Then be a good guy.”
Tate felt Deborah press forward to his side. He reached down to hold her hand, but what he felt was a pistol. “Um…”
Tate felt his ribcage vibrate, twisting his body down and to his left. He tried to catch himself on his knee, but still flopped face down in the sand. Through the burning pain, he gurgled, “The fuck?!”
Deborah rolled him on his back in a blink and dove on top of him. Tate tried to raise his pistol, and he felt Deborah’s hand help him bring it to her stomach.
She told him, “These are smooth rounds. They won’t do any damage—”
Tate fired three rounds in a row before Deborah snatched the gun away.
“—but at least it will look like you put up a fight.”
Tate spat up some blood, the pain was killing him, “I… trusted…”
Deborah covered his mouth, “They’ll give you that white – stuff – and think you’re still on their side. You’ll be my man on the inside as they hunt me down.” She paused to lick Tate’s blood from her hand, “Help my people inside the trailer, and between the five of us, we might be able to walk out of this.”
Tate was barely processing Deborah’s plan, but he got the gist of it. He raised a shaky thumbs up, followed by his middle finger.
“Good boy.” Deborah snapped her attention ahead of her, then her left. “Sorry,” she jabbed her mouth into his neck, just above his collarbone, and took a few long swallows.
Tate felt his eyes fluttering shut.
Deborah heard soft footsteps quickly approaching from the northwest and north east. She let Tate go, watching him fall unconscious. Grabbing his pistol, she decided not to bother with his vest. Then she decided that he was far enough from the Humvee for her next plan.
The woman stayed low as she ran to the back of the yellow beast. She retrieved a grenade that she had recovered from the Humvee’s previous owner, and wedged it as close as she could next to the flamethrower’s gas tank. Who ever thought to mount a fuel tank in a car? Seems like an easy way to risk an explosion.
As she worked on tying a piece of wire to the grenade pin, Deborah looked at Tate. Neal said he thought Tate would fit in. Hopefully he gives the kid a second chance. If Neal didn’t take Tate back, Deborah was fine to let Tate be captured or killed. He’ll either help me, or be one less problem to worry about.
Satisfied with her tiny knot, Deborah quickly walked away backwards. The spool of wire was thin and nearly weightless, but she had quickly tested its strength while Tate wasn’t looking. Deborah kept a sharp eye out against the now lightless horizon.
It didn’t matter what happened to Deborah. She hadn’t cared about her own wellbeing since she had turned. Wiping out the Red Bone tribe was overkill, she realized that now. There were countless tribes like them all over the sand.
Discovering the well-oiled machine that is Wayne Manor was another turning point for Deborah. Megan had told Deborah all the luxuries they had used to try to make her want to be a prisoner. Unless Megan and Tate’s arrival had been a special occasion, Deborah was afraid of how much resources Neal had at his disposal. Hopefully Gian catches up to me. He probably knows how to cripple Neal’s entire operation.
Movement had finally reached Tate. Two… three. Four? Deborah didn’t hear, see or smell anyone around her. The people seemed to be gathered around Tate. Does anyone see me?
Tiny sand dunes surrounded her, but the tallest one she had seen barely rose past her ankle. Lying down won’t give much cover or concealment. Deborah reached the end of her wire, and slowly, silently dropped to the ground.
She strained to spy on the guards as they moved to the truck. Deborah was surprised to suddenly be aware of two groups of three approaching either side of the big rig and Humvee. Holy fuck they’re quiet.
Deborah might never find out who killed Tsara. She hadn’t had the nerve to ask Tate, but he and this group of vamps were the last people at the oasis. Deborah watched the silent team of assassins clear the area. They were close enough. I love you sis. Deborah pulled the wire.