Kanin didn’t reply, but I stared at the tracks until they vanished around a bend, and frowned at Jackal. “Why are your people attacking us?” I growled, glaring at him. “I thought you had a handle on them.” He scowled back.
“If I knew the reason, sister, I wouldn’t be here.” His eyes glinted. “But you can be sure I will get to the bottom of this.
And when I do, the backstabbing little shits are going to wish they were never born.” Glancing at me and Kanin, he curled a lip. “You two can go around, if you want. Keep chasing the psychopath. I’m going back to my city, and I’m going to bash in some heads until they remember who their king is.”
“No,” I shot back. “There’s no time to go around.” I looked at Kanin, silently watching us both, and hardened my voice.
“We have to catch up to Sarren, and we can’t do that if we keep taking detours. Old Chicago is the only place we have a chance of catching up. We’ll grab a couple bikes while Jackal is bashing in heads and keep going to Eden. But we can’t turn back now.”
“I am not disagreeing with you, Allison,” Kanin said. His gaze drifted to the road behind us, at the tracks fading in the snow, and his expression turned dark. “If the straightest way to Eden is through Old Chicago, we will continue in that direction. But I would advise extreme caution now, as it seems there are humans who wish us harm.”
“Oh, don’t worry, old man,” Jackal growled, a dangerous promise in his voice. “There won’t be for much longer.”
We reached the outskirts of the city later that night.
I’d forgotten how huge Chicago was; even the urban sprawl leading up to the main city seemed to go on forever. Miles and miles of empty, silent streets and decaying houses, vehicles rotting along the shoulder, streetlamps and signs lying in the road. The last time I’d come through here, I’d been riding a stolen motorcycle and hadn’t paid much attention to my surroundings as they flew by. My focus had been on steering the bike and avoiding obstacles…and on the person sitting behind me, his arms around my waist.
I shot a glance at Jackal walking beside me, his expression dangerous. And for a brief, irrational moment, resentment flickered. He probably wasn’t thinking of what had happened the night I’d come through his territory, and if he was, he didn’t care. But I remembered. Darren’s screams when Jackal had thrown him into a cage with a rabid and let it rip him apart, just to set an example. Fighting an army of raiders to rescue the rest of Zeke’s group, and setting a building on fire to escape. And, of course, the fight atop Jackal’s tower, where I’d faced my blood brother for the first time, and he’d nearly killed me.
Jackal caught me looking at him and raised an eyebrow.
“What’s that look for?” he challenged.
I faced the road again. “Nothing.”
“Bullshit.” Jackal’s gaze lingered on me. “You’re thinking about Old Chicago and the last time you came through.
You’re remembering all those fun little moments when I killed your humans, tortured them, threw them into the ring with rabids—all those good times.” His gaze narrowed. “Don’t try to deny it, sister. It’s written all over your face.”
I snarled at him, baring fangs, tempted to draw my sword and slash it through his smirking mouth. “Don’t you ever shut up?” I spat. “Yes, I’m thinking about Old Chicago, and what a bastard you were when we first met. I’m wondering why the hell I’m even talking to you now and not trying to cut the stupid head from your body. We should’ve had that rematch a long time ago.”
“Aw, sister, I’m hurt,” Jackal mocked, putting a hand to his chest. “That’s not how I remember it. I remember discovering I had a blood sibling. I remember offering to share everything with her. Because, why not? She was a decent fighter, and I was getting kind of bored talking to brainless minions.
Could’ve been fun. But, no.” His voice hardened. “I remember having the cure for Rabidism right at my fingertips, decades of searching, planning, about to pay off. And then, my own sister turned her back on the cure, on ending the virus, in order to save a few pathetic humans.”
“You staked me and threw me out a window!”
“You had already made up your mind by then.” Jackal glared back, completely serious. “I couldn’t talk you out of it— you’d chosen your side, and it was with the bloodbags. So, yes, I tried to kill you. Because you had waltzed into something that had been cumulating for years, without even knowing what you were threatening, and you destroyed it.” His eyes narrowed, mouth setting into a grim line. “I would’ve ended Rabidism, sister. If that old human had discovered the cure, I would’ve shared it. I want the rabids gone just as much as anyone. But then you came along, and you were so worried about saving a few humans, you couldn’t see the bigger picture. If you’d let me finish what I’d started years ago, all of this could’ve been avoided. Sarren would’ve never gotten the virus, he wouldn’t be on his way to destroy Eden right now, and your sappy little human might still be alive.”
I roared and spun on Jackal, swinging my blade at his throat. It met the head of the fire ax as Jackal whipped it up to block, sending a ringing screech into the air as the two weapons collided. Snarling, Jackal swung the ax at my face, the broad, bloody edge barely missing me as I ducked. I slashed up with the katana, aiming for his chest, and he dropped the ax down to meet it. There was another clang as the weapons met, and we glared at each other over the crossed blades.
And Kanin was there, grabbing me by the collar, pulling us apart. The Master vampire easily held Jackal back with one arm and kept a tight hold of my coat with the other. “That is enough,” he ordered in his cold, steely voice. “Stop it, both of you. We don’t have time for this.”
Jackal shrugged off Kanin’s arm and backed away, sneering at me. I growled and bared my fangs, daring him to say something, but he just walked away. I watched him go, fury making me see red. Murdering, insufferable bastard. I’d tear him in half and the world would be a better place for it.
“Allison, stop,” Kanin said, putting a hand on my arm. I was shaking with rage, and gripped the sword hilt to force the anger down, back into the darkness that it came from.
Kanin waited with me, keeping a light but firm hold on my elbow, until I was in control again.