"What happened?"

Kanin looked reluctant to continue, but he did. "I taught him how to be a vampire, same as you. We traveled for several months, the two of us. He seemed fascinated with the idea of curing Rabidism and would ask me questions about the research, the scientists, the hidden labs. We argued about a lot of things, but I was still too blind to see what I'd created.

"Then, one night, he tracked down those men who killed his family, and tried Turning them. To this day, I don't know what he told them. Perhaps he offered them immortal life, perhaps it was only revenge after all. But all those men he attempted to Turn became rabid, every single one of them. And he didn't stop trying. I found him with the last of the humans, dead rabids everywhere, still trying to create his own offspring. And I finally realized what kind of vampire I'd brought into the world.

"James wanted to bring an end to Rabidism," Kanin finished, his eyes hard, "but only to create his own army, his own kingdom, and to fill the world with our kind. Vampires should rule, he told me. Why should humans take over the world, when we were so vastly superior? Only numbers had stopped us before, and if vampires could produce offspring again, the humans would never rise up against us."

"Jackal said you tried to kill him."

"I did." Kanin's voice was remorseless. "He was the only vampire I've ever Turned and then tried to destroy. Before James, I didn't care what my few offspring did when we parted ways. I could only teach them how to be an immortal, and then let them carve their own path through eternity. But the world that James envisioned was something I could not allow. Unfortunately, he managed to escape, though I told him if our paths crossed again, I would end his life."

"And that's the last you saw of him?"

"He took the name Jackal and vanished into the mountains with the last of the humans who'd slaughtered his family. I suppose they became the first of his so-called raider army. So..." Kanin looked down at me. "Now you know all my secrets, all my regrets." He raised his head, frowning. "You and Ezekiel, who I know has been listening to every word we've said."

"Sorry," Zeke said from behind us. "I wasn't trying to."

Kanin's lips twitched in a bitter smile. "Perhaps it is better," he mused, "that someone knows who Jackal really is. I swore that I would never create another after James, but..." He paused, his next words nearly lost in the shadows. "I am glad that I broke that promise."

"Kanin..."

Zeke quickened his pace, catching up to us. "Now I have a question," he said, and Kanin sighed once more. He didn't protest, however, and Zeke went on ruthlessly. "So...you are the vampire that was helping the scientists, aren't you?" he asked, and there was a hint of awe in his voice. "The one who helped the original team looking for a cure."

"They spoke of me?" Kanin sounded surprised.

Zeke nodded. "The scientists in Eden told me everything," he said. "Everything about the vampire experiments, and how the rabids were created. They said you vanished the night the lab caught fire and the rabids escaped." His voice took on a faint edge. "The common belief...was that you started it."

"No." Kanin's voice was low, remorseful, and a hint of pain glimmered through his calm expression. "Since you both seem determined to drag my entire past into the light... no, it was not I who set fire to the lab. I told them the rabids needed to be destroyed, but most of the scientists disagreed. There was a split among them, those who wanted the rabids put down, and those who thought they could still be used. Finally, a decision was made to kick several of the scientists off the team-the ones who wanted the rabids destroyed." Kanin paused, then said, very softly, "One of them was the head scientist, Malachi Crosse."

Zeke drew in a sharp breath. "Jebbadiah's grandfather."

"I went to the lab that night to stop him," Kanin said darkly. "I knew what he was planning, but by the time I got there, it was too late. The lab was in flames, the scientists were dead, and the rabids were gone. I had failed."

For a moment after this revelation, we were all silent, the only sounds being our footsteps echoing on the cement and Zeke's ragged breathing. "Did you know about the other lab?" I questioned at last. "The one in Old D.C.?"

Kanin shook his head. "Not at the time. Though I did find out about it later. They were giving human patients the experimental 'cure,' weren't they? Foolish."

"There was a massive rabid outbreak in that area," I said. "Thousands of people, tens of thousands, maybe more, died and Turned because of it. So, you might not be responsible for the spread of Rabidism, Kanin. It might have started in D.C., not New Covington."

"Even if that were true..." Kanin glanced at me, his eyes shadowed. "I was the one who exposed our race, who offered the lives of other kindred to find a cure. I appreciate the thought, Allison, but this is still on my head. Now..." His attention shifted to Zeke, who was listening to this in somber silence. "I have told you everything about my past, and we are still a few minutes away from Sector Four. I wish to know about the scientists in Eden. Have they been given the research? Are they working on a cure?"

But before Zeke could answer, scuttling sounded up ahead, and two skinny, pale figures darted out of a nearby tunnel. The mole men slid to a halt when they saw us, hissing and raising their crude blades.

"More topsiders!" one rasped, baring rotted black teeth. "Get out! Get out of our territory. You'll find no safety down here. The topsider camp is destroyed. The intruders will be dead soon! You will join them if you do not leave, now!"

Zeke stepped forward, pistol in hand, his face and voice icy. "What did you do to them?"

The mole men hissed again, eyes widening. "The topsider chief!" the second man snarled. "He's returned! With...with vampires! Run, warn the others!"

They took off, but Zeke was already bringing up his gun, and I was lunging forward. The pistol boomed, striking a mole man in the back, and my katana sliced down, beheading the other.

"Quickly." Kanin came forward, hurrying into the dark. "It sounds like we don't have much time."

The smell of blood hit me soon after, soaking the air and making my stomach turn with Hunger. As we drew closer to the underground camp, voices began to echo out of the tunnels: cries, shouts, angry hisses and snarls. A desperate scream cut through the clamor ahead, and we began to run, weapons already drawn.

A mole man emerged from a familiar tunnel, shrieking in alarm as he saw us. With a chill, I recognized the tunnel as the entrance to the camp, the one that had been barred when Roach first brought us here. The gate had been torn off and lay in a rusty heap in the water.

Zeke didn't slow down. As the mole man lunged forward, Zeke ducked beneath the wild swing and brought his machete flashing up, striking the man in the chest and ripping the blade out through his side. Screeching, the mole man crumpled behind us, and Zeke led us through the gate.

A body lay in the entrance, the young guard Roach had spoken to on our first trip here. Stab wounds covered his chest and stomach, and he gazed unseeing at the roof. Another body sprawled nearby, a mole man, bloody and still. Stone-faced, Zeke rushed past them to the staircase that led to the floor above, and began taking them two at a time.

Kanin and I followed. We emerged from the stairwell into chaos. Fires burned erratically through the boiler room, steel drums knocked over and spilling hot coals onto the cement. Bodies darted through the flames and shadows, pale mole men and terrified refugees, scurrying about in panicked confusion. A pair of mole men had trapped a woman against a corner and closed in, stabbing and punching, and Zeke sprang forward with a furious yell.

I went to help him, but Kanin stepped out of the shadows, into the sickly red light, and roared. The chilling sound echoed through the room, making my hair stand on end and causing everyone to spin around. As Zeke slashed his blade across one mole man's neck and clubbed the other with his gun, everyone else in the room, both attackers and refugees, screamed as they realized what had come into their midst, and scattered into the darkness.

Goaded by the scent of fear and violence, I roared a challenge as well and leaped into the room. Several mole men came at me, slashing and flailing, screeching their hate. I cut them down, my demon reveling in the blood that coated the walls and spattered the floor, arching in ribbons across my face. A few yards away, Zeke fought his way through the center, blade flashing, the occasional bark of gunfire ringing off the boilers. Kanin swept into the room, a dark shadow of death, and every person he passed crumpled to the ground a second later, bleeding and lifeless.

In seconds, the room emptied. Most of the attackers opted not to stay and fight, but fled toward the ladder when they realized vampires had joined the fray. I let them go, though it was hard not to chase them into the tunnels, to run them into the darkness and rip out their throats. Keeping a firm hold on my bloodlust, I sheathed my katana, willed my demon to settle down and looked around for Kanin and Zeke.

Zeke stood in the center of the room, panting, his gun and machete dangling at his sides as he watched the last of the mole men leave. His blue eyes gleamed dangerously in the dim light, as if he was holding himself back, forcing himself not to fire on the pale, retreating forms. Kanin stood nearby, all but hidden in the corner shadows.

"Zeke!"

A young man rushed up to him, panicked, grabbing at his shirt. Zeke flinched as the other boy yanked on him desperately. "Where were you? We've been trying to contact you for hours!"

"I came as soon as I could." Zeke freed himself and took a step back, surveying the room grimly. Bodies lay scattered about, some moaning, most deathly still. The refugee came at him again, and Zeke jerked away. "Don't come near me!" he snapped, and the boy froze, gazing at him in shock. Zeke backed away, his arm to his mouth. "Stay away from me, all of you. I don't..." He swallowed hard. "I'm sick," he told him, and the refugee's face went white. "I don't want you getting what I have. Keep your distance."

The boy fled to a corner of the room. Zeke watched him go, then gazed around at the other survivors, now eyeing him with nearly the same amount of fear as they were the vampires. A pained look crossed his face, and he turned to me.

"Allie. Will you help me figure out how many are still alive?"

We took a head count of the survivors. The results were sobering. Of the two dozen or so refugees Zeke had left behind, only nine had survived the sudden attack. Many of them had been badly wounded, and at least a couple of them wouldn't survive the night.

Zeke took the news stoically then began the slow process of organizing the chaos; helping the injured, directing people to bind wounds, posting a guard at the entrance in case the mole men returned. But he kept his distance from everyone and, more than once had to back away when harsh coughing racked his lean frame, pressing an old cloth to his nose and mouth. The refugees cringed back when he did this, glancing between him and the vampires, clearly not knowing which was worse.

"They're vulnerable here," Kanin told me when I joined him in the corner. I'd tried to help Zeke manage the confusion in the aftermath, but it was hard when everyone was terrified of the blood-drenched vampire girl. Kanin, more intelligently, had taken a spot along the far wall, and was simply watching with cool detachment.


Tags: Julie Kagawa Blood of Eden Book Series
Source: www.StudyNovels.com
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