Jerry Cooper nodded to his fledgling's plan. So in the next ten minutes they'd strike. It was going to be a two-pronged attack. Julia, his fledgling, was going to run towards the three vamps in the roundabout circle and scream like a human in distress. She had concluded that both Lenny and Ben Richland would spin to see what was happening. Since Maxwell was pretty much out for the count, he probably wouldn't even notice the excitement. And when they spun to see her, it was then that Jerry was literally going to leap over all of the vampires staged at the base of the fountain and make his move. Her screaming would be the distraction that would give Jerry the chance to take Lenny while Julia vamped Ben. He figured that he had a better chance of taking Lenny. The older vampire could easily overpower Julia even though he'd been drained from the ritual used to create her. So his only problem was that he would have to combat his anger with Ben. That was his biggest worry -- that he wouldn't be able to stop from killing the executioner. It was a valid concern.
Jerry mentally prepared himself for the next ten minutes. He'd have to stay completely focused and alert. Even though both vampires were the strongest in the region it didn't mean that Lenny and Ben couldn't physically fight. Julia didn't seem to be afraid of being hit, but Jerry wasn't sure if that would be enough. The feeling of bones being crushed within one's own skin wasn't a pleasant feeling, even knowing an infusion of fresh blood would change it -- she'd yet to experience the sensation and it could easily distract her from taking Ben down. Jerry couldn't afford to lose the vampire to his fledgling's inexperience.
Jerry Cooper didn't have a watch, but a mental clock inside his mind. He'd always been able to keep track of time. As a vampire it was important to know when the sun was setting, how long until sunrise, and more importantly, exactly how long a vampire had been feeding off a human in order to avoid being caught. So when his fledgling had a thought on how to capture the vampires in the roundabout near the fountain, Jerry'd agreed to ten minutes versus her original idea of five minutes. The Camino Real drawbridge hadn't lifted since the last boat puttered through the thin canal just missing the sides of the channel in the storm-tossed waves. Jerry doubted that it would be raised again any time soon. The storms that had sent most of the coastline heading inland weren't ideal sailing weather, and the larger boats tended to slam into the walls of the canals and hit the underpinnings of the bridges.
Julia was going to initialize the action against the vampires, so it was more a matter of when she decided ten minutes had passed rather than a precise click of the minute hand on a watch. Jerry hoped that she would be able to subdue Ben without causing any lasting damage to the executioner. He really needed to find out who'd betrayed him within his own clan. Ben Richland was his best hope of that. Lenny -- or Leonardo as Ben mentally still referred to his old friend -- had been sent by the Vampire Council to find out which of Ben's cadre of fools was stealing vampire blood and selling to rogue vampires and humans. Tough luck for Lenny that he'd shown up just in time to have his skills and vampiric talents drained along with hundreds of other vampires of all levels. The complete draining of the region was done by Jerry to create Julia. A nice little side effect was his fledgling came a bit more talented than a raw baby vamp and he got to enjoy the power and strength from all those drained.
It also put a giant mark on Jerry as a vampire that needed to be killed before he took over control of all the Master vampires he'd tapped. In the past he'd been on both sides of the ritual, but the density of vampires in Southern Florida had reached an all-time high and a huge number of vampires reached out past the usual couple hundred miles to tap into their distant clans. That created even more raw power thrust back to Jerry. Jerry was a serious force to be reckoned with should he decide to go rogue. He didn't think himself as a rogue, but rather a Master Vampire without a clan. Something he wanted to change once he got through the little unpleasantness of finding who'd betrayed him in Michigan. He didn't want to start a new family and not know who in his past had tried to kill him. If he didn't know, he was only condemned to repeat the error. It was time he started learning from his mistakes.
He had no intention of going rogue ... just going far away from the East Coast and start again. Julia had given him back that part of his nature. He wanted to be surrounded by the loyalty of good fledglings and minions.
Julia met his gaze and nodded slowly. Her plan was to distract the vampires while Jerry used a vampire movement skill and pounced over the fountain and took out Lenny from the opposite side of Julia. Julia would be responsible for controlling Ben. Jerry knew she had the skills, and he hoped that Ben wouldn't beat her too much before she turned his mind off. She'd already practiced on humans, but vampires weren't the easiest of victims.
Lenny was explaining to Ben that they needed to talk to his lieutenants first and the minions after if they didn't find the bad seed right away.
"You have to be wrong. Leonardo, the Council is absolutely wrong. There's no way any of my crew is tainted. I don't have any of my own fledglings and everyone is associated with the Council on more than one level. You know this. Hell, you helped teach me the ropes," Ben admitted while arguing that it was a vampire he was associated with who was taking blood. All vampires took blood, but the ones the Vampire Council was concerned about weren't doing it to drink the blood, but to sell it. Jerry knew that was expressly forbidden because certain strains of vampire blood held more than just the ruby richness of sustenance for them.
Lenny laughed loudly and said, "What about Celina Holston?"
He brought up the Southern belle vampire vixen who'd helped to trap Jerry all those years ago. Jerry was curious what Lenny was going to say, so he put a hand up to keep Julia from heading out into the street and beginning her side of the two-part act they'd orchestrated to catch the vampires with minimum amount of trouble. Catching the name Julia nodded. She knew some of Jerry's past and the named vampire wasn't high on her list either. She instinctively stopped and waited, knowing that her Master had already killed the vampire true death.
A completely confused look flooded Ben's features. He tried unsuccessfully to mask the shock but he didn't make it. Lenny chuckled, "You didn't know?"
"Know what?" Ben reluctantly bit out, looking irritated at not knowing what Lenny was talking about concerning Celina.
Jerry, on the other hand, already knew exactly what the Council had discovered.
"Oh, Benji-baby, really you don't have a clue?" Lenny wasn't going to make it easy on his old friend. Jerry found that telling.
"Fuck you, spill it," Ben tensely replied.
"Not yet. I love the look on your face. Let me enjoy this. Hell, I love that arrogant pride. Your assumption you know damn near everything all the time. Well, fuck you." Lenny was getting his jabs in again. He wasn't happy and his angst was flooding Jerry's senses. It was a delicious snack. His fangs snicked down as he savored the winds blowing the two angry vampires' aroma to him.
Sighing deeply, Ben asked, "Please tell me."
A huge grin ran across Lenny's face and gloatingly he answered, "Well, it seems little Celina has been making her own rogue set of vampires off the books for the past year or so. She has quite a few vampires created that aren't sanctioned, as you well know."
Ben washed out blue-gray white and stumbled, abruptly sitting down on the edge of the defunct fountain next to the nearly comatose Maxwell. Max smelt Ben and whimpered. He didn't have enough energy to even let his fangs fall into his mouth but he shivered at the proximity to thick, rich blood. Especially vampire blood -- it called him and he wasn't able to answer. The moans and groans carried over to Jerry and he drank in the pain and fears. For not directly feeding on the vampires near him he was having a great time soaking in the tastes.
"Tell me everything," Ben's voice was soft and nearly broken. His pain carried over to Jerry and the taste was bittersweet.
Lenny joined Ben on the edge of the currently quiet fountain. With the rapidly approaching storms in the past few hours the city had shut off any of the remaining electricity that hadn't fallen off the grid due to storm damage. So it seemed that the fountain pump wasn't working due either to the shut off or that the city never bothered to re-connect the power. Boca Raton was funny that way. Had it been the large phallic pink high rise in the middle of the city, the Boca Resort, the lights would have been on as soon as feasible. As it was the fountain held water and leaves and little more. Well except for the potential to be the breeding ground for the local mosquitoes.
Lenny sighed and admitted, "Celina used her position at the news station where she worked her 'night job' to begin to cull from the herd. She made rogue vampires."
Ben's face fell and he ducked away from Lenny and unknowingly looked directly at Jerry and Julia cloaked by Jerry's use of vampiric glamour.
The vampire was in total agony. Jerry drank in the emotions and watched as Lenny smacked Ben on the ass saying, "Benji, she's just a crazy ass bitch. Why are you so upset?"
"Because I vouched for her," came Ben's mumbled reply.
"Damn, sucks to be you," Lenny didn't help much, but Jerry appreciated the humor nevertheless.
Julia was bouncing back and forth as she grew anxious at the delay. Her ten-minute time schedule had been blown and she wasn't good at waiting. Neither was Jerry, but he'd learned to adapt over the decades.
Ben asked, "Should we go see her first?"
A day or so ago that could have happened, but Jerry well knew that Celina was currently rather unavailable. Most of her was in the belly of a troll and the rest in his car trunk on the other side of the bridge in a nice Rubbermaid container. The thing about vampires was that they could stay well preserved if the right spell was employed. And Jerry'd paid dearly to assure that he could take care of Celina and use her as he wanted. He'd mistakenly thought that he'd need her head to shock Ben into submission. That was before he'd pulled the ritual out and created Julia. Now everything had changed.
Laughing Lenny asked, "When was the last time you communicated with her?"
"About a day or two ago, why?" Ben was still trying to catch up.
"Because she fell off the grid right before the surge hit the vampires here. It was like her disappearance triggered the attack. We all were stunned and no longer able to tap any of our basic vampire skills. Her rogue fledglings and minions were last seen wandering Fort Lauderdale and Miami looking lost. From what the Council saw more than a few were cannibalized."
"No way!" Ben said looking slightly ill. Jerry didn't blame the vamp for getting nauseous because it wasn't good to hear that the Vampire Council had noticed what a vampire was doing. And in Ben's case he was pretty much screwed from everything Jerry'd heard. He knew why Celina's crew was basically rogue since he had her head and right hand in the trunk of his car. But Ben was hearing it for the first time.