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July 15, 2024

Further into the Darkness 26

By Lydia Manx

Chapter Twenty-Six

Little did the caged human know it wasn't going to be Harry's worst, but rather mine and I had to admit that I wasn't feeling in the tiny bit reasonable much less remotely kind towards the man and his crew of invaders. I really hated pulling up stakes -- so to speak -- and relocating my world. And any sort of changes in my personal routines really ticked me off. I was most definitely planning on taking my anger out on him and his crew once we got the needed information from any one of them -- I truly wasn't picky about which one we cracked first or the methods we used. The destroyed convoy of SUVs and vehicles surrounding this house should've clued him in that the Vampire Council wasn't the only ones with a decidedly nasty streak and a rather thorough scorched earth policy.

"Time to strip buck naked," This came from Zach, surprising me as again I'd forgotten the null was sitting behind me on the faux leather couch with the others.

Pausing with my thoughts I tilted my head, I couldn't hear Valerie any longer thumping upstairs so I was pretty sure she'd found a bed and crashed. That witch, Marie Rose, had done a number on the East Coast witch that wasn't easily erased. Zach had gotten up from the floor and was now perched on the arm next to Morgan but noticeably far away from Jasmine. She was still fading in and out of my view, drained by her rather dark spell work, and she was battling Miguel the dead vampire she'd absorbed in the desert while using her talents as a death speaker. He hadn't gone on but instead nestled inside the witch, causing her no end of problems from what I could detect.

I nodded to Caleb towards where I kept the industrial sized hose complete with a nicely strong cast iron sprayer I'd had designed for the messier jobs. As well as the very handy heavy nozzle spray I'd found use for over the years, it served well as a weapon besides being an awesome cleaning device. He paced over to the hose hanging on the hook on the cement wall and carefully pulled it off while making sure to keep it off the ground. His muscles stood out illustrating without a word how heavy the hose was. It was not just a wimpy lawn hose. Not speaking he tossed it all to me with a well-directed shot right into my waiting hands without it hitting the concrete floor. It appeared we'd practiced and orchestrated this display of teamwork a million times after hosing out the cells. Mental games -- unspoken -- often worked far better than verbal threats.

I saw the man's Adams apple unconsciously bob up and down as he dry swallowed whatever spit he found in his throat. He wasn't nearly as arrogant as he'd been a few moments prior. No longer trying to taunt us he spun on his heels and stripped off the black briefs. His backside was just as scarred and sliced as his front. I noticed large exit wounds patched and healed that roughly corresponded to the bullet holes he'd had on his front side. Again, the muscles were well defined and sharp. They weren't the results from illegal steroid use or hours spent in a gym lifting weights, but a hard ass physically challenging life. Speaking of which, I had to stay stoic in my vampire demeanor to keep my own unconscious reaction to his rather nicely defined ass. His briefs were kicked to the side landing perfectly on top of his clothing, which still wasn't out of range for him to snag but outside the cell per Harry's instructions.

The green glow from the kickback on his magic vial still glowed over him. I saw that it did pool at his feet, it was then I saw a pure gold anklet buried in his furry legs. He wasn't looking at us so I nodded my findings to Harry and waited. Harry immediately saw what I'd noticed and his eyes glistened as knowledge of where the otherly powers were coming from on the body of the man standing before us.

"You seem to have forgotten that stunning archaic gold anklet. Take that off along with any other jewelry -- your watch included." Harry said drolly. I then saw a black leather watch band buried in his arm hair. I'd missed that, I must've been too busy counting and cataloguing all of his scars, yeah right. I'm not brain dead after all; I was looking at his ass. From the rather loud gulp on the couch behind me I concluded I wasn't the only female in the room with good eyesight. A light growl from Morgan accompanied Jasmine's non-verbal acknowledgement of the human's impressive warrior body.

I didn't turn to look, not my fight, but instead I watched the man toss his watch, an earring (black onyx in silver that sparkled as it flew outside the cage. I was aware of magic dancing over the jewelry as it had with the watch). He slowly bent over to remove the anklet. I wasn't observing his backside, but I was now laser focused on his hands and his face. His lips started to move and so did I. I dropped the hose down my shoulders into my hands for immediate use. I said, "Hit it, Caleb."

Caleb knew immediately what I meant and turned the knob on the faucet to full blast. Responding instantly an arc of ice cold water flowed into the cell as I spoke a set of specific commands. Full force from the toes to my fingers as the resulting incantation hit the man with a sizzle and burst of energy -- silver to purple then the green glow disappeared as the man's body was pushed hard by the force of water coupled with my spell and he flew onto the concrete blocks. His mouth was stilled as I focused the water stream over him. The anklet fell that had been in the midst of being removed and loaded to cast a very nasty spell from the ugly pulse of green to black aura I could see. A gasp of horror behind me and I felt Zach move. He ran to the anklet as I sprayed it and the other pieces of jewelry outside the cell. I watched him strobe and pulse then absorb whatever magics he was seeing into him. He fed off the energy until it all faded from our sight. I again was amazed by Zach's powers to pull magic from other supernaturals.

Jasmine was murmuring something behind me. It took a second for me to hear what she was saying and then another beat for my brain to translate her words and tortured phrases. She was using her Dark Arts woven with her magic skills as a death speaker to remove the man's enchantments that had been used and the physically impossible enhancements. With a flash of black to gray he became a broken human, naked and I could see that it was starting to dawn on him how much he hadn't been told about his 'mission.'

"Turn the water off," Harry commanded Caleb as I'd just been about to say the same thing. I didn't bother to protest. We needed info fast and I wasn't wasting time arguing with Harry about Caleb. Not now -- hell, maybe not ever -- I wasn't looking for any more commitments much less a lifetime of responsibilities. Harry, on the other hand, liked having his various human teams far more than I gave a damn. If I survived all this crap, I would be relocating sooner rather than later and Caleb would have to be watched now that he knew about us -- supernaturals or the Vampire Council's Enforcers would be looking to kill him on sight.

Once Caleb turned off the faucet, he reached my side and he removed the hose from my unresisting grasp.

"Sorry," he mumbled to me. I didn't bother to acknowledge the sincere apology. It wasn't that I hadn't heard him or even that I didn't care -- it just was unnecessary. We had bigger fish to fry. Harry reached into the duffle bag and removed a large towel. He tossed it first into the cage before casually throwing the scrubs from his other hand accurately onto the cot through the iron bars.

Automatically the man roughly toweled off the water from his body without being asked. He threw the damp cloth onto the pile of discarded clothes. I noticed Zach looking very distracted from outside the cell -- the arcane workings were gone as was the green odd glow and any signs of magic. Harry caught Zach's eye and nodded for the null to return to the couch. The caged human was still a well-oiled machine so to speak and very well capable of snapping Zach's neck before we could zap him -- he was that dangerous in any form -- magically enhanced or just as a well-trained human.

Zach joined the others and Harry said softly to the human, "You may dress now if you choose."

Interesting that he'd given the man a choice. Also, another sign of Harry's layers of complexity. By allowing the man a selection of remaining naked or putting on the clothes supplied by Harry he was giving the impression that he was treating the man as a captive with rights. Yeah -- no -- but hey, great game play on Harry's side. The man dipped his head, acknowledging Harry's seemingly sign of respect and after a moment opted to put on the scrubs. They were basic just the top and bottoms with nothing for his feet. Not even those stupidly ugly nonslip socks regularly included with a hospital stay. Another little clue that we weren't really inclined to let the man go easily. I mean after all it was a bitch to walk barefoot in this rough of a neighborhood. Add in all the combat in both the front and in the back yards there had to be plenty of nasty sharp objects on the ground. Sucked to be him for sure.

Once dressed in the pretty blue scrubs the human moved delicately in the cell. I gathered one of the enchanted pieces that he had removed had been holding back the waves of pain that wracked his dying body. From the almost exotic moan that involuntarily escaped Jasmine's lips, I knew the man wasn't very long for this world, but ready to transition to her arena. Interesting, but Morgan was fairly unhappy with the power that Jasmine's death speaker had in the spiritual side of her life, and what else it had over her we hadn't seen yet. There were layers to Jasmine that worried Morgan, and me.

Harry spoke quietly again to the man asking, "Name, please?"

The man struggled and finally answered, "Commander Gregory -- William Gregory, Sir." His voice still had some of his military arrogance but he wasn't anywhere nearly as forceful and commanding as he'd been before stripped of his clothing and enchanted jewelry. He wasn't as vibrant.

"Okay, Commander William Gregory. State your full mission and who gave you your orders, now." No please in there but Harry's full force vampire powered control voice -- irresistible to nearly all humans and more than a few supernaturals.

Staccato words and clipped phrases began slowly at first, picking up speed as the man seemed to be relieved by spilling his story. I knew it was more than just Harry's vampiric command. He was giving a final account. The man was emptying his perceived sins before he died from his illness or the situation at hand. It had fully struck him finally in the last few minutes the changes in who was in control, and that he no longer had the magic to back him up or strengthen his body. He was nearly giddy as his words poured out and into the basement. Nobody interrupted the flow of words that for all purposes sounded like a dying man's declarations. It was a respect everyone granted him without any discussion.

Article © Lydia Manx. All rights reserved.
Published on 2021-12-06
Image(s) © Lydia Manx. All rights reserved.
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