Angel Of Death: The Night They Drove Ol’ Dixie Down, Chapter Twenty-Four: Coming Home

Savanna and Mobile are nothing but ruins. The bones tell me a lot, but not enough. Human and Changeling bones lay mingled. The last memories tell nothing of the events leading to the massacre. Just of the massacre.

So I am left with nothing to go on. No idea of what Axe looks like. No idea of what had actually happened to make him betray his own. I couldn’t find the bones of Axe’s alleged rape victims, so I have nothing to corroborate the explanation given by Khali. Still, at the same time, War Hammer was nowhere in the mass of dead either. He must have left shortly before the first wave of the massacres.

Seems as if it was the ripple effect. The results were catastrophic. Every living soul had been annihilated. Wiped off the map. The women, though, had been ravaged. Their terrified memories of the agony still rage within my mind. I sometimes hate this gift.

Every living thing had been destroyed. Not one plant had returned. Sad. I had heard that both cities were beautiful before the fall.

Oh, well. I must continue on. The swamps are just a little ways further. There, I will rebuild. Right under Kalkolides’ nose. And I will train Novoro and the rest of the vampires who accompany me. I want to loose an army of hunters-no, assassins-upon the Vampire Nation’s lords. And the irony? That army will be all vampires. I smile to myself.

I am finally coming home. It has been over twenty years since I last visited. But this time, I am going to rebuild the compound. I am going to train more assassins like myself. I am going to wreak havoc upon the V.N.

We leave Mobile and head for Bayou La Batre. From there, we will cross into Mississippi via Pascagoula, and then, Gulf Port and Biloxi. Beyond that, we will turn north and skirt New Orleans until we reach our destination. Sounds easy, but it isn’t. One can get lost easily in the swamps.

At least, it is a plan. My only concern is getting by the vampires in New Orleans. The lake is a large pool, taking up a lot of otherwise empty space. I have freed New Orleans once. But that was a long time ago. Over sixty years ago.

All reports have it back under V.N. control. At least, since they destroyed the compound. My home. My past.

I smile. I have surprises planned for the vampires of New Orleans. Nasty little surprises. I chuckle silently.

***

We pass through La Batre. The small burgh has been abandoned. I would presume that the vampires rounded up the humans and enslaved them. Poor bastards.

We make swift time getting to Gulf Port. I remember when this was a southerner’s gambling Mecca. Forget Las Vegas. Gulf Port/Biloxi was every southerner’s dream. Casinos were everywhere. I surmise that the majority were actually owned by the vampires, not humans. How better to pick blood slaves than to sap the dry of their money first and then make them sign their lives away literally? The thought sickens me.

The cities are now ghost towns. Empty. Nothing moves. Not even the breeze that used to blow through the streets. A few skeletons are scattered about on the streets. I touch a skull. A scream escapes my lips as the horrible visions of the dead person’s memories flood into my mind.

Women were raped. Children slaughtered. Men enslaved. Oh, God, no! This poor lady endured more than was right. Those monsters!

I drop her skull. I don’t want to see any more. But I glimpse something more, just before the skull falls from my hands. I see him. Finally. A face to the name. Axe has been revealed.

She had been his victim. He had raped her repeatedly. Just before he turned her and the city over to the vampires…who continued his mistreatment of her. A single tear forms in my eye. I am left mourning her. Poor wretch.

She had no chance. She had been shown no mercy. No love. The sadness is replaced by a burning anger. A rage.

The fire begins to burn slowly. Then builds, burning brighter than a thousand suns. I turn to Novoro. “We must make the Vampires in New Orleans pay for what happened here. There must be repayment for what happened here. There was no call for this kind of savagery.”

He nods, knowing that I have seen something that has angered me. He knows that no words can bring me back down. Nothing can dissuade me from seeking my vengeance. Nothing.

***

New Orleans looms on the distance. We’re almost home. Here, we will turn north. From here, it is just a little ways further. Mere miles. Not thousands of miles.

Darkness is falling. It will be easier to sneak past the vampires. It is so tempting to hit New Orleans after what I saw in that poor woman’s memories, but I must not. We must not. Not until I train them better.

My attention is drawn to a figure coming from the north. He carries something large. But it isn’t an axe. Not flat enough.

“Halloo!!!” His voice booms from the distance.

I stop the army behind me. And wait. I am not happy about his acknowledging our existence. That means that he has drawn attention to himself and us. Not good.

He reaches our position. “Where you headed?”

I see now that his weapon is a war-hammer. A rather large one. I can’t help but smile. “Let me guess. You are War Hammer.” He nods. “We’re headed north into the swamps. And you?”

He smiles. “I am searching for someone. He goes by the name of Battle Axe. Seen him? He’s wanted.”

I shake my head. “Nope. Won’t do you any good to take him to Mobile or Savanna. Both cities are mere ruins now. So is Biloxi and Gulf Port.

He nods. “I know. But I was sent to find him and take ‘im to Khali for judgment.”

I show that I understand. “If I were you, I would go north into the wastes. Most who don’t want to be found go there.”

He wrinkles his nose. “Only if you want to face the mutates. Not something I relish. I have seen them. Mindless. They eat anything that moves as long as it doesn’t kill them first.”

I look at him. “What is the story behind them?”

He shakes his head in sadness. “They are what has–evolved, if you will–from the humans that were in that area who were exposed to the chemicals and radiation of the repeated bombings. You, know, the ones that were supposed to rid that region of vampires and ghouls. They bonded with vampires and ghouls, creating a new creature. Monsters, really. Sad nonetheless.” He turns to head back north. “But since you suggest that I go north, I will.”

I stop him. “Why don’t you tag along with us to the swamps? You can train with us if you like. I might actually be able to teach you a few tricks.”

He smiles. “Sounds good.”

Next: Cris Finds herself being hunted in “Refugee”.

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