Journey to Hell - 12 | ii

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Tracking Passerini, Ava, and Penny ran into trouble. Not the trouble they were looking for, but one they could not in good conscience ignore. By the looks of it, the Purists were expanding their reach further from Pentorium. In the midst of dealing with the fallout from the virus and trying to figure out Salvay's plans, little was done to cut the head off the Purist snake. One could say the snake had two heads, Salvay and Passerini, but when they weren't around to keep the fires burning, someone else was. Ava saw the opportunity to rip up the revolution from its roots, and she took it. Penny did not mind the detour.

A loud explosion drew their attention to the makeshift army post. The road leading to the militarized federal building had blockades at both ends. None of their weapons fared well against the vampires who were stronger, faster, and harder to kill. For maximum chaos, the vampires blew up the vehicles parked outside of the building, thick dark columns of smoke and fire rising to meet the night sky. As Ava and Penny approached from the west end, they came under fire. To keep them protected, Ava threw up a shield, the bullets evaporating on contact.

"I need one of the vampires alive," she told Penny.

Penny charged forward leaving the protection of the shield. To the humans, she would look like one of them. An unassuming slip of a thing running into battle. Throwing grown men aside like rolls of paper. Ripping them apart with nimble fingers. The guttural sounds she made clashed with her outward appearance. To the vampires, Penny would look like she was. A werewolf built like a battle tank. Ava pulled the shield close to her body like a thin second layer of impervious skin.

Using runes, she put out the fires of the burning vehicles. The smoke, thick and acrid made the air heavy. She cleared it all. As the bullets disintegrated against her shield, she made a path through the fighting bodies separating vampires from humans. Neither side knew what to make of it, fighting each other but seeing her as the bigger threat.

Ava came across a vampire pinning a soldier to the ground. He raised his hand to pummel the soldier, and Ava caught his wrist. Through their contact, Ava sent a jolt of electricity into the vampire causing him to go rigid. As the vampire continued to kneel over the human, his body under her control, she opened her mouth. Wider than was natural. She sucked the vampire's soul from him devouring it. Finished with her quarry, she released him. His husk of a body fell face first on top of the human she saved. The man made no attempt to move paralyzed as he was in fear. Ava walked away.

There was no need to hide what she was anymore. Despite the circumstances, she got a thrill. Living in the open was refreshing. Ava collected all the souls of the fallen, allowing the vampires with the good sense to retreat to do so. Penny caught one as he tried to escape, making him the last. The werewolf held him off the ground by the collar of his shirt. A shot rang out, and Penny looked over her shoulder growling.

"We aren't your enemies," Ava said. "Unless you make us so."

It was she and Penny against at least fifteen armed soldiers. The men were at a disadvantage. They knew that. Doing the smart thing, they lowered their weapons. Ava threw a rune over her head, the sign forming into a portal.

"Let's go." She stood, as she was, Penny walking past her and through the portal before Ava turned and left.

They came through on the other side to find themselves under an underpass. Penny held the vampire at the back of the neck. His struggle was more a show of defiance than an attempt to escape. Ava did not have Anabella's ability to walk into another's mind. Neither did she have Marx's diplomacy and patience. What Ava had was the gift of fear. She knew how to cause it, how to bend it to her will.

"Banhu, a ve see, a ben ak buh," Ava said as she walked over to the man. He started to gag as if trying to retch. "What you're feeling is your soul dislodging from your body." The man continued to dry heave, his eyes widening in horror. "To make it stop, all you need is to answer my questions. Understood?"

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