Tate lifted his eye lids open, but it was so dark he couldn’t tell the difference. He felt like he was floating towards a light. Then his back slid onto a solid polymer mat with a slight spongey feel. The young man quickly realized that he was indeed being lifted to the soft orange interior lights of the Wayne Manor trailer.
Dry mouth made his hoarse words drag out, “Is she dead?”
A strange voice vibrated through disconnected vocal chords, “Not yet.”
The painful sound of those words may have actually scared Tate any other time. At the moment, Tate didn’t feel much of anything. Groggy double vision slowly focused in. Two blue eyes had finished easing Tate to the floor and sat on the benches on either side of him.
Tate barely remembered their faces. On the drive out, he had spent most of the ride talking to the humans. The vampers had mostly ridden in silence, not even moving.
The woman on the left leaned over with her elbows on her knees. Both sides of her head were shaved, leaving a slicked trail of long, dark blue hair coming to a point behind her neck. Her baby blue eyes were hypnotic combined with her smooth light brown skin. Tate found himself staring at a cute mole under her right eye.
She spoke with a vague, almost alien accent which seemed to pop up naturally, “Tate, my name is Kim. Are you with us?”
Tate tried to raise his arm to rub his head, but it barley raised at all. He lifted his head to see the rest of his body was buckled to a stretcher. A red tube ran out of his right inside elbow, up to a blood bag being held by the man on the right.
Struggling against the bonds, Tate was definitely awake now. “The fuck are you doing to me?!”
Kim placed a gentle hand on Tate’s shoulder, “You lost a lot of blood. We’re putting some back in. We restrained you in case you started acting like this. Is that okay Tate?”
Tate felt his heavy breathing constricted by the multiple bonds across his torso and arms. Even his legs were tightly bound. He started shaking his head, “No. Not cool. Get me the fuck out of here.”
The blue eyed vamper on the right had a buzz cut that made his scalp look gray. Otherwise his skin was disturbingly pale, though he didn’t have the prominent blue veins that Gian had had. The man holding the blood bag spoke up, “Tell us what happened with Deborah first.”
Being tied up was freaking him out. Tate tried to control his breathing. “Fuck you,” he closed his eyes, it didn’t help. He screamed at buzz cut, “What the fuck does it look like?! Get me out of this fucking thing!”
Kim grabbed Tate’s jaw and wrenched him to her eye line. She kept a soft tone, “We will, but Aidan and I need to know everything you can tell us about what Deborah has, where she’s going, and why she did this to you. If you cooperate, I’ll give you the white. You like that right?”
Tate shook back and forth violently and screamed with all the air left in his lungs. Aidan leaned over and slapped his hand over Tate’s mouth. “Shut the fuck up,” he looked at Kim, “Let’s just give him to Laurence. Might be enough blood to get him walking again.”
“Let’s get him loose.”
“You fucking kidding? Might as well hide a rabid cat under your shirt.”
“Do it. We’re not getting anywhere.”
Tate felt immediate relief as, one by one, each strap was let loose from ankles to shoulders. He tried to stand, but his interrogators held him down. Kim tried to ease him down, whereas Aidan pressed back with a firm straight arm.
Kim opened her mouth, but Aidan spoke first, “All right, we let you out you claustrophobic little shit. We’ll let you up after you give us some intel, got it?”
Tate furrowed his brow as he laid down on his own, “Okay… intel means, like, information, right?”
Aidan’s eyes slid shut; his jaw tightened.
Kim answered, “That’s right. What can you tell us?”
Tate remembered Deborah’s plan. Help the hostages escape, kill the other vampers together. He inhaled a deep breath. “She wanted me to pretend I was on your side so I could free her people.”
Kim and Aidan exchanged a glance. Kim locked eyes with Tate, “Is that what you’re going to do?”
Tate scoffed, “Fuck her.”
Aidan insisted, “Answer the question. Do you intend to help Deborah’s people?”
Tate looked into Aidan’s eyes, “No.”
The pair looked at each other again. Aidan nodded. Kim smirked, “Tate, we know you’re telling the truth.” With that, the interrogators released Tate’s shoulders.
Tate felt like he could finally breathe again. He sat up, a little too quickly. The young man grabbed his head with his left hand, “Whoa.”
Kim waved to herself, accepting the blood bag from Aidan. She offered a hand to Tate, “Do you still want the white?”
“As long as I get it from you and not dickhead.”
Aidan smirked as he stood up and walked away. The soldier was tall and lean, though his arms looked like they were thicker than his thighs. Okay, so I really don’t want to fuck with that guy. Tate saw the beast pass the three human hostages, each lying on the benches on either side. They looked like they were sleeping.
Before Tate could think about how odd they looked, Kim laid a hand on his shoulder, “Ready?”
Tate felt a subtle touch of aloofness when he looked in the woman’s clear blue eyes. What’s up with these fucking eyes? “Hell yeah.”
Kim almost smiled as she leaned in for an open mouth kiss. Tate tasted the bland fluid as it flowed into his mouth, effortless sliding down his throat. Reflexively, he worked his lips and jaw to fully enjoy the moment. Kim’s hand slid over Tate’s chest, and subtly eased him away.
The light brown vamper wiped the white from her mouth and chin. “Welcome back Tate,” she said with a smile, “Grab some water. We’ll let you know when we need you.”
Kim hung Tate’s blood bag on a hook of one of the many gun racks along the wall and left. Tate watched Kim turn and walk away with a wonderfully round ass, but her legs were a little too short for Tate’s liking.
Tate sat down and examined the tube in his arm. It was firmly taped around his elbow. Curious, the young man flicked the area where the tube was inserted. The jolt of pain numbed the rest of his forearm all the way to his fingertips. “Fuck!”
A weak voice whispered from the open end of the trailer. “What’s wrong traitor? They forget to give you a pat on the head?”
Tate raised an eyebrow and looked at the hostages. An older woman was pulling herself up with a gun rack. There was just enough lighting for Tate to decide she was too skinny and wrinkly for him, but she had a solid frame of lean muscle. Tate picked up his blood bag and approached her, “Why do I have a feeling you’re Deborah’s mom?”
The fit elder scoffed and fell against the wall, sweat coating her face and bare shoulders. “No. I believe the bride of Ares couldn’t bear the strength to give birth to that woman.”
Tate hung his blood bag and sat across from her, “Sounds like that’s a no.”
“I first met Deborah when she was about your age. What are you, fifteen, sixteen?”
“Seventeen, according to my tribe’s calendar maker.”
“That’s about right. I found her in Jacksonville, ever hear of it?”
Tate thought about it, “Maybe. It’s an old city right? Most of the buildings still stand, but they’re full of vampers.”
“That’s it. She was holed up in a tower on the outskirts. All around the base, she had set up a bunch of stakes with vamp heads skewered on them. Eventually, I lost count. I expected to find an encampment of a new tribe, or a cave of redeyes that were brutally territorial. I found a young girl that had nearly killed me twice before I got the better of her.”
“How old were you? Fifty?”
The woman stared at him blankly, “Thirty something.”
That’s what they all say. “So, she was there alone? Just scavenging the city and killing blood fuckers everyday?”
“When she started talking, she told me about how her father turned, killed her mother, and how Deborah cut off both of their heads. Sounded to me like they just stopped in the city to get away from someone, but Deborah was stuck there. No direction, just hatred and fear.”
Tate shook his head, “Well that’s fucked up. No wonder she’s a fucking killing machine. I’ve killed plenty vampers, but not like that.”
“I never saw anything like her. Took me a few days to earn her trust. She finally let me take her home. Took a lot longer to teach her how to be around other people. Just like anything else she had to do, she figured it out.”
“I knew she was scary. She talks good too. Anthill must have nice schoolin’.”
“You know where Anthill is?”
“Nope. But that’s where my three people are heading. I figure the best way to get there is to ditch these blood suckers so you can help me find them.”
She smiled wider, “You’re smarter than you look, huh? You worked that out in your head so they thought you were telling the truth about ditching Deborah’s plan.”
Smarter than I look? First time I heard that. He lied, “Yep. I know what I’m doing.”
The woman chuckled, “Nope. You’re dumber than a clump of sand. How the hell did you get recruited by Deborah?”
“Oh you know, your people trespassed in our fucking territory. I led a raiding party to fucking kill Deborah and James and steal their shit. Then fucking red eyes and Mister Cheap Shot end up stealing my tank, which, you know, is the only fucking heirloom left from my father. Have you ever driven a tank? That is the best fucking feeling in the world to run over someone else’s piece of shit rust buckets after they—”
“Yeah, then she just happened to run off with what’s left of my tribe, you know, the one you let her demolish like a rabid fucking chupacabra?”
“Did you just tell me Deborah has red eyes?”
“Uh, yeah, she’s a fucking vamper. Is she a fucking secret weapon for you people or what?”
“How long has she been turned?”
Tate laughed, “Wow. I was starting to think your tribe kept her on a leash or something. You know she’s a fuckin’ redeye, right?”
He expected the adoptive mother to be shocked, or afraid. The old woman recoiled, her breaths grew heavier. “Deborah, is a vamp?”
“Yep. I almost killed her out of a mercy. Fucking James stopped me.”
The woman deflated, “I knew something bad happened. James said she ran away. I never would’ve guessed… Fuck. That woman was already a force of nature.”
Tate nodded and looked to the other two hostages. “How can you fuckers being sleeping at a time like this?”
“This is what happens when vamps need to heal up. Not to mention the two bags they took out of Tess for you.”
Tate looked over at the only other woman. Nice tits. He looked back, “The fuck did I miss?”
“The blue eyes said you nearly died. Now I heard you say this was part of Deborah’s plan, but you’re not going to help us.”
Tate looked outside the trailer, not seeing anyone. He turned back and shook his head, “There’s only three people alive that I still care about. All I plan on doing is making sure they’re safe. I could give less than a fuck about the rest of you.”
The older woman nodded with a small smile, “Understood.”