Home > Dreams of a Dark Warrior (Immortals After Dark #11)(12)

Dreams of a Dark Warrior (Immortals After Dark #11)(12)
Author: Kresley Cole

"Nuh-uh."

Natalya raised her right hand. "Hand to goddess."

"Speaking of big cats. Cougar, he's a zygote. "

"Can I help if I notice him? I haven't been around available males in eons."

"How's that?"

"I was taken hostage at the Battle of Seven Hil s."

Regin snapped her fingers. "I remember now." She'd been pissed to miss that epic conflict between the fey and the centaurs. Nothing hurt Regin's feelings like not being invited to war. "We'd heard you died there."

Natalya shook her head. "Good old King Volos planned to ransom me, but failed to realize that I was ignoble and no one would pay. It took me a decade to escape."

"How'd you do it?"

"His nephew-and royal heir-took me out of my cel to make me his concubine. I acted receptive, right up until I ganked him with my poisonous claws, then decapitated him." Natalya said this dispassionately, but her eyes flickered. normally her irises were the color of plums, but with emotion, veins of black forked out. "At last I'd escaped. Then less than a week later, I was captured by these wanks. Your takeaway from this story: I need to get laid." She cast a keen glance at the kid.

"He's like six hundred years younger than you are." Regin pointed a finger at the ceiling and declared, "I refuse to be the moral compass of our cel ! Most weekends I have an intoxispel bong attached to my mouth like a respirator. I love scatological humor, and I list 'pranks involving nuclear waste' and 'making demons eat things' as my hobbies." Hubcaps, fire extinguishers, pizza boxes. Though she was friends with many of the demon species, she made the rest of them suffer.

"Valkyrie, if there was ever a cradle to be robbed ... Gods, just look at him."

Admittedly sigh-worthy. But Regin merely shrugged. "What are you going to do with him if he wakes?

Make p**n for the security cameras while I plug my ears and drone la-la-la? Besides, he's not ful y immortal yet. You claw him and he's dead."

Natalya glared at her claws.

"Face it, Nat, this is one tiger who will never be jumping through your flaming hoop-"

Regin caught the sound of Chase's nearing footsteps. She recognized his long-legged stride, the echo of his heavy combat boots. "Here comes the Blademan. ..."

Chapter NINE

Is anything wrong, Magister?" Dixon asked, fawning expression in place as they moved down the corridor, assessing new prisoners.

"No." His tone was brusque, his answer a lie.

Declan was having a shite day, and it wasn't even noon.

Tests on the vampire's ring had revealed nothing-which made Lothaire's interrogation this afternoon even more critical.

Declan still hadn't crushed his unnerving fascination with the Valkyrie; her cel was coming up fast.

And he'd found out that yet another magister's prisoners were on the way to his facility, though Declan hadn't even surveyed the ones brought in while he'd been away hunting.

Dixon had offered to bring him up to date on the recent arrivals. He'd accepted because she'd brought him the additional doses and because he'd assumed-rightly-that she wouldn't dare broach the subject of them anytime soon.

Now as they passed cel s newly fil ed with more creatures from "myth," she relayed details of their capture and backgrounds.

One cel contained Cerunnos, sentient creatures possessing the head of a ram and the body of a serpent. Another held a number of revenants-zombies con-trol ed by some unseen Sorceri master.

Even a winged Vrekener-a horned demonic version of an angel-had been captured.

Declan grudgingly admitted that this wasn't a bad haul, though not nearly the caliber of his last one. Nor in the same league as my next will be. He'd been laying a trap for the most powerful immortal ever to live. A vampiric demon ...

When they passed the cel of Uil eam MacRieve, the Lykae said, "You're the magister?" His Scottish brogue was thick, his eyes blue with rage.

Declan merely stared at him. In less than half an hour, Dixon was scheduled to examine the were-wolf. She and her team would be doing the regular workup, but they'd also be testing a sonic weapon devised to immobilize a creature with his acute sense of hearing.

Turning strengths into weaknesses.

MacRieve bared his fangs. "When I get free from this place-"

Without a word, Declan continued on, ignoring him. If he had a quid for every time one of them said, "When I get free ..."

I'd be even wealthier than I currently am.

All these immortals smugly thought they'd escape soon, assuming that humans could never contain them. Yet in the centuries of the Order's history, none had escaped.

And no one would be breaking that perfect record under Declan's watch. He'd instal ed so many security fail-safes that commanders and other magisters mocked him. They cal ed this Instal ation Overkill.

What they considered costly excess, he deemed standard precautions.

The metal wal s of the cel s were solid steel, three feet thick. The forward glass wal was made of the same material used for space shuttle windshields. If reentry into the earth's atmosphere couldn't crack that glass, then an immortal with a torque sure as hel couldn't.

But if one did breach the glass, then hydraulic bulkheads-barriers of six-foot-thick steel-would drop into place, sealing each of the three corridors. And once those bulkheads dropped, a self-destruct sequence would engage, overridden only by an officer.

Every contingency planned for, he mused, even as concerns about overcrowding weighed on him.

"You seem distracted," Dixon said. "Is it because of your upcoming interrogation?"

"Lothaire will be just one among many vampires," he replied cool y, belying his interest in this one.

Though the Order knew more about their kind-their origins, weaknesses, any anomalous powers-than about any other species, aspects of Lothaire proved a mystery.

Certain vampires could harvest memories if they drank blood straight from the flesh. And if one killed as he fed, he could usurp a victim's physical and mystical strengths. Over time, the older ones grew maddened from so many memories, their irises reddening.

Lothaire had that harvesting ability and was one of the oldest vampires alive, yet his eyes hadn't turned ful y red. Somehow he'd refrained from drinking as much as his brethren, shrewdly clinging to what little sanity he still possessed.

The Enemy of Old was an anomaly. Anomalies fascinated Declan.

Stil the vampire had stolen enough memories to suffer bouts of instability and hal ucinations. Declan had observed him slicing his black claws across his wrists to dine on his own blood as he conversed with himself. While at other times, his red eyes had seemed to burn with intel igence and cunning.

Declan wondered which side of Lothaire he'd encounter this afternoon.

In any event, he expected a worthy opponent. Natural born vampires like Lothaire were physically incapable of tell ing a lie, so they resorted to trickery and verbal misdirection; by all accounts, Lothaire was a master of deception.

No matter. I will best him. Just as I will best the Valkyrie in her interrogation tomorrow.

As they approached her cel , his skin pricked with awareness. For the most part Declan had ignored her-until earlier this morning when his curiosity had prevailed, and he'd pulled up her cel on the monitor.

She'd been braiding her hair into haphazard plaits that he somehow found pleasing to the eye-though one would think she'd grow more proficient at braiding after a thousand years. When a fight had broken out in a cel down the ward, she'd bitten her knuckle, then cried out dramatical y, "Can't we all just get along?"

Did she consider this some kind of game? Once Declan had finished with her tomorrow, she'd understand how dangerous her position was. ...

For now, seeing the Valkyrie in her cage, imprisoned right along with the other unnatural beings would remind him that she might be fair of face, but beneath the surface she was still one of them. A detrus.

Her beauty just made her more dangerous.

He'd been taught by the Order that they were abominations walking among humans, fil ed with untold malice toward mankind ... a perversion of the natural order, spreading their deathless numbers uncontrol ably ... a plague upon man that must be eradicated. ...

Experience had taught him no differently.

Chapter TEN

When she heard Chase's low voice in a clipped conversation as he approached, Regin resumed her customary spot on the floor.

Footsteps closer ... closer ...

And then he appeared-pale, angry, with his gaze fixed directly ahead. His pupils were dilated-everyone here knew he was on something. And he still sported those same black leather gloves. Rumor held that Chase hated to be touched, wore the gloves to avoid it. Freak.

At his side was Dr. Dixon, the head researcher/dissector. Though Dixon wasn't a pound-candidate per se-she had an athletic figure and even features-she was no looker either. She had lifeless brown hair, and her oversize glasses were the type that only a supremely confident woman could pul off.

Chase seemed to be half-listening to the woman, answering in monosyl ables-while Dixon was visibly lusting over him. The sick mortal two-bit.

When they paused at a cel diagonal to Regin's, she tried to determine what the woman saw in him.

Regin supposed his thick coal-black hair was nice, and his features were attractive enough. He had a strong chin, defined jawline, and prominent cheekbones with shadowed hol ows beneath them. His nose was thin and straight.

He held his broad shoulders erect in a proud military posture, and his soldier garb was pleasingly butch -shined combat boots, a black crewneck pul over with shoulder patches, and camo pants that were fitted around his narrow h*ps and muscular legs.

All in all , she might turn and check him out if he passed her on the street, but he was nothing like the other magnificent embodiments of Aidan. Not to mention his mental state.

A drugged-up freak of a torture expert? Have at him, Dixon.

In the old language, Natalya murmured, "He's noticeably gazing away from you. Why do you think that is?"

Regin had expected him to stare at her in confusion, to demonstrate that he'd begun to feel some pull toward her. Instead, he acted as if she didn't exist.

Which made her bristle. She was always the center of attention. Silent, lethal Lucia had once told her that she loved how Regin always stole the show-because that meant Lucia could go unnoticed in the shadows.

It felt bizarre to be ignored in general, much less by an embodiment of Aidan-who used to stare at her so hard that he'd run into trees.

Answering in the same, Regin said, "How should I know why Chase acts the way he does?"

"Uh-huh." Natalya clearly sensed that there was more to this than Regin was letting on. "You wouldn't have noticed, of course, since you're busy checking out all of him, right down to his tightly muscled backside."

"You take that back, fairy."

"Ah, look at the magister's hand. He just clenched and unclenched a fist. I wonder why."

"As if I care." finally a reaction!

Christ, I can feel her gaze boring into my back.

Awareness of the Valkyrie made him ... restless. He had difficulty concentrating on anything Dixon was saying.

Just to add to his frustration, the fey and the Valkyrie had begun speaking that language, the one he'd failed to get translated. Yet he knew they were talking about him.

When he and the doctor moved on, the Valkyrie cal ed out in English, "Yo, Dekko, who do I gotta blow around here to get a shower?"

His shoulders stiffened, and he almost answered, "Fegley," but somehow he stifled the retort and continued on-another victory for his iron will .

But once clear of the Valkyrie's cel , Declan found himself still preoccupied. With a feigned glance at his watch, he told the doctor, "We'l review the rest of the prisoners later. Your appointment begins soon."

"They still need to transfer and prep the patient. Besides, we haven't even gotten to the berserker yet."

"Berserker?" She'd piqued his curiosity. The Valkyrie and her sister had spoken of one that first night.

The Order had little intel on the berserkers, because they were exceedingly rare and most were mortal.

"Apparently, he was captured in the presence of other miscreats. He's as strong as any of the prime males in the Lore, and he tests out as deathless."

"An immortal? Then he's an anomaly. Let's see him."

As they approached another crowded cel , one inmate caught his attention, a big bastard who stood apart from the others.

When he met Declan's gaze, his jaw slackened and his green irises flickered, as though a flashlight shone behind them.

Why does he look at me like he knows me? The second prisoner to do so.

And more, this male seemed familiar to him.

No, no, Declan would never forget one of these beings. His heart began to pound-that wasn't entirely true. Had this one been there the night Declan had been tortured? Come into his parents' living room when he'd been unconscious?

Dixon frowned at the tension between them. "This is the berserker, Brandr."

"You don't recognize me, do you?" the male asked. "Good. That means we still have time." His phrasings were modern, but his accent had an odd resonance.

"What are you talking about?"

"If you've captured a Valkyrie named Regin, you must stay away from her." His eyes flickered even more. This was obviously very important to him.

So Brandr and the Valkyrie knew each other? Since berserkers were so rare, he might be the very one that Regin and Nix had spoken of.

The berserker Regin had longed for. Declan clenched his fists. "You think to order me?"

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