10. Casualties

I began backing up and brought up the sawn-off. The buckshot caused ripples to flow all across the blood shield but did no other damage. Dropping the shotgun, I opened up with the 1911. Each bullet struck and caused more ripples. Like small pebbles striking the surface of a lake. The Tremere reached me, grabbed me by the throat and hauled me into the air, my feet flailing above the concrete floor. He threw me against a wall and as I hit, I felt the concrete crack beneath me. I collapsed to the ground, stunned. As I struggled to my feet, another wave of energy washed out from the vampire and I was seized by horrific spasms through my stomach. My mouth opened to scream and blood, my blood gushed out. I slid to the ground, weakened from the loss of so much vitae and just lay there. Part of me wanted to give up and accept Final Death. My Beast stirred. Angry and afraid, it compelled me to rise and keep fighting. My legs were shaking and my vision blurred. If he had wanted to, the Tremere could have easily finished me off. Instead he picked me up and threw me across the room. I hit the floor hard, feeling ribs break and shuddered.

As I lay there on the floor, bloody as a newborn, I heard the others shake off whatever it was that had held them stunned. Amy shouted something and the Nosferatu grappled with the Tremere, the two trading vicious blows. As the Tremere's blood shield flickered and expired, he hit the Nosferatu with another of those sickening blasts of power. Steven's body jerked upright and I could see heat shimmering around him. Steam licked from his mouth and his eyes burst. Then he exploded. The blast was powerful enough that one of the surviving Ventrue was also killed. Amy and Clarissa were slammed halfway through a concrete wall and lay still. I had to get to my feet. After expending that much vitae, the Tremere had to be close to collapse. Of course, I wasn't much better off. I managed to achieve a half sitting position.

The Tremere walked unsteadily toward me, the burning of so much of his vitae leaving him seriously weakened. I managed to work my other handgun out of the holster at the base of my spine and brought it up in a shaky two-handed grip. The first shot missed wide and the recoil knocked my aim off balance. I swore and drew another bead on him. The next shot got him high on the chest and knocked him back half a step. Another shot, another half-step back. Then another.

I faintly heard Amy stirring and vaguely saw her extricate herself from the wall. Clarissa was still slumped to one side, injured I didn't know how badly.

I sighted down the barrel and fired again. Then the slide locked back. The gun was empty. And the Tremere was still limping towards me, shot half to death but determined to take me into hell with him.

Amy picked up a chunk of concrete about the size of a bread loaf and ran at him. He turned half way around, movement slow and jerky due to blood loss and injury. Amy slammed the concrete loaf into his forehead. He went down with a grunt. Amy fell on her knees beside him, tears cutting clean paths through the blood on her face and raised the concrete loaf again. Then a third time. Finally, the Tremere's corpse flared and he turned to ashes. Amy sat crumpled beside him, crying silently.

I rolled over onto my stomach, feeling broken bones grind against each other and cried out weakly. With muscles spasming, I levered myself to my knees and, gripping a wall for support got to my feet. I stumbed over to Amy and fell by her side. Unsure what do do, I wrapped my arms around her shoulders and held her while she wept.

Eventually, Amy got to her feet and helped me up. We had to help Clarissa. She was in bad shape. Boiling blood from Steven's explosive end had badly burned half her face but the real trouble was the un-natural cant of her head. Her neck was broken. Not bad enough to have killed her but bad enough to paralyse her. I knew of only one way to heal that kind of damage. I turned to Amy, "Find me a live body," I said softly. Amy gaped at me, not understanding.

"I'm going to feed her my blood, but I need more."
"No, you aren't strong enough. She's my friend, I should be the one to help her."

"You can help me by finding one of those ghouls who's still alive and getting him in here. If you try to save her but fail, you'll spend the rest of eternity blaming yourself for her death. Blame me instead if it comes to that. Now go!" I shoved her towards the door. As she made to leave I turned back and told her, "Look for the guy with the blade in his gut. He was still alive when I left him." Amy nodded and forced herself to run.

I stared around at the absolute carnage wrought by that one vampire. This should have been the fucking Prince's job. His Clan, therefore it was definitely his problem, I don't care what political BS he tried to spin us. Amy returned with a semi-conscious body over her shoulder. He groaned as she dumped him by my feet. He didn't look too good. He was about to look worse. I grabbed his neck and drained him, my body healing itself. I shoved the corpse aside and turned to Amy. I took my knife and opened the veins in my left wrist, wincing at the pain. I held my wrist over Clarissa's mouth and drops of blood fell into her mouth and splashed her lips. Her throat gulped convulsively and she moaned.

More blood drizzled between her half open lips, her throat working greedily. "Please," Amy whispered, "Please." I could hear the bones in Clarissa's neck knit themselves together and with a sudden rush of strength she gripped my hand with hers and forced my wrist to her mouth. I felt her fangs pierce the skin and she began to feed. The sensation was at once painful and pleasurable. As she fed from me, the burns on Clarissa's face healed and her head jerked back into normal position, vertebrae grinding audibly. I groaned as she took more of my lifeblood into herself. I couldn't afford to give her any more.

"I'm sorry," I said as I pulled away from her. She sighed in pleasure and opened her brilliant blue eyes. Her gaze rested on me and she opened her mouth, likely to spout more Malkavian gibberish. She simply said, "My thanks to you, slayer of little dead-raiser."
"Um...actually Amy finished him off. I just occupied him for a bit." Her eyes flicked to look at Amy who was on her knees gripping Clarissa's hand in both of hers.

"I thought I lost you," she whispered. I figured that was my cue to leave.

"I'll be waiting in the car," I said over my shoulder and walked into the night.

The End.