Authors: Matthew Burkey
Ryan shook his head. “I really, really like her Cody so I am not going to treat this as a simple one night stand. I want a real relationship with her, which means that she has to trust me that anything that happens between us stays between us.”
“Aw,” Cody cooed. “That’s so romantic.”
“Also, I…well we need to take things slow.
“So you don’t upset Ethan?”
Ryan winced. “Yeah, he told me that he was okay with it.”
“Did you really think that he was going to say no?”
Ryan was pacing back and forth in the hotel room. “I really didn’t know what he was going to say.
“Ethan can be a real pain the arse sometimes but I doubt even he is that mean. He’s more perceptive in manners of the heart than we give him credit for, you want my two cents?”
“If I say no, will that shut you up?”
“No,” Cody smiled. “He probably knew, on some level, there was something happening between you two.”
“Anyway, I’ll be back.”
He left their room and headed down the hall to Elise’s. Part of him wanted to go after Ethan so that they could talk, he had a nagging feeling that Ethan wasn’t really as cool with the whole situation as he said he was. Ryan didn’t want to hurt anyone, though hurting Elise might have been easier than dumping his relationship with Ethan down the drain after all these years. The door to Elise’s room opened, breaking Ryan out of his train of thought.
“Can I come in?”
“Sure,” Elise smiled. “Where are the other guys?”
“Ethan went out on a walk,” Ryan explained, flopping down on the bed. “He’s not in the greatest of moods. I think that he totally lied about being alright with us seeing each other.”
Elise gave an annoyed snort and then dropped into the bed next to him. “Ethan doesn’t have the right to dictate to me or you who we can and can’t see. Do you really want to give up this chance to see if there is anything there because he is being all pouty?”
“I know that I don’t want to intentionally hurt him.” Ryan responded, propping himself up on his elbows. “He’s my friend, I’d be a pretty big jerk of I did that.”
Elise smiled and placed a hand on Ryan’s chest. The touch was enough to send electric jolts through his body and send his heart racing. He both loved and hated the fact that she had this effect on him.
“He’s a big boy, he’ll get over it.”
Elise leaned in and kissed him, causing Ryan to fall back onto the bed, off his elbows. She rolled over onto of him, breaking the contact for only a few seconds. Ryan’s conscious brain finally kicked in and he gently pushed away from her lips.
“We haven’t even had a proper first date yet,” Ryan whispered, placing his forehead against hers. “And I thought that we both agreed we would take things slow and we are on mission and all.”
“All work and no play, eh?” Elise asked, as a lopsided smile graced her face. “I think that I’ll have to change that.”
“I’m sure that you can,” Ryan answered. He sat up and she rolled off him onto the bed. “But we need to focus, I’d hate to get us killed because I have my head in the clouds acting like some sort of love struck teenager.”
“Well, you are a teenager,” Elise admitted.
Ryan smiled back at her. “You’re right about that.”
“We should get ready,” Elise said, sliding off the bed. “I’d hate to keep the countess waiting.”
Ryan gave her one quick kiss and then headed back to his own room to change.
Two hours later Ryan and Cody emerged from their room, dressed in tuxes and armed with Enforcer pistols. Ryan also carried his daggers, although Cody’s bow and arrows were upstairs, seeing as there was no real inconspicuous way to carry them around. He was armed with a number of small throwing knives and his staff, however. Ethan hadn’t come back yet and no one had heard from him, despite numerous telephone calls.
“You think he’ll show?” Cody asked, as they waited for Elise.
“He’s never missed a mission before,” Ryan said, fiddling with his collar. “I really hate these monkey suits.”
“But you look so good in it,” Cody teased.
The elevator at the end of the hall opened up, prompting both Cody and Ryan to turn around. Ethan emerged, dressed in a very expensive charcoal grey suit. He swaggered over to where Cody and Ryan were waiting for Elise.
“What happened to your tux mate?” Cody asked.
“I always hated those monkey suits,” Ethan grunted. “Besides, I think that I look much better like this, shows off my chest and my stunningly awesome legs.”
Ryan and Cody rolled their eyes just as the door to Elise’s room opened. She looked stunning, dressed in a flowing white gown that showed off her athletic and lithe frame. Her face was dashed with just the right amount of makeup and her hair was pulled up high.
“Well, there’s no hiding weapons in that thing,” Cody chuckled.
“I’m hoping that we won’t have to worry about it, come on.”
They headed downstairs to meet up with Faye. The countess was already in the ballroom, surrounded by what looked like an already heavily armed contingent of guards. Faye was taller than she looked in the images that they had gotten during the briefing but has the same beauty and grace that attested to her standing as royalty in the lycan world. She greeted them all with a warm smile.
“And what are we doing here again?” Ethan asked, gesturing toward the security. “I think that they have everything well under control.”
“Trust me, I told them the same thing.”
The Guardians turned around to see Day standing there, dressed in a tux as well. The young short muscular lycan looked about as pleased to be there as the Guardians were.
“What are you doing here?” Ryan asked.
“Last minute addition to the security detail,” Faye explained. “His father insisted that he come along. I am sure things will be fine, the vampires wouldn’t dare go after me here. There are going to be a ton of humans here tonight coming after me would risk harming them. I am hoping that’s a line that they won’t dare cross.”
“If they do, that’s why we are here,” Ryan assured the countess.
“I’ve been told of your fine fighting technique, though I haven’t had the chance to see it personally. Many of my clan speak very highly of the Guardians.”
Day appeared to just roll his eyes at that comment.
“We’ll stick by you through most of the night,” Elise stated. “After that you’ll have two of us inside our suite at all times and two of us outside until you leave tomorrow. If something happens just do what we say, understand?”
“I think that I can handle that,” Faye responded. “I’ve been doing that most of my life.”
“What are all these people here for anyways?” Ethan asked, as they started to mingle with the crowd. “Don’t tell me that this is really just an excuse for everyone to dress up and hang out.”
“It’s a charity event,” Faye explained.
“For what?” Ethan inquired.
“Relief for homeless in Haiti,” Faye answered. “And the vampire call us uncivilized.”
“Apparently,” Ethan said, with a shrug.
They began to circulate around the room; Faye would stop and talk to various guests while her protectors looked on. After a tense first half hour, things seemed to relax slightly. Nothing appeared to me amiss and everyone seemed to be enjoying themselves. The Guardians slowly began to realize that perhaps Faye was right. No one was going to come after her here. Maybe it would be an easy mission after all.
Of course the moment that they started thinking like that things were bound to go downhill. It started with the lights plunging the room into darkness, lit only by the candles. Seconds later the emergency lights came back on, illuminating the dimly lit room. The windows crashed inwards, sending shards of glass everywhere. Screams and shouts filled the room, sending the Guardians and their lycan allies into flurry of movement.
“Get Faye!” Ethan ordered, drawing his Enforcer.
Darklings broke through the windows, swarming toward the Guardians and the lycans. The first wave was almost entirely decimated by a barrage from three Enforcer pistols. The Heat rounds ripped through the next several to come through the windows as well. By now, most of the lycans had transformed, spreading out to take on the pack of vampires that had come through the main doors.
“What about them not attacking you?” Ethan asked, firing several more times. The rounds dropped three more Darklings, causing several more to stumble over their corpses. Lycans slashed through the incoming pack as well, tearing apart several more before they could even get all the way into the room.
“Bloody rude if you ask me,” Cody grumbled. “You shouldn’t crash parties!”
Several Darklings leapt toward him but were swept from the air by his staff. Cody spun back around, hitting a charging vampire with a series of hits that knocked him to the ground, Cody twisted his staff, causing the ends to snap open revealing blades that he used to turn the still stunned creature to ash.
“Impressive trick,” Ethan stated, unloading another barrage of the pure silver rounds. “When did you get that?”
“Imogene added it a few weeks ago, never had the occasion to use it until now,” Cody responded. He parried several attacks dusting another of the blood suckers.
Ryan shoved his pistol back into its holster and whipped out his daggers, ducking under a poorly placed blow before coming up behind the Unkari and stabbing it through the back. The demon gave a squeal of protest before dropping to the ground.
“These guys clearly aren’t the elites,” Elise shouted. Her pistol was constantly emptying rounds into not only the Darklings but everything else in the room. Although not causing any permanent harm to the demons, they were at least slowing them down and dusting several of the vampires as well. Day leapt past them in a blur, grabbing an Unkari by the arm before sending the demon smashing through a table. The large wolf snarled and took off after more prey.
“Good thing that Gabriel isn’t here,” Ethan retorted. He sent an Unkari bouncing along the ground with a snap kick before blasting two charging vampires into ash. “He’d get really upset that you even mentioned those elite guys.”
The door behind them shattered as several weapons came flying into the room, including both of Ethan’s swords, Elise’s axes, and Cody’s bow.
“Stop being a wise ass and kill things,” Elise retorted. She threw one of her axes, burying it in the chest of a charging demon and then spun around, reducing another vampire to ash.
“Didn’t anyone ever teach you that it’s not nice to yell?” Ethan asked. He lashed out with a series of strikes and sweeps that left him briefly surrounded by a cloud of ash and embers as the attacking vampires met their fate.
“Don’t you ever bloody shut up,” Cody quipped, sending several arrows slicing through a rush of Darklings. He parried several strikes with his bow and then caught the Darkling across the face with it, breaking its neck.
And that’s when they entered. Ryan was the first to spot them; they didn’t look like any demon or vampire that he had ever encountered. They stood at 7’8, with powerful builds, pale blue skin, glowing red eyes and had several curved and very dangerous looking bony growths protruding from their arms and shoulders. Rows of razor sharp teeth lined their mouths. They wore simple leather pants and carried immortal blades that looked like broadswords on steroids.
“Well, that’s new,” Ryan said. “Any idea what they are?”
“Dead,” Ethan snapped, charging forward.
“Wait!” Ryan called out.
But it was too late the first of the trio was already moving, way faster than Ryan would have thought possible. In fact, it moved like a lycan in feral form; a combination of speed, agility, and grace that was completely deadly to anyone that was stupid enough to engage it. Ethan was smacked right off his feet, slamming into a nearby table and breaking it apart.
A flurry of glowing silver lanced past Ryan’s head, drilling into whatever it was, causing it to roar out in pain and stop in its tracks. However, it still wasn’t dead. The other attackers in the room had retreated now, pulling back behind the three new arrivals.
“Well, it’s not vampire, or demon, or werewolf,” Cody remarked. He notched and fired another arrow, burying it deep in the creature’s right shoulder, which also elicited a roar. “I’ve bloody hit him four times and twice right where his heart should be.”
“Okay, that might have been a bad idea,” Ethan grumbled, picking himself up from the floor. “And you jerk, you totally ruined my suit!”
“I’m getting her out of here!” Elise yelled. Her dress was smeared with gore and ash, although her hair still appeared completely in place. It would have been amusing if not for the circumstances currently at hand. Elise spun around, slashing through two Unkari that tried to attack her from behind.
“Sounds like a plan,” Ethan agreed. “Looks like we get to play with tall dark and gruesome ones over here.”
“Oh sure,” Cody grumbled. “Give us the fun job.”
Day growled in response to Cody’s statement.
The three creatures turned and charged toward the Guardians and remaining lycans. Day surged forward as well, launching himself at the first of the creatures. He sunk his teeth into the creatures arm, attempting toward drag it down toward the floor. Normally, that kind of attack would have left the poor target on the ground; possibly without a limb but the creature shook his arm, sending Day flying through the air and crashing through another window.