I nodded back, but then I caught something that made me freeze. Filtering through the door, slipping underneath the crack, was an unmistakable scent.

The other two vampires paused, as well. “Blood,” Kanin mused, his gaze dark and grim. “A lot of it. Something is waiting for us beyond this door. It appears your humans are expecting us, after all.”

“Yep.” Jackal sighed. “The minions aren’t completely stupid all the time. And they know that blood is an excellent way to mask your presence from a vampire. We won’t be able to pinpoint exactly where they are. If the whole army is waiting for us, it could get messy.” He glanced at me, fangs shining in the darkened corridor. “Ready for this, little sister? No turning back now.”

I drew my katana, the soft rasp shivering through the stairwell, and smiled grimly. “Ready,” I whispered. Jackal grinned and pulled open the door with a rusty screech.

A cold breeze ruffled my hair, hissing into the stairwell.

The room beyond the frame was huge, with a low ceiling and shattered windows surrounding us. Low sections of wall created a labyrinth of cubicles and narrow aisles, perfect for hiding behind or staging an ambush. Rubble, fallen beams and rotting desks were scattered throughout the floor, silent and still, and the room seemed to hold its breath.

It was also completely saturated in gore. Blood streaked the walls and ceiling, splattered in arching ribbons across the cubicle walls. Some of it wasn’t human; I could pick out the subtle hints of animal blood in the room—dogs and cats and rodents, musky and somehow tainted. But the rest of it was definitely human, and the Hunger roared up with a vengeance.

“Well,” Jackal remarked, gazing around the carnage-strewn space, “that doesn’t scream ‘trap’ at all. Is this the best Sarren could come up with? I’m rather disappointed.” Raising his head, he bellowed into the room: “Hey, minions! Daddy’s home, and he’s not happy! But because I’m such a nice guy, I’m going to give you a choice. You can make it easy for yourself and blow your brains out right now, or I can slowly twist your head around until it pops right off your neck. Your move!”

For a moment, there was silence. Nothing stirred beyond the door, though if I listened hard enough, I thought I could hear the acceleration of several heartbeats, the scent of fear rising up with the blood.

Then something small, green and oval came arching through the air toward us, thrown by an arm behind an overturned desk, and Jackal grinned.

“Wrong answer,” he muttered.

Lunging past me, he grabbed the object before it could hit the ground and, blindingly fast, hurled it back into the room.

There was a muffled, “Shit!” from behind the desk.

And then something exploded in a cloud of smoke and fire, flinging a pair of bodies into the open, mangled and torn.

Jackal roared, the sound eager and animalistic, as a few dozen raiders leaped up from behind desks and half walls and sent a hail of gunfire into the room.

I lunged behind a desk as bullets sprayed the floor and put a line of holes in the walls behind me. Gripping my katana, I peeked around the corner, trying to pin down where the attacks were coming from. I didn’t see Kanin, but Jackal charged a cubicle with a roar, fangs bared. Several bullets hit him, tearing through his coat and out his back, but the vampire didn’t slow down. Leaping over the desk, he grabbed one raider by the collar, yanked him off his feet, and slammed his head against the surface. Blood exploded from the raider’s nose and mouth, and Jackal hurled him away to go after another.

Raiders were screaming now, firing their weapons in wild arcs, shattering glass and tearing chunks out of plaster. I saw two humans emerge from behind a pillar, aiming their guns at Jackal’s back. I growled and darted from my hiding place, then lunged toward them. They saw me coming at the last minute and turned, shooting wildly. I felt something tear into my shoulder, sending a hot flare of pain and rage through me. Snarling, I slashed my blade through one raider’s middle and, as he collapsed, whipped it up through the second’s neck. Headless, the man toppled forward, and I leaped past him toward a cluster of raiders in the corner.

The demon in me howled, and bloodlust sang through my veins as I hit the group of men hard, katana flashing. They turned on me, faces white, guns raised. And then everything dissolved into screaming, gunfire and blood. I was hit several times, sharp stabs of pain that barely registered as I gave in to my anger, hate and grief. Raiders fell before me, cut down by my blade, their hot blood filling my senses. The Hunger raged within, stirred into a near frenzy with every kill, every bullet that ripped through me. But through it all, I kept a tight hold of my demon, refusing to lose myself again, even if killing these men brought me one step closer to Sarren. I would avenge Zeke’s death, but I would do so on my terms.

As I fought my way to the center of the room, slicing my way through a trio of raiders, a sudden beeping filled the air, shrill and rapid. On instinct, I leaped back just as the pillar in front of me exploded, sending rocks and shrapnel everywhere and catching two raiders in the back. I was hurled away, crashing through a half wall and into a desk on the other side. Dropping to the floor, I lay there a moment, stunned. My coat was in tatters, and I could feel warm wetness spreading out from my middle a second before the pain hit, making me clench my jaw to keep from screaming. My katana lay several feet from my hand, glinting in the bursts of gunfire around me.

Another shrill beeping went off, and a second explosion rocked the room, filling the air with screams and the stench of smoke. Wincing, I struggled to rise, shrugging off rocks and debris, pushing away the wooden beam that had fallen across my chest. A shadow fell over me, and a raider glared down, eyes wild and crazy, as he pointed the barrel of a shotgun at my face.

I jerked to the side and threw up my arm, just managing to knock the barrel away as a shot rang out, booming in my ears and making my head ring. Fire flared from the tip of the weapon, searing the air close to my face, and my demon recoiled with a shriek. Snarling, I yanked the raider down, tore the gun from his hands, and sank my fangs into his throat.

Hot blood filled my mouth, easing the pain as my wounds healed, mangled flesh knitting back together. I continued feeding until the body shuddered and went limp in my grasp, and I let it slump lifelessly to the floor.

Wiping my mouth, I grabbed my katana and rose, looking around for my next enemy.

The chaos in the room had quieted down. Bodies lay everywhere, cut open and torn apart, scattered in pieces throughout the room. I could see my own carnage-strewn trail that led to the ruined pillar, and the two dead raiders who had been caught in the blast. Smoke hung in the air, along with the acrid stench of explosives and burned flesh.

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