The flickering light of the many scattered candles cast dancing shadows on the cold stone walls of the prison. The naked captive hung from the ceiling by a pair of ancient metal shackles attached to his wrists. A matching pair around his ankles kept his legs spread far enough to hinder his balance. After two hours of futile struggles punctuated with terror-laden, curse-filled bravado, the prisoner had accomplished nothing beyond dislocating his left shoulder and accelerating his fatigue. He had drifted in and out of consciousness ever since that sickening pop and subsequent scream of agony.
“Time to play,” murmured the figure hidden in the darkest corner of the cell. As he stepped into the light, the prisoner’s eyes widened in recognition. His answering smile was awful. “I see you recognize me. Good. That means that I won’t have to go into a lot of tiresome explanations about why you’re here.”
“You’re supposed to be dead,” the man croaked through swollen and bleeding lips. “The team reported…”
“Your team was as incompetent as its leader.” Maximus moved until mere inches separated him from his victim. Over the foul stench of urine, feces, and sweat was the sweet tang of fear. The vampire closed his crimson eyes and inhaled the welcome scent. His grin revealed the sharp tips of his fangs. “And as cowardly. Sniping through my bedroom window, Bankston? That’s beneath even you.”
“We were testing a theory.” The man gripped the chain with his right hand to ease the pressure on his left shoulder and chuckled. “Even if the aim was off, the mission was a success.”
“Ah yes. The Mission.” Maximus walked around the prisoner, digging one sharpened claw into the man’s flesh and slicing a shallow, bloody path. “Tell me about this mission, Bankston. None of your subordinates knew much about it beyond their targets. Some had been successful; others had failed. They didn’t quite understand why. But you do.”
“Fuck you,” Andrew Bankston growled through gritted teeth.
“I’ll pass, thank you. I make it a rule to never fuck my prey. I always feel so dirty afterwards.” Maximus shuddered with distaste. Holding his prisoner’s eyes, he licked the blood from the tips of his talons. “Oh my. You have been a naughty boy, Andrew. Do your bosses know you’re snorting your salary away? Don’t worry, though. I’ll never tell.” He winked at the bleeding prisoner before removing his jacket. “Now, try to remain still. This is only going to hurt…a lot.”
It only took a week to thoroughly destroy the mind and body of Andrew Bankston. The broken corpse was dropped onto the wreckage of a yacht carrying enough illegal arms and drugs to fund a small revolution. Armed with an organizational name and a set of coordinates, Maximus boarded a plane to the United States. He now knew the enemy, and its name was The Paranormal Research Institute of America.
He would have his vengeance.