The Emperor Protects
eat would kill him, or to be more precise, a fire would kill him. Fire was the one thing that destroyed even the mightiest beasts. Heat and fire eventually consumed everything.
But he would not feel the heat of flames today.
Thaddeus was running. He had been unmasked so it was time to go. His master had warned him that this could happen and he should prepare for it. He should never settle, never linger, always move on, and always keep one step ahead of them.
They were coming. Would it be the Arbites or worse, the dreaded Inquisition? He cared not. He dropped everything, including his new life and ran.
“When the heat is on,” his master would say. “Be prepared to leave everything behind.”
He took a long look at his latest habitat and shook his head. This place had been good to him; the area had been rich and fruitful and from these rich pickings he had tasted the very best.
He glanced into the back room which had been his study and nodded towards the five occupants.
“Thank you.” He whispered before vacating as rapidly as possible. The occupants stared back at him through dull white eyes, their cheeks sunken and dry. They could never answer him through mouths drawn back into rictus grins.
They had been… delicious.
Thaddeus grabbed a small holdall by the front door and left as if the authorities were already there.
“Do not move. Do not move a single muscle.” The voice was distorted as it was passed through an amplifier. Thaddeus froze.
“There must be a mistake.” He sputtered, not knowing what else to say.
“Turn and face the door. Raise your hands. Do not attempt to communicate any further or we will be forced to use lethal force.”
Thaddeus complied, what else could he do? He needed time to think. He must clear his mind and concentrate. This would be very difficult as he usually needed physical contact to incapacitate them. He could but try.
There were at least three of them in the corridor and probably more in the lobby, elevator and stairwell. The Arbites always arrived in force. He felt it strange that there did not appear to be any of those disgusting Sister-creatures, who always turned up if there was a chance to burn something.
“I think you have the wrong…” The blow came in low and hard into his left ribs causing him to double up and let out an involuntary gasp. It had however worked. He immediately felt power flooding in from his assailant and it was like nectar to a butterfly. He stifled a moan of pleasure before arching his back and head-butting his assailant with the force of a sledgehammer.
The first Arbite dropped despite wearing his helmet.
The second Arbite managed to fire his Hellgun but Thaddeus was already moving fast, supernaturally fast in fact and too fast for a sluggish Arbite. He planted his own fist into the second Arbites visor which shattered like ice on a hard surface. His fingers dug deep into flesh and bone, twisting and turning and ripping as if the structures were but paper and cotton. The Arbites died instantly but his death was enough to empower Thaddeus to even greater physical feats.
He actually pitied his assailant’s naivety. They had been sent to apprehend a vampire without the proper instructions. Never, ever make physical contact with a vampire.
The third Arbite stared on in shock and Thaddeus side-stepped him before smashing headlong into the flat door opposite.
Five minutes is all I need. Five minutes.
He ran as hard as he could. He knocked over chairs and tables behind him to form some sort of barrier between him and the rest of his assailants. They would not hold them up for long but they would be more cautious. He could hear their shouts and the heavy thudding of boots on the polished stone floor.
A large canine reared up at him when he broke out onto the balcony, but it immediately retreated under a table nearby whimpering and howling. They tended to do that in the presence of his kind as if they knew who or what we were and the danger we presented.
He could feel the change but was it too late? A flash grenade went off and he knew that the Arbites were entering the flat. Time seemed to slow down.
Thaddeus stared out at the distant horizon. The planets sun was rising and soon it would be burning hot with unbearable temperatures and brightness. He smiled to himself. Legends stated that he and his people could only move about in the dark and would be turned to dust in sunlight. Like all the stories, they were twisted and distorted and bore no resemblance to reality. Vampires can exist in all weathers and times and do not die when you ram a stake through their hearts. The other annoying story is that vampires can instantly turn into our natural forms.
It actually takes time.
He looked down at his hands and saw that they were nearly there. Thank our ancestors; it will be good to be back to normal and not this stubby, rancid human form. His wings unfolded and he flapped them to pump the blood through to get them ready.
One minute and he would glide away to a new existence. One minute.
Then he tasted that smell that had haunted his deepest nightmares.
“In the Emperor’s name.”
He saw the black armour and he saw the white hair and then he gazed into the face of a woman whose true beauty was masked with hate. He saw the barrel.
“It is not the heat that kills you, it is the flames.”