a sneak peek at
The Red Fang
the first novel in the
BEFORE THE SUN RISES
by Nicola C. Matthews
Stealth? Ethereal’s mind prodded.
Yes, dearest? He responded after a few moments.
How are you holding up?
The half-fey knew that her manipulation of the elements made her mind a churning mess with little coherent thought. The sheer power coursing through her body and mind made it nearly impossible for Stealth to keep the connection open.
The first time he had tried to open up the link between them while she was manipulating the elements, back when they had been in the parking garage all those months ago, had nearly knocked him unconscious, the force of all that power almost too much for him to handle. It had taken him nearly a month of practice to be able to keep the link open for any length of time, and even longer to be able to control the connection enough so that he did not end up a blubbering mass of incoherence sprawled on the ground.
I’m okay he said to her. But it was a lie. He had begun to get a nosebleed several minutes ago, but there was so much blood already spattered on his face and body that Ethereal was not likely to notice.
What Stealth didn’t know was that his nosebleed was not a consequence of their shared link, but a symptom of it. Unknown to him, the red-headed elemental manipulator hiding outside the building was drenched in her own blood, the force of using so much power slowly destroying her brain.
She somehow managed to block this information from the vampire. The mission was the most important thing right now. If he knew that using her powers for such a long stretch of time would cause her harm, neither he nor Requiem would have allowed her to participate, even if it meant tossing her into one of the cells in the basement of The Compound.
There’s too many of them her voice whispered inside of his head. The vampire had not even made it past the first set of rooms. The soldiers seemed to be coming from everywhere, pouring from both sides of the building and out of the rooms that surrounded them.
Take a right and head down Hallway C, then turn left down Hallway B until it merges with Hallway D, then left again. This will take you back into the main corridor, going around one of the labs and interrogation rooms. The main hallway is going to be heavily guarded, as will Sergeant Hall’s office. Circumvent the lab and interrogation room and come up behind them; maybe you’ll get lucky.
Stealth nodded his head in agreement, suddenly making a hard right as he came to the first set of intersecting hallways. The doors on either side of him suddenly burst open, a small army of lycanthrope hybrids rushing out into the hallways. As soon as the first one set eyes on the vampire, he lifted his head and howled.
The warning was taken up by the small group, the sound almost deafening in such a confined area.
I don’t think this is going to work, he thought, the idea directed at the half-fey currently sharing his mind.
Ethereal was silent, giving Stealth a moment of panic as he frantically called for her through their shared mental link.
The labs must be where they do all the experimentation.
Stealth sliced into the soft underbelly of one of the beasts as it lunged for him.
I hate to point out the obvious, my dearest, but so it would seem, what with all the hybrids crawling all over me his mind whispered back.
Another one of the strange creatures, this one a combination of man and cougar, crouched down and then pounced. Stealth bent down and arched his sword upwards as the beast came down towards him, sending his blade clean through the hybrid’s midsection. Blood and bits of intestines rained down around the vampire, sending up a stench of the scientifically altered blood into the air.
Stealth wiped absently at the gore that had spattered his face and arms, his eyes taking in the mess. The smell was enough to cause him to nearly wretch where he stood.
The scent of the blood had the other hybrids in a frenzy, the group rushing towards Stealth with rolling eyes and lolling tongues. He pulled his sword up in a protective stance, but the animal-man combinations did not seem interested in the immortal anymore.
They all descended upon the body of their fallen comrade, their claws slicing into the body while their teeth crunched bones so they could get at the marrow hidden inside. The aroma of blood grew stronger in the stale air, causing the hybrids to begin fighting with each other in an attempt to get more of the freshly slaughtered meat.
Their growls and snaps turned into swats with their razor-like claws. As more and more of the animals became victims of the stronger ones in the group, the pile of body parts grew, the perfume of so much blood attracting more and more of the misshapen hybrids.
Stealth stood with his sword drawn, watching in fascination as the animals began to attack and devour each other. He didn’t understand it. The hybrids that had invaded his home and the ones they had fought in the underground parking garage had not seemed bothered by the scent of blood in the least. Now they were all fighting each other like rabid dogs.
Stealth, go back! The small voice in his head brought him out of his wonderment. Go back, past the main corridor until you come to Hallway A. Take a right, and that will take you straight to the sergeant’s office.
Stealth took a few steps backwards, easing away from the squirming horde of beasts that gorged themselves on the bodies of their fellow agents. Once he felt safe to turn his back to the feasting animals, he picked up his speed, dashing back down Hallway C and taking a hard right down Hallway A.
He made short work of the few SHiELD agents that he encountered, his body absorbing dozens of bullets as the soldiers continued to spray gunfire throughout the building. He moved past the second exam room, stopping when he saw a sign that read INFIRMARY.
Why are you stopping? Ethereal’s frightened but slightly annoyed voice whispered inside of his head.
Why would this place need an infirmary? He wondered more to himself than in answer to Ethereal’s question. The head of this operation obviously doesn’t care if these men live or die. They are all expendable.
So what? Ethereal practically screamed inside of his head.
So why have a place to patch them back up? Why not just let them die of their injuries?
Stealth put his hand out and turned the doorknob, Ethereal’s voice inside of his head begging him not to go into the room. The vampire opened the door and moved inside, his eyes taking in a sight that his centuries of immortality had not prepared him for.
The room was lined with beds, more than half of them taken up by men who were hooked up to all kinds of IVs, their bodies in varying stages of healing. Some of the men had lost limbs, the stumps wrapped tightly in bandages. Several of them were writhing in pain, others seemed completely comatose.
Stealth moved to the nearest bed, reaching out to turn the IV bags around one by one so he could read them.
Vampire A – blood
Vampire Q – plasma
Vampire R – hemoglobin
Drug – FK506
Drug – tetracycline
Drug – propafenone
What is all that? Ethereal’s voice asked inside his head.
Stealth shook his head. Whole blood, plasma, red blood cells, a broad-spectrum antibiotic. I’m not really sure what the others are. The vampire looked around. This whole place looks like a bad sci-fi movie.