The past few days, I’d been acting like nothing was wrong. Well, no more than usual. I pretty much took every opportunity I could to express how sorry I was for everything I’d done as Queen.
But what I’d done to Takato…seeing him again. Forget me acting casually instead of moping around, if I wasn’t trying to not worry the others, I’d be catatonic.
“…and so I think…Hey! Raina! Are you listening?” Harrison asked.
“Huh,” I said, flickering my eyes. “Of course I am.”
“Then what was I just talking about?” Harrison asked.
“Lay off her, man,” Sammy said, defending me. He turned his head to me and asked, “Grapes, babe?”
I nodded, so he took a vine of grapes from the bowl on the board table and put it over my mouth.
After munching on a few, and getting some nasty looks from Harrison, I spoke.
“Where are Hope and Casey?”I asked, barely able to keep my eyes open.
“Like I said when you two came in, Casey got arrested.”
“What?!” I responded.
“Don’t worry,” Sammy said, putting a hand on my shoulder. “He wasn’t caught stealing or nothing. He was just out on the street impersonating the “King of Pop”, and since he buys what the media sold, he asked some kids if they wanted to hang out at his place.”
“Oh fuck,” I moaned.
“Thankfully,” Harrison continued. “He snapped out of his act when cops came over, seeing him harass the kids. Despite his quirks, he’s still one of our smartest guys, so he knew not to cause a seen.”
“Hope’s at the police station, explaining the situation to the popo,” Sammy said. “They should be here soon.”
For a moment I’d been worried. Casey was probably the Queen’s Guard member I’d spent the least amount of time with, mainly because his constant roleplaying still bothered me like crazy. Still, he was a friend, and more importantly, if he’d been caught as Exposure, it could link back to the rest of us. And I couldn’t let that happen. Running, and subsequently, ending the crime in this city was all I could do to try and make up for my sins.
Sitting up straight, I looked around the boardroom. Thankfully, the cleaning staff I’d hired was very efficient, so the blood bath which had taken place a few days earlier had all been taken care of. I’d also made two additions to the room.
On the opposite wall from the one where the white tiger pelt was mounted, parallel to it, was now a portrait Olivia had painted of the first super villain team to “take care” of the city, her old team, The Syringe Family. Apparently back in the day, she wore black and red knight armor with a red cape. It suited her.
The other portrait was located behind my seat at the head of the table, the portrait of being of myself in a three piece suit, with a menacing look on my face.
“So as I was saying,” Harrison said, in a bad mood. “With all of the other major crime lords dead, and the sheer amount of money you’re offering, there remain only three elements not under our control.” He was talking, but my attention was just on the massive bags under his eyes. Even though Harrison was a dumbass, the rest of the Queen’s Guard had been throwing their workloads at him. Surprisingly he was stepping up to the plate and getting it all done, but it was leaving him a tired wreck.”
“First, there’s the prostitutes,” Sammy said. “Most of them have joined together, and want to meet with you before they continue to work.”
I chuckled. “The hoars are unionizing?” I asked rhetorically. “Amusing. Harrison, set up a meeting with them on Tuesday. I want to see how many of them would be willing to make more in exchange for letting guys beat them. I think there’s an untapped market there.”
Harrison nodded and continued to repeat what I’d ignored earlier.
“Next is Esteban Loyarte. His organization is international, and is one of the largest drug trades in the world. Frankly, we’re not ready to take him on.”
“Maybe you and Carter should try finding him and taking him out,” Sammy commented.
“Uh, what’s with the tone?” I asked, regarding how he’d emphasized Carter’s name.
“The asshole blasted me!” Sammy shouted. “You two should have let me kill that guy.”
“No!” I screamed, throwing his hand off my shoulder. “I’ve hurt Takato enough.”
Sammy was thick, but he was still a good guy. One look at how depressed talking about this made me was enough to get him to change his tune.
“I’m sorry, babe. You’re right. And no matter what monster he throws out next, I’ll protect you.”
I leaned over and kissed him on the lips.
“We both know I’m not the one who’d need protecting,” I mocked.
“Eh hem,” Harrison said. “Back on topic, the third element we don’t control is probably the most dangerous. Mainly because we know so little about it. According to the info our spies have gathered, all of the crime bosses you mowed down were already working for someone else, whether they knew it or not. Even worse, like Esteban, his reach is international, but on a much larger scale. And whoever they are, they’re pissed at us. So far its just been our mooks, but they’re having our men killed.”
I took a moment to think about this.
There were only a handful of people in the world with enough money and influence to control not only the entirety of the crime in a major American city, but also crime around the world.
“Nothing we can do about this at the moment. Just send out a memo to everyone to keep an eye out for anything suspicious.”
“Got it,” Harrison said.
“Anything else we need to discuss?” I asked.
“Depends,” Harrison answered. “Were you paying attention for the 45 minutes I was speaking before I moved into what we just discussed?”
I simply shook my head.
“Aaaaaaagh,” a pissed off Harrison groaned. “Sammy would you mind going over all of that with her? I need to sleep.”
“No can do,” Sammy said. “I only started paying attention when she did.”
“But you’re an idiot!” Harrison shouted, apparently viewing himself as smarter than Sammy. “What could someone like you have possibly been lost in thought about?”
“Raina’s tits,” Sammy answered with a coy smile.
“Awwwww,” I said, flattered, putting my hand to my heart.
I snapped my fingers a few times.
“Now come on. Fill us in.”
“Fine,” he said. “But I am so getting a raise.”
“For all your hard work, you most certainly will be,” I said. I then leaned over to Sammy and whispered, “Remind me to dock him a week’s pay.”
I’d had my fun with Harrison, but my little exchange with my boyfriend about Takato had been the thing about the meeting which most stuck out. It had been days, and no more demons had popped up, so we’d definitely made the right call stopping Sammy from killing him. Still, I had to go see him again. I knew it was a bad idea, but I had to see what kind of shape he was in emotionally after his encounter with Carter and I. Hopefully Del and Badrah had been taking good care of him.
Malcolm had recommended to me appearing as little like a rich bitch as possible. As such, I was just wearing a simple pink blouse and jeans, both still designer of course, but he wouldn’t be able to tell. I was also driving the cheapest car I owned, my Bugatti.
A few blocks away from Del and Badrah’s house, I got a text message. Checking my phone, I saw it was from Ally.
Hey slut. Haven’t hung in weeks. Netflix and chill LOL
As far as I knew, Ally wasn’t gay or bi, and she certainly wasn’t into me, so she was probably drunk. Which as this point, may as well have become her default state. Partially my fault. I may have been busy, but that’s no excuse to ignore one of my best friends.
Yeh why not. I texted back. My place at 8?
Totally! She texted right back. #banginmybestie
I laughed and smiled. Tonight was going to be fun.
I put my phone away, and turned onto a quiet side street.
“Raagh!” A woman roared, descending from the sky and landing on the hood of my car, heavily denting it.
“What the fuck?” I asked, on the verge of a heart attack from the shock.
The woman had dark hair, and was dressed in a green tanktop and military pants, with a noticeable absence of any shoes. She was really muscular, but her face was super ugly.
“You…are…Raina Davenport?” The pale skinned woman asked with the deepest voice I’d ever heard come from a woman.
“Yeah,” I answered. “Who the Hell’s asking?”
“My master thought he’d killed you.”
Master? Who would think that they’d…
“You work for Smog,” I said, grasping the situation I was in.
“I do not work for my master. I serve him.”
“Whatever,” I said. “You here to finish me off?”
“Yes,” she answered.
“Okay. Good luck with that!” I shouted, pulling out my special lipstick case and whipping out my foil. I leaped out of my seat and plunged the blade through her chest.
The woman responded to that by yanking the sword out of herself, sending me falling back down into my trashed car.
It then occurred to me that if she worked from Smog, she may very well be in his power range, which I was still far from. All this time, we’d thought that Smog was working alone. And if he had this woman at his side, who knew how many others were working with him.
“No blood,” I noted, observing the wound I’d left in her. “You’re not human.”
“No,” she said, closing her eyes. When she opened them, her blue eyes had turned blood red. “I am Salaran, vampire warrior,” she said, opening her mouth wide, exposing her fangs.
I took a deep breath to process this weirdness.
“I knew demons were real. Didn’t know about vampires.”
“Did you really think demons were the only beings to inhabit Hell?”
“No. I guess not.”
With that, I jumped up and kicked Salaran off the hood of the car.
“This will go much faster if you don’t resist, and just allow me to drink you.”
“Listen bitch,” I said, getting off my car. “I’m going to die one day. Sooner rather than later if your “master” has anything to say about it. But I will not go down until I’ve redeemed myself for my sins. So come on. Hit me with your best shot.”
“I do not shoot things,” Salaran responded.
“Vampires don’t understand idioms. Noted.”
I charged at her, and quickly planned out my strategy.
She didn’t bleed, and even if my stabbing her had hurt her at all, she clearly had a high pain tolerance. Also, if she was attacking me in broad daylight, that meant that either Smog had access to magic, in which case fuck my life, and was protecting her with it, or traditional vampire lore was bullshit.
Regardless, even if grabbing a piece of wood from a nearby pile of garbage and stabbing her through the heart would be ineffective, decapitation was still an efficient way to kill anything.
I wasn’t sure if the sides of my blade were sharp enough to decapitate someone. The only way I could be sure it would work is if I could pin her down, raise my sword, and strike her neck with enough force to cleave it off.
Which meant step one to winning was knocking Salaran on her ass.
Once in range, I swung my sword at her and stopped short, hoping she would think I was actually trying to hit her.
I smirked as she took the bait and grabbed my blade while I swept her legs, sending her to the ground.
“Smog really needs to find better help,” I mocked, raising my foil into the air.
Salaran’s facial expression remaining blank, she kicked herself up, driving her legs into my stomach, launching me back over to my Bugatti.
She was strong. Really strong. I think she’d cracked a rib with that attack. In the heat of moment when she showed up, I’d forgotten my body was still in shitty shape. I couldn’t take much more abuse before I dropped.
My plan had failed. I had to wing it.
I angled my sword and got ready to take her head off from the side. But before I could even move, Salaran made her way over to me, my eyes barely able to process her movement. She made a fist to knock my sword out of my hand, and began slamming my head against the hood of my car.
Again. And again. And again.
My skull had cracked a little, and blood was dripping down me like a fountain. I hadn’t rested enough. I wasn’t ready for this.
After a few more head bashings, Salaran let go of me, and I fell to the ground.
“I…can’t die here,” I moaned, trying to reach out for my sword.
Salaran stood over me, still not expressing any emotion.
“Don’t feel bad,” she said. “Your death will bring out what the master requires.”
Her fangs increased in size, as she bent over, going for the kill.
“I ca…an’t. Die,” I repeated, staring up at the vampire. “Not yet!” I screamed, tears mixing with my blood.
I grabbed my foil and the next thing I knew, I was gone.
No longer was I out on the street with Salaran, but inside a house. Looking around, I could tell which house it was.
“How did I…” I asked myself as I slowly stood up.
I put my hand to my face and found it completely covered in blood. I needed to clean myself up. I needed a healer. There was one nearby to where I was. I had to get to him.
Holding on to anything I could, I slowly limped over to a bathroom. Looking in the mirror, I was a complete mess.
My drive to live. It must have kicked my powers into overdrive, making me teleport here. I’d still like to know where I got the ability to transport myself, but right now I didn’t really care.
“Ahh!” I shrieked as I made the stupid decision of touching the spot where my skull had cracked.
I washed my face, the cold water feeling like a godsend, and proceeded to search the cabinets for a first aid kit. A healer wouldn’t be much good if I died on my way over to him.
As expected from the responsible people who lived here, they had a first aid kit. I quickly swallowed what I was pretty sure were painkillers, and began stitching myself up. Thanks to Olivia, I knew how to do it properly.
Even with the bleeding stopped and the pain ever so slightly reduced, I still felt like I was on the verge of death. I had to reach that doctor.
Just then, my phone went off.
It was Ally again.
Oh yeh. Should I hire sme strippers 4 tonight?
I hated to do it, but I had to cancel. All I wanted to do right now was go home, get into bed, and…
I dropped my phone as I entered the main hall in horror.
Badrah, or rather, Badrah’s corpse, laid on the ground, a gaping hole in her stomach making it look like something had been eating out of her.
“Oh god. What did you do Takato?”