The Vaempires: Zombie Rising Bloody Chunks Tour (Chapter 10)

I’m happy to be a part of a really neat tour for the Vaempires series by Thomas Winship. The full tour schedule is available at the bottom of this page.

I won’t ruin the surprise, though. Let’s let Tom tell you why this tour is so freaking neat!


 

Hello everyone. Welcome to the Bloody Chunks Tour!

I’m Thomas Winship, author of Vaempires: The Evolutionary War—a vampire series that explores the question: what if vampires evolved?

For this book tour, I decided to do something a bit different. Instead of sharing excerpts, reviews, interviews, and all the usual accompaniments, I’m giving you the book itself—piece by piece.

Or chunk by bloody chunk!

This tour is the only place where you can read Vaempires: Zombie Rising, the next chapter in the vaempires saga, before its official release!

The tale of The Evolutionary War resumes in Væmpires: Zombie Rising.

Væmpires have taken control of twelve major cities. Their leader, Vielyn, seeks the atomic weapons that will bring the rest of the world to its knees.

Vampire forces are reeling. As Linq and Ray race to the royal estate to rendezvous with Cassandra and Daniel, the princess is captured and Daniel falls.

With the fate of world shifting to their teenage shoulders, Linq and Ray must deal with tremendous losses while battling a most unexpected—and undeadly—new foe.

This tour wouldn’t be possible without the time and efforts of a very special group of people, beginning with Silvia and Franny at Dark Mind Book Tours and including everyone on the list below. Please show your support by stopping by, commenting, and spreading the word!


 

Chapter 10

There was no time to think. Cassandra couldn’t let Vielyn and Belmon go after her friends.

She pushed off the edge of the bed, ignoring the pain that erupted in her leg, and threw herself at the væmpires.

She hit the ground, rolling into Belmon’s legs at an angle that upended him into Vielyn. As the men toppled, Cassandra jumped to her feet, determined to make it into the hallway, where she could make a run for it.

A flash of silver flew from Vielyn’s hand, catching her eye.

The plasma gun.

She turned toward it, feeling the wound in her leg tear open even further at the sudden shift in momentum. Cassandra screamed while her hand somehow caught the weapon in midair. She fell to a knee, dizzy with pain, and aimed the gun at one of the shadows diving away from her.

Holding the trigger down, Cassandra swung the barrel back and forth, hitting nothing but her parents’ possessions and other inanimate objects as she slowly backed toward the door. The telltale sizzle of a blast striking flesh never came as the gun ran dry.

With her last shot, Cassandra aimed for an overhead sensor. She missed, but the burst came close enough to trigger the fire-suppression system. Alarms blared and the room was bathed in chemicals. Vielyn and Belmon sputtered and cursed as the mist enveloped them.

Cassandra hoped the substance, although environmentally safe, was toxic to væmpires. Cursing, leg throbbing, she let the gun slip through her fingers and tumble to the carpet. She limped the final step through the door and into the hallway.

She paused, turning to pull the door closed. She entered a code on the datapad, locking it, and slumped against the door. It wouldn’t hold them long, but she needed a moment to regroup.

“There’s no way I can outrun them, so I’ve got to outthink them,” Cassandra said aloud, despite her solitude.

Of course, even outthinking them was easier said than done. Besides the blaring alarms and her pulsating injury, she was tired, hungry, and heartbroken.

Her bedroom door beckoned from across the hall. Seeing it filled Cassandra with longing. She had never wanted anything as much as she wanted to go into her bedroom right then. It called to her, offering to pull her in its soft embrace, to shelter her and comfort her as it always had, but Cassandra knew it was a trap.

That would be the first place Vielyn looked.

Something slammed into the door behind her. Startled, Cassandra yelped.

She clamped a hand over her mouth, a futile gesture that was more instinct than anything. She had a moment, perhaps, but nothing more. The door was reinforced, but wouldn’t hold two væmpires for long.

She looked up and down the hallway, her most traveled hallway in the palace, pushing aside the memories that threatened to crash over her. What good would reminiscing do?

The majority of the doors were too far away. She’d never hope to reach them in her weakened state. Luckily, being exposed to the chemical cocktail in the bedroom would short-circuit Vielyn’s and Belmon’s enhanced senses. They’d be no better than human when they escaped.

For a little while.

“So, we’re all handicapped,” Cassandra muttered, gritting her teeth as she limped toward a large floral arrangement a few dozen yards away. The sounds of Vielyn and Belmon attacking the door echoed down the empty hallway around her.

Behind the floral arrangement was a hatch that offered access to the myriad maintenance corridors of the palace. The hatch was crafted in such a way as to be almost invisible to the naked eye—the naked vampire eye, of course, because the human eye was about as discerning as a rock—but the arrangement served as an additional layer of camouflage.

Cassandra had explored the corridors during her youth; not enough to consider herself an expert, but enough to have a better-than-average sense of their layout. Still, it wasn’t her intent to seek escape in them. She only sought temporary refuge until she formulated a plan of attack.

She ducked behind the arrangement and slid through the hatch, just as the bedroom door gave way with a wrenching sound. Cassandra kept the hatch open just enough to keep an eye on the væmpires. The door dropped to the floor with a muffled thump and the men emerged from her parents’ room. She strained to hear what they were saying as the alarm continued blaring.

“I couldn’t teleport into the hallway,” Belmon explained. “I can’t use my powers if I can’t think straight.”

Vielyn silenced the green-eyed man with a baleful stare. “Then they’re not very useful powers.”

Cassandra took delight in the way the væmpire withered beneath Vielyn’s gaze.

“She couldn’t have gone far,” Vielyn said. “She’s making tracks for the nearest exit.”

“She might be in her room,” Belmon said. He took a half step toward Cassandra’s bedroom before Vielyn’s hand clamped down on his shoulder.

“No one but me goes in that room,” Vielyn said. The possessiveness in his voice made Cassandra sick. She wanted to tear his throat out and feel his blood drip from her claws.

Belmon nodded in understanding, red spikes dipping up and down. “Do you want me to search the surrounding rooms, then? I can pop in and out in no time—”

“Save your strength,” Vielyn hissed. “Cassandra isn’t one to quiver behind closed doors, waiting to be discovered. She’s a faithless fool, but she isn’t a coward.”

He gazed down the hall, his eyes flowing across Cassandra’s hiding place. For a second she thought he spotted her, but his gaze continued on. He sighed. “No doubt she’s off to join her friends—well, her remaining friends, at least.”

He laughed and Belmon joined in like a true lackey.

The alarm stopped, surprising the men. They stopped laughing, bodies tensing and eyes darting about before they realized what had occurred.

Vielyn resumed the conversation with a chuckle. “Speaking of friends, you didn’t happen to go by the west ward on your way in, did you?”

Belmon shook his head.

“That’s too bad. I’m afraid I left Iris behind.”

Belmon’s green eyes widened.

“She was hit,” Vielyn explained. “That fool Daniel shot her.” He shrugged. “I got caught up in the heat of the moment and forgot all about the poor girl once the fighting was over.”

“Are you sure she’s dead?” Belmon asked.

“I never confirmed it,” Vielyn confessed. “But all her creatures went down with her, so it’s likely. It’s too bad, though. I had big plans for Iris. Still, I’d trade that creep Daniel for one disturbed girl any day.”

It took every ounce of Cassandra’s willpower to stop from rushing out. She clenched her fists so tight that her bones creaked. She was certain they’d hear it in the relative silence.

“What! The kid’s dead?”

“Don’t act so surprised,” Vielyn warned, then waved away Belmon’s protests. “I know what you meant. Yes, he’s dead. Soon his friends will be, as well. C’mon, I’ll tell you about it as we walk. Don’t worry”—he laughed—“it’s a short story.”

They strolled down the hall as if they didn’t have a worry in the world, like two guys talking about a sporting event or a recent vacation. Their voices trailed off as they rounded a far corner.

Cassandra waited a ten count before emerging from her hiding place. Her battered body had grown stiff in the short time, and she almost cried out at the numerous pains from moving again. She gritted through it and turned toward her bedroom.

Each stutter-step sent a wave of agony through her. She had never been so bad off in her life. Her body had absorbed too much punishment to heal at a normal rate, and she hadn’t eaten since she couldn’t remember when.

The thought of synth-blood made her stomach queasy, but her mouth watered. Her mind replayed the argument over Daniel’s use of the shok-pak—had it only been a short time earlier?—and she realized that she’d make the same decision if presented the opportunity.

Thinking of Daniel threatened to unleash a river of tears, so she pushed those thoughts away. She stumbled into her bedroom, closing the door and entering the code to lock it.

Cassandra turned, leaning against the doorframe as she surveyed the room. It was a place that reflected its occupant. Its furnishings were elegant and understated. Its style and substance was dignified, but not impersonal. The overall feel reflected her maturity, yet the room still contained holdovers from a blessed youth she hadn’t abandoned entirely.

Her bed, a cloud of billowy white pillows and blankets, beckoned to her. A sleek computer hibernated, waiting for a wave of Cassandra’s hand to awaken it—only she wasn’t about to do that, because the vidscreen would show Daniel’s smiling face, the sight of which would probably cripple her.

The curtains were shut, but the sun’s rays peeked through, dissecting the polished wooden floor with elongated slivers of light. It was a sight that, until that moment, had never failed to warm her heart.

The far wall was lined with floor-to-ceiling shelves. Many shelves had a theme. One was devoted to cherished childhood knickknacks. One displayed a complete collection of wedding photos of all the previous vampire queens and kings. Another held a selection of pre-Devastation jewelry that Cassandra had scavenged from antique dealers throughout Orion. And scattered throughout all the shelves were a variety of awards, plaques, and other mementos and souvenirs from her many experiences around the globe.

The room was untouched, almost perfect like her parents’ bedroom had been. Looking around, she could almost let herself believe that nothing had changed, that the world hadn’t been turned upside down.

Wait.

One thing was different. On her bureau was a package, a small box wrapped in a beautiful bow.

Cassandra crossed the room on rigid legs. She drew close enough to see her name, written in her mother’s flowery cursive, on the box. Then she paused. Her hands shook. Her lips trembled. Taking a deep breath, she stepped up to the bureau and reached for the box.

She untied the bow—it made a silky whisper—and removed the lid. Nestled in a bed of cotton was a vidcard. She knew what it was—a message from her parents. A special message to commemorate her sixteenth birthday.

The last words she’d ever hear from them.

It was too much. Cassandra backed away until she bumped up against her bed. Turning, she dropped onto it, burying her face in a pillow as the dam holding back the river of tears gave way.

The tears came, a cold torrent of emotion. Tears of pain and loss. Tears of anguish and fear. Tears that she couldn’t label.

Cassandra cried until the tears stopped flowing. Then, sniffling and shaking, she sat up and tried to regain her composure. It wasn’t easy, but she managed.

When she could stand, she returned to the bureau and searched for a wristband with which to play the vidcard. She had several, but who knew which one held a sufficient charge?

She found one in a bottom drawer and pulled it out. She was sliding the vidscreen into the port when she remembered Linq and Ray.

“My God!” she said. “How could I forget?”

Cassandra dropped the wristband on the floor but slid the vidcard into an inner pocket, where it clinked against her other secreted treasures—the crystal teardrop necklace and earrings that Daniel had given her for Christmas … and a matching ring. The ring Daniel had given her yesterday, back when her biggest worry had been finding a way to tell her parents what they had done.

Cassandra rushed to the door to enter the code. Before she could, she heard a sound that froze her blood: Belmon’s maniacal laughter.

Behind her.

With a groan, Cassandra turned. The red-haired væmpire wasn’t there—and then he was, materializing out of thin air between her and her bed. His smile was vulgar. She was filled with the desire to knock his teeth out, and against her better judgment, she attacked.

Claws and fangs came online. Belmon’s green eyes widened as Cassandra flashed across the space between them, but he made no move to defend himself.

So easy.

Her claws flashed toward his throat. She envisioned his hot, rancid blood spraying across her room in arcs and a chill raced down her spine.

He stepped aside.

Caught off guard, Cassandra landed on her injured leg and tumbled across the bed, spilling onto the floor.

She leapt to her feet. The væmpire stood there, smile in place. Taunting her.

Spitting curses, Cassandra charged. Again, the væmpire stood his ground as her claws flashed in.

And again, he slipped aside at the last second.

Cassandra was prepared for it. Her claws slashed through emptiness, but she pivoted, ignoring the flair of pain down her leg, and dove in, fangs first.

Her mouth touched his neck—she felt the unnatural heat rolling off him in waves—and she clamped down in a savage bite that resembled an animal attack. She imagined his blood filling her mouth and felt a thrill so perverse that it was almost sexual.

He shifted away.

Her fangs snapped together with bone-shattering force. She ignored it as adrenaline and rage flooded her veins, rendering her incapable of reason.

Shouting and sputtering curses and other vile language, Cassandra attacked the red-haired væmpire again and again and again. Each time, he slipped away at the last possible second—later than that, even. And each near hit fanned the flames of Cassandra’s rage.

She unleashed a storm of destruction upon everything in her path—everything but the væmpire standing before her. She no longer cared about her parents or Daniel or her kingdom or her people. All she cared about was getting her claws on that silent smiling man.

Her bed was askew, the coverings slashed and tattered and trailing around the room like cheap party decorations. Pictures and art were dented and broken. Her bureau was splintered and shattered. Even the gift box—the last gift her parents had ever given her—was crushed in a corner. The beautiful silk ribbon was nowhere to be seen.

And still her quarry eluded her.

Then Belmon vanished. Cassandra froze, panting, her chest heaving and spots dancing before her eyes in the empty room.

The door slid open and she tensed to attack, but it was Vielyn. Surprise at seeing him kept her rooted in place. She didn’t even question how he had defeated the lock. Slung over his shoulder was a woman—no, a teenage girl from the looks of it.

“Well, well, well,” he said, chuckling and looking around the room with an appraising eye. “What happened here?”

Cassandra, saying nothing, felt the first twinges of guilt at the wanton havoc around her.

“It isn’t your fault,” Vielyn explained. She hated his reasonable tone. And the flush of gratitude she felt. And the sudden desire to smooth her tangled dress and fix her hair. “That’s part of Belmon’s power. He makes you miss, and missing causes you to get angrier and angrier. Some kind of chemical stimulation, I suppose. I’ve never seen it in action,” he admitted, giving her a quick once-over. His eyes trailed across her chest before returning to her eyes. “You do seem rather … stimulated.”

Cassandra felt the rage again and unleashed claws that she didn’t remember retracting.

“Not so fast, Princess,” he cautioned her, holding up a hand. “I’m not interested in dancing with you again.”

“What?” she growled. “No more threats?”

“You’ve made it painfully obvious that threatening you is a waste of time,” he said, chuckling. “In fact, it’s rather disturbing that you seem to have such callous disregard for your personal safety, Princess. Some might believe you have a death wish.”

Cassandra snorted as rage bubbled just beneath the surface.

“Be that as it may,” Vielyn continued, “I’m going to give you a chance to save lives instead of throwing them away.” He inclined his head toward the unconscious woman slung over his shoulder. “While you were holed up in here, Belmon took a quick trip outside to rescue little Iris,” he explained, patting the woman’s backside in a demeaning gesture that sickened Cassandra. “It doesn’t look good, Princess. Linq and Ray aren’t faring too well against her creatures.”

Worry spiked inside her. Her friends needed her help. “So she’s responsible for those abominations?” Cassandra asked, injecting outrage into her voice. Meanwhile, she began assessing angles of attack.

“Uh-uh, Princess,” Vielyn warned, as if somehow sensing her intent. “I know what you’re thinking and it won’t work. For once, you might want to listen first and act second. Your friends’ lives depend on it.”

Cassandra stiffened. “I’m listening.”

Vielyn smiled. She wanted to wipe it from his face, but held her ground.

“So here’s your choice, Princess. You surrender to me, peacefully, and I’ll leave dear Linq and Ray to their own devices and let the chips fall where they may. Who knows”—he shrugged—“the intrepid young men may live to fight another day.” The phony smile vanished as his dark eyes hardened. “Or you can defy me, again, and Belmon and I will join the fray.”

Cassandra’s heart sank as images of Daniel’s tattered body crowded her vision. She couldn’t allow Vielyn to go back out there. She had to give Linq and Ray a fighting chance, even if it meant sacrificing herself.

She met Vielyn’s eye, trying to muster as much loathing as possible into her gaze. It was futile when she felt herself deflating at the situation’s hopelessness.

It’s a tactical retreat, a small internal voice insisted, but Cassandra wasn’t convinced.

Vielyn nodded before turning to someone in the hallway.

“Belmon, take her away.”


 

Tour Schedule:

  • September 24th – TToria / Chapter 8

 

I hope you enjoy Vaempires: Zombie Rising!

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