I started off but paused, remembering the welded door, and turned back to look at him. He had left the railings, and was gazing at the end of the platform, where the infected rabids screeched and clawed at themselves below. For a moment, he hesitated, then stepped toward the edge.
“Kanin!” I lunged back, grabbing his arm. “Are you crazy?
What are you doing?” My sire gazed down at me, his expression resigned, and I tightened my grip on his sleeve. “You know something,” I guessed, searching his face. “You were going to do something without me.”
He didn’t reply, and I met his eyes, pleading. “Kanin,” I whispered. “Please. It’s just us now. Tell me what’s going on.”
Kanin sighed, and his shoulders slumped as he bowed his head. “It’s me,” he finally whispered, almost too soft to hear.
I frowned in confusion. The barge lurched forward, relentless, and a few yards away, the screams of the infected rabids echoed from the bottom of the ship, but Kanin seemed to have forgotten all of them.
“What do you mean?”
“I figured it out,” he went on, his voice barely above a murmur. “What Sarren meant, why he didn’t let me fall.” I still stared at him in bewilderment, and his gaze drifted to the edge of the deck, where the rabids waited on the other side.
“The cure,” he whispered, making my stomach twist. “Dr.
Richardson said they were missing vampire blood to finish the cure. That research is gone now, but they gave what they had to Ezekiel, before he left Eden to find you.” His gaze returned to me, dark and intense. “And in New Covington, when I was dying from Sarren’s first virus, you injected me with Ezekiel’s blood, and it saved my life. It was enough to cure the sickness.” He lightly touched his chest. “That research flows through me now, through my blood.”
And what Kanin was saying hit me like a ton of bricks, and I stared at him in shock. “The blood of a Master vampire,” I whispered, stepping back. “That means, the cure…”
“Is me,” Kanin said again. “The cure—for Requiem, for Rabidism…is in me.”
I gaped at him, staggered by the implications. The cure! The cure for Rabidism at last. Sarren had fought so hard to destroy it, to kill any hope that one could be found, and it had been in Kanin all along. The blood of a vampire, combined with the research—the vaccine—that had been given to Zeke just before he’d left Eden to find me.
Would it really work? It seemed too good to be true, almost too easy. But Zeke had survived Sarren’s first virus, and Kanin was one of the few vampires who could still produce offspring without creating rabids. His blood was strong, the blood of a Master vampire; it just might be enough.
“That’s amazing, Kanin,” I whispered, still reeling from the discovery. “We just have to stop the ship, find a way to get you to a lab. If the cure is in you, we just need your blood to end Rabidism for—”
“Allison.” His voice made me freeze, the words dying in my throat. Kanin peered down at me, gentle and resolved.
“There is no time,” he murmured, shaking his head. “Look.”
I stared over the railings, into the night. At first, there was nothing. Then, through the waves and shadows, a light winked in the darkness, and my heart plummeted.
That was the checkpoint, and landfall. We were closer than I thought.
“We’re too close,” Kanin said, his voice unnaturally calm.
“Even if Sarren has not locked in the controls, there is no time to turn the ship around. And once it runs aground, the rabids will escape, and Requiem will still destroy the world once it begins to spread. We cannot risk the virus reaching land. We must stop it here.” He paused, his next words very soft, but filled with resolve. “I must stop it here.”
“How?” I asked, without really thinking about it.
Kanin smiled down at me, a faint, sad, gentle smile, and the world just stopped.
“No.” I stepped in front of him, horror flooding my veins, turning my insides cold. My sire only continued to watch me, and I grabbed the front of his shirt in desperation. “Kanin, no! You can’t. There has to be another way.”
“There is no other way.” His voice was calm, subdued. He put a hand on my arm, as if to push me off, and I tightened my grip. I didn’t care what he thought. I wasn’t going to let him do this. I’d lost so many; even Jackal, the blood brother I’d never thought I would miss, was gone, probably to his death. I could not lose Kanin, the last member of my family, the one who had given me a second chance and a family in the first place.
“Allison.” Kanin gazed down at me, his dark eyes gentle but intense. He didn’t shove me away, or pry me loose, though he could’ve freed himself as easily as opening a door.
“Let me do this.” I shook my head, unable to speak, but his voice never wavered. “It has to be me. Requiem cannot be allowed to spread. The cure is inside me, and the rabids have to receive it before this ship runs aground. That’s what Sarren was talking about. He knew. He knew that if my blood got into their system, his plan would fail. With the rabids’ accelerated healing, the cure will spread through them very quickly, and Requiem will be destroyed.”
“We don’t know that,” I choked out as my eyes started to burn. “We don’t know what Sarren really meant. You could be throwing your life away, Kanin.”
“No.” Kanin shook his head, almost in a daze. “It makes sense. The blood of a Master is the only thing strong enough to counter the virus. Sarren knew that whatever was in Ezekiel was the key to the cure. The only thing missing…was vampire blood.” His eyes closed, his head tilted back toward the sky. “I’ve searched so long,” he whispered. “So long for a way to atone, to be forgiven for what I caused. And now, everything has come full circle, as it should. This is my redemption.” Opening his eyes, his hands rose, coming to rest on my shoulders, squeezing gently. “I started this, Allison.
It’s only fitting that I end it, as well.”
“Kanin.” Tears were streaming down my cheeks now, bloody and hot, making it difficult to see. Leaning forward, I collapsed against him, clutching at his shirt. “You can’t,” I choked out, knowing it was futile. That he’d already made up his mind. “Don’t…leave me. What am I going to do… when you’re gone?”