“I won’t. I promise.” She softly chuckled, though there wasn’t much humour there. “Believe me when I say that I want to live, and I won’t be leaving this life without kicking and screaming.”
After a brief silence, Jared spoke again. “Any rashness from you and you’ll be teleported out of there. And I mean that. I hesitated with Evan. I won’t make the same mistake again. Got it?”
Alora saluted him. “Got it.”
“If these people are all going, there is absolutely no reason why Eloise and I cannot be taken along.” Collins’ superior, haughty, I-get-to-do-whatever-I-want-and-you-will-obey-me tone grated on every nerve I had.
“Oh there’s an extremely good reason,” I told him in a menacing voice, invading his personal space. The snooty tosser immediately backed up. “As you repeatedly state, you’re both observers here. Everyone on this assignment will be expected to protect themselves and the people around them. Passive people will simply get hurt. And if you think I’ll be held responsible for anything that happens to you or Aphrodite here, you’re very wrong. Besides, I only take along people who I trust to watch my back and the backs of those around me. I certainly don’t trust either of you, which means you’re staying behind. As Jared said, deal with it.”
Collins looked ready to explode, but then he sniffed arrogantly and adjusted his tie. “Fine. I must warn you that I’ll be making a note of this in my report.”
“Ooh, a note? I’m trembling in my trainers. Note that as well.”
Laughing, Jared gripped my hand. Taking his cue, everyone grabbed hold of one another and he teleported us all out of there, happily leaving behind a flushed Collins and a snarling Eloise.
Quentin and the bald, stocky vampire beside him jerked back in surprise as we all appeared in front of where they were crouched low in the rainforest. Quentin seemed a mixture of relieved and invigorated at the sight of us. After we had all exchanged nods of greeting, he gestured to the bloke with him. “This is one of my vampires, Gio.”
Jared was immediately all business. “What are we dealing with?”
Quentin pointed to the camp that was set up a hundred feet away. Our vampire enhanced vision meant that we could see it quite clearly. “From what we’ve been able to gather, there are approximately sixty-eight to seventy humans remaining in total – almost all of those are roaming the village and the surrounding area, hunting vampires. The rest of the humans are based in this area. I didn’t want to launch an attack until I had your back up.”
“Actually, there won’t be an attack. We have a new plan.” I relayed our conversation with Antonio. “As such, the new objective is to kill every last tainted vampire but to allow the humans to live.”
Quentin looked extremely disappointed, which was no surprise given that these humans had sedated and captured some of his vampires. “What about the captives? One of them is my brother. I want him out of there.”
“We’ll deal with the vampires that are being held captive,” Jared told him, perfectly understanding Quentin’s distress. “Is your brother tainted?”
“No, but the others are.”
“Then we’ll get your brother out,” I assured him. “But the tainted will be destroyed – only the untainted prisoners will be freed, I’m sorry.”
Sad but resigned, Quentin nodded. “I understand.”
“In order to free them, we plan to not be seen or heard by the humans. Providing the other humans don’t make their way back to camp, there’s no reason that it shouldn’t be possible.”
Quentin frowned thoughtfully. “I’m assuming it would help if we distracted the roaming humans and led them even further away?”
“Yes.” Jared glanced at the camp. “If the other humans return, everything could go to shit. Disable them if you need to, but do not attack them.”
“One of my vampires can induce sleep, and another can cause hallucinations – those gifts in particular would help here.”
Resolve blazing in his eyes, Cristiano spoke. “I want to go with Quentin.” He needed his revenge, I understood.
“Me too,” declared Ava.
When Salem growled, I shook my head at him and spoke quietly. “It’s her choice. She and her brother need this. It’s the only reason they’ve come.” His response was a grunt.
Jared spoke to Quentin. “While some of you concentrate on distracting the humans and leading them away, the rest of you need to silently hunt every tainted vampire before the humans can gain possession of them.”
Chico rubbed at his nape. “I’m surprised they aren’t senselessly attacking.”
Quentin grumbled, “They’re hiding – their primal instinct for survival has taken over; with no rational thoughts, instincts are all they have now. Once you’ve freed my brother, I’d like it if you could bring him here. Gio will be waiting for you once he’s teleported me to the others.”
I gave him a nod. “Good luck hunting.”
Quentin grinned as he stood. “Good luck creeping.”
“You all take care,” said Ava, her gaze lingering on Salem. Cristiano just nodded at us.
“You too,” I said simply. Once Quentin, Gio, Cristiano, and Ava teleported away, I turned to the others. “Damien, I want to know where every single guard in this camp is situated.” Stuart would have been a great help here; I keenly felt his absence. “Denny, we need to know exactly how many humans are in that tent and what kind of weapons they have.”
“And exactly how many vampires are being held in the vehicle,” added Jared. “I don’t want to teleport in there without being prepared. The second the tainted know they have company they’ll most likely cause a racket. We don’t need that.”
Denny swiftly but silently advanced fifty feet through the forest before reducing himself to a puddle of goo and quickly slid toward the camp. Damien stilled and bowed his head, and I knew he had gone astral travelling to gather the information we needed.
“I was expecting to find myself in the middle of a war zone.” Chico scanned his surroundings warily. “The place is quiet.” He shot an anxious look at Jude, who was crouched beside him.
“Yeah,” agreed Butch, “unnaturally quiet. Even worse than when we went to the tunnels.”
Harvey swatted at a mosquito. “This kind of reminds me of our tactical training field. You know, being an abandoned village that’s deathly silent.”