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December 04, 2023

Strange Bedfellows 57

By Lydia Manx

"Natasha, bring Harry and Simon closer. Renee, would you and the werewolves stand directly behind them?" Jasmine spoke seriously from her spot above Cynthia. Cynthia had yet to get off the ground and her head still rested nicely against the garbage can. I could easily picture her inside the container with just a little work on my part.

"Of course," I answered, even though I still had more than a few concerns. The Civil War sword was held tightly in my left hand and I had no intentions of setting it down anytime soon. So I led Harry with my right hand to where Jasmine indicated I should have him stand then my Master, Simon, to his appointed spot. I stood between them with Simon on my left closest to my weapon.

Cynthia hadn't said anything for nearly a full minute. I realized then how much she'd really been pissing me off. Her entire vampire clan was apparently dead now, and we'd just heard and seen how she'd killed her own Master, so I didn't know what she was plotting. From the furrow in her brow, she was trying to figure out something. Hell was too good for her but I'd be content to see her sent there to start. The lower levels that the writer Dante shared seemed fitting.

Jasmine had allowed Cynthia's dead Master to use her body so he could physically touch his corrupted fledgling and speak to her. No, that's not right. Jasmine had done something far more invasive. She had somehow shared both Miguel, the Master vampire, and Cynthia, the self-made rogue, at a core level. Cynthia and her Master's thoughts, emotions, and feelings were shared with all of us -- vampires and werewolves alike. It was eerie and disturbing. As a vampire there were only a few others who could invade my mind. And they were usually stronger vampires with whom I'd had exchanged blood, or as in the case of Simon, who'd made me. I'd never heard of werewolves trading such pure thoughts, feelings and emotions with vampires, but as I'd been rather painfully learning the past few weeks, I didn't know everything.

Once we were standing next to Jasmine and Cynthia in the prescribed manner she shut her eyes while placing her right hand inside the middle of the hole my sword had created in Cynthia's chest. There was a slick sound of friction as Cynthia's body tried unsuccessfully to block the fingers. Then the blood quickly welled up and crept up Jasmine's white hand like a ruby red glove.

She began speaking in Latin very softly. The words were a jumble of pleas, requests, demands and locations -- while some words were spoken lightly others were whispered so lightly I had trouble making them out even with my vampiric hearing. From the waves of tension radiating off Marcus, poised far too closely at my back, he was also being frustrated by the inability to hear the spell, incantation or whatever it was that Jasmine was doing. I hadn't forgotten that Marcus had seemed to know Jasmine or at least 'of' Jasmine before we'd all met up at Balboa Park.

I was finding Kenyon's little playground in Southern California far too small and nearly incestuous in the crossovers between the supernatural creatures residing here. Not that Kenyon had shown his pretty little face since the muck up he'd hosted resulting in some rather ugly deaths and the promise of more slayings in the near future. It seemed that not all werewolves welcomed the union of their alpha, Carlos, to Kenyon's vampire, Renee, any more than some vampires liked the mating.

The near riot that happened had been Kenyon's fault. Jane, his favorite minion through the decades, had been caught recording the faces of everyone at the meet. My (now dead) fledgling Damson had helped in the revealing and tried to kill me when it all went seriously south. There were going to be repercussions for the mishap -- the vampire Council did not forgive, much less forget. Cynthia and her crew of vamps had shown up before Kenyon's meet. In fact they had been around when Buddy and Jessie had been killed. Renee had lost her maid of honor that night and Carlos had lost one of his werewolves.

Still hearing Marcus' breathing reminded me of how little I truly trusted him. Basically he was just as much an enforcer for Carlos, his leader, as I was for Simon, my Master. I tried to keep my other career on the quiet side whereas Marcus seemed to revel in the attention. He dressed like a hit man and growled at anyone who dared to cross his path. He knew just as well as I did what our roles were, but instead of being discreet, he paraded around in pricey black suits with dark glasses naturally adding to his menacing air.

Jasmine began to dance the fingers of her free left hand in the air, creating again those solid feelings of waves of power flowing out from her. A sense of absolute bliss rolled through me sending my emotions high along with an undercurrent of pure lust. She was using some sort of passion-fueled spell. My fangs unsheathed without my willing and I was unable to put them away. But at the same time I had little to no desire to be anything but pure vampire. It was an intoxicating bite of power.

My mouth gaped open and I caught out of the corner of my eyes both Harry and Simon also flashing their fangs. Their eyes were blown wide open and their pupils were huge black pools of strong emotions that were shadows playing behind their lashes. I could feel Simon's vampiric awareness began to reach out. It slammed into me with a tsunami of pain and pleasure. His thoughts began to flood mine. It was damn near my undoing. There was a roar through my blood of strength and power. I wanted to fang into someone and suck them dry like my own personal sippy cup of blood.

It was then I heard the soft whimper of need. I was stunned to realize it was me making that sound. The smell of forest and animal musk tickled my senses. I could smell wet leaves, fertile soil mixed with a strum of magical power. A ripping sound and a deep growl let me know that whatever magic Jasmine was using had forcibly freed the werewolves from their human forms. A howl and a grunt and I knew without turning around that both Marcus and Carlos were back in were shapes. Instead of making me worry or feel vulnerable, I had a certain awareness saturate my soul at the rightness of the werewolves being in their fur natures while I felt like a supremely balanced vampire. I felt luxuriously perfect in the Park, like all my life I'd wanted to be in this place at this precise moment. Jasmine was now calling upon the unseen, supernatural ancients and she was telling them of their glory days with a litany of deeds and honor bound promises kept to supers and humans alike -- all washing of words in a backdrop of Latin to what we were transforming into at her call.

Cynthia wasn't looking happy, in fact, she was looking thin and frail. It was like she was literally feeding all of us from Jasmine's touch. As I was looking at the two of them interlocked, I decided that might have been what was happening. The blood had traveled up the medium's arm and it was now nearly to her shoulder, a sleek, living, moving liquid evening glove seeking something -- someone.

The waves of magical power began rolling out from us. There was a band of energy and supernatural strength that rapidly wove its way outwards. Nearly simultaneously I could feel the predatory zoo animals began to respond. Howls, chattering, gnashing of teeth, roars and screams resonated throughout the hills and valley that made up the Balboa Park territory. I could detect the sounds of lions, tigers, bears, leopards, pumas and panthers clamoring along with the other smaller predators. I knew that if any of the cheetahs escaped that they could run down their prey at over seventy miles an hour. They would trip the victim then bite down on the neck suffocating the creature quickly. I pitied any humans near because every single creature sounded very hungry. I could smell the fear rolling off the prey animals that made up quite a bit of the zoo. The sheep, goats, bunnies and other assorted fuzzy little creatures were literally pissing themselves with mindless fear. Over by the front of the buildings that lined the Botanical Building I watched as rats chased mice and lizards with mindless abandon. They pounced on the fleeing prey and gleefully tore them to bits. The blood spattered the walls in a gray-black shadowscape. It was haunting and aberrant behavior for rats. They tended to chew on wires and eat human food, not chase down the smaller creatures.

As the din grew louder and was being accompanied by the clanging and banging of various animals trying to escape their cages or work their way out of the natural enclosures, the passive little animals began to cry out their fear and panic. Their hearts were racing as they, too, tried to find a way to escape the wild instincts of the caged beasts ready to conquer anything in their paths. Because it wasn't going to be long before the habitats fell to the fury of the animals. I knew it as well as the little prey. There was a shadow above us. It took me a minute to see that an owl was in the sky above looking down towards us. A silent predator that sailed in the inky night swooping down on unsuspecting animals that wasn't easily seen much less heard. The owl spotted its meal and extended its talons falling down and snatching up the unsuspecting rat.

For the wild life wandering around inside the Park, where there weren't any conveniently placed cages to protect the prey from the predators much less moat lined 'natural habitats' to shelter them, there was nowhere safe. Coyotes quickly found rabbit dens that they'd usually ignore and the child-like screams of bunnies being torn asunder echoed inside us. The coyotes yipped and cried out their delight at their kills. I could see a dun colored large coyote carting off bits of shredded rabbit with its tail proudly plumed out.

Both Carlos and Marcus howled out their own cries. Werewolves sounded nothing like coyotes, wolves or any other creature -- unless they wanted to and were mimicking. Since Jasmine spoke her curse or spell they weren't hiding their true natures any longer. All supernatural creatures within a few miles of the Park knew what was making those sounds. Answering howls from nearby werewolves began to join in the chorus started by their alpha. I knew instinctively it was a war cry for the pack to rally. The bone deep chilling call to arms seized any werewolf within hearing range.

As they began to answer Carlos and Marcus' cries, I knew that the unseen werewolves in turn were calling all werewolves far and wide spreading the 'news'. The sound was traveling faster than the local wildfires, outwards, reaching any pack animal within hearing range of the Southern California region. Unlike the wildfires I doubted that water and flame retardant sprays would slow the creatures. The primitive feral sounds were amazingly complex.

Goosebumps crawled over me as the swelling of sound reached out. The predatory animals still in the zoo had slowly stopped their own cries and roars. They immediately recognized that they had now become the prey. Definitely a new twist for these caged predators. From the pit of my stomach I could sense the heartbeats quickening and the unexpected fear flowing freely from their skins. Jungle cats, bears, coyotes, wolves and other assorted beasts great and small instantly were trying to become invisible.

Werewolves apparently were much higher on the food chain than the natural predators being held captive. I wondered what animal, mammal or fish could take down a fully enraged werewolf. I'd seen how quickly they could tear apart a human being -- hell, they healed nearly as fast as vampires. The werewolves howled out their intentions -- a warning that they were here and near ready to even the score.

Jasmine's magic had freed something terrifyingly powerful in the werewolves. And if I was honest with myself -- I, too, felt something primal and ancient thumping inside me. I wanted blood.

Article © Lydia Manx. All rights reserved.
Published on 2010-10-04
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