Thursday, March 26, 2015
"Breath of the Undead" [PG-13] - 12/15
"BREATH OF THE UNDEAD"
Inside the Diamond Club, two young men in their early twenties sat in an isolated booth, far away from the dance floor. The pair was engaged in a conversation so intense that they were unaware of the numerous pairs of eyes observing them.
"This is getting out of control, Curt!" Alonzo Giovanni hissed at his friend. "I mean . . . my God! Your defense attorney is dead?"
Curt Decker's dark eyes shifted uneasily. "Shhh! Not so loud! Everyone will hear you!"
"Everyone knows about you!" Alonzo shot back. "News of the whole mess have been on the front pages of every newspaper in this city!"
Curt heaved a large sigh. "What do you want, Lonnie? Assurances that the Feds won't come knocking on your door? Because they haven't, so far. They don't even know that you're an investor."
"They suspect it!" Alonzo hesitated before he added, "Look, I need money."
"What?" Curt stared at the other man in disbelief. Bitter laughter soon follow. "You've got to be kidding! Dude, I'm the last person who can help you with extra cash. The Feds have frozen my assets."
Frustration welled within Alonzo. "Dammit, Curt! I need . . ." He hesitated. "What about your friends?"
Alonzo snapped, "Your initial investors. The . . . uh, Two-Twenty Investor Group. Can they help me?"
A buxom waitress appeared at the booth. Curt impatiently waved her away. "Dude! Have you forgotten? My attorney is dead! And one of the prosecutors is missing. For all I know, 'my investors' are behind everything. For all I know, I'm next on their hit list. Look, if you need money that badly, why don't you get an advance on your trust fund?"
"I tried!" Alonzo retorted. "The son-of-a-bitch attorney who works for my dad won't help."
Curt asked, "What do you need the money for?"
Alonzo sighed. Long and hard. "Remember when you said that no one probably knows about my investment into your little business? Well, someone does. About a week ago, I had received a message from someone demanding twenty-five thousand dollars to keep the Feds from finding out. I've already managed to collect twenty thousand. I just need another five thousand dollars."
Shaking his head, Curt replied, "I don't know, dude."
"C'mon man! Please?"
After a quick glance around, Curt nodded toward the club's exit. "Let's take this outside. The parking lot." He stood up. So did Alonzo. And the two friends made their way toward the nightclub's exit.
Several feet away, FBI Special Agents Lee Alvarez and Jay Ruhl eased out of their booths. With their eyes trained upon the two younger men, they followed their targets out of the club.
Neither the two young men nor the FBI agents had any idea that another pair was following them.
"We've been sitting here for quite some time," Harry complained. "We are we going after our two vampires?"
Master Chan sighed. "And I thought that you had learned to curb your impatience, Harry."
The youngest McNeill sibling protested, "I have! But there's only so much patience I . . ."
"Everyone!" Scott barked. "Check out the roof!"
All eyes glanced out of the SUV's windows. Harry spotted two figures on the roof and both wore red Chinese silk robes. The red-haired witch frowned. "It looks as if they're watching someone. I wonder who?"
Scott climbed out of the SUV. The others did the same. "Who knows? But I suggest that we all keep a close eye. It looks as if they're heading toward the other side of the building." The four people made their way across the street. Scott led them toward the fire escape. "Now, hopefully we'll be able to catch these guys off guard. Piper, Harry . . . do you two have the rice?"
"Yeah," the Charmed One answered. "But I can still try my freezing power."
"We'll use the rice in case that doesn't work," Scott added. He placed a hand on the fire escape ladder and drew it down.
At that moment, Harry heard voices inside his head. Voices that did not belong to any of his three companions. "Uh guys, I don't think we're alone."
A figure emerged from behind a garbage dumpster. It turned out to be a tall, dark-haired man of a slender build. His skin looked unusually pale and he possessed what seemed to be dark-blue eyes. "How very astute of you," he said to Harry. The newcomer spoke with a faint Southern accent. The four humans stared at him. "Good evening."
"Who in the hell are you?" Piper demanded.
Harry knew the answer. "He's a vampire." Images of the stranger biting the necks of past victims filled his mind. "And he wants revenge."
The stranger's dark-blue eyes focused upon Harry. "You must be a mind reader, or something."
Slowly, Scott withdrew his sword. "Revenge for what?"
"You had killed several of our people, two nights ago," the vampire growled. He stared hard at Scott. "You, the woman and a few others. At the Golden Gate Park. We want revenge."
Piper frowned. "We?"
More figures emerged from the shadows. Two of them dropped from another fire escape. Harry counted at least ten of them . . . nearly three times the number of their party. The Southern vampire smiled eerily. "Yes. We."
Cole had just finished his second glass of Melorian brandy, when Hazika finally returned with her assistant in tow. The latter carried a small stack of files. "I have the information that you had requested, Belthazor." With a wave of her hand, she removed the bottle of brandy and Cole's glasses. Then she instructed Damika to place the files on the table. Hazika resumed her seat opposite the half-daemon, while Damika left the room. "For a family of mortals, the Decker family has quite an interesting history with various demonic factions."
Hazika handed over one file. While Cole perused it, she continued, "Like Mr. Geoffrey Decker, for one. His family had originally emigrated from Pennsylvania to San Francisco in the late 1860s, when he was seven. On November 15, 1882 - Earth years - he signed a contract with your old order."
The news took Cole by surprise. "The Thorn Brotherhood?"
"That's right." Hazika paused, as if savoring a prize. "And it seemed that your own grandfather had served as the agent for the Brotherhood." Cole's mind reeled from the knowledge. The female daemon handed him another file. "Louis Decker. He signed a contract with the Fornost Order on April 20, 1931."
Fearing that Hazika might end up revealing the entire Decker family history, Cole interrupted. "What about the two men I had asked about? Maximillian and Curt Decker?"
Hazika grabbed two files from the stack and handed them to Cole. "Maximillian Decker had sighed a contract with the Khand Order on December 1, 1987. He had suffered a financial setback and sought their help. His son must have found out about them, because he had signed a contract with them on . . . May 6, 2003."
Cole leaned back into his chair and sighed. Now, he understood everything. He understood why Keir Larson had been hired to murder Ronald Wong. The latter - with John Reyes' authority - could have discovered and exposed the Order's connection to the Decker family. Chances are that the Khand Order had some kind of financial company or operation on Earth. And he also understood why Wong - in vampiric form - had sought Curt Decker's attorney. Wong wanted revenge for his death. Cole suspected that Decker might be Wong's next victim. But did it mean that Alonzo Giovanni might also be on Wong's list?
Once outside of the Diamond Club, Curt Decker faced the parking lot and whipped out his cell phone. Alonzo watched as the older man dialed a number. Seconds later, Curt greeted, "Sandra, good evening. This is Curt Decker."
Alonzo held his breath, while his friend continued the conversation with someone named Sandra of the Twenty-Two Investor Group. If all went well, not only would he be able to pay off the blackmailer, but find a way to be free of the bastard for good.
". . . that I wasn't supposed to contact you during the trial," Curt continued. "But this isn't about me. This is about a friend." He paused. "His name?" Curt glanced at the younger man. "Alonzo Giovanni." Another pause followed. "Yeah, Mark Giovanni's son. Listen . . . um, he needs a little help. Yes, financial help." Curt nodded. "Yeah, I'll give him your card. Thanks. Bye." He disconnected his cell phone.
Eagerly, Alonzo stared at his friend. "She said yes?"
Curt sighed. "She wants you to give her a call." He reached inside his wallet and pulled out a card. "This is her number."
As Alonzo grabbed hold of the card, a voice cried out, "We'll take that." The nightclub's back door swung open and two men emerged from the building. One of them, a swarthy man with a dark crew cut, flashed his badge. "Special Agent Lee Alvarez of the FBI. And this is my partner, Special Agent Jay Ruhl. We would like that card, Mr. Giovanni."
Both Alonzo and Curt exchanged defeated looks. The former saw his hopes sink into the bay. Special Agent Ruhl barked, "Now, Mr. Giovanni! We don't have time to . . ."
A figure in red jumped upon the agent's back, knocking the latter to the ground. Alonzo recoiled at the sight of an Asian man in Chinese silk robe, long nails and greenish skin. "What the hell?" he cried. Then to his surprise, another figure with a similar appearance, jumped from above.
"Let's get out of here!" Curt cried. Alonzo decided to follow his friend's advice and quickly turned on his heels. The two friends had barely taken three steps when a gust of fetid air knocked them both against the wall.
Feeling slightly dazed, Alonzo watched as Agent Alvarez pumped two bullets into one of the creatures' chest. The latter reached out to grab the agent by the neck and kill him with one snap. The two horrified young men quickly scrambled to their feet. Grateful for his time spent in high school and college track, Alonzo slipped toward the nightclub's front door and quickly slipped inside, barely noticing Curt or anyone else.
Gunshots echoed into the near empty street. Inside Olivia's BMW, both she and Darryl exchanged anxious looks. "Did I just hear gunshots?" Olivia asked.
"Yeah, and so did I," Darryl shot back. "Let's go." The two police inspectors scrambled out of the car and quickly made their way toward the nightclub.
As they reached the other side of the street, Olivia glanced up and spotted a robed figure fly away from the building. She pointed the figure out to her partner. "Look."
Darryl glanced up. "Well, looks like he got away. The question remains . . . which one?"
Olivia merely responded with a shrug, before she and Darryl rushed toward the building's right side.
END OF CHAPTER TWELVE