Home > The Eternity Cure (Blood of Eden #2)(10)

The Eternity Cure (Blood of Eden #2)(10)
Julie Kagawa

"Have a seat, sister. Let me tell you exactly what happened, so you can fully appreciate the role our sire had in this whole fubar'ed situation." Jackal took another long, leisurely sip, waiting for me to sit down. I perched cautiously on the opposite chair.

"You know that Kanin captured vampires and handed them over to the scientists to experiment on," Jackal began, pleased now that he had an audience. It reminded me of his speech in the arena, standing in front of his army, the raiders cheering his name...right before he'd thrown Darren into the arena with a rabid for their entertainment. I could still hear Darren's screams as the rabid tore him apart. Rage flared, and I swallowed the growl rising to my throat, trying to concentrate on what the raider king was saying now.

"It was all in the interest of curing Red Lung," Jackal continued, oblivious to my sudden anger, "or that's what Kanin probably told himself while he was selling out his own kind. He would track down a likely target, stake them to send them into hibernation, then deliver them to the laboratories, where the scientists would do all the happy things scientists do to their hapless subjects."

I shifted uncomfortably in my seat, disturbed to think of Kanin that way, even though I already knew about it. Or had thought I did, anyway.

"Thing was," Jackal continued, putting his boots up on the low, polished table, ignoring the glare from Azura, "New Covington wasn't the only lab searching for a cure. True, they were the one with the vampire patients, but they also shared their research with the other labs. And something happened here in D.C. to cause a massive rabid outbreak. Hundreds of people Turned within a matter of hours. We know the New Covington lab burned down and all the research was either taken or destroyed, but we don't know anything about the lab below this city. Is it still standing? Does it have the research from decades ago? What's been left behind, I wonder? The cure? Hopefully. But, what about the other things, the research on the plague and the virus and how Rabidism came to be?" Jackal's gold gaze narrowed, and something in that intense look made my skin crawl. "If any of that research is left behind, who is the very last person we'd want to stumble upon it? Sarren is brilliant and crazy and more than a little unstable. Think of all the nasty things he could do if he got his hands on that kind of information."

I shivered and felt the last of my protests dissolve. If Sarren was planning something, he had to be stopped. And if there was a cure to Rabidism, we had to find it. For better or worse, it appeared I would be working with my blood brother. For now, at least. I desperately hoped I was making the right choice and that Kanin would be able to hang on until we could get to him.

"I thought you would see it that way." Jackal smiled and rose, his duster falling behind him. "So, now that we're all finally on the same page, shall we get this party started?"

Chapter 4

The rabids were back, milling around the perimeter, but Azura showed us a tunnel that led from the house to an empty building beyond the fence. She wasn't sad to see us go, but provided us with maps, thermoses of blood and the reluctant offer that we could return if we absolutely had to.

"The subway is several blocks in that direction," Azura told Jackal, pointing to a spot on the half-open map. "It's the quickest way to get to the nest, but remember, once the sun rises, the tunnels will be crawling with rabids when they return underground to sleep. I suggest that you hurry. And try to stay off the streets. Use the rooftop-the rabids rarely think to venture off the ground."

"Thanks, darlin'," Jackal said, giving her a suggestive smile. "Maybe I'll drop by again someday, and we can 'reacquaint' ourselves when we have a little more time, eh?"

"Yes, just let me know when you're coming." Azura gave a tight smile. "I'll try to remember to turn the fence off for you."

"Minx." Jackal grinned, and Azura closed the door, shutting us out.

The city that lay beyond the fence was dark and eerie, overgrown with trees and bramble, as if a forest had grown up and smothered everything beneath. It was easy enough for two vampires to climb to the top of the nearest building and pick our way over loose shingles and gaping holes. Sometimes, where the space between buildings was too far to jump, we had to drop to ground level, but only until we could get to the next building and scale the walls. On the rooftops, the path was fairly clear, the moon lighting our way as we traveled above the streets, following Azura's map.

Below us was a different story.

Rabids roamed the tangled streets, skulking between cars, climbing out of windows, loping along crumbling sidewalks. They snarled and hissed at each other, blind in their rage and driven mad by the Hunger. There didn't seem to be any humans beyond the fence; I wondered if the ones in Azura's fortified house were the only humans left. An unfortunate cat tried scurrying across the road and was instantly pounced on by a rabid, who shoved the feline's head between his jaws and ripped it in two. The smell of blood drew several more rabids to the area, and a vicious fight erupted, with the rabids screaming and tearing at each other for the remains of the animal.

"You're not very talkative."

I ignored him, keeping my gaze straight ahead. Jackal strode easily next to me, sometimes glancing at the map as we traversed the rooftops.

"Nothing to say?" Jackal went on. "That's a surprise. You were so verbose the first time we met. I must admit, I've killed a few siblings, but you're the first one I actually thought I could get along with." He sighed. "But then, of course, you killed my men and ran off with those humans I worked so hard to acquire. You and that boy." His voice took on a slight edge. "What was that kid's name again? The old preacher's son, the one the humans kept crying over, thinking he was dead? Something biblical, wasn't it? Jeremiah? Zachariah?"

Ezekiel, I thought, as my stomach went cold. And there's no way I'm ever telling you about Zeke. I shouldn't be here, helping you. I should take my sword and shove it through your sneering face.

"So, whatever happened to your humans?" Jackal inquired after several more minutes of tense silence. "Did they leave? Run away? After you went through so much trouble to get them out of my city?" He grinned. "Or did you wind up eating them all?"

"Shut up," I finally snapped, not looking at him. "They're safe. That's all you need to know."

"Oh?" I could feel his sneer, sense the gleeful smugness as we continued over the broken rooftops. "Got them to Eden, then? How very charitable of you." He grinned at my sharp glance. "What? Shocked that I know about Eden? Don't be. I always knew it was out there-a city with no vampires, just a bunch of fat little humans scurrying around, pretending to be in charge. I knew that old man was looking for it, too, and that, eventually, he would slip up and land right in my lap. He and his little band couldn't run from me forever, I just had to be patient. And it paid off-we finally got them. Everything was going to plan." His eyes narrowed. "Or, it was, until you showed up."

"Yeah, sorry to ruin your plans to take over the world."

"That is not true," Jackal said, sounding affronted. "I was trying to find a cure for Rabidism."

I snorted. Any living thing bitten by a rabid would Turn rabid itself, but that wasn't the only way to create one. Vampires, through the result of the mutated Red Lung virus, were all carriers of Rabidism, as well. Just biting or feeding from a human wouldn't Turn them, but for most of our kind, attempting to create a new vampire through the exchange of blood would birth not a vampire, but a rabid. Only the few Masters, the Princes of the cities, could spawn new offspring anymore, and even then, they were just as likely to spawn a rabid. Kanin, our sire, was a Master himself, but I was still very lucky to have made the transition to vampire instead of rising again as a monstrous, mindless horror.

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