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January 23, 2023

The Complex 29

By Lydia Manx

The warehouse on the edge of Boca Raton was oddly silent inside as the vampires were mentally turning over their available options. Jerry Cooper knew that he was the only vampire who had any true vampiric power in the region. His fledgling, Julia, had wandered off to look around the warehouse but had come rushing back as Ben Richland, a pet of the Vampire Council, finally figured out that Jerry was alive and ready to even the score. It had taken a bit for that to sink into the captive vampire's rather addled brain. Something about becoming a vampire puppet hadn't sat well with the former tormentor. Jerry savored the fissure of stress that kept pushing through Ben's thoughts. Leonardo, the current Vampire Council's errand boy, was near death in the trunk of the car but also keenly aware that Ben was nearly a half foot away and unable to help.

Jerry tilted his head as he heard a loud wet crackling sound outside. The winds had returned with a vengeance and the expected turn in the hurricane which had been tentatively forecast actually seemed to be approaching. In the time they'd traveled from the Camino Real drawbridge to the warehouse the winds had been picking up speed again. A hurricane was heading back towards the Florida coast and the cone of uncertainty seemed to be definitely within range and the hurricane had Boca in its hungry sights. Even if they didn't get a direct hit from the hurricane, the tropical winds that surrounded the storm in bands of various amounts of winds and rain would cause more than their fair share of damage, on top of what already had happened in the past twenty-four hours when the hurricane had first brushed by the coast. The last reports Jerry'd heard had the hurricane in the category three to four range and only a few hours away. As the daylight approached, the weather was gaining some stronger winds and the gusts weren't dropping from what the vampire could hear. The longer the winds were sustaining strength, the more likely was that soon there'd be even more hazardous things launching into the structure, and it would also be taking out the local flora and fauna that surrounded the warehouse.

Satisfied that no humans were lurking around outside curious as to why they'd driven a car into the warehouse, Jerry turned back to Ben. The amount of movement Ben had been given wasn't more than a few inches in any direction but it was more than Jerry'd allowed him since they'd captured the vampires back by the Camino Real drawbridge. Julia was pulled back closer to see what Jerry was going to do -- almost reluctantly, as she wasn't sure she was ready to handle watching her Master's decimation of another vampire -- it was obvious by the very way she held herself off to the side, cautiously watching and waiting. Even though she knew in her mind that vampires weren't cute and cuddly supernatural creatures but seriously vicious beings that had to drink blood and fears like a high school kid downed burgers and sodas, she still was naïve as to the real damages that could be done. She was quickly learning that Jerry wasn't one to pull punches.

Ben's eyes weren't as glazed and confused as they'd been when he was sunk back in time remembering his past with Lenny. No, his eyes met Jerry's directly and hatred flowed, out nearly visible in the still dark warehouse. Even though the sky was lighter as dawn was slowly approaching, the ambient light wasn't overly bright with all the storm clouds moving back into the area. Their vampiric enhanced vision used all available light, but still there were plenty of shadows on the edges of the warehouse. The strengthening winds were whipping debris and small sticks against the outside of the building with a discordant drumming. The air was even thicker with the heat and moisture from the tropical depression pushing through the region. The skies suddenly opened up and a heavy rainfall began hammering the warehouse with an amazingly loud racket. Julia was tempted to cover her ears but she didn't see the point, as it wasn't going to make any difference in the long run, with her vampiric hearing and the intensity of the storm.

Forcing words through nearly numb lips and a tightly clenched jaw, Ben spit out again a bit louder, "You're dead."

The words sat flat out in the middle of the warehouse for a beat or two. The emphatic statement wasn't a question. Ben's unwavering certainty was completely wrong in the face of the former Master of Detroit who stood next to the car. Jerry finally figured out how best to torment the vampire and proceeded slowly. Keeping his face turned slightly away from Ben inside the car, he spoke into the cavernous warehouse.

"A slight over-exaggeration on the part of the Council, as you can see, because I am here. As you may or may not know, they tend to create their own stories whenever it suits them, and they certainly don't let such things as facts get in the way of their own spin on reality." Jerry smiled widely, fangs slightly out, just enough to gleam in the subdued light, casually taunting the vampire.

Ben's face was a tortured canvas of pain at working against the hold Jerry had over him. Jerry just let the vampire have a little more of his own personal power and Ben's mouth moved in a slow circle as he found the freedom to speak. The vampiric talents with which Jerry'd been gifted when he'd made Julia had some serious punch behind them, which he greatly appreciated. The ability to slither in and out of another vampire's mind wasn't new to Jerry, but the skill that allowed him to let Ben get a bit of his own vampire powers back was little more than an illusion. Jerry liked that Ben was easily deluded into thinking he was going to best his former victim. Jerry was still top dog in the arena, that being all of the Florida area along with a substantial portion of the Eastern Seaboard. Something that Ben hadn't completely picked up on from the vampire's mere presence and Jerry's controlling of the situation. Ben wasn't one to give up without a battle, it appeared.

"We killed you. I saw you in the coffin -- deathly pale and your mind lost to vampire suggestions," here he trailed off as something floated through his memory. Jerry watched it dawn on the vampire that he'd been played by the Council all those years ago back in Michigan. As he'd not personally staked Jerry, there wasn't any definite proof. Granted Jerry had been pretty fucked up by Ben and his crew, but he hadn't been killed a true vampire death -- beheading, corpse torn asunder and eaten by the sun until he was either ash or parts. Ben had fled into the dawn's breaking light without performing any of the necessary steps done by proper executioners when they wanted to make sure a vamp of Jerry's level was dead a true vampiric death. Jerry hadn't been freed during the night, but the daylight hours and Ben's little hoard of toads and peons had fled with their boss, not witnessing the events back in Detroit when Jerry'd been rescued. The silly humans were Jerry's hot meal and the Council covered up the escape in the aftermath. The memory of what Ben knew for fact versus what had truly happened apparently ran through the vampire's mind, Jerry noticed from the flickering eyes and slight wincing.

It felt good to see Ben struggling with the notion that he'd been lied to by the Vampire Council. Jerry waited for another question. It didn't take long for Ben to think of something else.

"So then why is Leonardo really here?" There was a whiny quality to the question that Jerry extremely enjoyed.

Leonardo preferred to be called Lenny in the current era, but Ben wasn't having much of that even while battling the notion of Jerry's survival; the rivalry between the past companions filtered into Ben's thoughts and feelings. The Council's axe man had arrived before Jerry had created Julia so the vamp in the trunk wasn't much stronger than Ben. The residual powers Lenny had were limited by the lack of much blood and the attack by Maxwell at the fountain. Ben's stooge had seized an opportunity to sup from the vampire, and drained some of the recently acquired human blood Lenny had used to fuel a bit of strength back into his body. It wasn't any sort of match for Jerry, but still it was more than most vampires had. The unfinished business between the former friends was weighing heavier on Ben than Jerry keeping him hostage.

That said, it was a good question, but not something Jerry really knew the full answer to yet. He personally snagged Lenny as another tool to use to torture information out of Ben if the need arose. Much like the bits and pieces of Celina in the trunk with Lenny, Jerry wasn't above using other vampires to push Ben into compliance and render some answers. As to the reason the Vampire Council had sent Ben's old partner down to Florida, it wasn't completely clear, but Lenny seemed to relish the chance to take a few jabs at Ben earlier, leading Jerry to conclude there was more going on with the Council than Lenny'd admitted to at the fountain meet both Julia and Jerry observed.

"Oh, you know. Probably just to clean up a little mess down here in Southern Florida like he'd said. The Council wouldn't lie to you, right? Besides I don't figure that you'll need to over think it since I doubt you'll be getting much of a chance to tell anyone why the Council doesn't trust you. Your territory has become a bit more than you can keep your fangs in and there seem to be some issues from what he said." Jerry taunted from the open car door. Ben was still sitting upright frozen on the back seat unable to lift a finger to move. The movement of his lips was enough to irritate Jerry on so many levels. In Ben's mind Jerry could feel Ben's arrogance rising as he mistakenly thought that he was slowly breaking free from Jerry's command.

Ben was fighting with the little reserves he had to resist the vampiric power Jerry employed to push into the Council's enforcer to keep controlled and unable to do much more than speak. He struggled to move anything but his mouth in an attempt to overcome Jerry's sway. Yet even while looking a tad confused by Jerry's sheer presence Ben found a bit of backbone and hissed out through his clenched jaw, "The Council knows Lenny was meeting me. He'll be missed."

The laughter that burst free from Jerry's lips was nearly louder than the hail now pounding the warehouse. Julia watched her Master shake his head as he framed his own reply to the absurdly inaccurate utterance. It wasn't really a question but Jerry decided to treat it like it was.

"And how do you know when -- and if -- Lenny is supposed to check back in with the Council? Perhaps Lenny is freelancing a bit and gave himself a nice cushion of time before he told them he'd either bring you in for more questioning or kill you? Hmmm, Ben?" Jerry was smiling with his fangs lightly showing.

Now Ben was shaking his head side to side while slowly somewhat coming to terms with the ideas that Jerry was throwing his way. Jerry had allowed him to move that much because it added more to the growing confusion and steadily rising fears chasing through Ben's mind. Ben was thinking he was growing stronger and would soon be able to fight off Jerry and his games. It gave the vampire great pleasure to see his former captor uncomfortable and confused for a change. The slight movement had given Ben a false sense of control and Jerry was looking forward to taking that away from him like he'd taken everything from Jerry all those years ago. Julia shifted slightly reminding Jerry she hadn't been privy to all of what Jerry had mentally seen and found out during the past few hours. Jerry didn't want to share anything with his Fledgling aloud so he simply slid softly into her mind and assured her he'd tell her everything later but he needed to break down Ben while the time was available.

Article © Lydia Manx. All rights reserved.
Published on 2012-06-25
1 Reader Comments
Barry
06/26/2012
07:07:03 PM
You like your vampires mean, Lydia! As much about psychological control as exacting blood... Good stuff!
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