He looked down on the young turn who had stumbled upon their operation. The kid had done well for being on his own, his clothes were clean, he didn't have the look of one who was half starved and on the edge of going Rogue, he had managed to feed himself. Smart this one. I could use more like him. Pity.
The time had come however. His final gambit, his end game to bring the Order down once and for all. The excitement of the moment had his body feeling more alive than it had since the last time. Last time... that had been a mistake, he saw that now. He had moved too soon. Half his lieutenants were too green, they didn't have the training and motivation of the others. It was his own mistake of keeping Etienne and his older children with him rather than leaving them to evacuate his army that had cost him his victory. It won't happen again. This time... wait... what?!
He looked down at the sleeping boy again. Could it be... could he really have just stumbled upon this place on his own? As he regained control of his pounding heart, he realized it did not matter. In fact... yes... a cruel smile curled his lips.
"There's been a change of plans. If the children are hungry, they will feed. We no longer need the cattle."
He ground his teeth at the insolence of being questioned. The boy should know better by now.
"No. We have better bait now. The boy. He is a brother of the Order!"
"You have a choice... warrior."
John felt the gasp trying to crawl up his throat and desperately swallowed it down.
"Warrior? I... I don't know what that means... I..."
"Please, do not waste my time with denials. Your boots. They have a sheath for a hidden dagger. I have seen them before... on the feet of the warriors of the Order of the Blood Dagger." The males lips curled into a smile. "Now, as I was saying, you have a choice. Tell me where the Orders new compound is, or watch these humans die."
"This is Margary. Marg to her friends, of whom she has many. She has a husband too, and children. Two girls ages seven and four. Pretty little things. Sad little things since mommy disappeared. I will ask you this one last time, where is the new compound!"
"I... I can't... I... can't make that choice... no..."
"Very well! You do not wish to decide, then I will make it for you. Children!"
Out of the corners of his eyes John could make out movement behind him.
"My children... Feed!"
Quinn felt all the guilt in the world press down on him. I shouldn't have seen that, shouldn't even know... He could see his roommates face in his mind, the confusion and fear. And then he was looking down at his fingers, which were covered in... blood?
Strong hands had taken hold of his arms, but he was fighting none the less. Fighting with the fear and anger and guilt to fuel him. Yet it was no good. All his training and hard work meant nothing to the two males who slammed him to the ground. They were just so much stronger! He didn't give up though, even as one held him down and the other rained blows down, he tried, but to no avail. They're too strong... I can't... The thoughts whispered through Quinn's mind. I should have gone into that back room... my fault...
"John! Shit!" He knew he had been in John's mind again, but it had been different. Before, in the firing range, the vision had been more fuzzy around the edges, the voices like they were an echo. This had been crystal clear, like he was truly there. And John's thoughts... that back room...
"I have to tell Ash..."
No! The brief couple of seconds played out in his mind again and again: Nathaniel leaving Ash's bedroom, Ash watching from his doorway, a smile on his lips.
"Guys, I... I had another vision... of John."
"Seriously?" Gideon looked up from his chair. "What did you see?"
Quinn told them everything, including how it had felt different and the thoughts he had heard this time.
"The back room," Dante scratched his neck looking puzzled. "That could only be the club... but that was just the other night. He's been here since then, so how...?"
"Um...," Quinn closed his eyes and pulled the memory out of his mind and went through it piece by piece. "The smell is easy, damp, dirt, water... I can see water too, in some kind of cement canal or something... but we're underground for sure so that doesn't make sense... and blood... so much blood!" He felt the panic surging up in him again.
"Just let him go my man. You saw his eyes and you know how pointless it is to talk to him when he gets that way." Gideon's mouth turned up in a crooked smile. "Besides, if Hunter finds those guys first... well I know I wouldn't want to be them. Come on, you go get Ash and Quinn and I will start working on a search grid of all the industrial areas that may have underground facilities."
Quinn watched Dante leave the room and turn down the hall in the opposite direction Hunter had taken. We're coming John. Just hang on brother.
"Why did you join them?"
"Huh?" The kids eyes didn't leave the spot on the wall he had been examining for the last half hour.
"The Order. By rights you should be dead. Why did they let you live?"
"Why wouldn't they? I was an orphan and they were looking for new recruits." His shoulders made an almost imperceptible shrug. "They chose me."
That made no sense, the kid had to be lying. Monseiur Blanc had shown Etienne again and again how new turns without a sire to feed them went Rogue. So he clearly couldn't have been an orphan. Besides, the Order killed orphans, before they could turn Rogue. Why would they recruit what they kill?
"You say you were an orphan when the Order found you. So what happened to your sire?"
"My what?" The kid looked truly confused, but...
"When you turned, the vampire who gave you their blood so you wouldn't go Rogue..." The kid was now looking at him like he was nuts.
"I don't know what your talking about. I've never fed on one of us, just donors and... that first time..." he squirmed uncomfortably. "I've only fed on humans."
"Impossible!" His stomach twisted in a knot. Human, all of them... impossible, but... But Etienne's gift for reading blood had never been wrong. One sip and he could see every donor, human or vampire. The kid hadn't lied. He has never fed on vampire blood, never had a sire! Everything Monseiur Blanc had told him said this was impossible. Everything...
The knot in Etienne's stomach turned to lead as a cold dread filled him. If the kid isn't lying, about any of it, then...