The syringe with my blood was nearly half empty. Harry's thumb was ready to plunge out the rest upon hearing that one of his vampires had actually given the Arizona vampires access to his beach residence. The Arizona rogue vamps had also been told where the guesthouse key was kept and what codes got past the security system by his vamp, Peter, much to Harry's dismay. I wondered if Peter would last any longer than my fledgling, Damson. My only vampire, DB, Damson Barlow, was nearly dead. He'd been staked over two nights ago and left on the floor of Harry's guesthouse entryway. I wasn't sure what the Arizona vampires intended to do with DB. He was still under the mistaken impression that finally telling us the truth would give us a reason to rescue him. There wasn't any way to easily heal his injuries. The vampires had snapped off his fangs when they'd driven the eight stakes into his magically charred body.
Carefully I looked at him. It was strange, but I was remote and detached from my own creation. I'd been lonely and stupid when I had created him. My Master, Simon, had told me that I had been approved by the vampire council to make a fledgling but he later revealed that he'd thought I would bring another female into our clan. DB had been a predator in a bad part of the city and a very busy bad boy. The night I had found him, I wasn't planning on flipping a human to vampire, but in my dark state of mind it had pretty much just happened. I enjoyed breaking him down at first but later found my creature had disdained and hated me from the start. Sociopaths make very bad minion. He was always scheming, and trying to kill me. It was draining to have him constantly plotting against me at every turn.
His hands were palms up and pegged to his side useless and blackened. The stakes that anchored his legs to the flooring pierced the meaty part of each thigh rather than his feet. But the truly wicked part of the remaining four wood stakes was their location -- surrounding his black heart. He'd been slowly bleeding out, unable to heal without fresh blood for too long. Now he needed strong vampire blood to last even another night. His fangs could only heal with him being given massive amounts of old rich vampire blood or maybe by sucking dry a couple of strong humans. There weren't any spare humans around to serve DB so it fell to us three to figure out what we would do with Damson.
Simon allowed me to decide if I wanted to save DB. I'd already chosen not to slice open my vein and feed the vampire. In his state of near death, Damson could easily drain me dry before Simon and Harry would be able to get him physically off me. Manic vampires were far stronger than they looked. But it made sense, since without blood he'd be facing true death, which rarely was easy and painless because vampires had much to fear. Decades and centuries of running amok and creating carnage wherever they lived made for a nasty afterlife. Without fangs, DB's feeding would be savage and bloody. I knew how much he resented and hated me more now than ever.
"Natasha?" Simon interrupted my musings.
"Yes, Sire?" I didn't know what else was left. Harry raised an eyebrow to me asking me silently what I wanted to do.
"Anything else you want to ask?" He pushed holding my eyes. Simon arched an eyebrow and waited.
A stray thought did run around my imagination, "Yes, just one more thing."
Now they all waited. I worked through how I wanted to ask my question.
Taking the blood filled needle from Harry's fingers I hunched down next to my fledgling's side -- making sure to keep away from his clenched fists -- and pushed a bit more of my blood out allowing it to dribble onto his stomach. His hands tried to claw free from the stakes in the middle of his palms. He was too close to final death so there was no way he could absorb the wasted liquid on his charred stomach.
A healthy vampire could literally suck blood through their skin. At some point most vampires had been around massive bloodbaths. Vampires drunk with bloodlust time and time again had found out the pleasure of drawing their victims' blood literally through their own skin during the frenzy. It was hedonistic and extremely dangerous. Once vamps are on a rampage, all sorts of horrific butchery can result. The humans being slain are usually fountains of ruby red blood spraying everywhere as fangs and claws tear open their soft silky skin. The frenzied vampires rapidly suck as much blood available through their fangs, then whatever spatters is automatically sponged up when it hits the vamp's exposed skin. The erotic feeling is hypnotic and chaotic for the vampires and often creates worse bloodlust. The vicious cycle can go on, if unchecked, literally for nights -- at least until the humans are all gone. The council usually sends a clean up crew to purge the village, towns or, worst case scenario, the cities quickly, and run interference with media and the local vampire Master. I had been called to more than one incident in my roll as executioner.
"What did they plan on doing with you? I mean, look, you are here staked and nearly dead, right? How were they going to use you once we were brought back?" Granted it wasn't one question but it was what I needed to know. Harry nodded in agreement easily following my train of thought while Simon said, "Well?"
DB groaned and seemed to be drifting off. Death wasn't far away. Despite myself I felt a wisp of sympathy for my hell bound creature. I pushed the plunger and let two drops fall into his mouth. His tongue shot out and pulled them inside. His eyes snapped open and he hissed, "More."
"Not yet," Harry said firmly while allowing me to keep the syringe. Not that it mattered since I wouldn't cross him. Damson definitely wasn't worth it. The little drips of blood temporarily revived my fledgling. His eyes seized mine and he pleaded this time, "A bit more." He hated begging me. His pride was not yet broken but I'd expected nothing less from my minion.
Neither confirming nor denying the request I simply said, "Talk."
An odd sound was coming from Damson. Puzzled it took me a minute to figure out he was laughing. In all my decades with DB I don't think I had ever heard him make that sound. His cynical, nasty personality was entirely without mirth when around me. He took silent glee in my problems but never openly mocked me with laughter. The current situation he was stuck in was unexpected given his usual slights and slashes. But I failed to see where he found any humor.
"I've been trying to figure it out myself. Only thing I can conclude was that I was to be the sacrifice to make you talk." The admission cost him some more from his life and he sighed shutting his eyes. The blackened lids shut out the only bit of white on his face. I shook my head, seeing that he was giving up. He knew how little I cared for him. The idea that his survival was dependant on me was absurd to him as it was to me.
Simon grunted then pulled the syringe from my unresisting fingers. Leaning over my shoulder he took the blood remaining and injected it straight between Damson's lips. Damson looked stunned by the still warm liquid but then immediately looked a bit livelier with the infusion of my blood. I felt the tug from my minion as he absorbed the blood the only way available -- in his mouth. The blood tie between us wasn't strong but it pulled at me nonetheless.
His eyes snapped open and he saw Simon had the empty hypodermic in his hand. A slight knowing smirk flashed across his lips. He thought that Simon was overriding my choice. I wasn't so sure but kept my thoughts to myself.
"Thank you, Master." Damson groveled. Something wasn't ringing true to me and it took a second to understand what Simon had done. He hadn't saved DB but merely prolonged the vampire's death. Harry nodded and stood back while Simon dropped down to the other side of Damson.
"Damson Barlow, I command you." Simon was pulling deeply into his bloodline and I could feel the groundswell of vampiric energy he was using. I was part of that spider web of blood that tied our clan to our Master. Simon wasn't wasting time. He understood that there wasn't much more DB could be hiding but wanted to make sure before we did something final.
Exhaustion washed over me as Simon tapped more from me. I readily gave my Master his due and felt my fangs slide down in response to the erotic pull. Harry looked startled. It dawned on me that Harry had fed me and there was a tie between us that Simon was drawing from easily.
Damson still thought that Simon was taking charge of him and going to give him more blood. I could hear his thoughts now as they unbidden streamed through my body. DB tried to probe my intentions and I easily swatted the invasion. Which wasn't totally true because I didn't block DB from reading my hatred. That emotion nearly flooded my essence. He wasn't strong enough to push deeper into my mind and I doubted he'd be alive come nightfall.
"Master?" Damson's eyes were glowing with hope and lust. He wanted to tear into me with Simon's permission. Simon stroked DB's brow. Blood had beaded on the charcoal skin. I still found the blackened form disturbing. I kept blinking away my memory of DB's pale white skin with its usual eerily smooth sheen. The magic that had been employed to capture Damson burnt him into color so the usual alabaster hue was now dull and black. The skin hadn't fully been burnt off or completely healed so there was an odd dirty and dingy texture to his skin. My blood injected into DB had raced to leave and Simon's touch left DB's forehead naked. My Master's fingertips had erased my blood as his skin easily absorbed the beads. Damson moaned at the loss.
"Damson, you are mine."
Harry and I watched as Damson began to smile up at Simon. The grin was ugly and his broken incisors emphasized how helpless he truly was -- stakes notwithstanding.
"What have you learned about Kenyon's plan for Renee and Carlos' upcoming wedding?" Simon asked conversationally, obviously recognizing how quickly DB was fading. His question was vital to our next step. We already knew that Kenyon was trying to takeover the West Coast but I doubted he was planning on stopping there given the influx of the Arizona rogue vamps.
Damson's eyes were unfocused as he tried to recall any tidbit that would interest my Master. Simon sat back on his heels and waited. Harry had pulled out his cell phone and was texting something behind me. I had, also, sat back on my haunches while Simon ran the Damson Death Show. It was good to watch Simon work.
"Mistress Cynthia and Kenyon met up a few days ago to draw out territory." DB offered.
There was nothing new for us so we all waited while he fished his memory for something worthy of our consideration.
"Oh, yeah, Kenyon and Jane have the tape from Dark Whispers. The meet with werewolves and vampires." Okay, that was news.
Kenyon had tried to take over the local werewolves and vampires at his club with a show of power. While wearing a pendant he'd never earned from the vampire council, he'd preened in front of a full house while his human minion filmed the crowd. DB had shot a geyser of champagne to the rafters and exposed Jane filming. Things got a bit out of control after that. Go figure.