“As you are all aware, Bennington is a Sventé vampire with no impressive gift to boast of. His gift is to measure the power voltage coming from other vampires. Using this gift, he has compensated for his own ill defence by selecting extremely gifted vampires to build himself a team of bodyguards. We are now thinking that perhaps it was not a security team he was building, but an army to aid him in overtaking The Hollow. We must be ready in every sense of the word, which is why I have employed Commander Parker to assist with training the new recruits in controlling their gifts.”
“How many did Luther see?” asked Evan, all seriousness now.
“Approximately three hundred, which leads us to believe that Bennington will add more and more to his own numbers as he makes his way here. I would imagine that he will try and rally supporters during Rupert Connelly’s gathering in a few weeks’ time. I am hoping that some of those High Master vampires will refuse his offer and then journey here and aid us in guarding the exterior of the walls. We can only be glad that Luther’s vision has enabled us to have the time to properly prepare.”
“You said you wanted the new squad ready in a month,” said Jared. “You don’t think they’ll be here before then?”
Luther answered that. “No. In my vision during the attack I was rounding up the humans to take them into hiding and there were Summer Sales signs up in one of the clothes’ stores. After I’d had the vision I asked the manager of the store when those signs will be put up. That is not for another four weeks. So I would say that it will be a minimum of one month before the attack is made.” Again Luther’s eyes found me. His gaze was searching...like he was trying to see through me.
Uncomfortable, I looked away quickly. “Antonio,” I began, “you say you’re going to protect the walls...?”
“Yes, we will attempt to stop them before they enter.”
“I’m sorry but it sounds like the battle for Troy all over again.”
“You want to leave the walls unprotected?” giggled Commander Hyena Baker.
I rolled my eyes. “How about you pipe down and try not to crack a not funny joke for just a few minutes?” I ignored the laughs and continued speaking to Antonio. “I don’t see why you’re going to let them get so close to The Hollow’s walls. They’ll probably guess that you’ve got someone who has the gift of precognition. They’ll expect you to be lined up outside the walls waiting like Trojans. I mean, think about it, you’ve got rainforests surrounding the entire place – rainforests that the squads train in and probably know inside and out. This is your front and back yard which gives you an advantage, use it.”
“Ordinarily vampires and animals give each other a wide berth.”
“And that is exactly why no one will be expecting you all to be planted around the rainforest, waiting.”
Evan nodded. “I like it.”
“As do I,” said Luther. His eyes still spooked me out so I didn’t meet his gaze for more than a few seconds.
“If nothing else,” began Commander White, “at least we’ll be able to minimise the number of vampires reaching the actual walls.”
“I don’t mind going on the front line,” I told Antonio, “I know that -” I stopped short at the sound of a snigger. I turned in my seat to find Commander Dawson shaking his head at me from across the table.
“Sweetness, you help coach the new squad but that’s where it should end for you,” said Dawson, who up until now I’d thought wasn’t so bad.
“How many more of you are sexist?” I said through my teeth.
“This is not about you being a female, sweetness. You might be a Feeder and be able to produce a nice little whip but being part of the legion requires more than that.”
“A nice little whip,” I echoed. He sounded like Jared.
“You ever killed someone, sweetness?” His tone made it clear that he was expecting the answer ‘no’.
“Yes,” I answered honestly and with no guilt. They’d all had it coming – especially the bastards who kidnapped the little kids to sell as vessels, or even as consorts to those who were sick in the head. I hadn’t liked Victor making me an assassin, but one thing I could say for him was that he never gave me a mark that was innocent.
Dawson quickly rephrased, “You ever killed them purposely?”
“How did that make you feel to kill in cold blood?” He clearly wasn’t happy about my answers so far.
“With all that adrenalin pumping away, I felt great.”
They were a few muffled giggles. Some were from Jared, Evan, and Sebastian, I noticed.
“Ever led a squad before?” he asked, grimacing.
“Are you saying you -”
I growled. “God, give me strength,” I begged as I looked upwards. “I’m bored with Question Time now, Dickson.”
I heard Antonio mutter to Luther in amusement and approval, “She brings life to these meetings, doesn’t she?”
I returned Dawson’s scowl as I continued, “Let’s save us both some time. I was the Chief Assassin for my Sire and I went on a hell of a lot of assignments – some on my own, some with a squad of eight. I always got my target, and I always brought all eight back.”
Sebastian nodded, huffing at Dawson.
“Then I assume Commander Dawson’s concerns are now addressed,” said Antonio. Dawson, a little sheepish now, nodded. Antonio then included everyone as he said, “I agree with Sam that we should capitalize on our knowledge of the surrounding area and attack Bennington’s force before they have a chance to attack us. I trust that you can decide amongst yourselves which squads should concentrate on defending the walls and which should be positioned within the rainforest. I give permission for squads to leave the Hollow walls to train within the forests. That will be all. Thank you.”
Nero gave my hand a slobbery lick which almost seemed like a goodbye gesture as I rose from seat.
“What a flirt,” Evan said jokingly, referring to Nero, as he also rose.
“Well you’d know all about that, wouldn’t you?” Jared was glaring at Evan again in that weird way.
“Hey, don’t forget to leave the personal files of the recruits on my desk,” I told Jared.
“Sure,” he replied, walking speedily out of the room. I gave Evan a questioning look.
Evan shrugged at his brother’s behaviour. “He never was quite right upstairs.”
“Commander Parker? Sorry, Sam?” said Antonio. “Could you spare a moment?”
“Yeah, course.” I gave Evan a farewell smile, which he returned.
Once the room was empty, Antonio began, “I do not believe you have formally met my Advisor, Luther.”
Luther’s handshake was gentle. “It is a pleasure to meet you at last.” The soft bugger shook the hand that was covered in Nero’s slobber. He wasn’t too pleased about that and wiped it on his grey trousers.
What he had said suddenly sunk in. A pleasure to meet me at last? I hadn’t even been here for seventy-two hours yet. Not really knowing what to say to that, I replied simply, “And you.” His smile seemed to indicate that he had picked up on my confusion.
Antonio’s spoke again, “Sam, as you know, Luther’s gift is precognition. He sporadically has visions. Whenever I appoint someone to have a high position within The Hollow, I offer them a glimpse of their own future. This helps them with either avoiding something or working towards it, which in turn is good for The Hollow.”
“A glimpse of my future?”
“Part of Luther’s gift is that he can allow another person to have a vision of their own merely through touch. He would not see your vision, only you would. And you would not be obliged to reveal anything of what you see. It can be for you and you alone to know.”
Luther quickly said, “Many have decided that they do not wish to know anything of their future. Some believe that having the vision is what causes the event. I cannot comment on that as I do not know for certain. But most of my visions do come true.”
Antonio placed a hand on my shoulder. “It is your choice, Sam.” He said it like a question.
“What kind of vision would it be? I mean, will it be a positive one or a negative one? I don’t want to see my own death, but if I’m going to win the lotto that would be interesting to know.”
Luther smiled, shrugging. “There is no way of knowing.”