Castle Roland


by Kyle Aarons

In Progress

Chapter 12

Published: 8 Apr 14

Destiny's Shadow

Copyright © 2011 - 2015 by
Kyle Aarons

(Note to readers: a few sections of this was written by Wolf Walker as his Destiny group plays a huge part)

Cinder sat on the bed in his room as he first looked down at the vampire then over to Avery. As his anger faded some, he had to admit to himself it was a good solid take down. He said nothing for several minutes as he continued to try to find a good balance on what he wanted to do compared to what he knew he should do.

Finally he shook his head and turned his full attention to Avery. "So, what is the status of the parents?"

Avery gulped slightly, "I pretty much didn't have a choice. I knocked them out and left them on the floor. I didn't see any sign of the other kid they had with them at the front desk either… Look, Cinder, I'm sorry, but…"

Cinder cut Avery off with a wave of his hand. "We were lucky. No one saw anything, and you did what I would have done when I was your age. I am pissed, yes, but I also get it. You saw a threat and eliminated it. Hell, I don't think I could have done better." He then hardened and glared right into Avery's eyes. "But you ever do this shit again in public I will beat your ass with a belt just like my old man used to do to me when I broke rules I knew were in place. You and all the combat skills you got ain't going to prevent it either. Understood?"

Avery felt his face lose color as a cold sweat broke out on his brow. "OK, OK!"

"No, it ain't fucking OK." Cinder growled. "You are way too smart to screw up this badly." Cinder held up a hand like he was stopping traffic, cutting off a response he knew was coming, since he fired off more than a few when he was in the Sept learning to be a Werewolf at the age of twelve. "Do yourself and my temper a huge favor and shut up, listen and think over what I am about to say before firing off a wise-ass remark."

Cinder's glare increased in intensity as he saw the boy's shoulder drop. "If you could go back in time to when I made my first leech kill, you would see a four car pileup on a highway, and claw marks down the side of a red firebird. Don't even think I don't get it."

Avery's eyes went wide. "Really?"

"Yeah, and did I ever get a physical punishment for it. It took four other werewolves in war-form to hold me down and then keep me pinned until they totally beat me into submission too, so when I say I will beat your ass, don't think I am above changing into my war-form and get help to do it. You are just lucky enough to be around the only werewolf I know of who was too stubborn to simply take the physical punishment and deal with it. Oh, no not me, I went all war-form on them and…" Cinder actually shivered at the memory.

Seeing Cinder look a bit shaken up over any kind of memory was enough to cause Avery to pause and cringe. "Sounds painful."

A smirk crossed Cinder's face. "Yeah, painful… as in unable to sit in human or war-form for like a month. It also caused them to give me to a different Sept too, since there were some bad feelings over the whole thing. Yet another thing which is all but unheard of, I might add." Cinder let out a long breath. "Look I was born to be a pain in everyone's ass, and you are nature's twisted form of revenge. I get it."

Avery couldn't help it, he giggled.

Cinder actually smiled slightly, "If I ever had a kid, you would be the kid I would dream of having, but you have got to use your brain. If you had shoved the guy into the room and dealt with it, I wouldn't be nearly as angry, but to do it in a hallway… what would you have done if someone had seen… Other than Bray and Drake… Then what? Would have killed them? What if there had been cameras, which, thankfully, there aren't in the halls… but did you even think to check?"

Avery looked down and kicked the heel of his left foot with his right foot as he shook his head. "I didn't even think about it. I just wanted to…" Avery let out a long breath, "To be honest when I saw his eyes change color and heard him call me a 'little shit', I got pissed. I am so sick of people pushing me around, calling me names, and knowing he tried to compel me to go away while the kid was in there pleading for help… Everything seemed to explode inside. For the first time ever I could do something and…"

Cinder kicked at the vampire. "And today was a really shitty day for you. I get it. But damn-it, if you ever pull a stunt like this again…" Cinder let his words drift off while he rubbed his forehead. "OK, I am going out on a limb and am going to assume you won't let this kind of shit happen EVER again. So now we need to focus on what to do from here. The kid can stay with you guys tonight. I'll check on the parents… how hard did you hit them anyway?"

"The guy went down fast. I pushed him back and he fell and stayed down. The woman I hit a few times, the last was pretty… OK, really hard." Avery admitted with a gulp as he looked down in some shame. "She kept wanting to go out and get Greg so she could give him to the 'nice man' to take care of. It's like she couldn't focus on anything else. She didn't even seem to notice me until after I slapped her, then she just got mad because the 'nice man' would leave without taking her," Avery made quotation marks in the air as he finished, "number one son."

Avery chewed on his lip for a few seconds expecting Cinder to say something, when it didn't happen he glanced back up and saw the man looking at him with a weird, almost satisfied grin on his face. "What? You happy I had to finally punch her between the eyes and knock her cold or something?"

"Yeah, to be honest, I am."

"Why?" Avery stared at the man in disbelief.

"Because, my fledgling leech hunter, if you gave her a concussion it might totally scramble the whole event and may even kill the compulsion this asshole shoved into her brain. The father, on the other hand, is not going to be as easy. If he went down as easy as you said, there is a chance our guest, here, fed on him and weakened him, while building up enough blood energy to really force the compulsion into the mother. The other problem is, we need to get the other boy back with mom and dad before they wake up and call the cops. My scouting mission here can't happen if this place is crawling with cops."

Avery let out a deep breath as he saw something flicker across Cinder's face again. The man was desperate to deal with this as fast as he possibly could. "OK, I screwed up and Bray told me we are supposed to be looking for a mental kid like Drake, or something. What do you need me to do?"

Cinder pulled a pair of vice grips out of his saddlebags and tossed them to Avery while he pulled out a long thin metal rod and a mini blow torch. "Put one of those on each fang, make them tight, but not tight enough to crack the fang. I don't want him retracting them when we wake him back up. Then, I'd recommend you leave, cause what I did to your dad was child's play compared to what is about to happen to this blood sucking piece of shit."

"Look, I'm staying…" Avery started to as he clamped the first one firmly on the right fang. "I didn't need to adjust these at all…"

Cinder snorted, "Those clamps have held more than four times more fangs in them then the Sept has me down for confirmed kills of leeches. Their fangs are all pretty close to the same size, unless you come up with a pre gen seven, then the fangs are narrower, longer, and way harder. Those bastards have fangs stronger then tempered steel." He moved forward and double checked the clamps and yanked out the broom handle, noting more blood than normal spilled out. Cinder pointed to the blood, "He fed recently, so my hunch about the father looks even stronger now. Be careful, cause the more fresh blood they have the stronger they tend to be. To be honest, the fact you took him out alone is even more impressive with this amount of fresh blood in him. Your dream walk training, or whatever the hell it was, must have been quite something."

Avery managed a nod, "Yeah, but I don't remember this nasty smell when I killed vamps in the dream."

"It's the fresh blood, it gets a weird putrid rusty iron-like smell when it's been in a leech body for a short period of time. This is less than a couple hours old, which means it's bad. Three hours from now it would have been worse." Cinder explained with little to no emotion, almost like he was reciting a text book or something. "The only good thing is, with this amount of fresh blood, he will wake up fast."

Almost as if on cue, the vampire jerked and started to struggle. The second it felt the cord bite deeper into its neck it stopped and its eyes went dark. With a raspy voice it glared at Avery "Release me!"

Avery's left eye closed to a slit while his right eye opened full and his right eyebrow arched up high. "Either you are a really dumb vamp or you have a short memory. How well did you trying the uggada-bugada shit work for you in the hall?"

Cinder watched the exchange with a bit of concern, but quickly burst out laughing as the attempt to compel Avery totally failed. "The only way you are getting out of here with the appearance of being in one piece is by answering some questions and doing so quickly."

The vampire thrashed and suddenly let out a pained gasp as it tried to retract it fangs only to find the vice grips wanted to go with them. He shook his head violently; trying to shake off the vice grips to no avail, then tried to break the cord wrapped around itself.

Cinder shook his head, "You keep this shit up and you'll cut off your hands, feet and head. You try to heal yourself and the cord around your neck heals in the wounds my talented young friend here gave you when you so unwisely attacked him."

Cinder reached down and tugged at one of the vice grips, fully enjoying the flash of pain as it rolled over the vampire. "From what I have seen, pulling out a leech fang hurts, and you know, I can then take it and shove it in your eye, and a leech fang bite to another leech is a deadly wound unless you bit yourself, but this an interesting side note to this. Once the fang is removed, it doesn't really belong to you. Over the years I have found pulling out a fang allows me to use it on the leech it came out of and it works just like having another leech bite you. It won't heal quickly and will leave permanent damage.

"My master…"

Cinder gave a hard tug, not enough to remove the fang but more than enough to loosen it.

The vampire screamed and tried to rock forward so it could bite Cinder.

"What good does trying to bite me do when you can't use your fangs? Are you going try to chew on me or something?" Cinder snickered as he pulled his hand back. At the same time his other hand changed to his partial war-form and he dug his claws into the vampire's nose enough to punch through the opposite side. "Bad leech!" Cinder chastised the vampire. "I don't give a shit about your master, he isn't here. I am and you are. I will worry about him later."

The vampire started shaking in pain as Cinder wiggled his claws around. It then thrashed enough for the cord to open up deeper wounds in its neck as Cinder used his other hand to yank out the right fang altogether. With a voice having to take on a raspy whisper because of extra damage to its neck, it trembled and finally broke down some. "What do you want?"

Cinder withdrew his claws and forced his hand to go back to its human form. "Now we are getting somewhere." He leaned back and took a deep breath while flipping the yanked out fang still on the vice grip over to Avery. "Note, its root goes way up into the jaw, like ten centimeters or so. Normally a new one will take its place in few days but it will not be as strong or sharp as the original, so they really hate to lose them."

Anger flashed into the vampire's eyes, "I am not a study tool!"

"Hey, the boy wants to learn, what better way than to show him how to play with one of your kind?" Cinder kicked the vampire hard enough to crack a couple of ribs. "Also, it can heal quickly as long as it has blood in it, but if it tries to heal any of this damage, the cord we have in its neck stays there since only a single digit gen can heal specific parts."

Cinder took a step back and looked down, "Now I can continue the lesson at your expense or you can tell me what the hell you were doing when this youngster dropped you like you were a gen twenty."

Total fury flashed in the Vampire's eyes. "I'm a Gen eleven!"

Even though Avery was a bit sickened over the torture and was a bit freaked out by the fact he was holding a vampire's fang, he still raised an eyebrow at hearing Cinder had nailed the generation of the vampire. "Man, you're good! How'd you know?"

"Many victories over the leeches and a few failures teach a great deal. Hopefully you will live long enough to be able to do the same thing." Cinder stated then turned looked down. "I think another fang removal may be needed here."

This time the Vampire shook its head. "NO! OK, look in my left pocket and check my tie tack!"

Cinder motioned for Avery to check.

Avery knelt and patted the pocked, pulled out a rather fat money clip, a half dozen game tokens and a small MP3 like player with a cord running inside the jacket, into a hole in the shirt. The wire had been cut by the broom handle into the heart so Avery just pulled it all out and tossed it to Cinder. Next he looked at the very fancy tie tack. He pulled and noticed the wire going into the shirt. Frowning, he carefully pulled it off the tie examined it, and saw the black looking gem was actually a small lenses. "It's a camera!"

Cinder scratched his chin, looked at the device in his hand, and shook his head. "This is a transmitter. So you have the parents giving you their boys and this data has been sent somewhere. Why and where?"

"It's too late! We already got their younger one and with them on camera giving their boy away we have everything we need!"

Cinder looked down with a deep scowl. "Unless you want to lose your second fang, why and where?"

Fear flashed across the vampire's face. "If I tell you, do you let me go?"

"I think we can work something out." Cinder stated while reaching down to the second vice grip.

The vampire turned its head to make it more difficult to get to its fang, while opening up the neck wound a bit more. It started taking short deep breaths as a new round of pain wracked its body. Realizing it was about to lose another fang it started talking again. "Charles Ellington is CEO of Min-Tec. His company handles about a third of the terbium in the United States. My master's master or maybe even someone higher wants to control it, and having Charles and his wife on video handing their children over and then having some interesting movies of the boys as back-up will assure his full cooperation in hiring some of our people and keeping a decent cheep supply to my master's, master's parent company."

Cinder found himself rather impressed with the operation all the while outraged by it. Most vampires didn't come up with this kind of corporate espionage, at least so he thought until now. He wondered what else he had missed, and realized he needed to start giving one of his enemies a bit more credit. Still, he had to ask a question. "What the hell is terbium?"

Avery surprised both Cinder and the vampire with an answer. "It is a rare mineral used in the latest micro processors. China has the largest known supplies in Mongolia, but they cut exports since they don't think they will have enough supply for themselves as it becomes more valuable. Control of one third of it in the US could change the whole landscape of the micro processor markets and could cripple tech advancement."

Avery stopped as he saw two sets of eyes on him looking rather shocked. He cringed and gulped as he glanced over at Cinder. "What? I read about it then did some research when I was trying to tell my dad to invest…" He stopped and sighed. "I did tell you I was a bit of a geek and a book worm." However, once again it seemed he just couldn't not look like a total flake, even in front of a werewolf and a vampire. His inner voice popped back into his head. 'Great Avery, even the freakiest of the freaky think you're a weird kid. Way to go'.

Avery looked away half talking to the two in the room and half talking to his inner voice. "I'll shut up now."

Even in as much pain as the vampire was in it glanced up to Cinder, "That fucking kid is just plain scary!"

"My kind of scary." Cinder grinned with a hint of genuine care for the boy before it faded as he turned back to the vampire. "So, now I have the why and even the how, but now I need the where. Where did this broadcast go and where is their younger boy?"

"No way…"

The words stopped as quickly as they started, only to be replaced by a hiss of pure pain. A moment later Cinder tossed the second vice grip on the bed with the left fang held tightly in place. "Next I insert one of those into an eye. Don't try me!"

The vampire trembled with fear as it saw Cinder take the fang and lean toward its face, "Shit! OK, it's a small estate south of Oak Grove Rd on South Fifty Ninth. It's the first big drive to the east; It's got a wrought iron archway and a white rock wall in the front!"

Cinder leaned back, "Is the boy or the transmission there?"

"Both, at least they should be there. My partner must have bolted out the back door of the room when I fell and I have no idea how much time past sine the munchkin stopped my heart."

Cinder moved the fang to where it was almost touching the vampire's eye, "Tell me more about this safe house!"

The vampire took a couple of quivering breaths. "I've only been their twice and only in the main hall to meet my master's master, so I don't know anything other than there is a huge pool in the back and grand stairway up to a balcony for the second floor. I only saw half a dozen thralls one a girl about the same age as your ninja boy over there. All of them had guns, MP5's and ten millimeters. The girl only had a .38 from what I saw, though."

Cinder nodded and flipped on the small mini torch. As he started heating the end of the long metal rod the vampire looked on with wide eyes, "What are you doing?"

"I'm going to cauterize your fang holes so you can't get new ones. I can't let you go to make more leeches after all. I'll keep you here until after I have the boy and the video in my hands then I'll let you go. If I find you have lied to me, I will insert your last set of fangs in your eyes and kick you out to wander the streets."

As the glowing metal rod got closer to him the vampire panicked and jerked back with all his might, accidentally decapitating himself in the process. As it fell into a pile of dust Cinder shrugged. "I really was going to let him go."

Cinder stood, clicked off the torch, and stuck the glowing rod under running water in the sink. "Probably better this way, I did sign paperwork saying I wouldn't smoke in the room, after all."

Avery started to say something but was interrupted by the door opening and Braeden all but shoving Drake into the room. Braeden spoke before the door even shut. "Four guys just showed up and went into the room with the parents. At least two of them had guns."

"Shit!" Cinder moved to the door, "Where's the kid?"

"In bed, he's even snoring…" Braeden looked at the pile of dust and clothing, "What…?"

Cinder rolled his eyes, "The leech was an old one, well over a hundred years to totally turn to powder when it lost its head. Don't touch. The smell will linger and other leeches will be able to smell it on you and be drawn to you. As it is, I am going to have to have you all wash with bleach or something. Getting leech dust on you will mean a gasoline bath."

"Those suck." Drake stated with a crinkling of his nose.

Cinder nodded as he motioned for all the boys to accompany him. "Make a lot of small talk and when we get close to the room start horsing around and shoving each other. It'll give me a chance to hear what they are saying."

Cinder moved forward to get close to the room and glanced back, doing his best to look disgusted. The door to the room was cracked open but he could tell there was someone on watch just the other side. At the same time the voice of a man was easy to hear.

"Sergeant, Mrs. Ellington's face shows significant damage, but her overall condition does not appear to be terrible. My guess is a concussion. She has a hand print on her face like she was slapped, but it's odd because it is a pretty small hand. I wonder if her kid slapped her or something. Sidney should probably take a look after he finishes with mister fancy pants over there."

Another, much deeper, voice came from deeper in the room. "She'll have to wait, Mouse. I've got bigger problems over here and she is secondary priority at best." There was a deep breath and a chirping of some sort of electronic device. "I don't like this at all Sergeant. Mr. Ellington's breathing is shallow and he appears to have been drained of some blood. His heart rate is fast and shallow and he appears to be in deep sleep with heavy REM. I haven't had to deal with vampire damage first hand, but this sure as hell fits all the descriptions I was briefed on by command."

A third voice, holding the tone of someone who was extremely confident, responded, "Vampire damage? What in the hell would a blood sucker want with a CEO of a high tech mining and mineral company? Command needs to get us more data on what we are up against. Our Intel on vampires pretty damned good and we have all fought them, but this is the first I have heard of them being interested in one of our suppliers."

"Keep it down!" A fourth voice stated softly but firmly, "We have a group of kids coming down the hall. Mouse, there isn't anything you can do for the woman. Go out there and see if they saw anything."

This, Cinder guessed, was the leader. He moved away from the door soundlessly and motioned for Avery to shove Braeden.

Catching the hand signal of the hard push and the point at Braeden, Avery didn't hesitate. "Knock it off Bray!" He pushed the teen into the wall.

Even though Braeden had been ready for it, the force generated by the smaller boy took him off guard. He hit the wall hard and fell. He shook off the impact and jumped back to his feet while wiping a bit of blood from under his right nostril. "Damn-it Avery, that hurt!"

"He's stronger than he looks Bray," Drake giggled. "Ya better not mess with him!

At the same time the confident voice sounded a bit miffed. "I'm Intel, Sergeant, I should be…"

"Gordon," The leader's voice spoke with a great deal of authority, "the day I send you to talk to a kid, any kid, it'll be because I want to see how long it'll be before you make the poor squishy piss his pants. Besides, Eddie is good with kids and his smaller size won't be as intimidating."

Cinder took another step back as a deep frown played over his face. He wasn't sure what the hell he had gotten himself into, but this was not at all what he expected or wanted to hear… or was it? They knew about the unseen war and had some information on vampires. It bothered him to hear the term squishy come out of the leader though. This held the strong implication whoever they were, saw themselves on the same level as werewolves and vampires, but they were clearly neither. Still, the enemy of my enemy line played though his mind as the door opened. What surprised Cinder was the appearance of what stepped out.

A blond haired, brown eyed young man, wearing a pair of high end kaki slacks with a light red, almost pink button up shirt, hanging out with the bottom two buttons undone, and a gray and black Nike unzipped windbreaker appeared. All but invisible, under the right armpit, was the extremely slight outline of a weapon. He glanced at Cinder with a bit of a frown, but quickly ignored him as he turned his attention to the three boys. "Hey guys, how you doing?"

Braeden glanced over at Cinder, using the wipe of the bloody nose to make it look like something else. Seeing Cinder nod he glanced at the man who was only a couple inches taller than him while ignoring everything else. "I'm about to put a hurting on my step brother." Braeden spoke while glaring at Avery.

The young man glanced over at Avery, "You let this little thing give you a bloody nose?"

Avery's smart mouth instantly kicked into high gear. "This little thing is smarter and tougher than your wimpy collage butt."

"Careful, Avery." Drake spoke up innocently, "He's got a gun."

Avery reached over and ruffled Drake's hair and grinned. "Thanks, Drake, but I saw it under the right armpit."

"It's real small though." Braeden joined in as he saw the shocked look cross the guy's face. "So, maybe him calling you little has like something to do with the weapon he has."

"I doubt it is the only small gun he has." Avery fired back.

Drake burst out giggling clearly catching the implied slight.

The young man's jaw dropped a bit and all conversation ceased inside the room. A moment later another young man stepped out of the room. While this one had on very similar attire to the first one, right down to an upper end Nike jacket, the guy's build was more of the swimmer type. He was very muscular, but not bodybuilding ripped. His grey eyes darted over to the other young man and frowned deeply.

Drake spoke up again. "He's got a gun too!"

This time the man's eyes darted down to his jacket and his frown only deepened. "Very perceptive young one."

Cinder took a deep breath, not wanting to fight one, let alone four. Besides, if he played his cards right, maybe he could let them deal with the whole situation. "Boy's be nice. Besides, from what I heard they are military or security for the guy you saw acting strange." Cinder boldly extended his hand, "Hey, good to meet you. I believe you are the one the others keep calling sergeant?"

Caught totally off guard and wondering how in the hell the conversation in the room had been overheard he took a deep breath and accepted the offered hand. "Yes, Sergeant Kireland, Dragon recon team leader. And you are?"

Cinder raised an eyebrow and shot a look over at the three boys, "Sabre, and the unfortunate uncle of these three misfits." He paused as there was a two way battle of hand squeezing.

Both men's eyes locked as the pressure on each side increased. After nearly twenty seconds they both eased up and pulled back, hiding their discomfort and wiggling their fingers a bit to get back some blood flow.

Cinder was first to speak as they continued to eye each other. "So Sergeant, I think my boys may be able to help you out, but I really don't think this is a conversation to be held in a hall full of squishies."

"Oh shit." Braeden muttered, "not again."

Sergeant Kireland turned and glanced at Braeden. "Not again?"

"Good hearing." Cinder countered.

"Yeah, same can be said for you Sabre." The way Kireland spoke told everyone within earshot he didn't believe the name he was given.

"It is one of my names, Sergeant." Cinder spoke with underlying anger. "I don't lie."

The whole time the first man to come out of the room watched the entire set of exchanges with a great deal of concern. However, something else caught his attention which caused him to speak up. "Sergeant, I hear a group coming up the stairs. I don't think we want a family to see in the room or hear this conversation."

"Agreed." Kireland glanced at the open door. "Mind joining us, Sabre?"

Smelling nothing to suggest serious deception or outright danger, Cinder decided to take a chance. "Come on boys, let's get out of sight and hold this chat with the Sergeant's team." As he motioned for the boys to enter first, he glanced over to the first guy, "By the way, Mouse, or Eddie, It isn't a family; it's a group of four girls and one boy. One of them is limping, probably the one with the squeaky voice. Your hearing is good, but it ain't all that."

Avery snickered as both the sergeant and the 'mouse' stared at Cinder. "Mouse, I knew he was small."

"Boy," Kireland warned, "You don't want to go there. He may be the smallest member of my team, but he is military, highly trained and proven to be deadly in combat. How many have you killed?"

A smirk crossed Avery's face as he saw the door close and Cinder shrug. "Tonight? One."

While four sets of jaws once again dropped, Drake looked more than a bit nervous and clung to Braeden.

"Vampire." Cinder confirmed as he leaned up against the wall by the door. "Gen eleven. But it was blood full, and he did it with a broom handle, a towel and a pair of plastic cards, so he deserves a bit more credit than the average gen eleven kill."

Before more could be said, Cinder noticed a rather intense smell all but pour out of the young, short sandy colored haired man working on the man Cinder now knew as Mr. Ellington. The guy had stopped working and was staring at Braeden with pure lust and his whole scent was exuding the desire to have sex. He let out a long breath. "Damn, Bray, the medic has got the hots for you something fierce."

The medic turned with a look of a deer caught in headlights but recovered remarkably quickly, "Shit, with that ass and face? He's all but crying out to have a cock in him."

Braeden's eyes went wide as he backed as far away as possible from the guy.

Kireland shot his medic a nasty look. "Sidney, knock it off. This is no time to be horny."

"But Sergeant…"

The last member of the four man team rolled his eyes and cuffed Sidney on the back of the head. "We are here on…" changing what he was about to say at the last moment he quickly amended it to, "company business… and he's not it." He, out of all of the four man team, looked the most comfortable with the situation at hand and took the lead. "So, Mr. Sabre, you seem to have us at a serious disadvantage. You are holding most of the cards, here, but we need to get this situation nailed down, and fast. What can you tell us?"

Cinder started to speak but quickly changed his mind and shook his head. "Look, all I know is what I overheard, which is you all are some kind of a protection team and someone got to your assignment either before you were called in or it happened right under your noses. I also heard you know about vampires and already figured out your boss, or whoever Mr. Ellington is to you, has been hit by one. I want to hear a bit more first."

The young man got a nasty look on his face and started to say something only to be cut off by Cinder, "Look, Gordon, I am not a kid. I am not going to piss my pants if you try to get tough with me, and I have dealt with way worse than you. If you want to take an attitude, we'll leave and let you sort out your own damned mess."

"You think you can just walk out of here?"

While Cinder nodded, Kireland spoke up. "Guys, knock it off. This is no time to see who has the bigger dick or set of balls. Besides, Gordon, this guy isn't a squishy. As a matter of fact, I am beginning to wonder if any of them are. Also, at least at the moment, we seem to be on the same side and we need what they know."

Kireland took an uneasy breath, "OK, Mr. Sabre, we'll do this your way, but we have to make it quick. The higher ups got information about someone poking around in Mr. Ellington's affairs a bit too deeply and we got word his trip here was tracked by someone so we were dispatched to see what the hell the deal is. His company supplies us with a great deal of a mineral we can't easily find anywhere else and we cannot have our provisions of this mineral interrupted.

"Until we got here and found this," He waved his arm across the whole room, "We had nothing else to go on. We were sent in all but blind, which is why they sent the best recon team there is anywhere." Or the one who is the best at blending in with humans he silently acknowledged the Lieutenants praise when he called them for this op. "Right now I know Mr. Ellington was drained, Mrs. Ellington was hit hard, more than once, and there are two boys, one nine and the other thirteen, who are missing. If you can fill in any details we will get you a reward or something, but we need to know what the fuck is going on."

Cinder seemed satisfied, since what he was hearing from the preppy looking commandos fit in pretty well with what the vampire had deluged. "Avery, you got us into this fucking mess, so you can tell them what we know; besides, I was a bit late getting here. You may have seen and heard stuff I didn't since the leech was already on the ground with a broom handle sticking out of its chest by the time I rounded the corner."

Avery took a deep breath. "The vamp had already taken control of the parents and the older boy, Greg, was freaking out about his mom and dad giving him to the vamp, so I didn't see much more then you did. I did hear another voice in here, but never got to see who it was and it didn't come out the hall door so whoever must have taken the younger kid out to the pool. How he did it without being seen, who knows. But if it was a vam… leech… um, well it must have been to not get noticed. Anyway, after the leech in the hall tried its uggada-bogada mind thing on me and called me a little shit, I took it down. You know the rest."

"Which is what?" Kireland demanded to know.

Avery fired Cinder a nasty look as he realized the man had tossed the whole thing in his lap. Reluctantly, he turned back to Kireland. "Well, before it killed itself, it told us it was a blackmail plan. It got video of the parents giving their kids away and they were planning on using it to force the guy to hire certain people and to divert some of the terbium."

With the mention of the terbium, Kireland got a great deal more interested. "So you got the video?"

"No." Cinder jumped in. "It was transmitted to an external location. We believe the younger boy and video are at the same location or getting there."

"And the older boy?" Gordon demanded to know.

"Safe, in our room," Braeden spoke up, "but he like lost it when he saw the leech with the handle sticking out of its chest. He's out cold."

Kireland rubbed a hand through his hair. "Shit. OK, I need to get the O.O.D. on the com…"

Cinder held up his hand. "We have a location of the boy and where the video was sent, but we have not verified it yet. If you agree to take care of the man's kids, get them safely back to their parents once you have dealt with the situation, and let me go with on your recon run, I'll tell you where."

"Not without me!" Avery shouted in outrage.

Braeden quickly joined in, "I ain't stayin' here if you ain't, Cin... " He cringed as he half caught his mistake. "I can't fight a leech by myself and there is no telling who is going to show up when their first guy doesn't come back."

"Guys," Cinder growled while glaring at Braeden, "I can't protect you if I am out scouting with these four!"

Kireland spoke up, "And if a vamp team shows up here, can they handle it if you aren't here?"

"Shit…" Cinder turned to glare at Avery, "See what I mean about letting me handle things. Look at the mess you got us into by taking the SOB down!"

"Look," Kireland spoke up, "The longer we screw around here the better chance of them sending a scout to see what happened to their primary or them making copies of the video and sending it all over the globe.

"Mr. Sabre, why don't you ride with me and I'll have Eddie take all of your guys in your transportation. He can protect them while we scout. If we can verify the place is a vamp camp, I'll call in the big guns and you can jump in your car and come back here."

"If you go in, I go in. I want to find some information to pass on to my contacts. But you may want to tell whoever you are calling we were told they have MP5's so we'll encounter full auto weapons. Also, if we do this then the kid we have goes with so I can hand him off to you once we get his bother. I don't want any more damned kids!"

Kireland sighed, "OK, Mr. Sabre. We do this your way."

"Any way you can get me a bow?' Avery asked.

Cinder turned sharply. "You are not a combatant…"

Eddie glanced over, "Hey, if he can use one and I have to protect them, I say we get him one. Besides if this little…" He stopped seeing Avery's expression turn a bit dark, "Look, it's not like you are well built, OK, But I'm going to cut you some slack here. If you took down a vamp, I'm willing to send for a bow, and we got some pretty interesting anti-vampire tips. What type of draw strength can you handle?"

"A hell of a lot more than those arms look like they can pull." Braden muttered.

"It's more about draw length, which needs to be about twenty seven or twenty eight inches." Avery responded after a couple of seconds, not really knowing where the answer was coming from he just went with the rest of the thought. "I'll take as heavy of a draw as you can find if it fits my draw length."

A befuddled look crossed Eddie's face. "I'll have them bring through a few so you can find the one you want." He glanced over to Braeden, then to Cinder, "I'll get him some hardware too, if you approve."

Cinder looked like he wanted to explode, but he also figured it wouldn't hurt to have Avery and Braeden armed, just in case. "If you have a short blade or axe, you should get one of those for Avery as well. As far as Bray goes, he's got a couple guns he can use if needed. But, if you got some kind of flak jacket or something…" He let out a long breath. "Guys, this isn't a license to go all Rambo. I want you behind Eddie, here. If you happen to see reinforcements coming and can ambush, fine, but only if they are coming one at a time. One of the many things I haven't taught you yet, is leeches can put out a call for help and it usually starts showing up fairly quickly."

He looked at Avery with a nasty glare, "If anything happens to Drake, I am going to kick your ass."

"I'll keep them safe." Eddie responded, "Even this LITTLE kid." He reached over and playfully poked Avery.

"Mister Mouse," Avery grinned, "I want to go a round with you after this is over, with your team mates watching, so you can go back to the rest of your buddies and have to explain why you had to tap out to a kid who doesn't even weigh a hundred pounds."

"Avery," Cinder snickered as he saw the four young men looking at him with looks of near disbelief, "If I end up having to pay a hospital bill for this…"

"I'm not going to send him to a hospital, but he will be put in his place." Eddie stated with absolute certainty."

"I was referring to paying your hospital bill, Eddie." Cinder countered before turning this attention to Braeden. "Bray, you are still in charge while I am not there and Avery, if he tells you to do something, do it. Both of you listen to Eddie, here, and do whatever he tells you. If you don't like it, do it then talk to me about it later."

Cinder then turned to Sidney, "And you, I want you to stay the hell away from my kids, you still smell like you are ready to have sex with them."

Cinder then turned, "Guys, I need you to grab the kid and wake him up. Spray him with water and Drake convince him he WANTS to come with you all. I'll meet you all out in the northwest corner of the lot, since the lights were being worked on, are still out, and there are no cars or cameras covering the whole area. See you in ten."

Cinder waited till all three boys were out of the room before he turned to look at Kireland. "Just so you understand, if one of those three gets hurt because of something you or your team does, I'll kill whoever is responsible."

Once the group was gone Gordon closed the door and motioned that the coast was clear. Moving to the rest of his team he placed his left hand on the Sarges head while his right went to Sidney's as their hands touched his head.

"So now that we have a secure link that no one can overhear," Kireland frowned, "We can stop the act. What's T&I's take on this group?"

"I have to agree with your statement Sarge that some out of this group are not entirely human," Gordon started off his evaluation. "I think that Cin guy runs just this side of losing his cool… And that can be dangerous to our operation. On the other hand, the kids are an unknown, though that Avery character is way too arrogant and even if he took down a Vamp, he's truly untested or he would not be a walking advertisement for an R.E.M.F. All in all we can work with them but I recommend we do what we have to and keep the act up around them. When this OP is over we will need to sterilize our movements with extreme care."

Sidney chimed in with, "I noticed that Sabre or Cin something the cutie let slip out, is able to pick up pheromone scents which a normal human would not be able to do."

"Okay we are going to operate under standard misinformation protocols," Kireland decided as he dropped his hands breaking the link. "Eddie, I'll allow your tussle with Avery if you get the chance so you can gauge his abilities. If you can bloody him so Sidney can get a sample to analyze take it." Pulling out his com unit he screwed the small dish antenna into the unit and contacted the watch officer.

"Sir, Kireland reporting in," he stared into the small screen and the Lieutenant's face. "We have made contact with our target and found his family to be compromised by a Vamp. It seems the elder Ellington has been tasted. The female has been knocked unconscious and appears to be stable. We have made contact with a strange group who know all about Vamps and if the young kid is telling the truth he took one out. The eldest male son was rescued by this group and they have gone to retrieve him, the youngest according to Intel has been taken to the Vamps nest and this group plans to retrieve him and some video that the ashed Vamp took as blackmail to divert Terbium to the Vamps."

Lieutenant Calford stared at the image in the monitor not believing what he was hearing as he watched the side feed with the replay of encounter. As it finished, he shook his head, "I'll have someone go to the armory and grab a bow or two along with appropriate ammo and we'll get the teen an anti-vamp weapon as well. When you have hard Intel on this Vamp's enclave we will hit it hard with the ready squads. I'm giving the suit up order now."

Eddie cut his hand across his throat as he plastered a goofy grin on his face, "Returning possible friendlies have hit the hall and they have the elder Ellington youth with them."

"I'd love to show that Braeden a thing or two about being friendly," Sidney muttered only to get the back of his head popped by both Gordon and Kireland.

Cinder, for his part, was really struggling to maintain his cool. He held a finger up to his lips as he exited the room and pointed down the hall. Once he got them into the kids' room he took a deep breath, "Guys, I am only doing this because I don't see any way I can take down the place by myself. Now, if you want. I'll give you all five grand each and send you back to Joplin and I'll just ride with them. Unfortunately, I can smell you want to come along, even you Drake, and I seriously doubt you would obey if I just told you to go."

Cinder checked over Greg Ellington, and pulled a cell phone out of the kid's jacket and a wallet out of the boy's back pocket. "This means I would have to worry about you showing up or following me. This is your last chance to go back to my place and wait for me."

"And leave without seeing Kione up close and personal?" Braeden teased, "No chance."

"Me want to go down the slide again tomorrow like Bray said!" Drake chimed in. "Me don't wanna go back yet!"

Avery looked over, not knowing what Braeden was talking about, but the look on Cinder's face told him it was a sore spot for the man. All this did was to make Avery really want to find out, but now was clearly not the time. Instead he grinned at Drake before looking over to Cinder. "Look, I'm sorry I screwed up, but I can't leave you hanging out to dry. Plus, I know this isn't what you were here for and I want to be here to help you." A bit of a smile crept over his face. "Besides, you called all three of us your kids a couple of times in there. You can't just get rid of us after finally admitting we belong to you."

A long sigh escaped Cinder. "Fine, however, I don't totally trust these four. Watch each other's back and keep Eddie safe, cause out of the four of them, he had the most concern for the four of you, but none of them smell like normal humans, but it is not something I have smelled before, so we'll have to assume they are basically human like." A bit of a glint crossed Cinder's eyes, "And when this is over, Avery, I'm holding you to the one on one match with Eddie. I want to see how good you are and want a better feel for them, their training, and the more I can get them to talk the more information I'll get on them. One of the two of you better be bleeding or hurt bad before you stop."

He started to walk to his room but stopped and cuffed Braeden on the back of the head hard enough to stagger the teen. "And you damned near gave up a name they can track, hell, they still might be able to. You got to think though your words before you speak. You endangered us all by what you said."

Braeden blinked away a couple tears and held up his hand to prevent either Avery or Drake from responding. "Yeah, I blew it."

Cinder was not used to feeling guilt, even momentary, but he suddenly felt like a bit of an ass. He let out a long breath and grabbed both of Braeden's shoulders. "Look, keeping you all safe is hard enough without you all making it more difficult and out of all three of you, Bray, I expect the most out of you. You are the oldest and you have the most street smarts. Use what you know."

"Yeah, I knew when I said it…" Braeden let his words linger for a moment before he continued, "I'm sorry. But you got to help me find some way to really be able to protect these two. I can't hold my own like this."

"I know you don't think you can, but you're wrong. Still, when we drop Avery off with Todd, we'll talk with the rest of the pack and see what we can do. In the mean time, take the pistols and don't hesitate to shoot. A vamp won't be killed, but they will be knocked around and weakened. Their Thralls, however, are squishy and drop just fine to bullets.

"Now you are in charge of these two and they better listen to you. I will see you all after this is over."

Cinder moved into his room and started to grab his vest, but the anger was taking over and he knew he had to get rid of it, or at least some of it. He allowed the wolf to take over again. He paced back and forth for a couple of minutes and went through another couple of minutes of shadow fighting before changing back and heading out to the lot with his gear rolled in a couple of towels.

As he got out to the lot, he found he was the last one. He glanced inside the jeep and saw Drake and Avery with the older Ellington boy, who appeared calm but confused. He moved up to the drivers' side door and looked in at Eddie. "I'm counting on you keeping them safe."

"They will be." Eddie stated, "I have some interesting equipment coming for your boys, but I don't intend on them needing anything."

"Then we are on the same page." Cinder stated with some satisfaction while he put on his vest and glanced over at the car Sergeant Kireland was already seated in. It was a VW sports car, definitely higher end, with some sort of extra suspension package, and the look told him it wasn't fiberglass like most newer cars. It also had some solar panels so it was a dual powered machine, but nothing about it said combat, and is sure was not something Cinder ever though he would be caught dead in, let alone alive.

Cinder actually cringed as he climbed in and glanced over, "OK, I get the whole undercover college kid look, but isn't this taking it a bit too far?"

"Yeah, maybe," Kireland conceded, "but once you see what this thing is equipped with you may change your mind. Now where are we going?"

Cinder tossed over the cell phone he had taken off the thirteen year old "I input what we were told and pulled it up on a couple of online satellite links. This is the only one that has a pool, and is surrounded by heavy woods. The only problem is it is not as remote as I'd like and as close to the city as it is, the first telepathic call for help will get response very quickly."

"Whose phone is this?"

"The Ellington boy's." Cinder snickered. "So tracing won't let you know who I am."

Kireland managed a grin. "I'd have been a bit disappointed if it had been yours." He tapped a button on the center console and spoke the address shown. The center of the windscreen between Cinder and Kireland suddenly became a super clear plasma quality display showing the house and surrounding area. "Command, I have the friendly with me. This is our destination. Requesting upgraded sat feed and if we have it, a real time feed as well.

Cinder looked at the display with total awe, "Son of a bitch! How'd you get a see-through window to get this kind of resolution?"

"Wait till they get us a live feed." Kireland grunted liking the fact he finally had a bit of the upper hand with the rather crude individual next to him. "Then you'll really see something." Without further delay he pulled out of the lot while a computer automatically displayed the fastest route, even adjusting for construction and pulling up the locations of police units in the entire metro area. It took only a couple of minutes before Kireland had the vehicle up to a very smooth ninety miles an hour.

A minute later the display in the center of the windscreen faded and was quickly replaced with a live feed with extremely good infrared and ultraviolet enhancements. Kireland once again let a smirk cross his features. "It works the same as a touch screen on a phone, you can zoom in or out by touch. Let's see what you can find while I drive.

Although shocked to see the level of sophistication built into the car he was in, Cinder wasted no time seeing just how far he could zoom in and out. Once he had a good feel for it, he zeroed in on the pool, since he saw something in the feed which looked totally opposite of what one would normally expect. The heated pool was showing more heat than some of those swimming in it. "We got em!"

"You sure?"

"Yeah." Cinder grunted, "We have four leeches in the pool and seven humans, probably all thralls. We also have patrols in the woods rotating clockwise. Heat signatures suggest four three man teams with one leech in each team. We also have a treetop sniper in a tree house close to the road, with a really big gun, probably a .50 cal sniper rifle. I have some heat in the out building and four cars and one SUV showing heat, so they haven't been there too long. There is a pair of stretch limos, one looks like a stretch Hummer to the north and one stretch SUV with an active hot tub to the south, but no sign of anyone in it. It's engine is warm, but not hot so it is probably plugged in for a quick start. I'd bet money that is their lead leech's escape vehicle.

Cinder continued to play with the link for several minutes and frowned as a Mercedes Benz SUV pulled in and a pair of guys got out of the back pulling a smaller person who was kicking. The clarity of the display even caught someone coming out of the front of the house with a camcorder, recording the event. "I think the younger Ellington just arrived. They are already getting video of the boy." He continued to watch as the youngster was taken into the side building. He zoomed in and noted a quintet of satellite dishes and a pair of antenna array. "There is our target, and we'll need to cut communications fast so they can't send the recording of your boss and his wife giving away the brats."

"Great." The single word spoke by Kireland said just the opposite, however.


"Yeah, two of them."Kireland muttered. "The sniper is set to see anyone coming from anywhere we can move in from because of how dense the tree cover is and will send out an alert before our ready team can move in and Eddie is my communications guy. They set this place up well."

Cinder studied the layout for another couple of minutes. "As carefully as they are protecting the place, I'd bet money on electronic sensors all over the woods surrounding the house and out building, so penetration will be too slow." A string of curses came out of his lips almost silently.

Kireland glanced over, "You have quite a temper, there Mr. Sabre."

"You have no idea." Cinder grunted, "But temper has nothing to do with why I am bitching. I have an idea, but I absolutely despise it."

"Let's hear it."

"How close does Eddie have to get to jam communications?"

"Not sure, but he could probably do it from the road."Kireland stated with an educated guess, "But he'll have to stop which will get the snipers attention. We are tough, but a .50 cal is not something we can handle."

"Neither can I, but if we can get Avery the bow and we can puncture the tire on the jeep, we could give Eddie time to jam the com while Braeden changes a tire and Avery takes out the sniper. He may radio in he has a tire change going on, but once he sees kids dealing with it the whole thing will force them to deploy one of the outer patrols to keep an eye on them. The two of us can then take out another patrol and open up a gap for whatever forces you have coming in to help."

Kireland raised an eyebrow. "OK… interesting plan, and I can see why you hate it. Taking out the sniper and the three man patrol dispatched to watch them is key to this whole thing. The real question is, how sure are you about Avery's ability to take out the sniper before it opens up fire? Because, like it or not, a .50 round will punch all the way though your boy's jeep and kill whoever is on the back side."

Cinder recalled how the inner wolf howled with almost a victorious sound when Avery touched the items. With a grunt of disgust, he sighed. "I'm willing to bet my life on it as well as all three of my boys."

"Along with my team and my ready units…" Kireland let the rest stay unsaid and did nothing for several seconds. Finally he tapped his ear piece. "Mouse, we have satellite confirm and it's a hard target. Mr. Sabre has a plan and it is actually a good one, but it puts you and the boys on the front line for a couple of minutes."

"You have to be joking." Eddie responded with unease.

"Negative. You don't hear me laughing. Gordon, we need to secure a place to bring in the ready team. I have a location just to the southwest. Secure it without causalities if possible, and open up the gate. Once secure, get our first ready team through and direct one of our units to meet up with Mouse and the kids with the equipment we promised the boys. I'll send full details of the plan to you. Mr. Saber and I will ingress from the north and take out at least one of the patrols to open up a gap.

Eddie slowed down and pulled out a small unit resembling a PDA. He hit audio playback and tossed it on the seat between himself and Braeden. "We have new orders guys, and I think you better listen and tell me if you think we can do it."

A few miles up the road Gordon and Sidney pulled up to the target base house and pulled over near the driveway while scanning the area for unseen complications. Not finding any, Sidney pulled the two shock sticks out of the console between the seats. Changing the setting so that they would heavily stun anyone that came in contact with the silver end caps, he handed Gordon his and started the car back up.

Pulling into the driveway, Gordon was out the door before the car had stopped. Rushing the front door, he slammed through without breaking stride. Arm flicking to the right automatically he hit the female in the face with the shock stick hard. The sound of a muffled scream was drowned out by the sound of an electrical discharge. Not even bothering to look at the female he had taken down, he glanced all around the entryway before taking the steps two at a time.

Sidney slammed the car into park and walked towards the garage where the man of the house had been working on the mower. In the seconds it took Gordon to enter the house, the man had come out of the garage with a small machete type knife in his hands as he ran towards the door to protect his family. Not about to let the man get a chance to do anything, Sidney came up behind him and slammed his shock stick in the man's back. Catching him as he started to fall by one arm, he dragged him in the house and dropped him next to the female . Propping the door closed by bending the frame with his hand, he started to clear the ground floor.

Entering the kitchen he surprised a young teen and zapped him before he had a chance to do more than yell his surprise. Taking care that the male did not hit his head as he fell, Sidney tossed him over his shoulder as he finished clearing the ground floor.

"I see you found something to make this op worthwhile," Gordon smirked as he came down the stairs with an older teen on his shoulder. All told the securing of the house took three minutes, one minute too long as far as Gordon was concerned.

"And you didn't," Sidney chuckled as he led the way to the side door that led into the garage. "Though if you are not going to claim that one, I just might claim both of them."

"Their cute enough, but I already put in my claim with two from the first harvest," Gordon told his teammate as they walked to the outer wall of the garage. "So you can have him," looking at Sidney slyly he teased him, "Now you can give up getting into that kids pants that is with Sabre."

Taking the teen from Gordon and throwing him over his other shoulder Sydney nodded, "It might, but probably not. I like the way the kid reacts as I flirt with him. And as far as Sabre, 'that is one of my names', like some damn spook, if he helps us take out this group of Vamps he can call himself pretty pony for all I care."

Glancing around and not finding anything in the way of their transports leaving the portal, Sydney walked back to the car carrying both teens as Gordon placed the receivers for the portal on the outside wall. Placing both teens on the hood of the VW he ripped open their pants so he could get a good look of their packages before he slid into the driver's seat and slowly made his way to the side of the garage. Before going through the portal he spotted a small dog running from the backward, tail wagging wildly. Opening the door he whistled and laughed as the small terrier jumped in his lap and licked his face. Might as well take the boys dog with him, they were going to lose everything else.

Lieutenant Calford looked up from his desk as the alert sounded of a Recon team portal being opened. Standing up as a VW recon stealth vehicle slowly came through the portal he shook his head at seeing two males on the hood of the car like some redneck deer trophies. Seeing Corporal Templar get out he bellowed, "REPORT."

Right fist hitting his chest in reflex, Sidney responded to the order, "Sir. We have set up a staging area two kicks East Northeast of our target location. Our friendly contact has planned a sketchy plan of attack that should work if his kids are as good as he thinks. At this point, I request both ready teams be sent through with a call out for first battalion to suit up in case shit hits the fan."

Staring at Templar for several long moments the lieutenant nodded his head in agreement; he had followed the satellite feeds and reluctantly had to agree. Flipping up a clear cover on the top of his console, he hit the red button sounding general quarters. He let a smile of satisfaction cross his face as he watched the first ready team snap their helmets closed with a hiss and double time it through the portal.

Spotting Lightfoot, one of his fellow medics, Sidney called out, "Hey Lightfoot do me a favor." Once his friend rushed over he pointed to the two teens on the hood of the stealth. "Do me a favor and take those to medical and get them clear for claiming. I am going to take them as mine when this OP is over."

"Where did you pick up the mutt Sid?" Lightfoot asked as he saw the happy go lucky dog standing on the cars window frame.

"He's the teens," Sydney answered with a smile, "Put him in the same cell as those two and I'll straighten it all out when I get off duty."

"Sir, your frame is ready," a young teenager with Private stripes on his sleeve got his attention.

"Thank you Private," Sidney smiled at the teen who by the blue stripe on his collar must have been newly weaned. Moving over to the cart where his armor was racked he quickly stripped out of his clothing and slipped on the one piece Kevlar black body suit. Making sure his best toys were situated comfortably he pulled the leg joints down from the rack and stepped into them before twisting the hard point that caused them to his close. Quickly putting on the leg pieces and plugging in the harness connections before securing pelvic piece into place. He made quick work of the chest and arm sections before grabbing his helm from the rack and moving back through the portal so Gordon could suit up.

Back on Earth, Sidney moved over to one of the assault bikes and shook his head as he snapped his helmet closed. He saw the Lieutenant had given orders for the man and his wife and child to be placed in the garage on the inside wall where their portal was active. Once they left…well there would not be much left of the house and with the rest of the family at ground zero when the portal went up…well no witnesses. Not that it bothered him much if at all, after all they were only Squishies.

Slamming fists with Gordon, Sidney rammed his magazine home as he mounted his bike. Sound suppressors fully engaged, he moved to the front of the line and waited for the command to move out.

Lieutenant Calford walked the line, giving one last glance at his troops before they went into combat. Seeing nothing that he needed to call out about he mounted his bike next to Corporal Templar's. Seating his helmet with a hiss he used his chin to open a channel to the forward scouts, "Sergeant Kireland, Strike Force Hellsing incoming in five." Standing on the jump bars he pumped his fist up and down several times before doing a wheelie as he took off.

Eddie pulled to a stop a half mile from the target and pulled off the side of the road next to a dark military style SUV that was unoccupied and rubbed his hands though his hair. As he got out, he motioned for Avery and Braeden to follow him. He glanced into the back at Drake and the elder Ellington boy, shook his head and moved up to SUV. Still he said nothing as he watched while Avery looked over a trio of bows and tested draws on them.

It didn't take Avery long to settle on the bow with the shortest brace height and heaviest draw. While he motioned his approval, a pair of heavy combat style bikes pulled up with armored troopers like something out of a space movie on them. Before anything could be said, Gordon popped up his face mask. "Relax LITTLE ONE, it just us. We want to make sure you are up to snuff and know how to use the gear before we risk our troops' lives to you."

Avery eyed the armor and stared right into Gordon's eyes, "Before this is over one of you is going to admit I'm not the LITTLE ONE."

"We'll see, but for now its LITTLE ONE or PEEP SQUEEK." Gordon sneered, "Take your pick."

Avery's shoulders sagged as he rolled his eyes. "This isn't over."

Gordon grinned and pointed over to Sidney. "He'll test you, and don't worry you got a bit of growing to do before he is interested in you."

While Sidney tested Avery, Eddie watched in total astonishment as Avery put six arrows in a tree at thirty meters all within a once inch circle, braking three of the prior arrows as he did so. Next, Avery moved up and selected a Colichemarde style Dagger. After a couple of practice swings, it was clear the not quite foot long blade length and small pommel was a perfect fit for Avery's small frame and he was also very deft with it.

Gordon, on the other hand, concentrated on outfitting Braeden. The Kevlar vest with built in shoulder rigged ten millimeter pistol and spots built in for spare clips of ammo was a bit loose, but would work. He spent a few minutes to work with him on proper combat drawing, aiming, reloading and clearing of any possible jams. Even though Braeden was nowhere near as proficient with the side arm as Aver was with a bow and blade, even Gordon had to admit the kid had potential.

Gordon watched Avery for a few seconds as he moved back up to Eddie, "The kid's beyond good."

Eddie nodded but still said nothing. Instead he simply moved back again and watched as Gordon motioned for the two boys to join him at the back of the jeep.

Gordon looked over at Avery. "We have two types of arrows for you. The first is for piercing armor. It has a bodkin style tip, but its titanium with carbon filaments. For best results you need to be within thirty five meters to really get good penetration. The second ones are these here." Gordon held up an arrow with a weird looking hunting-style tip, it was tri-bladed and looked a bit thicker than normal. "This is a fragmentation jacket of copper surrounding a mix of white phosphorus with sodium metal shavings added in. What we have here is what I like to call liquid activated thermite. This is a vamp killer. It burns them from the inside out.

"They brought you two score of each, but the small quiver only holds seven of each. You can tell which ones you grab by the feel just up from the base of the fletching. The anti vamp arrows have three slight bumps holding the fletchings while the armor piercers have one longer bump. Any questions?"

Avery tested the feel of the arrows and compared them to the ones he had test shot. He quickly realized they had the same weight and balance. "No. I'm good. Thank your boss or whomever for me."

"You take down the sniper and you will have thanked him." Gordon responded as he slid over to Braeden.

Braeden glanced over and watched Avery with a bit of jealousy before he turned his attention to Gordon. "I guess the bullets for this gun are special in some way too since the clips have a slightly different feel to them?"

"Indeed they are." Gordon stated with a great deal of approval over the fact Braeden had already determined there was a different feel to the clips and had listened to the explanation of the bow ammo. "The rougher feeling clips have Teflon rounds. The will punch right through almost any armor. The smooth ones are the exact same technology as the anti-vamp arrows. They hit and start to burn when they hit liquid. The last clip is our company's form of a Glaser round. It is meant to take down soft targets doing magnum style damage, but will not penetrate anything but soft flesh. You can't even shoot through a plasterboard wall. They are great for thralls, but not much else. Your first load is anti-vamp, since those will take down vamps and squishes without armor with no problem.

"The silencer will reduce muzzle velocity a bit, but ours are not like most. The one we have for you is a quick snap on and off and it is good for at least 50,000 rounds. The pistol will wear out before it does. Even nicer, the extension will actually improve accuracy, kind of like adding a rile barrel to the pistol. Also, the pistol itself has an internal device to prevent rifling from looking the same on any two bullets, so each shot will look like it came out of a different firearm. It makes it about a pound heavier though. We haven't figured out a way to make the weight negligible yet. The last bit is the most important. When you fire, your fingers have to press into the gel grip until you feel a click. It takes a bit more pressure than a normal hold, but not much. If you fire it without feeling the click the anti-rifling device will not activate properly and the barrel will explode. It is designed not to hurt you, but it will destroy the firearm."

Braeden held it up and squeezed. The click was easy to feel. He nodded and grinned, "So can I keep all this after we're done?"

Gordon laughed and patted Braeden on the back. "Not up to me, but if you all prove yourselves, I'll put in a good word for you all, and we'll see what we can do for you."

Satisfied the kids had a good feel for the gear, he glanced back at Sidney, "Man, stop staring at Braeden already and lets go. The sarge has tasked us with taking out the patrol to the south and we want to hit them same time Eddie hits the patrol up front and sarge hits the ones to the north. If we pull this off, their whole front will be exposed to our ready teams."

As the pair departed, Braeden glanced at the weighty chest the two men had dropped off and loaded into the back of the jeep. Whatever was in it had to be heavy since the back of the jeep dropped a good six inches upon loading. "So I guess you have some really cool toys too?"

Eddie glanced over showing a bit of anger. "First off, none of this is a toy. What you two have are designed for one thing and one thing only… Killing."

Braeden held up his hands. "OK, bad choice of words, sorry."

Eddie let out a short sigh. "Look, guys, I know what Mr. Sabre told my sergeant and I know you talk a big game, but there are still two boys with us who are non-combatants. I need to worry about them and I need to hear from both of you, with total certainly you can do this. Can you kill and not break down. This is combat, not a game."

Avery set the quiver the way he wanted and stashed a few extra arrows so he could easy grab them from under the seat if he started to run low. This time there was no wise crack or even underlying sarcasm in his voice as he looked over. "I know I can, Eddie, and I trust Bray."

Braeden didn't hold nearly the confidence, but his words and the look in his eyes put a degree of truth behind the words his voice couldn't. "Avery and Drake are my bothers now. I will take a bullet before I let either of them get hurt and I will kill anyone who wants to hurt them." He glanced over to a still totally confused looking Greg, "Besides, what did he do to deserve any of this. Someone has to make these assholes pay for what they did to him, and I'm ready to help be one of those."

Eddie nodded and stuck a tiny glob of something to the front tire. "When this blows the tire, I'm going to have to fight to keep control for a few seconds. Once I pull to a stop I'll get out and mutter and cuss. Braeden, you keep my windbreaker on to hide the combat vest you have on and quickly move around to look at the tire. Tell me it's totally blown and I'll move to grab the jack. Avery, I'm going to stop us so you have a clean line of sight to the target. I want you to jump out, be seen, so he sees a kid, and then duck down like you are looking at the tire. The next move is all yours. We don't know if he is a vamp or not, so use an armor piercing round and hit him in the heart. He has to fall or this whole op goes straight to shit.

"Once he is down, we scan for the next patrol and I'll radio when we have them in sight. We will take the first shots and I'll radio for Kireland and Gordon to hit their respective patrols. Once we take down our patrol you all stay down in the low ditch because all hell will break loose. I'll stay and cover and we will try to pick off a few reinforcements if they show up before my people have secured the grounds and blocked access pointes leading to the estate."

Seeing both boys understood, he let out a long breath climbed in and made his way north on 59th. As he got close to the target estate, Eddie pushed a button on his belt. Instantly the tire shredded then blew with a rather loud popping sound. True to his word, Eddie had to fight a bit to keep control, even knowing it was going to happen. Once he regained full control, he limped the crippled jeep up a bit more before pulling it off to the side, only a few feet away from being down in the ditch.

Eddie put on a good show as he hopped out while making it look like he was shaking with some fear and kicked the front bumper of the Jeep. "Damn-it! Are all of you OK?"

Braeden jumped out, "Yeah, but our old man is gunna be pissed if we don't get home soon. It is already past the bedtime of my bro." He knelt to look over the tire. "There ain't much left. What the hell did you hit?"

"I don't fucking know. I didn't see anything." Eddie complained as he went around and opened the back.

Avery climbed out, leaving the back open and looked down at the tire. "Wow, on the new jeep even. Dad's not going to be happy if you scratched her up."

Eddie made a show of cussing a bit. "Shut up and check on your bothers."

Avery turned and leaned back in. At the same time he spotted the sniper nest. The guy in it was a big bastard and was standing up toward the back of the tree house watching and talking on a hand held walker talkie. What really surprised Avery, however, was how clear he was seeing everything especially considering how dark it was. Sure there was some moon light, but for some reason he didn't even have to squint.

Avery continued to watch as he made a show of checking on Drake. The moment the man's hand dropped from his rather archaic walkie talkie, Avery grabbed the bow, spun around the front side of the jeep, nocked the arrow, pulled back, and fired. The man's reaction speed told both Avery and Eddie the guy was a vamp, as his hand raced down to snatch at the arrow, but it was an instant too late. It punched right trough the flack vest and entered the heart.

The vamp tried desperately to grab the radio as its heart stopped but as its hand got close another armor piercing arrow shattered it. The vamps eyes went wide as it met eyes with Avery's and crumpled to the floor of the well disguised sniper's nest.

Eddie's hand was already racing to his pistol, as the Vampire's hand moved, but stopped as he saw the end result. "Son of a…" He muttered at the impressive display. Quickly shaking off his astonishment, he tapped his com unit and spoke softly. "The boy took out the sniper. Static defense eliminated. No sign of a patrol yet. Stand by."

Cinder took the report from Kireland with a satisfied grunt as he sniffed the air and pointed to a tip wire. "You need to tell your other team they have this whole area wired. Their patrol is close. Should be coming around those trees in less than a minute."

"Good eyes." Kireland acknowledged as he passed on the information and carefully stepped over the wire. "Mouse we need communications jammed ASAP."

"Already working on it," Eddie responded. "I'll have it on line in one mike."

Beside Eddie, Braeden let out a light 'pffft' sound and pointed.

Eddie glanced up and instantly spotted two men and one woman moving through the tree line toward them. None of them looked terribly concerned, but the way the woman moved told Eddie she was a vamp. He turned his back so the three man patrol couldn't see hand movement and held up his hand to show he didn't want to engage yet. "Hey, B, we'll never get this thing jacked up with this lean. Get in and roll her forward and get us on level ground. I'll pop a flare so traffic will know we are on the road. But hold up a sec, I have to find the damned things under all your guys' luggage back here."

"Man dad's going to kill us…" Avery once again complained. "Tomorrow is a school day. I told you we should have left earlier."

One of the men adjusted his MP5 to hide the sub machinegun under his jacket and cleared his throat. "Problem boys?"

Eddie nodded as he continued to pretend to rummage around the back of the jeep. "Yeah, and my younger brothers are freaking out because dad normally beats their asses when they are not in bed on time on a school night."

The other man moved up, also tucking his MP5 under his jacket. "Damn, even has temp tags. You hit something?"

"Yeah." Eddie's whole tone changed. "You."

Before the two men could react Eddie took down the far one with a head shot and Braeden pumped three shots into the nearer one.

The vamp reared back to lunge only to get an arrow in the heart. Her eyes went wide as she dropped to a knee and saw Avery move up while pulling the Colichemarde. Her heart had stopped but she had not totally gone to the ground as the blade removed her head in one clean swing.

At the same time, Eddie moved up and fired a shot into the temple of the man Braeden had shot. "Three to the chest of a flak jacket doesn't do you much good. You need to hit flesh with those rounds and they aren't cheap."

"Shit," Braeden muttered, "sorry."

Eddie eased up a bit. "Still, three shots and three hits, not bad. Switch over to the Teflon rounds and let me and Avery deal with the vamps from here on out. You take the squishies. Don't forget to eject the one in the pipe so you have a Teflon round chambered."

Eddie glanced around and tapped his comm unit again and punched a button . "Patrol one down, no causalities on our part; jamming coming on line now!"

Cinder got the report and angled over to engage. Just as he spotted the three man patrol the shortest of the three spoke up, "Hold. I smell a…" The rest of the words didn't get out as Cinder pounced. The blade in his left hand took the head off of the one speaking, turning the vampire to dust in an instant. The second katana took the foot off the one with the heavier build.

Taken a bit by surprise at how fast Cinder moved, Kireland was a hair slow in reacting, but his combat training kicked in as he threw a dagger into the throat of the guy before he could scream and his elbow smashed into the windpipe of the last one as the guy tried to radio for help. The cracking of static told Kireland, Eddie had come through on the communications end.

As a flare shot up into the sky on to the south, Kireland grinned at Cinder as he popped a green flair of his own. "Gordon and Sidney," he explained, "The green means they are a go. They took down their patrol with no causalities. Now my reinforcements can move in and clear this nest."

Eddie pulled out his combat gear and spun behind the jeep as the twin flares arced high into the air. "Guys, down now!" At the same time he reached in and yanked both Drake and Greg Ellington out and onto the ground so they had more cover behind the frame of the jeep.

Avery pushed his back up against the blown tire and felt blood drain form his face as a score of weird, almost video-game-like armored troopers burst out of the tree line on the far side of the road. Sure it was the same kind of armor Gordon and Sidney had been in, but the way these guys moved in the heavy looking armor was straight out of the best Sci-fi games he had ever played. They moved fast and a pair of them actually hurdled the jeep. Within moments, gunfire started crackling over the surrounding woods.

Seconds later, massive black ATVs and a pair of armed SUVs tore out of the woods and moved in behind the foot troops. The second SUV pulled up between the jeep and the estate and the door opened up in a wing-like fashion. A voice of an armored trooper came from inside sounding a bit metallic. "Scout Eddington, we have your armor."

Eddie jumped up with a bit of relief. "Protect these kids while I suit up, but don't take them lightly. The one with the bow has already taken down two vamps and the one with our pistol took out one of their patrol members. They may be soft, but by no means squishy."

While Eddie suited up a crotch rocket appeared moving at a high speed on the road angling toward the compound with no head lamp on. "Shit!" Eddie shouted, "They had a friendly vamp close!"

Before any of the others could do anything, Drake jumped up and put his hands to his temples. Suddenly the front wheel of the bike locked up and catapulted the hapless vamp into a tree while the bike, which had been moving at near a hundred miles an hour slammed back onto the street splattering debris over a wide arc. The few pieces coming toward the group bounced harmlessly off an invisible barrier.

"What the fuck was that?" the driver of the SUV shouted while Avery pumped and anti-vamp arrow into the vampire who was trying to stand while healing a multitude of broken bones. It burst into flames as the arrow sunk into its neck."

Drake cringed at the exertion but managed to speak, "Ghosts."

"Ghosts?" Eddie shouted with wide eyes.

A bit of a smile crossed Braeden features as he patted Drake on the back. "Drake ain't no squishy."

"Damn-it." The driver stated, "What the fuck are we dealing with here?"

"Not sure." Eddie stated as he eyed the boys and Drake in particular. "But we gave our word to protect these three so I intend to do so." He paused, "Now, if they happen to protect me, so be it."

Cinder moved across the grounds with a vengeance. Before he got to the first building, his clothing was covered in the gore of a dozen kills, three of them leeches. As he slammed his back against the building he saw the child dragged into, he took the head off a guard who made the mistake of popping his head out the side door to check on the sound.

Kireland moved up and looked at the decapitated body. "OK, I'll have to admit, I'm impressed, but man, do you have some anger issues!"

"If I do get mad, just stay the hell out of my way. As it is, I am only slightly annoyed." He glanced at the door and listened. Hearing someone trying to radio someone a bit of a smirk crossed his features. "Looks like you cut communications in time. I can hear someone is trying to send the file of your boss handing over the kids and is in a near panic."

"I'll go high. You go low. We get the recording and this mission is a success."

"Not until we have both boys and they are safely in your custody. We ain't leaving here without getting the kid out."

Kireland nodded agreement. A deal was a deal after all, but he seriously had to wonder about the guy with him. It was the strangest code of honor he had ever dealt with. He threw open the door with his shoulder and promptly shot a guy with an MP5 in his open mouth before he could shout out a warning. Cinder came in next and whipped his knife into the gut of a very pale girl holding a .38 before she could get off a shot at Kireland. He then rolled in and slit her throat while retrieving his dagger. "Fucking thrall."

Kireland jumped over the hood of the BMW sports car and grabbed the radio man. Bones audibly snapped as Kireland yanked the man's arm up behind him. He let the scream happen before he shoved the man's head on the desk with the computer and radio equipment. "How many copies did you send out?"

"None!" The guy squealed in pain. "Everything went down just before we were hit. I haven't gotten anything out yet!"

Cinder moved up, sniffed and listened. "It's the truth. Heart rate and smell are of someone who is being cooperative."

Kireland frowned while glancing over, "You got quite the nose."

"Better than most." Cinder stated cryptically then turned to look at the man, noting Kireland had snapped bones in the upper and lower arm, giving the man a pair of compound fractures. "How many copies of Ellington do you have?"


"Not nice to lie to someone who can break arms like my new friend here." Cinder stated with a shake of his head.

Kireland used his free hand to dislocate the man's hip with a single blow getting a scream of totally agony. "And not smart to lie to a guy who can smell them. Now how many and where are they?"

"Two!" the guy sobbed as Kireland played with his hip some. One in the hard drive of the computer and the other on a micro-flash I gave to the boss."

"Much better." Cinder stated with a nod to Kireland. "Now where is the boy?"

"They took him in the tunnel to the boss as soon as the assault started. It's under the BMW!"

"Shit!" Kireland shouted as he snapped the guy's neck so viciously the head was left pointed as if the man's head was on backwards.

Cinder moved up to the car and kicked the side putting a huge dent in it. "No keys."

"Son of a bitch!" Kireland bellowed as he lowered a shoulder to push it out of the way.

"Fuck this!" Cinder roared , "Just don't shoot me for changing. I am still on your side!"


Before more could be said Cinder transformed into his war form and flipped the car like it was made out of balsa wood. The whole car sailed into the side of the building taking out a section of the wall. A moment later Cinder forced himself to change back as he saw the size of the tunnel under the car.

"What the fuck!" Kireland shouted as he jumped back and went for his gun. Even as Cinder changed back the man kept the gun leveled on him. "You have got to be shitting me!"

"Nope. Now are you coming or are you going to shoot me and really piss me off. I do have a serious anger problem when I can only stay in war form for a few seconds!"

"Holy shit!" Kireland took a few deep breaths, "You can like control that?"

"Shit, I figured if you knew about leeches you knew about werewolves."

"I've had a briefing…" Kireland admitted, "but I…" He shook his head as he moved to the tunnel and jumped down. Seeing Cinder right behind him he took off at a dead run down the tunnel while saying "Well, this certainly explains a few things."

"Yeah, and since you didn't pass out, it proves you aren't a squishy, but what the hell are you?"

Before he could get an answer a vampire leapt out of a small side passage knocking Kireland into a wall.

"OH you want to play…" Kireland snarled as flames suddenly rippled over his hand. "I don't have time for your gen eighteen shit!" He slammed his burning palm into the face of the vampire and gritted his teeth as he built up even more heat and flame. A few seconds later the vampire's whole body burst into flame and he threw it down.

Kireland glanced back to see Cinder looking at him with a bit of shock. Seeing their places had reversed he grinned. "I'm one of those."

"Damn," Cinder grumbled as he moved forward, "You were built for leech killing!"

"Something along those lines." Kireland admitted rather cryptically as he climbed up the ladder only to see the stretch SUV knock a pair of his armored men out of the way proving it was well armored at the very least. It continued to pick up speed as it made its way toward the gate. "No!"

Avery stayed behind the armored SUV but saw the huge stretch SUV pull out and all but plow through a pair of the weird armored men. He also saw Kireland and Cinder running behind it. "Bray, we need to stop that!"

Braeden spun as a man appeared though the sun roof, spotted where some of the incoming fire was coming from, and fired some kind of huge weapon which knocked back an armored figure. With wide eyes, Braeden pointed the pistol and pulled the trigger as fast as he could, putting seven Teflon rounds though the armored glass front wind screen before one of the men with Eddie yanked him back.

Eddie, on the other hand, rolled out and sent a full automatic fire stream into the man sticking his head though the sun roof, shredding the guy.

The massive vehicle lost control, making it clear the shots Braeden put though the window had found the driver. It slammed into a tree while the back tires continued to spin, proving whoever had been driving had never let his foot off the gas.

The four back door popped open at all most the same instant and men started to get out. Braeden ducked further behind the armored SUV piloted by Eddie's people as return auto fire pelted the SUV and the ground around it. Feeling a bullet graze his leg, Braden shouted. "Drake! Ghost slam those doors!"

Drake nodded and his eyes changed color slightly. A moment later all four doors slammed shut on the four gunmen trying to use them for cover. One was killed instantly as his head was caught between the door and the frame of the massive vehicle. Two others were crushed enough to break ribs and do serious internal damage and the last guy almost got out of the way, His speed showing he was a vampire, but his foot was still crushed.

Avery saw this and sent another anti vamp arrow into its face. It let out a horrid shriek as it started slapping at it burning face.

As the vampire fell into ash and dust a wicked screech came from inside the crippled vehicle. Suddenly, the side door buckled outward and then ripped clean off flying into and flinging an advancing armored trooper back. A female jumped out and leapt a good twenty meters in a single gigantic rage filled pounce. She landed between Eddie and Braeden.

Eddie moved forward with a flaming hand but was knocked back almost three meters by a single punch from the woman who then sunk her teeth into Braeden, finding him an easy target to get more blood energy.

Avery reached back only to find he had used his last burning arrow so he grabbed one of the armor piercers and fired from his back. Even from this rather awkward position, the flight was true, hitting the woman's left eye, knocking her clean off of Braeden. True concern came into his voice as he shouted, "Bray!"

"The bitch bit me!" Braeden cursed as he rolled away clutching at his neck.

From behind the stretch SUV Cinder heard this and what control he had seemed to vanish. An unearthly howl went up and echoed off the surrounding woods causing fighting on both sides to cease while everyone looked around. A moment later Cinder, in his war form, sailed over the vehicles along with everyone between him and the female vampire. He literally ripped a thrall in half as he landed between Braeden and the female vampire.

At the same time three more vamps and four thralls ran to surround the wounded female vampire.

Avery jumped up as he saw Eddie and the two armored men from the SUV turn their guns at Cinder. "NO! He's on our side! That's Sabre!"

The delay was just enough to allow Cinder to tear into the cluster of vampires and human thralls. This, at least, allowed Kireland to catch up and shout, "Stand down! Stand down!" while those closest watched the gruesome brutality.

"Sergeant?" Eddie asked while moving the muzzle of his own weapon off of Cinder but not fully lowering it.

"Avery's telling the truth. Sabre is a fucking werewolf! Hold back and cover him, but don't get too close. He kind of implied he could really go off when he changes." He then moved over to Eddie, "We have got to get this on vid and back to command!"

Even as Kireland was trying to talk his men down, Cinder's fury at seeing blood coming out of Braeden's neck had totally consumed him. It had been a very long time since he had fully let the wolf out, but now it was and it was not going to be sated easily. Bits and chucks of human thralls and vampires went everywhere. At the same time the claws on his left foot wrapped around the skull of the female who had bitten Braeden and started to crush it. He could feel the woman's nasty long and sharp fingernails clawing at him, but it didn't even matter to him. She would die last and she would die horribly.

Cinder's left dewclaw found the anus of the last standing vampire and went straight up, emboweling the creature. Cinder shoved his clawed hand upward a pair of times until the tip of his dewclaw emerged from the vampire's mouth. With his hand inside the still screaming creature he grabbed hold of the backbone and yanked, taking out the entire backbone through the vampire's butt.

He flung the body against the nearest tree and it wrapped around it like a wet noodle since there was no bones left to support it.

Finally he grabbed the female vampire's legs while keeping his foot firmly on her head. He started twisting. Each twist made the scream coming out of the woman a bit more intense. A few of the newer troopers form Kireland's group finally had to open their face shields and puke. Still, this was not enough. Cinder snarled. "How dare you bite one of MY boys. They are MINE TO PROTECT and you bit one! Now scream, bitch! SCREAM so all the fucking leeches coming to save your worthless hide will remember what you sounded like and will run and quiver at the fear of knowing what you have done to this Wolfkin's pack!"

It took five full twists before the screams stopped and the body Cinder was grabbing and twisting turned to dust. He looked down with some confusion before the rational part of his brain took over enough for him to realize he had corkscrewed the vampire until the head finally popped off. A bit of surprise entered his mind, as he had never really thought such a thing was possible until now. Still his anger, his wolf rage, was not quite spent enough to drop out of the war form. He threw down what was left of the garments and stood breathing heavily, his amber eyes looking into the eyes of the armored troopers who had moved up and surrounded him, but were clearly staying back.

It took almost a minute for him to change back. When he did he knelt and winced as he rubbed his ankle. "The Bitch had some serious nails."

Gordon glanced over to Sidney and whispered, "So do you still want to play with Braeden?"

"Oh hell yes," Sidney glanced over his shoulder at the teen holding his bleeding neck. "Flirting with him has been more fun than I've had in years."

As Kireland ordered the men to disperse and make sure no one escaped the compound, Cinder moved up and knelt next to Avery who was already inspecting the twin puncture marks. "How bad is it?"

"She didn't find anything vital, so it's not too bad, but from what I was taught, we will have to pack the wounds with onion for a few hours and drip on some boiled ginseng juice to kill any infection and to prevent scaring since she didn't close it."

Braeden winced as he rolled his neck. "It hurt like a bitch going in then I got all calm, almost like I wanted her to continue. What the hell did she do to me?"

"It's the nature of a leech bite." Cinder sighed. "It what allows them to create thralls to feed on. They get used to the feeling and it becomes almost sexual to them. There is an upside to this though."

"An upside to getting bitten by a leech?" Braeden asked with the look of someone expecting to be the butt of some joke.

Cinder chuckled, "No joke, it is kind of a neat benefit to having a feeding interrupted. Once you have been bitten and the wound not healed by a leech, the only leeches who will be able to feed on you and pull the memory wipe and pleasure thing is the Leech who failed to do it or one of an older gen. Since she was a gen seven or six, probably seven, most leeches will not be able to pull the same stunt on you and you'll be able to fight back even after they have sunk their fangs into you. All vamps will also find you a real pain in the ass to try to compel."

"I guess I ain't quite a squishy as I was before this then." Braeden sighed as he stood with Cinder's help. He then wrapped his arms around Avery, "Thanks and good shooting!"

"Very good shooting." Eddie concurred from a distance. "You didn't do too bad either, though. You took out the driver of the SUV, Braeden."

Kireland moved up, but like Eddie kept a few paces back. "The only problem we have now is, the compound is secure and we have only half a dozen humans who were captives and three surviving thralls. We don't have any vamps left to question.

"Yes you do." Avery pointed to the tree house. "He has an arrow through his heart, but from what I've seen you can pull it out and make him talk. If you can't," Avery pointed to Cinder, "He can, and he kind of likes it."

"What about the younger Ellington?" Cinder demanded to know.

"In the limo with another boy and girl. All have been blood drained, but they'll live. We also got the micro flash dive. It looks like they were trying to send the file out though the car phone. If they had gotten a few hundred yards outside the compound we'd be screwed." Kireland glanced over at Braeden, "So when Eddie said good shooting he wasn't kidding. Your killing the driver makes this a clean op for us."

"Not until I have assurances the boys will be safely handed back to their parents once you have tidied things up." Cinder stated with a deep conviction. "My boys told them they could come to my boys for help if they needed it and so my boys are responsible for their safety. Besides, the older one is probably of some interest to your Mr. Sidney, and that ain't going to fly with me. He's a spoiled little shit, to be sure, but this should more than make up for it."

"I'll have my C.O. come talk to you and make sure you are satisfied. Anything else?"

Cinder nodded, "With all this tech, you could be nice enough to go back and clean up the leech dust in my room and fix the carpet I kind of shredded with my claws when I was trying to work off some steam over Avery getting me into this mess."

Braeden glanced over with a bit of a grin, "Um, so can I keep the gun?"

"What about the bow and blade?" Avery quickly joined in.

Kireland snorted, "I'll check with the lieutenant and see what he says. One way or another we'll figure it all out, but in the mean time you should all go through our decon unit so we can get all the vamp smell off of you and get you some new clothing. You all got blood and vamp ash all over you."

"Me's thirsty and tired." Drake chimed in from behind everyone.

Kireland grinned at Drake. "Eddie, take them through decon and get them whatever they want to eat and drink. I'll secure escort for them back to the hotel and it'd probably be nice if you and I stayed back until morning and kept an eye on the place so they can get a good night's sleep. At least the three kids look like they need it."

Cinder glanced over, "Avery, the ring and necklace come off before you spar with Mr. Mouse. Let Bray hold onto them. No weapons either. Show them what you can do and get it over with."

"No lasting damage on the boy." Kireland ordered while looking at Eddie. "He's proven himself well tonight and even I can see he's tired. But if he still wants to go…" He left the rest unsaid as he turned back to Sidney. "Go find the ell tee, so he can talk to our new friend Mr. Sabre. In the mean time Mr. Sabre, Gordon, and I are going to spend a few minutes waking up a vamp."

Eddie escorted the boys toward a small tent with sprayers. The smell was almost bleach like, but had a hint of vinegar to it as well. Even Drake cringed as he got close and Greg Ellington started to pull away. Drake tapped him on the shoulder. "You can't go home until after you go though and do what Eddie tells you to do."

"Go shower and do what Eddie tells me to." The boy responded as he stopped trying to pull away from Braeden and his eyes seemed to change to have an emptier look."

"I know you aren't a vamp…" Eddie stated while making sure his recording unit was on.

Avery glanced over, "Like Bray said, he isn't a squishy, only in a different way."

Drake kind of shrugged, "Him's way easy. Me… um... I wish everybody was this way, me would-a never been hurt none."

Braeden put his arm around Drake partially for comfort and partially because he really didn't want the boy to say too much. "Not going to happen again, not if any of us can help it."

Eddie could tell he wasn't going to get much more information so he took the kids up to the decon tent. "OK, guys you have to strip, everything comes off and you simply let the conveyor belt take you though. The scanners at the end will check and may send you back a second time, but I am pretty sure the only one who will have to go through twice is Sabre and possible Sergeant Kireland since they got lots of kills and had close contact with several vamps and thralls. After what Sabre did, he may have to go through a third time, although I have never even heard of anyone needing three times through."

"Leave it to him to break the record." Avery snickered while he undressed, showing quite a bit of embarrassment as he did so. To take his mind off the fact he was now nude and soon to be sprayed with some nasty smelling liquid, he glanced over to Braeden and grinned. "Hey you have an audience."

Off to the side Sidney grinned rather lewdly and gave a little wave as Braeden finished shucking his boxers.

Braeden turned bright red, "ah, man…"

Eddie chuckled, "It could be worse. I hear Gordon took away his camera."

Braeden almost ran to be the first one into the tent while tossing his clothing to one of the techs.

Eddie flatly laughed as he realized the tiny red light on Sidney's suit meant his teammate had activated the internal camera and was quite happily recording the whole thing. As he stepped up to the tent, he held his arms straight out in front of him as if getting ready for a dive and set his feet shoulder width apart. "It stings a little, but if you do it this way at least the real powerful top sprayers hit your hands and arms and not your junk."

Avery's eyes went a bit wide at this comment so he quickly duplicated what Eddie had done. As he got to the second to the last sprayer the conveyor belt stopped and a tech held out his hands. "Need the jewelry."

Avery shook his head but did take them off. "No, these stay with me or Bray."

The tech frowned and started to say something only to see Eddie come back and look down at Avery. "OK, but hold them up so the sprayers can hit them and then switch hands so the sprayers can hit both hands. Otherwise you risk the scanners blinking red and you do this all over again on a more powerful setting."

Avery grimaced at the thought but quickly nodded his understanding. A minute later he passed though and the green light told him he had been cleared. With a relived look, he moved forward and let high powered blowers dry him.

Another tech came up and handed Avery a set of fatigues, combat boots and military looking under garments. The weird part was, it looked foreign, and was in a desert camouflage pattern. Even more interesting, he could see where tags and patches had been removed on the outer shirt. Still, the gear looked very new. "This is the best we can do for you. Your small size precludes us finding anything civilian looking. Your clothing will be cleaned and checked, but will not be dry enough for you to comfortably wear for a while. Putting on decontaminated clothing with even a trace of dampness tends to give most people rashes. If you prefer, you can go without until it is ready. For a young boy, you have quite a nice body."

Avery wildly shook his head while being very polite in thanking the tech. He then ran over to a bench and started dressing. Since it all fit so well, he correctly guessed a sensor somewhere in the decon tent had given them his sizes very accurately.

Avery almost said Gordon is behind this, but then saw Drake and the Ellington boy get the exact same items and speech. He shrugged and quickly started to dress. As he did so, he glanced over to Eddie. "So where did this military stuff in my size come from."

"It's classified, but I can tell you we held an op that included a cadet area a year or so ago and we cleaned it out. I don't think you will get anyone to give you higher clearance to hear more." Eddie shrugged. "You could ask the lieutenant, he would probably be cleared to tell you more if he so desired."

Avery shook his head as he stood while handing his ring and necklace over to Braeden. "It doesn't really matter. So do you want to do this?"

A smile crossed Eddie's face. "Wouldn't pass this up for a million dollars and a trip to Mars."

Finding the Mars comment odd Avery fired off a questioning look but got nothing back so he dropped into a combat stance.

Eddie paused to tell a few of the other troopers what was going on and to motion for Sidney to start recoding. Satisfied the area was clear of debris, he motioned for Avery to come at him. A bit of a smirk crossed his face as he figured he would end it quickly.

Avery moved up like he was going to strike but backed off at the last second. At the same time the perceived opening he left caused Eddie to lunge. Avery took full advantage as he grabbed a hunk of Eddie's hair and drove his elbow into the young man's right eye.

Avery jumped back with a bit of a grin.

Eddie scowled, mostly because of some of the comments coming from those of the assault team who were watching. He moved forward again.

This time Avery rolled into Eddie's front leg and head butted it, causing a slight hyper extension. On the other hand he quickly found Eddie's knee was way stronger than a normal human's so it didn't give as much as expected. Before he could get out of the way the back foot delivered a rather nasty kick that flung him back a full yard.

Eddie thought about going in for the kill, but making this quick was now out of the question. The kid had hurt him, not badly, but he would sport a black eye and that was just not acceptable. He would indeed bloody the boy, probably a bit more than Kireland wanted, but it wouldn't be anything that wouldn't heal on its own in a day or two. He rubbed his knee, giving Avery a chance to recover and stand which, to the boy's credit, he did.

Avery grimaced as he rubbed his hip. He was smart enough to realize he was probably outmatched, but not by too much and if he was going to lose he wasn't going to do so easily. This time he let Eddie come to him. When the man attempted to go into a grapple, Avery slid; using his small size and quickness to go between the man's legs He then jumped up and used the energy of the jump to deliver extra power as he slammed his fist into Eddie's side as the man turned.

Eddie grunted in pain and knew in his heart the shot would have dropped him before becoming a Trans-gen. Hell it might have dropped him anyway if he didn't work out and take hard shots from his teammates. Unfortunately for Avery, however, he did and he was trained to fight through pain. Even as he grabbed the boy arm, and spun him, Eddie purposefully backhanded Avery's nose. Still it was clear by some of the comments of those watching they were equally impressed with the boy.

Avery went down hard and felt Eddie land on his back and smack his mouth into the ground causing Avery's teeth cut deeply into his lower lip. While he let out a short gasp of pain, he felt an attempt to put on an arm bar. Even though there was some blood trickling out of his nose and mouth and he was now certain he was going to lose, the fighting in the dream world pits had centered around never giving up until there was nothing left. To this end, he drove his elbow back into Eddie and knew he had returned the favor as he felt the man's nose squish up some.

Eddie pushed his bloody nose against his shoulder while pulling both of Avery's arms firmly behind his back. Once he had them secure he held them firm with one hand while trying to wrap his arm around the boy's neck only to feel Avery try to bite him. His heart skipped a beat as he yanked his arm back to make sure the skin hadn't been broken. He let out a bit of a relieved sigh as he saw tooth marks, but no blood. He knew he was going to end up with a pretty nasty hicky-looking mark, however.

"Boy, do not bite. You don't want to go down that road!"

"I'll bite scratch and claw if I have to!" Avery fired back while doing his best to squirm out of the hold all the while knowing it was not going to happen.

"You give right now or I will beat your ass."

Braeden spoke up, "Avery, stop. You know he'll do it and Sabre will approve."

I'm not done yet!" Avery stated even as he gasped in some pain as his arms were pushed up even further on his back by Eddie.

Eddie's hand crashed down on Avery's butt twice, as hard as he could and he leaned forward again and whispered just loud enough for Avery to hear. "Kid, next time it'll be a bare ass and I won't stop with two. Now call this before I do something you may not be able to forgive me for."

Avery blinked a tear out of his eye, and it wasn't from humiliation. Those two shots did more than sting. He also knew the man was giving him a chance to forgo real embarrassment. "OK! You win!"

Eddie let out a long breath but didn't ease up on his hold right away. "So if I let you go we are good? This is over, right?"

Avery nodded. "I give my word. But I want another chance at you someday."

Eddie let go and jumped back just to make sure Avery was not going to come at him again. Once he saw the boy hold up both hands he nodded and moved forward accepting a cloth offered to him by Sidney. He pressed it up to Avery's nose and mouth while he allowed another medic to shove a couple of pieces of cotton up his own nostrils.

The medic glanced down. "Damn, the boy can fight! I think he cracked your nose."

"I know he did." Eddie nodded with agreement as he gave Avery a bit of a hug. "Sorry I spanked you, but…"

"No, I get it." Avery looked up still blinking away the last of the tears. "You had me and… I should have tapped before I tried to bite you."

Eddie nodded and knelt. "Look I know you are some sort of special kid or something, and I really am not supposed to say this, but you cannot bite any of us. Getting our blood in your mouth is a bad thing. I can't tell you more, but please believe me. My spanking you was for your own good."

Avery looked over somewhat surprised to see the man staring at him had a look of concern for his wellbeing written all over his face. Avery nodded and gave the man a short hug. "Thanks for not doing what you said you were about to though."

Cinder watched the sparing match and shrugged as he saw the pair of blows cash down on Avery's butt. He glanced over to Kireland. "It would have done him more good if those had been on his bare ass cheeks, but you can privately pass on to your man, my thanks. He needed to be dropped down a notch."

"Little fucker can fight, though." Gordon stated with a bit of disbelief. "I'll give him that. There isn't any squishy going to fuck with him more than once."

"I'll get Eddie to take them back to the hotel and keep an eye on them while we finish up here, if you want, Sabre. They all look exhausted. We'll keep the elder Ellington here but won't do anything with him until you are satisfied by what my C.O. has to say."

Cinder nodded agreement as he moved up and into the tree house. Having the kids safely back at the hotel with Eddie watching over them would give him the time he needed to figured out what to do without three urchins bothering him, even if he now fully, though reluctantly, admitted they were his urchins.

A glance around the tree house, told Cinder the structure had been expertly designed to look like a child's play house, right down to the rope swing and fireman's pole. Part of him even filed the whole thing away as something to build Drake when he got the chance. The only problem was, the inside was armor plated and was built for a guy who was six foot six. He looked down at the extremely large vampire crumpled in the bottom of the sniper's nest with a great deal of disgust. The smell coming of the thing was old and vile. This was not a newer gen vampire and it had been around for quite some time. He also noted the arrow through the walkie talkie, pinning it to the back of the wooden structure. His eyebrow went up but he said nothing. One thing was certain, he didn't have to bother to test Avery's archery skills.

Kireland, on the other hand, was all business. He watched while Gordon clamped on leg irons made out of titanium and did likewise with the hands before using another set of chains to pull the feet and wrists together to the point where they touched. Satisfied, he started to yank the arrow out only to be stopped by Cinder.

Cinder shook his head, "He's a powerhouse. I'd double up on those."

"These are carbon reinforced. There isn't a vamp alive going to bust these." Kireland stated but did wrap a chain around the neck of the vampire and secure it to the feet so on the off chance he was wrong, the neck would take significant damage before it broke loose. Finally he yanked the arrow out and waited with a smirk on his face. "I'll give your kid credit; he can fire the bow like it is part of him. This shot was perfect."

"Yeah, but in my book he's still going to be known as Little One." Gordon joked while putting a needle in the vampire's neck and attaching a small bag of red fluid.

"They need live blood…" Cinder started only to be cut off by Gordon.

"This isn't exactly blood. This is a little concoction dreamed up by our science department. In simple terms it's a rather nasty version of a truth serum. It'll bond to this blood sucker and let it know what it's like to be compelled." Gordon slapped the vampire a couple of times with one hand while squeezing the bag into its neck with the other. Come on dick weed, wake up!"

A moment later the face of the vampire contorted in pain and it pulled, trying to break the bonds holding it. "Require blood!" it hissed as the thirst of needing to heal the heart hit grabbed him.

"No, you need to answer some questions." Gordon stated. "Now, who is in charge here?'

"None of your…" The vampire started shaking and clenching its teeth.

"Wow, pretty tough, gen six or seven, probably seven." Gordon commented with an underlying tone of surprise while looking over to Kireland. "Probably a good thing you did do the neck chain."

"I am a gen six, do not disgrace me with anything less!"

Gordon slapped its face hard and yanked back as it tried to bite him. "Now now, you bite me you die. My blood isn't the same as a squishy. Now who's in charge?"

"Esitaria, but I can smell her death. That would leave me in charge, and you will get nothing more!"

Cinder raised an eyebrow at Gordon's blood remark but knelt. "Do you mind?"

Gordon cocked his head to the side and shrugged. "Sure."

The vampire struggled as Cinder got close. "Get away from me wolfkin!"

"Sorry, but ahhh, no." Cinder snorted as he pulled out his trusty vice grips and clamped it on. "Here let me help you jog your memory." Cinder didn't wait or play this time. He simply yanked and it took a great deal of effort. While the vampire screamed and shouted obscenities, Cinder glanced over at Gordon. "Damn, you're right, that is quite the truth goo. I'd tend to believe him. He's a gen six. He smells older though, must have been around someone who was a bit more powerful. Still, I'm surprised he didn't catch the arrow."

"I would have if it had not been shot by a little child!" the vampire snarled.

A bit of a grin crossed Gordon's face. "See the vamp agrees with me, Little One it is."

This seemed to anger the vampire even more, "The Opaque Master will have all sort of fun with the child when he gets his hands on him!"

Both Kireland and Gordon saw Cinder harden. Kireland was first to speak. "You know of this?"

"Only in passing, Bray actually knows more than I do." Cinder responded, not really caring he was probably giving away more information then he should. "Where is the Opaque prick?"

"You, he will rip apart, wolfkin. He has been killing your type with weapons of iron millennia before Alexander the Great went on his quests for the metal. You are nothing to him. None of us are anything to him. He will hear your insults in the wind and will bring vengeance untold down on you and your kind. He is one of the reasons you are losing this war, wolfkin."

Cinder's eyes narrowed. "I asked where he was, and since he shouldn't be afraid of me, you have no reason not to tell me."

"I would if I knew. I would tell you, just so I could know I had the pleasure of sending you to your death. He will come for you though. You have hindered his plans and have taken out a large income base for us with this attack, thus he will extract a terrible revenge."

"So Mr. Opaque is behind the Terbium control plan?" Gordon probed, seeing the drug was starting to take hold a bit more.

"It is Master, Opaque Master, even to you. But your answer is yes. The plan has been hampered and you and yours will be ravaged by his vengeance as well. Your genetically reconstructed abomination kinds are known to him as well. We cannot have tainted blood running around. Eventually, he will find where you come from and will wipe your kind off this earth!"

Kireland managed to keep a neutral face, barely. "How many recordings of Mr. Ellington are there?"

"I know not, scientific abomination. All I know is, it will have spread over the world by now. As soon as you attacked this place the recording along with the tapes of his child enduring unwanted advances while he cried about his parents giving him to us will still be enough leverage to control what we want. I am sure the Opaque Master will enjoy watching those even as he works to find the older one for himself. Either way, you will all die to the sounds of a little drummer boy. Of this I can assure you."

"In other worlds you don't know shit, but you talk a good game." Gordon sighed.

"I know more and have seen more in the last eleven hundred and sixty two years than you will ever see or ever know. I have killed more wolfkin in those years than there are probably wolfkin left. I was at the great purges in Transylvania, when humans turned against their werewolf protectors for the first time. It was all set in motion by the Opaque Master. He turned the tide of the war against you all and soon he will finish you all."

"So are you his son?" Gordon decided to find out as much as he could about this previously unknown enemy.

"I could only dream of such a gift. No, I am his great grandson or great great grandson, I was never told which. I was his enforcer, this torturer, his archer, and now his sniper. I was picked to be here and now it is ruined, you have ruined me." With those words it jerked purposefully, to pull on the chain and decapitate itself.

The three men exchanged glances. As they looked down at the pile of dust, the same thought went though all three. The vampire behind all this was either a gen two or three and that was not something to laugh about.

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