The door to the police station swung open as the brothers let themselves inside. Both tall and looking somewhat out of place there in the lobby, what with their vaguely worn-out appearances and dark clothes, the only hint that the two were related was the similarities in their facial features. Otherwise, Jon (the oldest) had short, scruffy brown hair and a well-kept beard, deep blue eyes and a cocky grin, while Will (the youngest) had blonde hair long enough to pull back in a decent ponytail and a cleanly shaven face, pale blue eyes and a much more subdued smirk. Said smirk went along very well with the head shaking he was giving his brother now.
"I'm telling you, Jon, we were just supposed to meet him there."
"Why? The station was en route anyway, so we may as well carpool."
"He's getting off from work, and he'll need his car... never mind." Will knew it was no use talking sense into his brother, so he figured he'd just let Brendan deal with him; at least then he had some entertainment to look forward to.
Walking up to the front desk, he smiled at the familiar face on the other side and leaned against the counter. "Hey Jezz. Is Graham off yet?"
The mass of curly, vibrant orange red hair lifted, revealing a freckled, pale face with bright blue-green eyes. Jezz beamed a wide, glossy smile at Will. "Not yet," she said cheerfully, her distinctly Irish lilt apparent in her voice and words. "Hello, Will. He's wrapping up for the day. Shall I page him for you?" She blinked when she noticed the similar face just behind him. She shot another dazzling smile at Jon. "Oh, hello! How may I help you?" Her exuberantly joyful energy came off in waves. It was a damn near miracle that rainbows didn't just leap out of her skin. Jezz McAllister seemed quite out of place in the somber buzz of the police precinct.
Will chuckled and jerked his thumb back at his sibling. "He's with me, Jezz. This is my older brother, Jon. And don't worry about paging Brendan. He's sure to make an appearance soon, knowing him."
Jon smiled back at Jezz and waved a bit before leaning against the counter so he could see her better. "Pleasure to meet you," he said, his smile turning to a grin. "Guess I should stop by here more often, if the reception is always this friendly."
And pretty, Will could practically hear his brother thinking it, but simply settled on rolling his eyes. "How long has it been, Jon?" he teased with a sly smirk. "One month or two?"
Jon shot him a quick glare, refusing to acknowledge that he was referring to his last break-up, then returned to smiling at Jezz. "Little brothers..."
"Oh!" Jezz looked from one brother to the other and then nodded, hair bouncing around with easy crackling energy. "I can see the similarities now, sorry. Nice to meet you, Jon. First time I've seen you here!" She returned her attention back to Will. "I still should page Detective Graham. Paperwork can take a while and he'll move faster if he knows people are waiting for him…" She leaned forward, revealing a sliver of freckled cream cleavage and whispered, "And it's kind of my job." She gave the brothers a wink and then punched in the extension for the desk she wanted.
"Hello, Detective, it's Jezz. I've got the Keatting brothers here in the front waiting for you," she said cheerfully. And then promptly winced and moved the phone away from her ear as a loud, barked "WHAT?" came from the phone. "Mr. Will and Jon Keatting are waiting for you here at the front—" She paused midway before repetition, blinked, shrugged and then replaced the phone. She gave the pair of handsome men a beatific, lopsided smile. "He's on his way."
"Are these guys bothering you, Jezz?" came a voice from behind the redhead. She turned and shot that spine melting smile at the older cop. His mustache twitched. Seemed no one was unaffected by Jezz's attitude.
"Nope! Thanks for looking out, Lieutenant! They're here for Detective Graham. He should be here in a moment."
"Oh. Well. Good. Graham can handle them without breaking a sweat if they try anything. You just say the word, sugar, if anybody bothers you."
"Thank you, Lieutenant. Will do."
The older man nodded, shot the pair a glare, and then walked away. Jezz whirled around back to face the Keattings and shrugged. "Everybody here is awful nice to me." She grinned. "I think it's my hair!"
"Probably," Will agreed, trying his damnedest not to chuckle. He remembered the first time he'd shown up at the precinct and was instantly set upon by those awfully nice officers, wondering what his business was bothering Jezz. It took a great deal of talking to convince them he wasn't flirting with her (even if he had been, a little) and he'd since decided it wasn't worth trying. His brother, however, didn't quite pick up on the subtle warning.
"What was that about?" Jon asked, watching the man's back as he walked away, then turning back to his brother. "Did I do something wrong?"
"No, not really," Will finally admitted. "They're just protective of their favorite receptionist."
Jezz shot another one of those mind-numbing, word-stuttering, beatific smiles at the Keattings. "Thank you so much, Will!"
"What. The fuck. Are you both doing here?" came a low, menacing growl from behind Jezz. The man who appeared a moment later was easily six foot two and at least two feet across in the shoulders. Built like a brickhouse, Detective Brendan Graham crossed his thick, muscular arms across his chest and leveled a piercing gray stare at the Keatting brothers. His short dark hair was thick and messy as if he ran his hands through it regularly and a five o'clock shadow lay heavy on his square jaw. "I told you I was going to meet you there. So. Why. Are. You. Here?" he ground out with barely restrained annoyance. If the pair got him in trouble with the chief or Grant got nosy, Brendan swore he would skin both of the Keattings with unrestrained relish.
Will didn't hesitate to point to Jon. "His fault," he said quickly, his smirk thin. "I told him we were supposed to meet you there, but he..."
"Hey! I was trying to be considerate!" Jon held his hands up in defense, eying the large detective somewhat warily. "I thought it would be easier if we carpooled?" He didn't know Brendan as well as his brother did, but he already knew he didn't want to get on the man's bad side. Now he just had to figure out how to get himself on his good side again.
Brendan glared. "Out," he barked.
"OUT." The detective jerked his thumb toward the front doors. "Wait in the damn parking lot. I'll be there when I'm done doing my job. I don't know what the hell you two do for a living, but I work. Oh, and since you decided to carpool, I'll do the damn driving. Now, get. Out. Before I arrest you both for being a planet-sized headache."
Jon was dumbstruck, and it took Will tugging on his sleeve to start moving. "I have a job," he muttered when he found his voice, his brother still urging him outside.
"Come on," Will said, opening the door for him. "You can tell him all about your glorious adventures as an auto mechanic when we get on the road again." He sent a bemused smirk at Brendan. "Sorry for interrupting. I did warn him." Then he scuttled out before the detective could make a quip back.
Brendan barely restrained a low growl, and then spun on his heels. He had to get out of there before Grant heard about this and got her ass curious and detained him. He had no time for this kind of bull shit. The crap he had to manipulate so there wasn't a damn panic in the city already had him with a perpetual migraine. He didn't need the Keattings' dumbassery to exacerbate it. "Jezz, next time, unless I specifically say that one of the Keattings is supposed to be here—don't let them through the door. The chief doesn't like them one damn bit and I don't need to get my ass chewed out because they're coming here looking for me."
Jezz blinked and then nodded. She gave Brendan a sheepish smile, which immediately worked its usual magic and relaxed him. "Okay. They seem very nice though. Why doesn't the chief like them?"
"Because they love being at the wrong place at the wrong time," Brendan muttered. He waved her off before she could ask more questions and get rid of his annoyance. "I'll be out of here in five minutes."
"Have a good evening, Detective. Glad you're not spending another night trying to figure out who this serial killer is."
"What do you mean, Jezz? That's exactly what I'm going to spend the night doing." He walked off before she could ask another question.
Brendan dumped a load of paperwork on Grant's unsuspecting, equally workaholic self, muttered a migraine excuse, and skipped out the back before she could question him further. If the Keattings had done what they were supposed to do and gone straight there to wait for him, he wouldn't have to be rushing and therefore getting that suspicious eyebrow lift of Evey's that threatened the belief and validation of his bull shit. He had to leave before she suspected anything, but he knew, with a sinking feeling, that just his escape in of itself was suspicious enough.
He wasn't going to be able to keep this up. One way or another he and Grant were going to have to finally clear the air. His partner was a goddamn godsend and he would rather be working with her than with the Keattings, but until she owned up, he had to give her the runaround. She'd probably call him out tomorrow.
Fine by him. Only two reasons she wasn't here now was because of that baggage neither of them were talking about and because until he had all the information, it was too risky to take her with him. The last thing he wanted was to lose his best friend.
He walked into the parking lot, spotted the Keattings and pointed at his car. "Get in."
"Shotgun," Will called before his brother could, letting himself into Brendan's car as soon as it was unlocked. Jon shook his head, but didn't argue, and none of them said anything until they were out of the station's parking lot and well on their way. "So... Brendan. Putting aside the fact that you're probably pissed at both of us, do I need to reintroduce you two, or are we good there?"
"Unless something has changed between now and the last time we saw him, I don't think that'll be necessary, Will," his brother drawled. He paused for a moment. "By the way, your breaks sound iffy."
"My brakes are fucking fine. And even if they weren't fine, now isn't the damn time to be discussing them, Keatting. I don't have the pair of you troublemakers in my damn car so you can tell me it needs fixing. I have both your asses in my car because you decided you wanted to carpool instead of making my life easy and just being at 4th and Franklin when I got there like I told you," Brendan said, his voice clearly still grouchy but not as bad as he had been earlier. They weren't at the precinct. He didn't have to kill them anymore. "This isn't a fucking game. The chief is practically salivating for your asses. Out of the ten murders, you two happen to be loitering about half? It's a miracle I managed to convince him not to arrest the pair of you. At best he thinks you're both murder junkies, at worst he's considering you two are the murderers. Which brings us directly to the damn issue: what the flying fuck is going on?" Brendan glanced over at Will briefly. "Vampires do not leave bodies lying around, bloodless, for human cops to find. And now we're finding them fucking everywhere. I mean, I knew the fuckers could get out of hand in this city depending on the day—hence you two—but this is ri-fucking-diculous. There's already rumors floating around the precinct that the murderer, or murderers, are vampire obsessed just because of the nature of the crimes, but some of the more suspicious ones are starting to get funny ideas. Oh, and I got that list." He reached into his coat pocket and pulled out a folded up computer print out with a list of names. "Will, you mind rattling off which of those missing people you fucking killed so I can help Phillip along? These murders already have us on the edge and now we've doubled up on the missing persons. Please tell me that the doubling up is your attempt to get the murders under control and not an even bigger list of murders."
Will groaned and began skimming the list while Brendan continued to chew them out, counting off on his fingers names he recognized from his own hunts. When he was done, unfortunately, he frowned. "I can only account for four of these," he told the detective, listing the names for him. "The first three were paid commissions, the fourth was a fluke encounter that just ended badly. Jon, you want to have a look? See if any of these names screams 'cruenti' to you?"
"I haven't been on a solo hunt in months," his brother told him, shaking his head. "Though I don't remember any of those names you read, except the first one."
"Yeah, well, you were working for the other two commissions, and the last one, like I said, wasn't exactly planned. Ran into that bastard on my way to Kei's."
Jon growled and crossed his arms, turning to look out the window. "Gee. Now there's a surprise," he drawled.
Will explained before Brendan could ask. "His ex. Didn't know she was a cruenta until several months into the relationship. Then he broke it off."
"She could have told me what she was."
Brendan found himself torn between snorting with laughter and groaning at the information that Will just laid on him. "Only fucking four? I know the one I crossed out is the guy you and I dealt with that one night, but the rest were unaccounted for. Great. So most of these people are either just missing or dead. I really hoped I could've chalked up half to you two." He shook his head. "This is getting out of control." His brow furrowed and a small, devious smile came to his lips. "So, Keatting. You dated a damn vampire and didn't know it? You're denser than I thought. She a young one that can still go out during the day or one of those nighttime only cruenta? If she's the latter, you really must've been hooked on her to ignore all the blaring signs that you've trained most of your life to catch." Brendan made a right. "But if she is the latter, then maybe she's high enough in the ranks that maybe she knows what the fuck is going on. Have you asked her yet?"
"No," Jon gritted through his teeth, eyes narrowing as he continued to stare out the window. "And the less I have to deal with her, the better."
Will rolled his eyes. "I haven't talked to her yet either, but I've been meaning to," he told Brendan. "Kei's a noctis, and somewhere around five centuries old; she's on the Council of Elders." He cast a quick glance at his brother, a smirk twitching at the corners of his mouth. "She got Jon good, even when he initially suspected her. Told him she had xeroderma pigmentosum, a.k.a. a severe allergy to ultraviolet light. He did tons of research on it, but found everything she told him about the disease was true. Except for, well, the fact that she didn't really have it."
Jon growled. "Still don't know why you're still friends with the lying bitch."
"Hey now! Don't be an ass! She's the whole reason I can get my buffs without becoming enslaved to some random cruentus, remember?"
"You shouldn't be drinking their blood in the first place! You're human!"
"No, I'm not, Jon. And neither are you. There's nothing we can do about that, so you may as well get over it. I stopped bugging you about not using your powers, remember? What happened to your end of the deal?"
"When you get half of your supply from my devil of an ex..."
"Oh for God's sake!"
"Number one," Brendan said with cold, dark seriousness. "This bull shit ends here. My car, my rules, and there's gonna be none of this shit in here. I'm not going to drive with you two hollering at each other like little bitches. Number two, Keatting, grow a pair of balls. Didn't you say you broke up with her? You ditched her ass, so what do you have to be bitching about? Save your beef about your ex for your damn therapist. She's helping out your brother when she could've hung his ass out to dry too—and trust me, I'm sure damn grateful that Will is a fuck ton more useful than you any day of the week. The only thing that pisses me off," he shot a glare at Will. "She's on the fucking Council of Elders? Jesus fucking Christ, Will. Why the FUCK haven't you talked to her about what the goddamn hell is going on? Meaning to is not a damn excuse. I expect that kind of bull shit from your brother, not YOU, Will." Brendan cursed again and made a left. "Council of fucking Elders and none of the Keattings have decided to ask why there are humans devoid of blood being left out on the streets like some kind of war declaration. One's whiny because he was had because he was thinking with his dick—like we all haven't done that at some point—and the other's too busy paying attention to the whiny one to do his damn job. Shit, I'm going to go fucking talk to her. At least then something will get done!" He stopped at a red light, shifted the SUV to park and turned around to face Jon. "Count your damn blessings she's still an ally and doesn't have every cruentus in the damn city out for your ass for dumping her. My ex would've strung me up by my balls and skinned me if I'd dumped her ass because of something as dumb as this." He turned back around, shifted the car back into gear and headed straight. "Once we're done here, you're going to tell me where this elder lives, Will. If neither of you are going to do your job, someone's got to do it."
The brothers were quiet for a moment. Jon continued to stare out the window, scowling, while Will was thinking over what he should say to that. He had his reasons for not talking to Kei already, but he wasn't sure how to explain them to Brendan. "I've been meaning to ask her," he said again, looking the detective's way. "But I'm already walking on eggshells around the rest of the Council. Kei and I get along, but the others (at least the ones I've met) either look down on Jon and me with derision or apprehension, and Kei isn't always forthcoming with information, if the Council disapproves. She one of the younger members, but that doesn't mean she's always willing to break decorum to consult with, well, vampire hunters."
"Good thing I'm not a vampire hunter then," Brendan muttered. "I'm a goddamn cop, and I have a city and its people to protect. She's going to answer my questions, decorum be damned. And if she brings up the Council and their hesitation, I'll just remind her that the more bodies keep popping up the less protection the Council is going to have. It's in their best interest to help the local police stop the crazy fuckers that want the world to know that bloodsuckers exist. It will not go well for the cruenti if humans know they're out there. You know it and I know it." He made another right and then began to slow down. They approached the blocked off police line into the alley on 4th and Franklin where the last pair of bodies had been found. Brendan hoped that the Keattings could provide some insight into which set of idiot vampires were trying to declare war. He didn't move around in the same circles they did. He tended to avoid cruenti and they tended to avoid him. Better for everyone all around. But they knew the obvious culprits better than he did. Maybe they could at least point him in the right direction.
Or even better, maybe the culprits were hanging around and would find vampire hunters too tempting to pass up. Yeah, he didn't mention he intended to use Keattings as bait, though he figured Will had already figured that out. Bastard would make a good cop. Jon, however, needed to get his shit together.
Will sighed as he stepped out of the car after Brendan parked it, tucking some of his loose hair behind his ears. For his brother's sake, he intended to try this investigation without resorting to one of the vials of blood he kept on hand. For one, he didn't want to waste them; Kei had already diluted her blood for him and it would save him time in a pinch, but for now he didn't need it. He didn't mention it to Jon, but the cruenta had been working on another formula that would allow him to feed from any vampire without becoming enthralled, so he wouldn't always have to carry vials around. It would save him a whole lot of explaining, if she got it worked out. For now, though, he'd have to settle for the two he carried with him: one for himself and one for his brother, if he ever changed his mind about accepting that they were part vampire themselves.
"One question, before we start looking around," Jon said as he shut the door behind him, glancing over at Brendan. "When did he tell you I was seeing a therapist?"
Will couldn't restrain a snort. "I didn't, but you just did."
Brendan stopped for a moment before he rolled his eyes and closed his door. He locked the car and then stuffed his keys into his coat. "If you weren't, I'd seriously tell you to fucking find one. You clearly need one." He headed toward the police block and lifted the yellow tape for the Keattings. "It was a guess, but I'm glad you're actually trying to make progress by going to one, though the shrink might need to step it up a notch. You still got plenty of issues you need to work out, Keatting. But now's not the time to discuss your need for mental assistance. Right now I need you on point because we need to get this shit under fucking control. If it keeps escalating the way it is, we're going to have a bloodbath on our hands that not you or even I will be able to keep under wraps."
Once they were through, he followed. Brendan motioned to where the bodies were found. "Two—a couple. No theft, like per usual. No blood. Sucked dry. Obvious puncture marks. It's a joke right now, but if this keeps up even the precinct will start believing in vampires. Fingerprints were smudged, as per usual, bodies cast aside like fucking garbage. Evidence is minimal and what little there is points to, well, fucking vampires. I'm hoping you two will be able to figure out at least who they are or something. They could've left something identifying but the local PD isn't trained to spot cruenti. There's some graffiti down a ways. Looks like it was written in blood too. But it means shit to us." He motioned for them to follow and headed toward the graffiti he'd poured over. "There's been similar markings at other sites, but none are exact and some don't have them at all."
"Well, I've got some knowledge on the local sanguine gangs," Will said when they reached the wall, arms akimbo, shaking his head as he looked over the curious red markings. "But this is a new one. I think it might actually be writing, not just some gang mark. Could explain the variance at different sites, at least, but not why it's not at each one." He stepped towards the wall and touched his fingers to the bricks, eyes narrowing. "This... hmm. Did you get a sample of this blood with your first run? Might glean something from a lab tech poking at it."
"And who were the victims?" Jon asked. He'd stayed by the markers indicating where the bodies had been found. "A couple, sure, but what else? Were you able to identify them? Hell, any of the victims for that matter. It might look random to the average Joe, but there's a good chance the victims may have already had ties to the cruenti, either as ancillae or blood dolls. Or maybe even just friends."
"Do you read the newspapers?" Brendan asked Jon arching his eyebrows. "Yeah, we were able to identify all of them. They all had their wallets on them. Whoever is killing them wants them to be found and known—at least the ones they've put on display. There's no attempt to hide it. I've got the complete list if you want it, but it's in the papers too." Then his gaze narrowed at Will. "Of course we got a fucking blood sample. And I smelled it first to make sure it was human too. Vampire blood has a distinct scent to it. I might not deal with cruenti on a regular basis, but that's not vampire blood nor does it have any in it. Trust me, if it did, I would've had to have snuck the damn thing out of the building before the lab techs found anomalies in the blood that could prove the existence of the cruenti." He crossed his arms over his chest and walked up to Jon. "If you want to know about these two specifically, then fine. Phil Sullivan and Casey Kramer. Engaged. Had a dinner date at the Chef and Clef—jazz club and restaurant down the street—had a few drinks, blood alcohol level was just beyond driving legal, probably why they were walking. Only blood here is on the wall, which, by the way, belongs to neither Sullivan or Kramer. Near as I've figured, they were approached, lured in, sucked dry and dumped. Could've happened right here, could've happened in their apartment two blocks away and then dumped here. No signs of a struggle there or here. And this is an alley—so many people go through here, along with rats, strays, bums and god knows what else—it's impossible for me to detect one single scent, especially a day after the occurrence. Maybe if they'd been found an hour or so after they'd died, I'd have something to go on, but when we arrived at the scene it was morning of the following day. Coroner placed time of death between ten and midnight. Oh, and cause of death," Brendan stared at both brothers, "drained of blood most likely from the punctures in the carotid, brachial and popliteal arteries. No head trauma, turned upside down and drained, no decapitation, no arterial cuts. Arterial punctures and bled to death—to the point of no blood. Bryson and Faeutenhaeur in the morgue still haven't decided if they're fascinated or utterly grossed out at this shit."
Jon sent him a small glare, but refrained from remarking on his quip about reading the newspaper. It wasn't like they put all of the details of the crimes in the paper anyway; several of the interns on staff were ancillae or cruenti themselves. "So there were multiple wounds," he said instead, rubbing his hand across his face. "Combine that with no signs of struggle... then either they were moved or subdued, the latter only vaguely easier. Older vampires can easily charm humans, but they also tend to have the good sense not to kill their food supply. That sort of recklessness is more characteristic of solis and (more rarely) ambae. But then they don't have the same powers of manipulation..." He hummed. "Yeah, when you get the chance, I'd like to see the list of names all together. See if I can cross reference them to known blood dolls, if they weren't ancillae."
"Speaking of blood," Will piped in, completely ignoring Brendan's scolding while he pointed at the graffiti. "If this doesn't belong to either of the victims, then who's is it? Have you identified it that far yet?" He smirked, despite himself. "Oh, and I think I know what this says: it's Latin (albeit very crude). From what I can make of the letters, it says 'Cruenti Dei Jumenta.'"
"Vampires gods cows?" Jon asked, mentally translating. His brother tried not to laugh, but still chuckled despite the serious implications of the message.
"I think they meant to write 'Cruentorum Deorum Iumenta': cattle of the bloody gods. I've heard this phrase before, from cruenti who are of the mindset that humans – said cattle – are only good for serving vampire masters. It's usually older cruenti who are jaded like this, but they also tend to spell this phrase correctly."
"So possibly an older vampire with this mentality leading a nice little cult of younger ones eager to feel like gods," Brendan muttered. He shook his head. "Fucking hell. At this point I'm just about ready to let them reveal themselves so we'd have good excuse to have you two kill all the unsavory ones without the hiding and sneaking bull shit." Just what they all needed. Not a lone fucker but a whole collection of them. "Haven't identified who the blood belongs to yet. Not any of the victims so far, but definitely human. We started cross referencing it with the missing persons list I showed you today. I'll have them remove the ones you already killed for obvious reasons. With any luck there's a victim they're keeping alive for some reason and using their blood. If we can find that poor bastard then we'd have at least more information to go on." He pulled out his phone from his pocket, accessed his work email, encrypted it and forwarded it to Jon's. "List of victims sent. In the usual code. Hopefully some names will ring bells. No way to tell if they were ancillae since they have no god damn blood." Brendan put the phone back in his pocket and then stilled. A small sound. Boots on some loose gravel coming from above them. From the roof on the building to his left. His ears twitched and he took a deep breath. The Keattings distinct smell of wood, incense, cheap cologne, and sweat; garbage, stagnant water, brick, iron, mold, tin… a couple of rats. And four, no—six—distinct new scents coming from above them. Scents that reeked of blood.
Brendan started to take off his coat and shoes. "Heads up, boys. We have company."
Jon was glad he'd brought his crossbow and hadn't left it in the car, lifting it now and listening carefully for any more movement. "Thank God for your keen senses."
Will drew his sword. "At least it's sunset," he noted, backing away from the wall and scanning the area around him. With the sun still out, even this low in the sky, the worst they might encounter were ambae vampires and not full-blown noctis. Assuming, of course, that what Brendan had sensed was vampires. There were plenty of other things out there, but given the nature of the scene they were at...
"I gotta be good for something, right," Brendan muttered dryly as he tossed the coat over the cleanest trashcan he could spot, kicked off the shoes along with the socks, and unbuttoned his shirt. He released a low snort as he rolled his shoulders back and his eyes began to change. "I think they've noticed we're onto them." Not seconds after he said that did six bodies leap down from the rooftops and drop to the ground, surrounding the three men. All six were men, looking to be in their early twenties, a couple professionally dressed the rest as varied as punk and goth to thug and sloppy.
One of the more 'professional' looking ones smiled toothily, fangs blatantly bared. "Here I thought we might get a tasty member of the bold blue. Instead we got our local slayers. Hanging you two out to dry will send the perfect message to the Council." He glanced dismissively at Brendan. "And we can drop the cop off at the front gate of his pig pen. Your gun is going to do you no good against us."
"That's why I ain't usin' it," Brendan growled before lunging at him. The smug vampire made to dodge, but started in surprise when he didn't move fast enough. The large man tackled him to the floor and the cruentus would've just knocked him off if the cop hadn't surprised him again.
By transforming into a very large, very black, very pissed off werewolf.
It took only seconds for the muscles in Brendan's back, arms, chest and legs to expand, his clothes tightening around him until parts of it shredded. Black fur sprouted down his spine first before rippling over his skin and covering him completely. The already tall, large man just got bigger as his features transformed and the transformation completely with a low snarl at the vampire. "You're a piss ant pawn. Who's giving you orders?" he growled and slammed the cruentus hard into the ground again.
"Fuck you, dog," the vampire said, an edge of panic in his voice. "Kill them all!" he shouted in a rush before attempting to shove Brendan off using both his strength and telekinesis and two of the others—the sloppy one and the punk—made to attack the wolf, hands transforming into claws. The other three immediately went for the kill on the Keattings, intending to do exactly as the ‘group leader' instructed.
Jon took a few steps back, firing a crossbow bolt into the shoulder of the other professionally dressed cruentus. It lodged deep into the man's arm, and he let out an inhuman cry of pain as that limb was paralyzed. Will, by contrast, didn't hesitate to rush the two that had gone after him. As the goth lunged at him, fangs barred and claws out, he swung his sword, catching him across the chest. It was just enough for him to dodge the attack, but the thug was quick to follow up with a plain old punch. This blow slammed into Will's head, along with a sickening crack. Any normal human would have been out cold, so when the hunter only staggered, the thug was taken aback.
"You should be dead!" he growled at Will, but that only made the hunter smirk. He didn't throw a quip back, but used the vampire's hesitation to slip in a solid strike across his neck. It wasn't a clean decapitation, but enough to drop him temporarily until his healing kicked in. It would have to do while Will turned his focus on the other, much more lively cruenti.
Brendan let himself be shoved off in order to avoid the attack of the other two. A low growl escaped and he attacked the first that came at him, the sloppy one. He dodged the simple strikes easily, tearing into his side before tossing the vampire against the wall. The other attempted to leap onto Brendan's back as he threw the first, but the wolf knocked him back with a kick to the stomach before pouncing on the leader that tried to get up. He slammed him back onto the floor and clawed his face before the other two leapt on him to attack again. The werewolf dealt with the three attacking him with relative ease tossing them and injuring them regularly even though their bodies started to heal. He never let them heal for long before he did more damage, demanding consistently who the true ringleader was. Brendan could care less about the vampires—he wanted the one calling the shots so he could stop the murders.
All three managed to work together for an instant, using their telekinesis to shove him hard against the wall, but the werewolf only growled and then leapt off the wall toward them, defeating the strength of their psychic powers with strength and will alone, clawing at their pretty faces and gutting them. "Give me answers and I'll let you live," he growled.
Jon was trying to load a second crossbow bolt when the cruentus he'd shot finally caught up to him. Even though he'd been slowed by the first shot (and had been unable to yank it from his arm because of the angle and special tip), he was still fast and still lethal. He swiped at Jon with his good hand, forcing the hunter to abort loading his crossbow in favor of using it as a shield to deflect the blow. The force of the strike pushed him back.
"Jon! The flash-bangs!" Will shouted in reminder to him, just as he dodged another attack from the goth vampire. His attacker sneered at him smugly when their deadly dance eventually backed the hunter against the graffiti wall.
"You're pretty slick for a human," the cruentus crooned, grinning. He ran his tongue over his fangs and flexed his claws. "Any last words, mortalis, before I drain you dry?"
Will drew a deep breath. He didn't want to waste one of his vials on ambae, but he knew he could use the boost. He glanced down at the blood on his sword. It was worth the risk. Without warning, he lunged at the vampire, sword raised. He knew the bastard would move too fast for him to land a killing blow, but he was able to get a solid slice through his shoulder, at just the right spot that the blood sprayed out and across his face. The vampire growled in fury, catching his shirt and throwing him aside before he paused to heal his wound. When he looked back at Will, however, the rage quickly turned to fear when he saw what the hunter was doing.
Wiping his hand across his face, Will couldn't help the small moan of delight as he licked the blood from his fingers. The rush of euphoria and power was instant, surging through his veins and filling him with strength. He felt the broken bones in his cheek start to mend. Even if it wasn't as intense as drinking noctis blood, the potency of this vampire's was strong enough he knew his eyes were glowing like theirs.
"Not mortalis," Will said, extending his hand to form claws of his own. "Famulus." And with that, he launched himself at the goth again, tearing into him with as much ferocity and strength as any of the vampires there.
Brendan barely caught Will's sudden enthusiastic strength out of the corner of his eyes before tossing the punk that came at him again. He grinned, wolfish and feral, before deciding this was fun, but utterly useless. All three came at him again, and Brendan grabbed the sloppy one by the throat, claws digging in. The professionally dressed one dug his claws into Brendan's side, and the punk bit the wolf's arm. Brendan let out a roar and finally growled. "Fine. You're dead." His claws tore straight through the neck of the sloppy one, head popping off before the body slumped and fell. The punk was just becoming overwhelmed by blood rage, allowing Brendan to grab his hair and slam him up again the professional one, tearing the claws free, but doing more damage to Brendan. Like the cruenti, however, Brendan healed quickly. He ignored the blood going down his side and set his jaws on the neck of the punk, snapping it clean through.
The thug that was after Jon, however, kept clawing and punching and hissing as he tried to get closer to drain Jon dry, amused at the hunter's blocking with the crossbow. The moment he found an opening the cruentus went in for the kill, but his hand suddenly froze. For a second, he stood confused in front of Jon, before he was suddenly lifted off his feet and thrown against the goth, making both prone for Will's wrath.
Out of the shadows stepped a woman wearing jeans, black bad guy stomping boots, a red tank and a black short jacket. Her golden cross hung low and against her breasts. Her dark hair was cropped very short—shorter than all the men present—she had her gun drawn, and her expression looked beyond pissed. She aimed the gun and pulled the trigger. The bullet bypassed all the men fighting, including the werewolf it had been aimed at to hit the leader of the cruenti group directly between the eyes, which gave Brendan the advantage. The werewolf cursed a bluestreak but didn't waste any time, taking advantage of the vampire being stunned and finishing him off.
Will was startle briefly when the second vampire came flying past him and into the one he'd been fighting, but he managed to recover enough to take advantage of the situation. Sword drawn, and with his speed boosted by the cruenti blood in his system, the hunter moved in for the kill, slicing through the necks of both ambae as they tried to rise. Their screams were cut short as their heads were severed.
Jon quickly finished loading a bolt, only just glimpsing the new arrival. He had no idea what had just happened, but he wasn't going to let his guard down, ready to fire another paralyzing shot if he had to. But by then, Will had torn through the first vampire who had attacked him, and Brendan was more or less done destroying the ones on him. Still, Jon didn't let his guard down, just in case.
It got eerily quiet once all the vampires were dead.
"They won't turn to dust," Will warned, finally easing and leaning back against a wall. "But they're too young to heal from those injuries. Even a noctis couldn't survive this sort of damage." It was then that he notice the woman who'd shown up, and his gut twisted, realizing there was going to be a hell of a lot of explaining they all needed to do.