Reuben started to charge at me but I raised a hand and released a tiny breeze at him as a promise of what would come if he proceeded. Wisely, he stopped.

“Slap-head, Slap-head, Slap-head.” I glared at him. “Aren’t you gonna silence me with that nifty power of yours before I blab about how you were abducted as a kid by a nut who couldn’t have a baby of her own? Stuck with her for three weeks, weren’t you?” There was plenty of cursing going on now. “Why not shut us all up and save yourself the earache? Or can you only attack one person at a time with it?” It was a rhetorical question. Max inhaled deeply but attempted no attack on me. Probably because he knew I’d just put my shield up.

I noticed that Denny and David didn’t appear challenging in anyway, as if they thought they might deserve a little payback. So I decided not to tease animal mimic Denny about not knowing his biological parents or psionic blaster David about being Turned against his will.

When I looked at Salem he knew what was coming and arched a brow in warning.

“What?” I said innocently. “You don’t want people to know how your gambling debts ended up getting your parents burnt alive while they slept in their bed?” I felt the ripple in the air as he aimed his invisible psychic boom at me to knock me out cold. My shield came in handy again. It almost hit Harvey as it bounced off the shield.

Growling, Harvey waved a hand my way, sending a force in the air that was intended to send me zooming backwards. I stamped twice on the ground and let the energy of the earth fill me and then grow into a mound of earth that rose before me. “What’s the matter, Harv?” I called from behind the mound of the earth. “Still upset that your girlfriend left you for your Sire even though you Turned into a vampire for her? Then why don’t you send a force strong enough to move this big rock out the way so you can get to me?”

Sucking the energy from out of the mound in front of me, I watched as it crumbled to pieces. “Or better still, why don’t you all attack me together...?”

They glanced at each other as if assessing who might be willing. Then the energy in the air intensified as I felt Harvey preparing to use his telekinesis and Chico ready to exhale more thorns and Salem ready to aim his psychic boom at me. Simultaneously, Reuben, Butch, Damien and Stuart made moves to charge at me.

The massive dosage of absorbed energy within me was now begging to be released. I obliged. Drawing on every ounce of it, I expelled a concentrated air blast from my palms that was powerful enough to sweep every single recruit off their feet and send them crashing hard into the railings of the basketball court. God that felt good.

Impressive, said a voice in my head.

A fleeting glance to my left confirmed that Jared was nearby. He was lounging against the railings at the far end of the court. I wondered how long he’d been there watching.

“Keep denying you need help if you want,” I told the recruits as they scooped themselves up off the floor. “Or drop the ignorance long enough to realise that I can actually help you, that there is more to learn. I’m not trying to be a twat by bringing up your past. The point of all this was to show you that you need to snap out of this little zone you’re in. Yes, you got picked for the legion and, yes, that’s a big thing but it doesn’t mean you’re faultless or that you have the right to have rods stuck up your backsides. And it doesn’t mean you get to be arrogant or forget all the experiences that made you what you are, that gave you your strengths in the first place.”

Having seen how much everyone seemed to look to Chico for clues of what to do next, I concluded that if I was going to get through to the others then I had to drive the situation home to him primarily. I looked mostly at him as I continued to speak, “Like it or not, every one of you has excess energy swirling around you which means that you’re not using your gift to its full potential and you’re not controlling it either.”

Chico sighed. “Even if we said we’d listen and come to training, it’d do no good. You’re expectations of us are too high. You’re asking us to do things with our gifts that we can’t do. There are limitations, there’s no way I can shoot thorns from my palms.”

“Wrong. Let me show you.” I walked over to Chico and circled him.

He was looking at me curiously as he spoke, “What’re you doing?”

“Absorbing the energy that’s leaking from you so I can have your power for a little while.” With that I shot a dozen poisonous thorns from one palm in Jared’s direction. He dodged them, unfortunately.

Hey! His scowl was cute.

Chico gazed in astonishment at me. “You can teach me how to do that?”

I nodded slowly. “And if the energy hadn’t been leaking from you like that, I would have had to touch you or get shot by the thorns to get the power. In other words, you’re vulnerable like this.” Then I turned to Butch. “You don’t think you can make your counteracting force into a shield? Watch.” Like with Chico, I let my pores drink in the energy that seeped from Butch. “Chico, thorns.”

Nodding once, Chico puffed out a spray of thorns. I drew a circle in the air in front of me with my hand. The recruits all gasped as the thorns hit an invisible wall and fell to the floor.

Butch’s eyes darted from me to the thorns repeatedly. “But...I didn’t see any shield. The thorns didn’t bounce...”

“It’s different from the shield that I can generate with my own gift. Mine’s visible and vibrant because I feed off all the energy surrounding me; kinetic energy, solar energy – it all combines and mingles together crazily. The energy that generated your shield was your own energy, not a clash of varying energies. Want one?”

Butch laughed out of his nose. Not attractive, don’t try it. “Maybe.”

Next I looked at David. “The excess energy around you is absolutely wild. Your power is strong but right now it seems almost completely out of your control.” His expression was glum. “Ever hurt anyone by accident?”

He nodded, the picture of remorse. “You can help me keep a lid on it?”

It wasn’t difficult to sense that he resented having it. “Yes.” So suddenly that I gasped, a draft spread through my entire body. My extremities went cold. My head ached. My stomach lurched. Only one thing had ever had this effect on me. Subconsciously I turned my head toward the mansion.

What is it? Jared tensed.

Without a word to anyone I moved with vampire speed as I darted out of the court, past the training arena, across the gardens and into the mansion, almost colliding into Sebastian in the hallway.

Tags: Suzanne Wright Deep In Your Veins Vampires