I see Brutus motion to unseen accomplices. In a blur, it seems that we are beset upon. Hundreds of Partisan troopers converge upon our little group.
Brutus turns on me, his own sword drawn. “Time for me to do what I was paid to do.”
I smile grimly. “By whom?”
He grins evilly. “Kalkolides himself. Seems he wants you dead in the worst of ways.”
I shake my head. “Never mind that what you are doing is treason committed against the very people you are sworn to protect. You are willing to sell your soul to the highest bidder just to be the best. Or, at least try.”
His grin widens. “Oh, I am the best.” He swings wildly at me, missing every time. “Stand still, you witch. Fight like a man.”
I smile, despite myself. “Do you know how stupid you just made yourself sound? I am no man. I am a woman.”
He growls. “And those rumors Novoro told you of?” I nod. “They’re true. I paid the vampires to go around this city. I mean, it is a beautiful landmark. Why destroy it?
“I even sent many vampire Partisans to their deaths by letting the VN know who the spies were. Hell. Pride never knew why none of the spies ever returned. He thought that his intel was bad. Instead, I am the VN’s agent.”
A look of disbelief spreads upon his face as a sword enters his back and pokes out through his chest. He looks down at the sword as its length slides into his view, then looks back at me in shock. He coughs. Sputters. I watch him slide from the blade, dead. I look up to see who the sword belongs to. A tall, handsome man stands before me smiling.
He offers me his hand. “Name’s Pride.” He looks down at the body of the man who’d been his lieutenant until moments ago. “Been looking for the ass hole who was betraying my most trusted units. Never thought it was Brutus, though.” He smiles sadly. “You must be Cris.”
I nod. “Yes.”
The fighting has stopped. Those who’d been in on the trap are now surrendering. He watches as they are taken into custody. “Don’t worry about your welcoming committee. They will be dealt with later, after you are long gone. I believe that most will be executed for disobeying orders, though it’ll leave us short handed. ”
I nod again. “I can understand.” I look at him. “Who is the closest VN commander to Baltimore? And how many are in his or her legion?”
He fails to stifle a grin. “Depends on whether you want a major player or an underling. Floods is the closest underling. Tarkus Brendan is the closest commander. Floods is a freelancer who wanders he area with his little gang. Tarkus, though, runs Washington, DC.”
I smile back. “Would you like me to even the playing field a bit?”
He realizes what I am asking and his grin widens. “Why the hell not? What do I have to lose? After all, you have taken on whole Vampire armies by yourself and lived to tell about it. Just give me the word and I will turn Novoro and his battalion over to you.”
I shake my head. “No. Novoro will be needed later, to get me safely to Savanna and Mobile. I will deal with both Floods and Tarkus on my own.”
He nods. “Alright, then. I only hope you can deal the VN a serious blow and turn this war around in our favor.”
I look at him intently. “Oh, I will.”
Darkness has fallen and I am on my way to face Floods. I have heard of this vampire before, I just don’t remember where. I am alone. He will have a small troop with him.
I like the odds. I work best when I am alone. There is no one to hamper my movements. No one to get in the way.
Floods appears after midnight, his gang in tow. “I hear you’re lookin’ for me.” His voice is a low growl. “Also heard that my little mole is dead. Good riddance. Never liked the weird-wolf Brutus. He was a freak of fucking nature. Just like you.
“Personally, I thought you were a little better built. Also thought you were better at watching your back. I could have killed you more than once, but decided to have my way with you before ending your legacy.” He grins, a little too sure of himself. “My men can take care of you for me.” He waves, signalling for his men to move in.
I smile. “You believe me to be incapable of leading you into a trap, don’t you?”
He frowns. “You left Baltimore without an escort. Of course you have no way to set or spring a trap.”
he watches in disbelief as I cut down his men as they get close enough to me. Yet, instead of ordering them to retreat, he merely watches as his minions cease to live. Perhaps he believes that the battle will weaken or tire me. It will do neither.
He smiles maliciously. “Not bad. Never really liked them either. They were gettin’ in the way. Like you.”
With a glare, he rushes me. But I am ready for him and it takes him by surprise. Still, he gives it a valiant effort.
I smile. “Not exactly as helpless as you thought, eh?”
He frowns. “Not all they say you are, either.” It is meant as an insult, but I shrug it off.
My next move takes him completely by surprise. but it is a lethal surprise. My blade sinks deep into his chest. His shock is evident as he looks from my sword to my eyes and back again. In a single move, I slice him completely open from chest to the top of his head.
his remains burst into flame spontaneously. I watch as the flames leave no evidence that he even existed. Once the last traces of Floods is erased from the earth, I resume my journey toward Washington, DC.