Standing in the Colonial amidst the dismembered and partially devoured corpses of dead vampires, Ramses ran his finger down the soft cheek of Ruby. He could sense her fear and, like any predator, that emotion excited him. She wasn’t a coward like the male wolf he had disposed of, but that didn’t mean she wasn’t capable of experiencing fear. She would be his first. He meant it when he told her that they were going to tear this world apart.
Opening his mouth, his canine teeth lengthened; they protruded like a serpent’s, dripping with a thick black liquid. His essence. He held Ruby still as he prepared to change her, make her more than she ever thought she could be. She would never be at the mercy of a vampire or any other Variant again.
Sensing something before he could deliver his bite, Ramses roughly pushed the girl away and turned. He instantly released a beastly snarl at the new arrivals. He wasn’t surprised to see the woman and her minion, but the third was unexpected.
Alecto was standing before Ramses and cackled. Her light blue eyes gazed at his bloodied appearance, then to the carnage that surrounded her. Such a shame she thought, she would have enjoyed taking out every one of these creatures. When she returned her gaze to Ramses, there was no amusement left on her face.
“Such a clever wolf to find a way around your banishment, guiding the Blood Moon Pack was a stroke of genius. I am not sending you back to your prison because, quite frankly, I’m amused and I want to see how this will play out. However, this will be your only warning, put one paw out of line and I will come for you, and you will NOT be as lucky as you once were. There will be no banishment this time.” She let out a cackle. “No, I will take your head and it will adorn my wall for eternity.”
Alecto watched the girl standing there with her chin up in defiance; clearly this child had no idea who she was or what she was capable of. If she did, she would flee and never look back.
Next to Alecto was Rolfe, her minion who stood no taller than three feet; his skin was sallow and rough, and his wide bubble eyes were yellow as if he was suffering from jaundice. He watched Ramses’ every move, prepared to defend The Great One Alecto, without a moment’s thought for his own safety.
Quint casually leaned against the bar with a smirk on his face. He was the definition of tall, dark and handsome. 6’3, 210 lbs. of lean muscle with creamy caramel skin and short dark hair, he was used to drawing interest from others. It wasn’t just his physical appearance, there was something intangible about his attractiveness; he had a certain edge to him. Only those who really knew what he was were aware that the edge went deep into his core, like an axe to the heart of a tree.
“Frankly, I’m surprised you were capable of that kind of planning and strategy,” Quint said casually. “After all, I wouldn’t put you up there with the great thinkers of all time.”
Ramses allowed himself a chuckle as he looked to Alecto. “You have my word, I won’t harm the head on a single precious brat in this world. I don’t understand why you care so much about children, but they aren’t on my menu.” His crimson gaze shifted to Quint. He knew of that one, what he was, in spite of the tidy package he was wrapped in. “And I’m surprised that you are Alecto’s minion. Taking a step down in the world, are we?”
Quint smiled coldly. “Associate, actually. Don’t bother testing the limits of that quarter-sized brain of yours, you wouldn’t understand. I serve the Triumvirate alone. You remember them, don’t you, Brossus.” Just as he knew it would, calling to that side of Ramses by name irritated him. Not that he could do anything about it.
Alecto cackled at the use of Ramses’ demon name. It was a known fact that in the Variant world, knowing the name of the demon was a power in its own right. While Quint and Ramses spoke, she tossed her long, silky black hair over her slim shoulders. She wasn’t very tall at 5’3 and some had mistaken her small package as weak. She could still hear their screams echoing in her ears.
Alecto tossed Rolfe a severed foot, his favorite snack, and proceeded to approach Ramses. She was now standing right in front of him, looking up into his fiery eyes.
“You know that there are more innocents in this world than just children. You’d do well to remember that, wolf. And for the record, working for me is NOT a step down!”
With a flick of her wrist, Ramses’ knees buckled until he was kneeling before her. Now they were eye to eye. “You’d better learn some respect for those who are far more powerful than you, unless you really do want a short shelf life.”
Ramses snarled as he was forced to his knees. He didn’t take his attention from Alecto. He offered no verbal response to what she said, but hate dwelled within his flaming red eyes.
Alecto cackled again, sending Ramses plowing through the bar, wood splintering upon contact.
Quint chuckled as Ramses was sent hurtling into the bar; his large frame sending shards of wood flying in every direction. He should have said the Striba had a brain the size of a dime, since that was more accurate. Still, he had use for Ramses, so he was pleased when Alecto did not kill the beast.
“You do make a spectacular show, Darkness,” Quint said to Alecto, running his hand over her ass before shimmering from view.
Alecto turned to Rolfe, “You may collect all the feet of the fallen for your loyalty.” She cast Ramses an amused smirk and started for the door.
Rolfe did a dance as the Great One granted him permission to collect his treats. Taking on the shape of a Krawsoon, a large Variant with a huge bill similar to a pelican, he quickly began gathering up his treasure of feet. With one swipe of his claws, he cut them from the dead vampires. He was grateful that a Striba was capable of keeping a vampire from ashing away after death so that the flesh could be consumed. He had a nice haul in his bill as he waddled towards the door behind the Great One.
Ramses got to his feet and watched them depart. He had a wolfish grin on his face for a moment, before finally moving to an obviously terrified Ruby. Yes, his instincts had been right about her since she didn’t try to run. She was perfect to be his Beta.
“Now, where were we?” he hissed. She didn’t want this, but she was smart enough to understand there was no point resisting.
This time, nothing interrupted his bite.
The change was instantaneous. The black essence was injected into Ruby and soon thick, black veins ran all through her body. He watched it work its way into every pore, every bone and organ, before pooling in her eyes, which became as red as his.
“You are Striba now,” Ramses growled. “Like me, demon werewolf.”