Chapter 7


The building was already on fire.

“Oh shit. God ... fuck.” Julias stood at the edge of the building, just some run down old apartment building in the old district, but the flames it gave off were starting to rise. He couldn’t go rooting through the building’s rooms, he’d be ash in seconds, but Viktor wanted that data and supposedly it was in there.

He paced from side to side and looked through the windows. No fire alarms were going off; the building must have been abandoned. Probably condemned. The neighborhood was in the factory district, old and filled with typical lowlife. He wouldn’t feed off these streets. And it meant it’d be a while before the police department showed up.

Which meant he had time. The fire was filling the front windows, but around back and behind maybe there was still time. Behind it, the parking lot was empty save for some broken cars and shopping carts, and the backs of other buildings that surrounded the block in the typical dead-city fashion. It was the sort of place he expected a Nosferatu would hang out to feed.

Third floor, apartment 35. Viktor had said a Mekhet would be there, some no-name with sensitive data. Data his master wanted. But now the building was on fire, and the whole thing stank of ash, chemicals, and unlikely coincidence.

The back door to the old building was broken off its hinges, and the fire hadn’t done it. In fact, the back of the building was still mostly intact. He stepped up to the door and took a long sniff of the air, but only managed to get smoke. There was movement ahead though, someone else, some short person in a trench coat. They were trying to get up the stairs, but flames blocked their way.


The Daeva turned around. Her speed was a blur, like it was just innate to the she-demon to move with such swiftness. She dug the balls of her feet into the flooring, and growled back at him.

He hated that she was so damn gorgeous. A somewhat petite woman with long red hair and blue eyes, she had the look of a lounge singer, and even her trench coat had that Daeva fashion sense. Classy, sophisticated, but luxurious.

“Julias. Setting fire to the building? I must admit, that’s pretty smart.”

She was accusing him of setting the fire. That meant she hadn’t done it, or was just trying to trick him.

“You stabbed my friend.”

“Ah yea, the boy ... stabbed, but not dead then? So you had time to turn him? Ah well.” The bitch gave a shrug, followed with a devil smile. Flames burned behind her, easing up and devouring the wallpaper, but she didn’t seem phased. “I should have just stabbed him in the face.”

He growled right back at her as the beast within his ribs clawed at his insides for blood. He was going to enjoy ripping her into a fleshy mess and leaving her for the flames. There was no escape, as his body was broad enough to cover the small doorway, and Rebecca knew it. Try as she might to be confident, he could see her eyes glancing around and looking for an exit. It was only getting hotter.

“Here for the data too then?” she said.

“Of course.”

“You even know what’s on it?”

“Do you?”

“Of course,” she said, and gave him a wicked grin. “Tony isn’t Viktor.”

“Then by all means, share with the class.”


He thought he’d have learned by now, but no matter how many times it happened, he always underestimated Rebecca. Her fist smashed into his chest, hard, hard enough to break bones and send him stumbling back. She was such a tiny thing, but she was a Daeva, and that meant she was fast and damn strong. He’d managed to get one of his hands onto the door frame though, just in time to block the doorway when she tried to get past him.

It felt really good to crack her in the face with his knuckles. She rolled back onto her ass, but was on her feet in just a second. To his satisfaction, he could see how his punch had dented in her cheek; the bone underneath was damaged, and the fire was growing behind her.

“Get out of my way, Invictus.”

He grinned and stared down at her. “No.”

“Move! The sun is coming up soon. We’ll both die here.”

“Maybe. I’d really love to make sure you burn first though.”

Her Daeva beauty faltered for a moment when she screamed death upon him. She lunged at him, but this time she brought out her knife mid-flight. He’d forgotten about the knife.

Even as a Kindred, a knife was not something to ignore. The feeling of it cutting open his stomach was painful, but his vampire body would not let his blood escape through the wound. He took the opportunity to reach out and take her neck with both hands, and squeeze.

Crack. Crunch. Her neck began to collapse inward under his large grip. It wouldn’t kill her, but she wouldn’t be able to do much if her neck and spine were a crushed mess. Her eyes bulged in panic, and she sliced at him several more times, but only cutting skin deep. She bared her teeth at him, and raised her hand into the air.

The knife went cleanly into his face. She’d stabbed him under the cheek, likely aiming for his temple and missing, and the metal pushed through the upper half of his jaw to come out the other side of his face. He was no Daeva wimp, he was a Ventrue, and no Ventrue would stop simply from a knife through the face. He continued crushing her neck, and jerked his head about to dislodge her grip until her hands grabbed his wrists. She wasn’t strong enough to escape this. He knew it. She knew it.

“You tried to kill my friend. You failed.” He threw her weight against a nearby wall, but held onto her neck hard enough that he heard bone snap. The heat was rising, fire danced up the old furniture and dirtied carpet, and smoke clouded the air. “I’m going to break you until you can’t move, and then I’m going to toss you into the fire.”

This time he smashed her down against a nearby table. Everything in the building was so old and worn, it gave way without resistance, so the girl crashed into the floor with wide eyes. Her hands reached out in obvious panic, and Julias glared down at her with enough rage that he could feel it coursing through his fingers. More things went pop in her neck. Her fingers found something on the floor, but he didn’t care. She was dead.

By the time he’d realized what Rebecca had grabbed onto, it was too late. The crushing force of a hammer to his skull knocked him to the side, his grip lost and his balance gone.

“Fucking hell—”

She hit him again. And again. He could feel his skull cave inward under a flurry of blows from the hammer — a mallet, it looked like — before the heating floor rose up to meet him. Then, blackness.

Author faith

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