Vampires tended to have pretty dark personalities -- even I knew I wasn't precisely nice by anyone's standards. I was jaded and too old to put up with humans and their petty games. Hell, 'nice' vampires got stakes and beheadings long before their more sociopathic counterparts. Harry Adkison had his own style that I couldn't fault him for since I'd seen it work over centuries.
Mentally shaking my head, I looked directly into Harry's eyes, shrugging and I said, "Violet's all yours." I went over to the couch in the basement and loosely dropped into the faux leather comfort. I was weary and still needed answers to why Harry had asked to meet up with me after all these decades.
"Okay, Bethany." Harry simply acknowledged while watching Jasmine approach the cell. Violet's body had begun to tremble and shake violently as sobs filled the space. She'd yet to move off of the top of the thin jail bed and was wrapped tightly inside her own arms with her long fake hair draped over her face. That hair bugged the crap outta me. She'd tried to appear younger, failing miserably, with the dead black locks.
Eddie stood up -- his werewolf body shifting to accommodate his movement -- he looked fierce and from Jasmine's slight stiffening he was also growing in power in his other form. Werewolves were usually pack animals, but Eddie had an awareness that commanded Jasmine's attention. She wasn't frightened by his display, but rightfully very cautious -- almost respectful of his powerful aura. I could almost see the energies growing and shifting in the enclosed basement with prey. Definitely sitting this out -- I waited from my spot.
The tension in the basement was growing. I watched Violet perched on the cell's bed quivering as Eddie's transformation had decidedly sobered the bitchy woman up far too quickly for her to grasp fully what was happening. Thankfully, her nasty outbursts had dropped off, but the toxic scent from her cheap perfume and fears lingered in the cage and floated through the entire enclosed space. Harry was letting Eddie, now a fully transformed werewolf, play as he wished and Jasmine's breath had quickened as the predatory shift of Eddie increased the testosterone in the space along with the warmth of his dangerously furred body -- not precisely something one could easily miss. It was giving Jasmine her own witchy path. The spell she'd begun to sketch as the bars were opened shimmered in the air -- not quite activated -- but definitely the spell was still ready to be unleashed -- on Violet if she rebelled.
The shimmering spell finally caught Violet's attention -- shockingly not the naked human turned werewolf standing before her -- gasping she spit out, "What the hell is that?" Pointing to the spot between her and the witch with a shaking hand.
Actually, a good question but she was checking in rather late to the party -- shit had been happening in front of her for quite a while that hadn't seemed to touch her worldview. Humans really loved their strongly held beliefs no matter how well supernatural creatures disproved most of those idiotic notions. We didn't play in plain sight, but a man had stripped naked in front of her and literally shifted into a werewolf. It wasn't exactly the conclusion of your average night out.
I had to give Hollywood a nice long slow clap at fucking with reality so well that humans rationalized or utterly ignored anything that didn't fit their little bubble of a world landscape. Eddie walked -- bipedal, yet allowing his back claws to click rather hard on the cool concrete floor -- into the cell towards the still huddled woman. I wasn't sure exactly what Eddie's intentions were -- hell, I didn't care -- but Harry caught my glance and softly said, "Want to head up to the library and talk?"
I shrugged and glanced towards Jasmine. These were Harry's people not mine. Catching my unfiltered thoughts, he said, "She'll stay. We really do have to discuss Southern California."
Oh yeah, that. My thoughts were dashing around lighting on one bizarre thought after another. I wasn't sure I was up for one of Harry's "talks," but I had no desire to be part of whatever reindeer games these two had planned in the basement. Slowly I unfolded from the couch while part of me wondered if this was some elaborate dance Harry had orchestrated in order to try to persuade me to follow along with some plot of his. I was getting too old for the vampire long games. The older ones all seemed to adore decades -- centuries -- of intricate plans and feints putting vampires or other supernatural creatures into a designed world of their making. My Master had spent countless decades plotting and planning -- sometimes over long-forgotten slights a century or more past. Had Harry succumbed to the oh-so popular vampire games? I nearly wept at the thought. He always seemed beyond such pissy little macho contests. It had been a long time since we'd been face to face. With all of that spinning through my dark thoughts I made sure to construct complicated nonsense filled diversions in my mind in the event Harry was rudely trying to pry into me.
Seeming to overhear that Harry said, "Hush, Bethany. I am not like your old Master. That creature is dead. His battles are not, nor ever have been, mine. We have a new set of problems to deal with here. America is growing too full for our natures and too many Masters and their ill created minions and fledglings. They are all growing far too careless and arrogant."
Not adding more to that he quietly tromped up the basement steps as we neared to door that led into the backyard he stopped and turned to what appeared to be a loose piece of molding. Without another word he reached up, pressing a spot to the right while simultaneously twisting the molding. My mouth dropped as it was apparent that Harry knew a few more of my secrets along with those of the house. Silently the entire faux wall slid into an unseen part of the basement, a pocket door, and opened into a hidden doorway of my house. Consciously shutting my gaping mouth, I simply followed Harry into the old, abandoned home.
In the hours since I'd last left the basement with Bob's crew, he'd had his minions not only clear out the yard in the back of the ramshackle house, but he'd also cleaned up the small library. The library had a secret escape to the basement that I found delightful when taking over the property. Harry had completely furnished the space in a comfortable gentleman's club style. An overstuffed couch and matching chair in dark shades of brown leather were in the middle of the cleared space. As I dropped into the chair, I found it was actual leather not faux or plastic, it was decadently comfortable and two end tables next to each piece of furniture along with a coffee table between the pieces. The top of the coffee table had two side by side laptops and he'd also turned on the electricity in the house as now there was a standing lamp near the couch and a small lamp -- lit -- on the side table near me. The library was one of the rooms that did not have any windows -- not typical in such houses but I thought it was clever in the event I had to go to ground. We vampires like safety whenever possible despite our bloodthirsty natures. It was part and parcel of how we stayed above the dirt.
That said -- it looked a hell of a lot more livable since I'd last toured upstairs in the house. I was in the basement most nights. I admit to being a bit impressed. Harry really knew how to fix up a spot in no time.
Harry sat on the couch and booted up both laptops quickly. Spinning one towards me -- I watched the screen flicker much faster than the average computer -- Harry had obviously tweaked the two machines. I envied his IT connections but wasn't ready to hop on the train that Harry was engineering without a good reason or two.
He'd yet to say anything while the screens kept flipping through their start up commands. Wisely, I kept my trap shut. Harry knew he'd be here, despite his earlier seemingly free choice given to me where to go with Violet -- he anticipated my decision -- or he had outfitted all of my homes -- neither option thrilled me. Harry always was a Master chess player -- even when he was beloved by my Master -- he knew how to move the human and non-human pieces on his board. He never gave away his strategy but slowly and deliberately moved after careful consideration. The more I thought about it, Harry really did play the vampire 'long game' -- just by his own set of rules. He just wasn't flashy or overly burdened with showy bluster in his pursuits. That disturbed me on more than one level. I waited for him to speak. After all, it seemed it was his play, not mine. I silently waited as the screens simultaneously flashed quickly seeking the final steps and then stopped. Not my rodeo, I regarded the black and blue graphic -- easily identifying the symbols and splashes of red on the screen -- my eyes jumped to Harry's. It was a rather critical Dark Web vampire site. I was familiar with the site since it was required of all known vampires to register and use.
The site had a few pull-down menus accessible at all levels. Masters, vampires, fledglings and even at times minions were all required to be registered and to log in whenever prompted. I found it telling that Harry used just his log in for the two computers -- mine was mirroring his but not currently showing me as the user. I noticed a small circle of black over the laptop's built in camera lens. Whole new level of protection that for some reason dinged a huge warning bell. Older laptops didn't automatically have installed cameras for Zooming, or whatever random chat function was needed to download porn and play at sex with another remotely, but both of these computers were out of the box from what I could tell. Again, Harry took his world to another level.
One of the major functions of the site was for us to watch the Council's Executioners nasty true death videos. The ultra-elite executioners loaded any and all slaughtering of 'bad' vampires for everyone to observe. When emails were sent out requiring us to see the sentence and basically log us in confirming we were still around -- pretty much an iffy thing with all the slayings that had been happening lately -- we went to the Dark Web, into the nasty horrific hole that had the executions being carried out at the behest of the Vampire Council.
With vampiric speed, Harry typed in his password on the laptop in front of him and both the screens quickly loaded the same page. I don't think it was even perceived as two laptops logging into the Dark Web site but with Harry it was anyone's guess. He had mad skills for an old vampire. When we'd last been traveling together computers weren't even a notion. Hell, most of the humans couldn't read and write in the New World and the Old World had scribes and educated nobility who could but it wasn't common. I began to read the words as they flew upwards -- a nod to the opening credits in Star Wars -- black background and yellow block letters. But these words didn't tell of a galaxy far away but reflected a more current tide -- a tidal wave as it were of death and destruction heading this way. The total scourge of all supernatural creatures in the West Coast was being rather emphatically and thoroughly announced. The Vampire Council was declaring a purge -- a war against us all.