Morning comes quick, and we begin seeking less traveled paths south. I am beginning to like Luci. He does not seem all that bad. For a vampire. Still, I remain guarded with him. We strike up a conversation about nothing…and everything all at once. He is so laid back.
He looks at me. “You still don’t trust me, do you?”
I shake my head. “Not really.”
He smiles. “I don’t blame you. I wouldn’t trust me either. Still, I serve an important part in the Partisans.”
I blink in surprise. He has used the proper title of the underground. That means he is Partisan. He is one of those I seek. “So why are you called Lucifer. May I ask?”
“My mother named me that as a joke.” He is so matter-of-fact with his answer. “I was named before I was turned.” He looks up. “I know that they told you that it is rare, but it does happen. I was turned. Infected by a vampire named Vassare. Know of him?”
I nod. “He is the one who killed my family.”
He flinches. “I’m sorry. Anyway, my father was a devoutly religious man. His outward piety made him the envy of all who went to his church. His fanaticism knew no bounds. He was very puritanical in his belief. He wanted to purge the earth of all that he thought was evil. Mother wasn’t as religious. She was more of a sprite child. She was a jokester. She named me Lucifer as a joke. Light-bringer, it means. Very noble. Yet father saw it as naming me after the devil. But when the devil finally came for him, he died with Bible and cross in his hands, vainly calling upon his god to save him. God never came. Only death.
“Mother and father died. I did not.” He turns away,ashamed. “I have fought for the Partisans ever since I was old enough to hunt. Lucifer Jones, commander of Partisan battalion 35, at your service.” He turns back and smiles at me. “Be careful who you trust, even among the Partisan. Some are more treacherous than the Vampire Nation or the Human Alliance. We are plagued by double agents, moles, and those who would sell you out if they thought they could barter for one of our captured comrades.” He winks.
I look at him blankly. “But not you?”
He shakes his head. “Why should I? We are the same. As are those in my battalion. We’re vampires. You are just better known than the rest of us. But we would be put to death just the same as you because we are seen as traitors to the Vampires. Our human and changeling confederates watch us suspiciously even though we have showed our loyalty. You, on the other hand, are seen as a hero and would make a great martyr. that would be the main reason they would sell you out. In the eyes of many in the Partisan, we are all expendable.
“We can all be sacrificed. No one is really safe, not even humans. We aren’t, after all, a cohesive alliance. We are more informal allies than you were probably led to believe. We are, for all intents and purposes, like the revolutionaries of olden days who fought for the freedoms we took for granted and feared we would lose to our opposing party. I don’t think mankind understood who the real enemy was until it was way too late to prevent his rise.” He notices that he seems to be rambling. “Excuse me if I ramble. I don’t mean to.”
I shrug. “I don’t mind. You have a unique point of view of this whole war.”
He raises his eyebrow. “Really?”
I nod. “You think like I do.”
He smiles. “Want a piece of advice?”
I shrug. “Why not?”
He looks away. “Start unlearning all that you were taught as a child. I mean about religion and the Bible. The Bible has always been incomplete. A lot is missing and has been for millennia. Religion is man’s version of what he believes faith should be, tied up in legalisms, dogma, and traditions that aren’t even related to the actual faith. let go of what they taught you. What the Grigori might be willing to allow you to learn is more important. It is true and pure. Theirs is not a religion. it is their life.
“And don’t allow people like Truva and Grady fool you. They hid for centuries as monks and priests so that mankind was still protected after the elder races vanished. They are no more Catholic than our enemy. They are faithful to the old ways, but in a manner that man cannot detect. In the old ways, there is no hate or greed. There is just oneness. Purity. Truth.”
I ponder his words. We grow silent as we continue our erratic path. I know that he only wants to remain undetectable to the Vampire overlords, so I follow along.
He breaks the silence. “Ever hear of Johnnie Floods?”
I shake my head. “No, why?”
He frowns. “Johnnie Floods is Kalkolides’ commander over this region. He is said to have been one of Jason’s inner circle before the fall. Some say that he was another ‘accidental’ turn like us. He was supposedly a street hood who made a deal with the dark lord in order to gain immortality. He had fifteen men who followed him into the pact, only five survived the turning. He supposedly earned his command by proving himself and killing a Grigori.”
I blink, shocked. “But only Grigori–I mean fallen–can kill Grigori. McCall taught me that.”
He looks at me. “He only told you part of it. Only a Grigori’s doppelganger can kill him or her. In other words, your cousin, Lilith is the only one who can kill you…or her sister. Only McCall’s doppelganger can kill him, Truva’s can only kill him, and so on. Anyone who is like me, however, can be killed by anyone.
“What I can tell you is that McCall’s Doppelganger has been dead, by McCall’s own hand, for centuries. He died shortly after his family attacked and killed McCall’s family. McCall saw to that. Truva is Nightcrawler’s doppelganger, which means that only Truva can destroy the evil spellbinder, or vice versa. And so on.”
I look at him. “Then who is Kalkolides’ doppelganger?”
He smiles. “You mean that you brought him south into this hell and still do not know who he is?”
I shake my head. “No.”
He chuckles. “The man who leads the elder race is Jason Kalkolides’ doppelganger. He is the grandson of the General who defeated Jason’s grandfather in the first Vampire War.”