Chapter 3

Dante looked around the assembled horde that he had before him. The group was an eclectic mix; there were scruffy Weres, tough-looking vamps and a few other unidentifiables – mostly orcs and ghouls down on their luck and looking to make a few bucks. He didn’t care, so long as they were willing to fight.

Dante paced back and forth in front of the group, looking each of them in the eye. A few fidgeted under his regard – even an Otherworlder isn’t totally immune to a vamp’s gaze, and Dante had had a few hundred years to perfect his. He wasn’t too concerned about trying to entice anyone in the group to his side. That he saved for women, when he felt the urge for a quick roll, a girlfriend, or a snack; sometimes in that order.

Male Otherworlders are like animals, some of them more so than others. They have to work to establish dominance right from the start. Dante did so by holding his meetings in dank, abandoned warehouses (and there are always an abundance of those when the plot requires them), or mouldy cellars. For this meeting, he chose a mouldy warehouse; he wanted to try to mix up his M.O. a little bit.

“Listen up, women,” he hollered, watching as they jumped a little from the sudden bark of noise. He’d been silent for so long, just glaring at them, that they weren’t sure how to react now that he finally had spoken. “I’ve gathered you here for a little bit of fun. I’m tired of being exiled from the city. It’s time that we got to run through the streets, the way we used to, before the vamps and Weres started going all soft on us.” He said this last part with a great deal of sarcasm. It had really bothered him that Louisa had dumped him because of his attachment to the old ways.

“We want to bring back the old ways of doing things. We want vamps to once again feed off the upright cows that walk amongst us. We want the Weres to run through the streets during the full moons without fear of silver bullets flying back and forth. We want the ghouls to haunt whatever closets or darkened corners they wish. We want the orcs to play basketball with human skulls once more!” At this he stopped, because the cheers were growing louder after every sentence, and he could no longer hear himself over their shouts. What had started out as a pretty apathetic group of mongrels had quickly heated into a pack of angry Otherworlders, eager to take back their streets, bring back their nights, and run things the way they wanted it run.

The Otherworlders were busy thumping each other on the backs and raising their various weapons of choice to the sky. Dante stood looking at each of them in turn, smiling coldly to himself. They would do, he thought. Maybe not a perfect group, but it’s a start.

One lone figure hung to the back of the group, not cheering, not celebrating. He was a slender vamp, and he wasn’t there for the fighting. He preferred instead to spend his days locked in his basement, checking the news on the Web, or playing role-playing games with his buddies; the lack of daylight exposure made his pasty complexion a little easier to explain to his non-Otherworld friends. What he was doing there wasn’t entirely clear, but as he looked at Dante in the front of the group, he felt a pull somewhere deep in his abdomen, and knew he was going to stay around to watch what unfurled.

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