The mansion the vampires were using was surrounded by a ten foot brick wall. Techinically, that was a bit higher than was allowed by the city’s building codes. Building codes could be flexible if the right money was paid to the right people. It was kind of comforting to Erik to see petty corruption was universal, even in America.

“So, how are we going to get over the wall without them picking us up?” Jason asked. Veronica stepped forward. The sorceress drew an invisible circle on the ground, and then drew another on the wall. In a hushed tone, Veronica spoke in elvish. A faint green line appeared where she had drawn the circle on the wall, and then the wall within the circle vanished.

“Okay, that’s a neat trick,” Jason said, hefting his suppressed M4. “Why haven’t we used it before?”

“Because it’s a ser’al binding,” Veronica explained, “I have to commit it to memory before I can cast it. After that, I’d have to wait a few days before I can do it again.” Jason grunted agreement and strode through the hole. Kurt followed holding his Benelli shotgun. Nigel and John went next with their MP5SD submachine guns. Erik and Samantha went next. Erik had Far’ling and his custom S&W500 revolver drawn. Samantha, who was playing medic for this little raid, was carrying one of their stubby little AK-74Us. Veronica stepped through last and waved her hands. The hole in the wall vanished as suddenly as it had appeared. The team made their way to the doors they’d marked as their entry point into the mansion.

“No vampires in the room,” reported Nigel from his point near one of the large windows that looked out to the back lawn.

“Okay, time for us to work our magic,” Erik said to Veronica. Under the cover of Jason and Kurt’s guns, Veronica and Erik stepped up to the glass-plated French doors. Veronica focused her magic on the glass. It dimly glowed for a moment and then started pouring to the ground as a pile of sand. Erik was the first through the door. He threw up a shield at the hallway just in time for a vampire to slam into it. Physics being physics, Erik slid back a few feet from the impact. The vampire looked confused by the invisible barrier. Erik dropped the barrier for an instant. Just long enough for Jason to place a short burst of silver into the vampire’s chest.

The creature’s howl of pain was muffled by Erik’s telekinetic shield. So, thankfully, was the flame as the vampire exploded in a brief flash. Erik moved his shield down the hall as he stepped over the ash pile. Along the left side were doors to the servants’ quarters. Anne was supposed to be in the third one according to Veronica.

As they passed the first door, Erik paused and focused on holding his shield. Behind him, Kurt, Jason, Nigel, and John cleared the room. Not finding anything, Veronica tapped Erik on the shoulder. They repeated the process as they passed the second room. Erik felt everyone’s anxiety ramp up as they neared the third door. With each step, Erik knew something was wrong. He should have been sensing Anne’s psi-scent, but there was nothing coming from the room. He held up his hand. As the group stopped, Erik felt around. There wasn’t a hint of Anne’s psi-scent in the hallway.

“She’s not here,” Erik whispered into his radio, “I don’t think she’s ever been in here.”

“But I felt her sling a spell in that room,” Veronica said. “Maybe the vampires moved her.”

“I’m not picking up her ghost anywhere in here,” Erik said, “If they moved her, I should be able to pick up her ghost on the walls or floor. There’s nothing.”

“So, where is she?” Kurt asked. His voice was perfectly professional, but Erik could feel the roiling fear and rage bubbling in his tactical specialist.

“That’s a very good question, Mr. Schneider,” asked a familiar voice from the darkness. Erik triggered his chem-rig as Nao’s blue eyes became visible in the dark. Cool anti-venom pumped into his veins. Another few steps, and Erik could see Nao’s lithe beauty in the light from Far’ling. “Where could we have taken your precious Anne?” As she spoke, two pairs of red eyes blazed from the darkness.

Erik held Far’ling in front of him as he lowered the revolver to his side. The two male vampires stepped into the light. Veronica hissed as the seven-foot tall man-bat forms emerged from the darkness. Erik noticed one of the vampires wore two stainless steel hooks in place of his hands. That was probably the one Erik had fought when he tailed the pair of vampires a few nights ago.

“I know you’re planning something, Erik,” Nao said, walking right up to his shield. She gave him a sympathetic look as she leaned on the invisible wall of telekinetic force. “I need you to surrender.”

“Now, why would I do that, Nao?” he replied coldly.

“Because if you do, then I’ll take you to where Anne is,” Nao answered, “Believe, you’ll never find her before my clan mates took you down one by one.”

“From my calculations, we’ve managed to kill four of you so far without any loss on our end. Not including Stumpy, there,” Erik said, nodding at the hooked vampire. “There’s what, another nine of you? I think we could take you.”

“There’s no doubt you would probably hurt my clan even more, lover,” Nao said, with a hint of pride in her voice, “You just wouldn’t be able to in time to save your precious Anne. Unfortunately for you, time is of the essence. So, put down your weapons, and we will take you to Anne.”

“Not a fucking chance,” Erik said.

“Actually, sir, please do as the vampire says,” Nigel said, pointing his submachine gun at Erik. Veronica started to bring up her own submachine gun, but Erik put his hand on her arm. John had fallen back and had Samantha covered. Erik and Samantha locked eyes for the briefest of moments before she nodded.

“Put your weapons down,” Erik commanded, dropping his revolver to the ground. Veronica let out a string of Hindi curses as she unslung her submachine gun and let it drop to the ground. Jason and Kurt gave Nigel and John murderous looks as they followed suit.

“Remove your shield, lover,” Nao said. As Erik let the shield drop, the vampire with hands blurred among the group. Erik felt Far’ling tugged out of his grasp an instant before his hands were bound behind his back. When the vampire re-appeared, a stack of guns and knives was in front of Nao. She smiled indulgently at the vampire and said something in Serbian. The vampire bowed. Nao walked up to Erik.

“Do you know why we succeed, lover?” Nao asked, “It’s not because vampires are so powerful. It’s because we have servants everywhere.” She turned to Stumpy. “Take them down to the basement. The gazda will need to feed once the ritual is complete.”