Chapter 24

 H.M. Ward

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Cole didn't know what to say. Cassie begged him to leave without her. She actually thought that life here was better! The thought made him sick. Walking the halls aimlessly, Cole finally stopped on a bench near the front of the palace. Guards moved quickly, pouring in and out through the picture perfect front doors in waves. Their microfiber suits clung to the vampire's gangly forms, and made their skin look more yellow than usual. Cole lowered himself, and sat on the bench. For a moment he did nothing, his thoughts about Cassie derailed. There was something about the way the vamps moved that caught his eye, but Cole couldn't put a finger on what was wrong. They were preparing for an invasion, no doubt, but that wasn't it. There was something else. These guards were lethargic, their limbs moving awkwardly as they attempted a steady jog out the front of the palace. Cole watched until the Captain saw him.
The female vampire was ghastly thin, practically all bones. Dark hair was pinned on her head, pulled back tightly from her narrow face. Black eyes skewered him in place, "What are you doing here?" Before Cole could answer, she gripped his arm digging her nails into his flesh, "Better get back to your own kind before something unexpected happens to you." Wrenched upright, the Captain lifted Cole with ease. She was stronger than most vamps.
Sneering at her, Cole ripped his arm away, "What are you implying, Captain?"
"I'm not implying a damn thing. I'm overtly telling you to get out or I'll feed you to my men." Her eyes slipped over Cole while she spoke, as if she were assessing how many vampires he could nourish.
Cole wanted to fight her, to run a stake through her heart. It was her kind that made Cassie what she was - weak and defenseless. This is what caused his sister to feel like she was so brittle that she couldn't escape with him. Hatred boiled in his blood, but Cole's face remained expressionless.
The Captain grabbed his shoulder, meaning to spin Cole around, and push him back towards his section of the palace. But, Cole grabbed her wrist hard, and yanked the vamp eye to eye. "Do not touch me," he growled in her face.
The vampire started to laugh, like she thought Cole was insignificant as a flea, but before she could utter another word, Cole reached into his pocket and wrapped his fingers around his knife. Before she realized what he was doing, the blade pierced her gut. The Captain gasped. When she tried to pull back, Cole held her close, his eyes right in front of hers. "Tell me what I want to know, or I'll kill you."
Eyes fell on them, but Cole's body blocked the knife. Cole could feel the cold unnatural stares on the back of his neck as vampires stopped to see what their Captain was doing. Cole spoke softly, "Tell them to continue or I'll jab this straight up into your heart right now."
The Captain remained close to Cole, her eyes narrowed into tiny slits of hatred. The Captain barked, "Continue as directed, while I take care of this problem." She hissed the last word. Cole knew she'd kill him if he gave her the opportunity.
"The weakest spot in the perimeter, where is it?" When she didn't answer, Cole pushed the knife in harder. Sticky black blood oozed from her wound and back down the knife onto his hand. "Where is it?"
"The south side of the palace." The Captain stared at Cole, not offering more.
Cole's body tensed. His hand gripped her shoulder harder as he started to twist the blade slowly. Watching her eyes, he said, "Be more specific, Captain."
The vampire bit her lip, drawing black blood as Cole twisted the knife. A scream caught in her throat. Her entire body was tense, ready to fight, but she was too weak. Cole held the knife in place, allowing her blood to drain. The suit she wore soaked up the blood before it ever hit the floor. No one could see what he was doing. No one would know that this human was so strong, that he killed the Captain with an embrace and a well-placed knife.
A gurgling sound came from her throat when she tried to speak, but Cole didn't care. An inky trail of blood ran from the corner of her lips. "Tell me," he hissed, knowing he only had seconds remaining before the vamp died.
"The south wall, under the palace, i-gardunm - " her final words were garbled. Cole didn't understand her. Pulling her limp body closer, he moved the dead vampire to his back, holding her arms around his neck like he was in a head lock. Her freakishly unblinking eyes would go unnoticed, at least he hoped so.
Cole turned away from the front door, stumbling like he was being shoved and snapped over his shoulder, "I'm going, I'm going! You don't have to be so mean about it." His voice was loud enough that a few of the guards that remained the foyer didn't bother coming over. It looked like their Captain was taking care of a pain-in-the-ass human.
Vampires were fools. Their arrogance made them blind. When Cole rounded the corner, he kicked open the first closet he found, and shoved the Captain inside. After searching her, Cole took her keys along with a vial of blood. Cole smashed the vial on the ground, ruining its contents so that no one would gain strength from his kind.
The corner of Cole's lip twitched before pulling into a twisted smile. "This is going to be just like Deliverance Day. Maybe even better."