Rachel shuddered as she exited the portal. It really does touch everywhere. She did a quick scan of the room; they were in a hotel lobby, the decoration seemed expensive. She heard people on the upper floors, but no one was on the first three levels. Maria appeared shaken as she sat on the ground, hugging herself. Scarlet emerged from the portal at her back, the blood absorbing into her body.
“No one around us,” Rachel reported, shifting to sit in a comfortable armchair nearby.
“We are not going into that blood again,” Maria stated, Rachel felt a little bad seeing tears in the corner of her eyes.
Scarlet huffed, taking a seat across from Rachel. “I did not expect to see this side of you, Maria.”
“Hey,” Maria snapped. “I don’t like being touched, okay! Your blood…” A quake ran down her frame as her eyes closed, fingers gripping her shoulders.
“It’s fine,” Rachel soothed. “We’re past the Military. I’m looking—got it, Marcus is to the east, in a hotel with a bar in the basement. They have loud music playing, so it’s hard to make out the conversation, but I can tell the frequency of his voice. I can’t tell if your brother is there though.”
“Point toward the direction,” Scarlet followed Rachel’s finger. “Hmm, underground … yes, I see him. He certainly enjoys living the gangster life. There are very scantily dressed women dancing for him; a few Beastkin … how sad.”
“What?” Maria tensed.
“There is a girl with bunny ears, likely a Hare or Bunny Beastkin, that looks fairly brutalized. He must have been quite livid with Rachel humiliating him.”
“What about my brother?” Maria pressed, taking a deep breath to regain her composure.
“Hmm, what does he look like?”
“Hispanic, skinny, a bit on the small side…”
“Ah, yes, I see him sitting at another booth with two men beside him. They make your brother look like a child.” She snickered.
“He hasn’t hit his growth spurt yet!” Maria snapped. “Well, Rachel, we’re here, what’s the plan?”
Scarlet smirked. “It would be simple to just teleport him to us.”
Rachel’s brow furrowed. “Really? It can’t be that simple.”
She shrugged. “Well, I would need to take the entire couch, but I can do that. The thugs will be transported with him.”
Maria smiled darkly. “Yeah, do that, and when they show up, Rachel, throw them across the room. We can get some decent information from them. I’m not satisfied with just saving my brother; we’re dismantling their entire operation, right?”
Rachel took a deep breath as Maria straightened, stretching out a little. “Well, that’s what I planned to do. You two don’t have to stay with me, but I feel like I have unfinished business with them.”
Frowning, Scarlet’s eyes narrowed. “I am not satisfied with just being the transport girl. I want to sink my fangs into something.”
“Huh,” Maria chuckled. “Looks like you’ll have the chance with one of those guards you’ll snatch.”
Scarlet’s smile returned. “It is a start; the night is young, after all.”
“I got it,” Rachel cracked her neck, bound hair shifting. “Can you grab Felix real quick then?”
Blood extracted from Scarlet’s body, forming into a large disk a few feet in front of her. “Of course.” A big couch emerged from the portal, three screams followed as it struck the ground; one of the wooden supports snapped, causing one of the big men to sink into the frame.
Rachel rose, time slowing as she walked toward the men with quick steps. If felt natural to her, but their reaction was sluggish. Moving around the back, she grabbed both men’s collars and tossed them back, tumbling across the floor. They grunted with each strike as they struck the marble.
Felix seemed petrified as he stared at Scarlet’s sinister appearance, blood absorbing back into her body. “Hello, Maria’s little brother.”
He slammed into the side of the couch as Maria tackled him. “Hermanito, ¿estás bien? Te lastimaron? ¿Te duele en alguna parte?”
“¿Hermana? Oye, estás apretando demasiado apretado!”
Rachel chuckled as she faced the two men; they gasped for air, shaking while examining the area in shock. The one to Rachel’s right had blonde hair, while the man to her left had brown. The blonde haired man rubbed his forehead. “What the—Tony, did you feel that?”
Tony coughed, grasping at his shoulder. “Yeah—like I was being touched by a million bugs. What the…” He trailed off as he caught sight of Rachel. “Who the—you that bunny Mythickin?” His vision shifted to Maria as he rose, but locked eyes with Scarlet. He swallowed hard; his buddy lifted himself to one knee, next to him. “Uhh, Pete … where are we?”
“You are with us; is that not obvious?” Scarlet chuckled before licking her lips. “I sincerely hope you are not as thick-skulled as you appear. Doltish blood is rather distasteful.”
“Ack…” Pete muttered.
Rachel’s ears twitched as she heard the music cut in the underground club with Marcus’ yells. “What in the—where’d the kid go?”
Maria released Felix, glaring at the two men before a deadly smile moved her lips. “I’m shocked, Scarlet. That was a lot easier than I anticipated—I owe you, big.”
Teeth bared, Tony was wide-eyed. “Marcus didn’t—didn’t say anything about a Vampire!”
Rachel shifted slightly to keep both Maria and the men in sight. “What did you want to ask them about, Maria?” She heard Marcus ordering people to search the area.
Maria cracked her back with a satisfied grunt as she rose. “The…” Felix cut her off.
“Hermana, ¿qué está pasando? ¿Estás con el vampiro y el conejo?”
“Yeah, they’re with us,” Maria said before her horn’s light momentarily intensified. Rachel hummed as Felix was surrounded with white light and the dark bruises on his face were healed, swelling dropping within seconds. “I want to know if anyone else touched you. Was it just Marcus and Daran?”
“We didn’t touch the kid,” Tony shifted, hand slowly reaching behind his back. Seriously … he’s probably going for a gun.
Pete nodded. “Yeah, we…” He paused as Tony whipped out a handgun. Rachel sighed as she accelerated. Before he could bring it up, she’d snatched it from his hand, feeling bone snap as her grip tightened. The man screamed, stumbling back as the air current struck him. He managed to stay on his feet, but his face was pale, round eyes staring at the gun in Rachel’s hand.
“What the…” Pete tripped, falling to his side.
Maria chuckled. “Broke two of his fingers disarming him.”
“Tsk,” Rachel breathed. “Didn’t mean to do that part. I need to learn how to control my strength better.”
“What…” Tony brought up his hand, arm starting to tremble. “What the!” He cradled his purpling fingers.
Scarlet rose; moving around the couch, her head shifted to Pete. “Going to follow that oaf’s example?”
He shook his head, raising his hands, ashen-faced. “No—no, I’m cool! I’m cool!”
Rachel frowned as she held up the gun, examining it. “How do you…” She pressed a lever, and the clip fell out. “There’s usually a round in the chamber, right?” She questioned, looking toward Maria.
“Yeah, toss it here.”
Rachel tossed it as Scarlet bent down close to Pete, sniffing slowly. “Not a bad scent.” Maria caught the gun and removed the round in the chamber, tossing the gun back; Rachel caught it and crushed the metal in her grip, tossing it to the side. “This one might be the best choice…” Scarlet hummed darkly.
Maria huffed. “Realizing he’s screwed doesn’t make him smart.”
“True,” Scarlet hummed; Pete began shaking, tears gathering in his eyes as he started hyperventilating. “I really like the emotion though … it smells like Vanilla.” Felix moved behind his sister; he seemed as scared of them as the men.
“Emotion actually has a smell to it?” Rachel asked, head tilting.
“Most definitely,” Scarlet caressed Pete’s cheek with the back of her hand, causing him to lock up, completely paralyzed. Her blood slowly began leaving her body, hovering before his eyes as it slowly snaked down his neck, wrapping around his frame. Her black fingernails slowly moved down his cheek to his neck. “Playing with the mind—apprehension, that is a tantalizing emotion. Horror mixed with the slightest hint of hope that he will survive.”
“Look—I’ll tell you anything you want to know!” Tony pled, vision shifting to the crushed pistol.
Rachel pursed her lips. “I’m beginning to see you have a talent for this, Scarlet.”
She giggled, face inches away from Pete, forcing him to look into her crimson eyes. “I was an artist before becoming a Vampire; perhaps I will try painting with blood in the near future. What do you say, Pete?” Her tone held intense joy.
He gasped, suddenly able to breathe again, but still unable to turn away. “Please—anything—I’ll do anything…”
His chest locked up again, throat bulging as his veins convulsed. Scarlet moved back. “Selective Paralysis, locking your lungs while releasing your throat.” She chuckled as she rose, fingers leaving his neck; he coughed, vomiting but unable to move his head with her blood keeping him pinned. Tears finally started dripping down his cheeks. “Yes,” she cooed, “restricting your tear ducts—surprisingly, it enhances the terror, being unable to release stress.”
“Son of a…” Tony’s mouth clamped shut as Scarlet turned toward him.
Pete sputtered, spitting out the vomit in his mouth before gasping, “Pl—please—please … anything … stop, please…”
“Hard gangsters, these, Maria,” Scarlet giggled.
Maria huffed. “You kidding? You’re a real Vampire, who wouldn’t be terrified?”
Rachel nodded. “For real, Scarlet—it may be because of your corruption, but I didn’t expect this out of you. Not saying it’s bad, just saying I’m surprised—still, a lot better than the worst I could imagine; at least you’re friendly.” She frowned as Tony scrambled to his feet and tried running to the exit. She was about to chase after him when a shiver dropped down her spine, and she focused on Scarlet.
Scarlet’s composure lit up as a section of her blood separated from around Pete’s body to form a portal. The crimson liquid appeared in front of the exit door, just as Tony slammed against it and was enveloped in blood. He emerged before Scarlet, and that was when the aura struck. Rachel frowned as an external aura of terror surrounded her. Tony crumpled to his butt, soiling himself as his eyes lost focus.
“Seriously,” Maria huffed as her horn’s light increased, a soft glow enveloping Felix; she instantly felt the aura’s pressure fade. “You have a fear aura—a literal fear aura! When did this happen?”
Scarlet chuckled. “Recently.”
Rachel shifted, working out her muscles. “That was interesting. I felt a bit of danger, but it wasn’t like I couldn’t move. It just made me cautious.”
“As expected,” Scarlet grinned. “I would not expect such a cheap ability to work against you; however, look at these pathetic vermin. Their minds have checked out; perhaps they will behave now.” Her aura faded as her blood portal shifted to encircle Tony, vision clearing.
“Will you behave now, Tony?” Tony opened his mouth, but he seemed to have forgotten how to speak. He breathed a few times, grunting before looking down at the floor, nodding. Her blood returned to her body. “All yours, Rachel. I had my fun.” Scarlet smiled innocently. “I will choose one to drink from when you are finished; which one depends on their answers.” She sat on one of the chairs, lowly humming a song.
Maria shook her head; pulling Felix in, she rubbed his shoulder. “It’s okay, alright?” He nodded, staring at Scarlet with wide eyes.
Rachel walked over to the men, her nose twisted with disgust; she could smell the piss and crap that stained their pants. I guess most men would do the same if they were faced with Scarlet … she has the tools to do it and in her corrupted state… “So, Marcus realized Felix vanished; I think he saw at least part of the blood. He’s furious, making his men search the area.”
“Not a big deal,” Maria shrugged. “Now that my brother’s back, I don’t feel that threatened.”
“I don’t know,” Rachel growled lowly. “I feel like there has to be someone here that can pose a threat to us if he’s so confident.”
Scarlet leaned back, smiling as she looked around. “I see a lot of people, thousands. They must have something to keep all those people trapped. There’s bound to be many ability users they’re keeping oppressed as well.”
“Fair point,” Maria frowned.
Rachel turned back to the men. “How many people are in your gang?” They both sounded broken as they tonelessly answered her questions.
“How many ability users?”
“Tsk,” Rachel huffed. “That’s quite a bit. They can’t be all together though; they need to be spaced to make sure everyone stays in line.”
“They’re spaced around South Beach,” Tony stated.
Rachel rubbed her left ear to ease an itch; she glanced back at Felix. We should probably get him out of here … especially before Scarlet drains one of these guys. “Alright, well—we should probably get Felix out of here first. Scarlet could send him back to one of the Military blockades on the bridge.”
Maria sniffed. “What? We’d have to get him back from them after we mess up Marcus and his gang.”
“I understand,” Scarlet pursed her lips before a sly grin touched them. “We will need to deal with the Military eventually since the Army already knows what we are doing. Therefore, sending back hostages will provide us a good light.”
“Hmm,” Maria looked down. “Okay, so, headlines being, Mythickin saves South Beach. It’s not about taking out Marcus, but helping the citizens.”
Rachel nodded. If I manage this … there’s no way my parents can ignore it. “We can start with some people in this building. That will start the word being spread.”
Scarlet folded her arms, eyes narrowing. “You know, my powers are not unlimited. The size of a portal and length of time it is open increases the energy spent.” She looked up. “You have any idea how long I would need to keep it open for over three hundred people?”
Rachel smiled. “It’s crossed my mind. Let’s first get Felix to safety before we continue the discussion.”
“I see,” Scarlet’s smile darkened. “Maria?”
She was silent for a moment, deep in thought. “Okay, let’s do it.”
“¡Espera, hermana!” Felix shouted, but Scarlet merely waved at him as her blood shot out from her body, spreading below him within seconds. He dropped through the liquid with a shout.
Maria huffed as she glared at the pool of blood that swallowed her brother. “So, you’re talking about Scarlet drinking both these moron’s blood?”
“That’s right,” Rachel stated without remorse, stretching out her arms. She turned to them. “How many people have you killed?”
“At least thirty,” Tony said without resistance.
“Forty-three,” Pete replied.
Scarlet’s brow lifted. “Did you see that coming, Rachel? I would have lost the bet if we were guessing who killed more people.”
“Huh, I’m with you there,” Rachel shook her head.
Maria glared at the two men. “Let’s get this over with,” she growled.
Scarlet licked her lips. “Bon appétit.” She walked behind both men, fangs glistening as she smiled with anticipation. “I probably will stop using my fear aura; from the smell, it sullies the emotional flavor. They are so broken that it takes the joy out of it.” She opened her mouth, bent down and bit into Pete’s large left jugular vein; the red glow in her eyes intensified as Pete dried up in front of their eyes. Within ten seconds, his skin was placid and lifeless.
Releasing, Scarlet took a relishing breath as Pete’s husk crumpled to the ground. “That was … marvelous.”
Maria held a deep grimace. “It was certainly something—I could feel his life being sucked out of him; he died at the four-second mark.”
“I could have made it last hours,” Scarlet smiled. “It is … no meal I have ever tasted could compare.”
Rachel frowned as she looked to the right as something caught her interest. A man was frantically looking around a room in the basement of a supermarket near them, cursing several times. “Where did that fairy go? How did it move the entire cage?” That’s right, they have a Fairy Mythickin here. She listened carefully to the sounds around the man as Scarlet drained Tony, again without resistance. There, small sounds of scurrying rodents … rats?
The tone she heard was whispered, but she had a lovely voice. “C’mon guys! To the left, no, Rat four, to the left, left! Okay, again, lift, boys. Put the pencil down, now pushers, go! Again!” What the heck?
“Hey, guys?” Maria and Scarlet looked at her with furrowed brows. “I think—I just found the Fairy Mythickin … she’s controlling rats?”
“Well, that is unexpected.” Scarlet chuckled, tossing Tony’s lifeless shell across the room.
Maria snapped her fingers with a smile. “That’s it! I can purify you … wow, that actually shifted the balance a ton.”
Scarlet smiled fondly. “Well, it was fun, girls. This personality is like a parasite on Scarlet’s mind; it is the corruption of those expired blood bags. Since I am an amalgamation of all those personalities, linked to Scarlet’s mind, I will functionally die.”
“And you’re okay with that?” Rachel frowned, crossing her arms.
“Of course, Scarlet desires control over herself above all else and I am a representation of her subconscious; therefore, I relish the opportunity to give her back control. Thank you, Maria.” Scarlet nodded.
Rachel hummed. “Before that, can the uncorrupted Scarlet teleport people through blood?”
“She should be able to; if she does not know how then she simply needs to ask, and it will be given her.”
“Got it,” Rachel nodded. “And would you mind teleporting that Rabbit Beastkin here? I feel a little guilty that she got hurt because Marcus is pissed at me. He’s going back downstairs to hurt her some more.”
Scarlet hummed as she looked over at the underground club. “I could just bring Marcus here.” She grinned wickedly.
Rachel considered it. “We can do that after; the Rabbit Beastkin seems to be a punching bag for other members of his gang too. I’d rather save her and have Maria heal her wounds as soon as possible. We can deal with Marcus at any time.”
“Your call,” Scarlet shrugged. The blood portal formed as the liquid left her body and a tattered looking woman dropped onto the couch with a heavy grunt. Maria and Rachel’s lungs froze as they caught sight of her. She was naked, black and blue welts and bruises covered her tanned skin as large gashes seeped dark blood, and she was missing a few fingers and toes. Her brown hair was patched and bloodied; one bunny ear was cut off, while the other had multiple holes punched through it. The woman’s muscles convulsed as she hugged her body protectively. It’s way worse than I thought.
“Marcus…” Maria seethed, healing the woman’s wounds in seconds. Her quakes slowly eased, hair returning as her dried blood vanished with her lacerations. White light filled her lost appendages, dispersing to reveal her brown bunny ears, both restored to perfect shape with the rest of her body.
“I told you it was bad,” Scarlet huffed.
The woman looked over at them and started breaking down into tears. Rachel rushed over to her; embracing her as she stroked the woman’s head. “Hey, it’s okay, it’s okay, you’re safe.” She struggled for a moment before her words sunk in and her cries escalated. She latched onto Rachel’s body, muscles quivering.
Maria’s teeth were locked. “Ese wey pagará.”
It took a few minutes for the woman to collect herself. “Are you okay?” Rachel asked. She nodded, sniffing. “Alright, I’m going to let go, okay?” She nodded again, and Rachel released her grip, pulling back. “We’ll get you to safety—let’s look through some of these bags people left lying around and get you some clothes.”
They spent a few minutes going through clothes before finding something that fit her. After she dressed, she sat down on the couch, taking a deep breath. “Th—thank you.” She stammered.
Rachel sat across from her. “We’re going to try to get everyone in this building to safety. Do you have a name?”
“Coral…” She mumbled.
Scarlet took a deep breath. “I know she is still upset, but are you going to purify me?”
Maria shook her head with a slight frown. “You were one crazy personality,” she muttered, horn flaring with light. A massive beam enveloped Scarlet before she sagged.
Rachel moved to support her, “You good, Scarlet?”
Coral cringed as the wave of wind blew around the area. “What did you do to her?”
Maria scratched her temple. “It’s a…”
“Ugh,” Scarlet muttered, blue eyes returning. “That was … bizarre. It felt like I was floating in space as flashes of images seemed to hit me from every angle—thanks for waking me…” She glanced at Coral, then over at the bodies, blue eyes widening with horror. “What did I do?”