Neal Hamilton studied his reflection in the elevator door’s mirror trimming. He turned his head from side to side, satisfied with his trimmed blonde hair and white skin that held enough color to hide the large blue veins throughout. He’d always taken pride in his appearance. Neal remembered in the 1980s when he used to obsess over hair gel and nice suits. He straightened and snugged his polished blue tie atop his gray vest. I’ll always care about the suit.
The elevator chimed and opened to the ground floor garage. Neal’s nose was quickly assaulted by the smell of wasted blood. They haven’t been dead long. He stepped ahead of his two uniformed escorts.
Julie was pacing around the corpses, twirling her short red braid in one hand. She made eye contact with Neal and plopped her thumbs into her black jeans. Neal preferred the scouts to wear uniforms, but Julie had put enough work in that he let her slide in her civilian rags.
Neal stopped short of the bodies where the doctor was making his own examinations. “What happened major?”
Julie gave a half-hearted salute, “Far as we can tell, Deborah did all the killing. Not a drop of infected blood to be seen. She had to be fast as shit sir.”
“So a red eye with a stolen pocketknife killed eight guards, one of our rank included. Excuse my crudeness major, but what the fuck happened?” Just as Julie opened her mouth, Neal clarified, “Aside from being ‘fast as shit.’”
Julie shrugged, “Our people don’t have the most extensive field work. From what I heard about this Deborah, I’d say she has more kills than those seven humans combined.”
“I think Deborah’s captive may have helped. I can’t imagine Wren losing to a red eye without a good reason.”
“Well she’s in an urn now. Can we at least track Deborah?”
“She hasn’t disabled the truck’s transmitter, yet.”
Neal closed his eyes to think. “I can’t call back truck three,” he forced a sigh and pointed to an escort, “Call dispatch. Truck two and Gian are on this now,” he focused back to Julie, “You too. We lost enough amateurs to this red eyed bitch.”
Julie smirked with a more solid salute, “Yes sir. Any preference?”
“Prioritize the two kids and the truck, in that order. Everything else is up to you.”
“Sir yes sir.”
Neal brought his heals together and straightened his back for a proper salute to dismiss Julie. He then dismissed his escorts, “Go get someone to clean this mess.” After they left, Neal dropped to a knee next the doctor. “Stevens.”
Doctor Hal Stevens brushed his tangled black hair behind his ear as he continued to examine one of the uniformed, headless corpses. He collected blood samples in his collection of petri dishes as he spoke, “Hamilton. Surprised to see you this close to the surface.”
“Well, it’s not like the sun’s up yet. How about you? You’re not usually a night owl.”
“Owls used to be nocturnal birds. Sorry, I forget how young you are sometimes.”
“I assume you want more than small talk from me.”
“I’m curious. Our scouts have a steady stream of our enzyme when they’re on a mission. These four, they had just returned from a week’s driving. The only water rations they had were laced, that’s protocol. They should’ve been faster, stronger than some feral runt we had locked up for a few days. What’s your opinion? Why do you think they got killed so easily?”
Hal sealed his fourth petri dish and grunted as he stood, “It’s just an untested theory, but perhaps this… Deborah, infused the enzyme herself when she drained the guards below.”
Neal creased his brow, “Ferals can do that?”
“I can do some tests. She did just infect another prisoner.”
“Hmm. I’m interested. Let me know what you find out.”
“I do have other things to do.”
Neal walked backwards to the elevator, “It’s not my fault people don’t grow up to be doctors anymore.” Neal hit a button and waited.
Feral vampires had never resisted a pure blood’s influence. Wren didn’t have the best willpower, but Neal couldn’t believe Deborah’s mind was stronger. The feral infection specifically attacked the mind to leave it vulnerable to a blue eyed vampire’s will.
Neal’s initial response was to terminate the prisoner Deborah had infected. Hal should run his tests. Hopefully Deborah’s strain is just a freak accident.
Tate tugged at his black shirt collar. Fucking shirts. Sitting on the bench of the back of the enclosed trailer, Tate looked just beside him. A worn, bloodied James was shackled to the ceiling. Soft yellow light let Tate see that the scrawny man didn’t have much fight left.
Across from Tate sat the broad, masculine Mike, who had just undone his tactical vest. The red haired man asked, “Judging by the beating you dished out on this guy, he musta done you in real good.”
Tate sighed and cleared his throat, “Mike, have you ever owned a tank?”
“Can’t say I have.”
“Well I did. I ruled the fucking sand with that beautiful bitch. Then this asshole clubbed me over the head and stole it.”
“He tell you where it was?”
“He told me the Dust Giants probably have it.”
“Shit. Them’s some tough bastards.”
“I’m aware.” Tate thought he saw James flick his eyes open, and switched to a more confident tone, “You heard about the vamper I brought in, right?”
Tate rolled his eyes, “Deborah. I’m gonna put them in the same cell and watch her drink him dry.”
James seemed to wriggle, but Tate couldn’t tell as the truck came to a stop. The other dozen or so soldiers and two prisoners looked around at each other.
The driver sent a transmission through the earbuds, “New orders people. We have a runaway truck to track down.”
Tate noticed that everyone looked confused. Must not happen too much.
Mike pressed his left ear, “Who the hell’s runnin’?”
There was a brief pause before the driver answered, “A red eye prisoner with three possible hostages.”
Tate felt his stomach sink and pressed his earbud, “Names?”
“HQ says we are to take out the red eye and the mother. Our priority retrieval is the two infants and the truck, in that order. No names, just objectives kid.”
Tate thought he might vomit. Under his breath he muttered, “The devil. She’s the fucking devil.”
James spit some blood on Tate’s polished boot and managed a smile. His green eye stared into Tate, “Let me guess,” he chuckled as he caught his breath, “Deborah?”
Tate shook his head and launched himself forward to slam his fist into James’ stomach. Without another word, Tate reclaimed his seat as James coughed up more blood. Fucker.
Gian drove through the moonlit desert in his single-seat dune buggy. Like the truck behind him, and the four newly acquired vehicles ahead of him, Gian drove with all of the lights turned off. He was glad that he would be able to drive in the daylight with the latest upgrade to his personal vehicle.
A private transmission hailed him, Neal Hamilton’s smooth voice filled the cab, “Gian, I have some extra instructions for you?”
Gian rolled his pale blue eyes and picked up his radio handle. His bony, translucent hand clicked the talk button, “Oh? Just me? How special.” He knew Hamilton hated sarcasm.
Neal showed no trace of irritation in his voice, “Only the high ranks are being told about this. Deborah’s termination is priority.”
Gian lifted a hairless brow, “She piss on your carpet or what?”
Neal paused, another sign that he was worried, “You locked her up, so you were close enough to make her lock herself up. Did you try?”
Gian tried to remember their time together, “She was unconscious when we chained her. I didn’t see or need an opening to compel her,” he hesitated, “What happened exactly?”
“This particular red eye was strong enough to kill Wren, possibly alone.”
That’s not possible. He didn’t bother to repeat what Neal already knew.
“Stevens might make time to run a test, but I’m not about to let anyone know how important this is. I sent Major Davidson for backup.”
“Julie? She’ll blow up the hostages, the truck and anything else in the way for one target. And she knows about Deborah’s… immunity?”
“This infection has already made our lives on this planet more difficult. I’m not about to let a new strain, which we have zero control over, to finish wiping us out. Do I really have to emphasize how bad this is?”
“Good luck. Over and out.”
Gian scratched his bare scalp and thought about it. The red strain had been a bad enough outbreak, but Gian and the others could easily control them with their pheromones when pressed in a corner.
Gian switched to an encrypted channel and hailed, “What’s up doc?” He hung the radio up, knowing that Stevens may not be readily available.
If Deborah can’t be controlled, maybe I should recruit her. Gian had been losing supporters at Wayne Manor for decades. Most of the blue eyes at home were directly descended from Neal. The man’s rigged election and subsequent operations were pure evil in Gian’s eyes.
Gian proved useful to Hamilton, and showed enough disinterest to stay off the man’s hit list. Deborah, and anyone she may infect, could be the key to turning Wayne Manor around.
Hal Stevens squawked over the radio, “Gian?”
He grabbed the handle, “Are you alone?”
“Of course. What’s wrong my friend?”
“What kind of tests are you doing for Hamilton?”
“He thinks there’s something odd about the prisoner that just escaped.”
“Oh, there is. Don’t let Hamilton know, he may very well kill you if you’re the one to discover the truth.”
“Well shit Gian, don’t worry me or anything. What the hell’s going on?”
“I can’t tell you everything. Run Deborah’s blood sample against another red eye, and mine. If you find anything that makes her special, I need to know.”
“What the hell Gian?”
“Be careful friend. You may not see me for a while.”
Hal Stevens sighed, “All right… Good luck.” The doctor hung up his wired radio handle, hid it in its drawer, and spun around to his spotless lab. He stared across the room.
On the opposite wall was a refrigerator that ran the length and height of the sizeable room. Eight glass doors held six shelves, filled with bagged pints of blood. Every human member of Wayne Manor was required to make a donation every six months.
The doctor walked over to the far right door. Two blood bags were filled with spongy, yellow fluids. One was marked Deborah. Hal opened the door and opened a hidden compartment to retrieve a blood bag filled with a less spongy, white fluid. He had never dared to mark it as Gian’s, but the half empty bag was the only blue eyed vampire blood Hal had ever run tests on.
Hal retrieved the three total bags and laid them on the stainless steel table in the middle of the room. He tilted his head and waved his arms out to his sides, “I assume I’m to run the tests?”
Neal Hamilton sat next to the seat where Hal had taken his call. “Why yes doctor, and remember, if I think you’re stalling, or lying about anything, I’ll infect you with the red and force you work on this honestly.”
Harris held his stomach as he walked down the slope to the center of the Red Bones’ former home. Spotlights still lit the white marble plaza and the fountain continued to flow without issue. So thirsty.
The veteran hunter made his way to the water and dropped to his knees. He bent over the edge and paddled the water into his mouth. With a cringe, Harris nearly vomited to clear his mouth. What the hell’s in there?
Something else caught his scent. He furrowed his brows and walked back to his dirty green pickup truck, the only vehicle left in the crater’s plaza. Harris walked around to the open door to find the young man he had shot earlier. Still lying across the cab’s single seat. They cut off his head.
Harris reached under his bulletproof jacket to rub the bruises. That blue eyed cowboy leech… He killed me so I wouldn’t turn. They must’ve drank him, then made damn sure he wouldn’t turn.
Blood had gathered and started to stiffen. That sweet, coppery scent pulled Harris further down. Harris pressed his lips to the top of the neck and started sucking what he could. Fuck. Fuck.
Harris couldn’t gather anything substantial. With an angry grunt, he grabbed the body by the coat and yanked it to the ground. Huffing, he slammed the door shut and leaned into it. He knew what he’d see, but he turned to the mirror anyway.
As he came into contact with his new, icy blue eyes, Harris screamed as loudly as he could.