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|Blood Ties(Blood Coven Vampire,book 6) by Mari Mancusi|
The sacrament again. What are the Alphas planning?
“Thank you,” I say. “I’ll go see him at once.” I beckon the boys to follow me and we all step into the elevator and I hit the only floor marked. The elevator begins its descent.
“Okay, we’ll split up once we get down below,” Jareth instructs. “Hunt for this so-called sacrament room. If you find Rayne, text us your location and we’ll get her out of there.”
I nod as the elevator doors slide open into a long dark, narrow corridor. But just as we’re about to step out, none other than Corbin himself, flanked by four other red-hooded initiates I don’t recognize, turns the corner. My fingers fumble with the “close door” button, but it’s no use. His eyes alight upon me and he holds out a hand, blocking the doors.
“There you are!” he cries. “I’ve been looking everywhere for you. Come, we’re almost ready to begin.”
He grabs me by the arm and tries to lead me away. Behind me I can hear Magnus and Jareth try to follow. But Corbin stops and turns to them. “I just need Leanna,” he says. “The rest of you need to head to the ceremony. We’ll be ready to begin soon.”
The four other initiates nod and gesture for Jareth and Magnus to follow them. They have no choice— without their vampire strength, they’d be no match for four trained slayers—and reluctantly start walking down the hall in the other direction, glancing behind them as they go.
“Where are they going?” I ask Corbin as he hustles me down the hall.
“To the temple, of course,” he says, looking surprised. “Everyone’s gathered for the sacrament. I figured that’s where you were leading them.”
“Oh, right, yeah. That’s what I was doing.”
We make a few turns down a narrow, closed-in hallway with low ceilings, which gives me major claustrophobia all over again. And this time I don’t have Jayden there to hold my hand. I try to keep my breathing normal, though my heart’s beating a thousand miles a minute. Where is Corbin taking me? Does he really buy my disguise or am I walking into a trap?
Finally, we stop in front of an old wooden door, covered in kanji symbols. Corbin pushes it open and ushers me inside. It appears to be some kind of prayer room that’s been turned into a makeshift laboratory, with test tubes bubbling over Bunsen burners and vials of red liquid stashed on almost every available surface. Evidently the Night School experiments are continuing here in Japan.
But I disregard all the mess. Because in the center of the room is the pièce de résistance. The Holy Grail itself, sitting inside a formative-looking glass case. And behind it, strapped to a hospital bed, is my sister.
My breath catches in my throat as my eyes search her body for signs of life. I let out a sigh of relief as I catch a slight rise and fall of her chest. She looks weak and unconscious. But she’s alive. We’re not too late.
Though, at the moment, I’m in no position to do any rescuing...
“Look how cute she is when she’s asleep,” Corbin sneers, walking over to Rayne and poking her nastily. I dig my fingernails into my palm, forcing myself to stay in character. I can’t fight Corbin by myself. I need to figure out another way.
“So how does the whole sacrament thing work again?” I ask, stalling for time, hoping it’s not a dumb question.
“Why, it’s quite simple, my dear,” says a new voice. Behind Corbin, I see another man walk into the lab. A total mad-scientist type in desperate need of a good eyebrow wax. I remember Rayne talking about a Dr. Franken back at Night School. This must be the guy.
“Absolutely,” he says, evidently proud of his plan. The bad guys always are, aren’t they? “Each initiate will get a few drops of vamshee blood, followed by a chaser of Holy Grail.”
Oh-kay then. “And... why the Holy Grail again? I mean, won’t that just destroy the vampire cells?”
“It will suppress them, yes. But not destroy them,” replies Dr. Franken. “Which is exactly what we need when injecting a vampire/fairy blood cocktail into our subjects. Otherwise the vampire blood cells will start attacking the human cells too quickly—destroying them before they have a chance to bond with the fairy ones and grow strong enough to survive.” He shakes his head sorrowfully. “Leaving our poor candidates in very bad shape. Most likely comatose.”
I shudder, remembering all the bodies back in Night School—the failed experiments. “But the Holy Grail will fix all that?” I ask, wishing I’d paid better attention in chemistry class.
Corbin nods. “Yes. That, combined with the weakening effects of being on sacred ground, will give the fairy cells a chance to bond with the human ones. Then, as the Grail suppressant wears off, the vampire cells will regain their strength. But, by that time, the fairy/human cell compound has already grown strong and all the cells will have no choice but to work together.”
“And then,” Dr. Franken finishes triumphantly, “we will have successfully created an all-powerful vamshee, a creature with the powers of both the vampire and the fairy. The most exquisite—and deadly—creature the Earth has ever seen.”
“We’ve already had three successful transformations tonight,” Corbin adds. “And now it’s time to start building our army.”
Dr. Franken cackles. “Those stupid Consortium vampires won’t know what hit them,” he says. “They’ll be surrendering quicker than you can say ‘fresh blood.’ ” He rubs his hands together in glee. “Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have some last-minute preparations to make.” He bows his head, then turns to leave the room.