What’s a woman to do when her dad’s the antichrist, her grandma’s the devil, the end of the world is at her doorstep, and she’s out to avenge the murders of her husband and kids?
Kill everything in her way.
Quarter-demon Peri Takata exists with but one goal in mind: annihilate everyone responsible for the death of her family. Then—her need for vengeance quelled—she plans to take her own life.
Her mission brings her to vampire Zara Lain, the only known survivor of the event that destroyed Peri’s family five years ago. Hunting down a secret society of those who don’t want to be found has its challenges, however, especially when forces are working to keep the antichrist’s daughter very much alive. The apocalypse is closing in and Peri may be playing a role in it whether she wants to or not.
The exclusive edition eBook, as well as the Trade Paperback edition, contains the Lineage-verse short story Sunrise. The exclusive edition eBook is only sold directly from Mundania Press.
Award-winning author Skyla Dawn Cameron has been writing approximately forever. Her early storytelling days were spent acting out strange horror/fairy tales with the help of her many dolls, and little has changed except that she now keeps those stories on paper. She signed her first book contract at age twenty-one for River, a unique werewolf tale, which was released to critical and reader praise alike and won her the 2007 EPPIE Award for Best Fantasy. She now has multiple series on the go to keep her busy, which is great for her attention deficit disorder.
Skyla lives in Southern Ontario where she dabbles in art, is an avid gamer, and watches Buffy reruns. She’s naturally brunette, occasionally a redhead, and currently blonde. If she ever becomes a grown-up, she wants to run her own pub, as well as become world dictator. You can visit her on the web at www.skyladawncameron.com for free fiction, book news, a community forum, and tons of other totally awesome stuff.
Her Father’s Daughter
I’d already killed two people outside the warehouse.
Now inside, I had five more to take care of.
My eyes were alert for movement, shoulders tense, and breaths were deep and steady from the diaphragm. Wind rattled the windows, coming strong off the harbor, and the noise echoed through the enormous space.
I sat between two crates and studied the shadows fifteen feet across from me with predatory interest. The darkened warehouse provided many places for someone to hide, but that didn’t trouble me: I had patience and a healthy sense of superiority. I slid the SIG Mosquito from the custom holster at my hip, suppresser already on the barrel and ready. Both hands on the grip, I lifted the gun. Waited.
Ninety seconds later I got my wish as my target shifted his position. For an instant, the dim moonlight struck his shoulder, then the figure stepped back and stood still again.
That was all I needed.
I aimed. The trigger clicked and a body hit the floor.
I took four steps back until my spine bumped the wall, and then holstered the gun as I glanced around. My gaze settled on the ladder nearby, then shifted up, up, to the second level where a catwalk ran across the room. Good vantage point available, though a beam of moonlight cut through the latticed window above and lit a huge patch of the floor two feet ahead, right in my path toward the ladder. All I needed was someone just as patient as me with their gun trained on that spot, and I’d be in trouble.
Five and a half minutes passed as I waited, listened. No more rustling, no movement nearby that I could sense. I looked to the catwalk once more.
Nothing ventured, nothing gained.
I took a breath. Braced. Pushed off the wall and ran for the ladder.
Just as my right foot hit the moonlight, a gun popped and bullets flew. Fire sliced along my bicep. I dropped down and rolled out of the way, hand immediately reaching for my gun to return fire. My back struck the wall and I waited there in the darkness, crouched and panting. Adrenalin pumped through my veins, giving me a rush that staved off pain. The bullet had nicked—I’d been shot enough times to know what it felt like—and it didn’t bleed badly. Nothing that required immediate care.
My gaze scanned the area. Blood splattered across a crate beneath a pair of windows, dark against the cheap wood grain. Holes went through it, too. Given the angle, that would put the shooter right about...
I raised my gun and trained it on the spot where I thought he’d be. If I fired and missed, I’d give away my position. If I fired and hit him, I could make it up that ladder. Tough call. The whole fight had gotten a little boring, though, so I opted for trying and squeezed the trigger.
A body thumped on the floor. Two down.
Wasting none of my precious time, I bolted for the ladder and ascended. It was secure and rattled little under my quick steps. I fell to a crawl on the catwalk and looked at what I could see of the warehouse. Large shipping containers and crates provided good cover, and I didn’t know for sure how many others were with me. I’d counted five when they chased me in, but I hadn’t eliminated the possibility of a sixth. So, three to go? Maybe four? Shit, just one could cause a problem if he saw me before I saw him.
I crept along the catwalk, watching for movement in my peripheral vision. A red dot flickered against the far wall. It disappeared as quickly as it came, but I froze and waited. The light hit the wall again. My gaze trailed in the opposite direction until I saw the glint of moonlight off the barrel of a rifle.
I smiled. My next two shots struck their target and the body hit a crate, wood cracking.
Feet scraped on the cement floor near the guy I’d shot—a partner. Shit. Taking careful aim, I fired again.
The return fire suggested I’d missed.
I dropped down, going flat on my belly, and waited. When the shooting ceased, I sent a few more rounds his way. Someone else shot from the other side of the room and a bullet pinged the metal railing above me. So, one on either side. Two left.
More than a few goodies were tucked into my belt, but right now I just needed another gun. I pulled a second Mosquito from my other holster. Time to find a better position.
I stood and sprinted across the catwalk, firing bullets in either direction at the two shooters, metal grating clattering beneath my feet, heart thumping hard. At the end of the catwalk, I shoved the guns into their holsters and dove. My fingers grasped the edge of the ladder, slipped to the sides, and I slid down to the floor. Far to my right, I clearly heard the cries of a man in pain—I’d definitely hit one of them. Provided he didn’t do much moving, I could swing around and take care of him easily. For now, my concern would be taking out the one who hadn’t been hurt.
My back pressed to the wall, I crept in the direction of the unharmed gunman. Big steel shipping containers waited between him and me, and wind knocked the windows in their frames again. I held my breath. Listened. He breathed through his nose, wheezing a little. Sounded like a cold, or allergies. Bad idea to go chasing a woman through a dark warehouse and not have something like that looked at beforehand.
The light wood of shipping crates was bright even in the shadows; they were stacked in varying heights by the big metal one. I folded my hands over one at eyelevel, the textured grip of my fingerless gloves protecting me from splinters or other nuisances, and hauled myself up. That put me high enough to slip onto the metal shipping container. My knees were padded—great equipment came standard in my line of work—so I put my weight on them rather than my shoes and slithered along silently. Near the edge, I peered down, gaze darting around for my target.
Though he’d dressed in black, my eyes had adjusted well to the dark and I could make out his form. He paced back and forth in the space between the steel container I was on and another about four feet away. Ready for another appearance by me, apparently, he had an assault rifle strapped over his shoulder, clutched in both hands.
I could reach for a gun, but variety adds spice to life. I pulled myself into a crouch and waited.
He stopped directly below me, then turned and started away again. I dropped down, my light footfalls drowned out by his heavy boots hitting the cement. In a pocket on my belt waited a length of piano wire with two wooden handles; I slipped it out and crept up behind him.
The man stopped near the end of the row of crates and I paused behind him, barely breathing. He stood nearly a foot taller than me, but the element of surprise tended to be a decent equalizer, much like a kick to the back of the knee.
Just as he was about to turn, I looped the wire over his head and jerked it back as I went for the aforementioned kick.
My foot struck the back of his knee and he went down; I sank my own knee into his spine and knocked him flat. My fingers flexed on the handles and pulled the wire tight. He thrashed. I held. Sweat beaded on my forehead, slicking my black hair as I fought to keep him down. My heart thudded hard from the exertion, but not the act itself. Killing wasn’t a thrill for me, nor did it make me feel badly. It just...was. Something that existed, that had to be done, and a solution when someone stood in my way or wanted to kill me.
And I held him there, pulling the wire still, for two minutes after he stopped fighting.
Four down, one to go.
I released the body and he dropped flat on the ground. My muscles relaxed but I’d feel the struggle in my biceps in the morning. Stealth was my game this time, so I didn’t bother collecting his assault rifle and stuck the garrote back in its pocket. The wounded guy was next and I doubted I’d need much to put him down.
I swiped sweat-damp hair from my forehead and crept around the crates, stalking across the warehouse. One body lay unmoving off to the side—the guy I’d killed from the catwalk. Blood streaked the floor from where the other, still living one had been hit, and subsequently dragged himself to temporary cover behind some crates. Around the corner lay the Caucasian guy in a strip of moonlight, panting, shaking, gripping his gun fiercely. It looked like two gunshot wounds to the leg and one to the upper chest, close to his right shoulder. Nothing life threatening—wasn’t bleeding badly—but he trembled like he was going into shock. A closer look, and I wasn’t surprised: he was barely eighteen or nineteen, maybe. Practically a kid.
I stepped forward. His eyes widened and a squeal of surprise left his lips; I snatched the gun before he could think to do anything with it and cast it on top of the crate behind me. Next I grabbed his collar and dragged him out of the cramped space, then dropped him on the floor beside the body of his comrade.
The kid yelped when I kicked his bloody leg. As he reached out to seize his thigh, I yanked out one of my guns and aimed the barrel at his pale forehead. He froze and his gaze traveled upward to my face.
Sweat poured from his brow. “P-Please don’t hurt me.”
“That will depend on whether or not you can help me,” I replied.
“Anything?” How quick they turn to the dark side when a little pain is involved. I cocked my head to the side and a lock of dark hair fell over my eyes. “As you might have guessed, I’m here to retrieve something, and since you were here before me, I’m guessing you came for it and know where it is. Where is the shipment that came in at fourteen hundred hours yesterday?”
“I-I don’t know.”
My jaw tensed as my finger tightened on the trigger.
The kid’s eyes widened. “Th-there’s an office, o-over there.” He gestured weakly to the north of the warehouse. “Shipping info is probably there.”
I eased back and lowered the gun. “I’ll be back if you lied to me.”
He whimpered his response.
I jogged in the direction he indicated, slipping around crates and shipping containers, feet thumping on the cement. A tiny office waited, tucked in the corner of the warehouse. I drove the butt of the gun into the window in the door; glass shattered in a high-pitched, tinkling noise. When it was clear, I reached inside and flipped the lock.
The office couldn’t’ve been more than eight feet by six. I pulled out a penlight, switched it on, and cast the beam over the mass of papers across the desk. It was a fucking mess—did these people forget to computerize? But a clipboard hung to the side, front page scratched and creased, with pencil marks all over it.
Shipping manifest. Sweet.
I tore the top page off, stuffed the gun back in its holster, and pulled the walkie-talkie from my belt. I flipped it on, a pinprick of green light telling me it was clear to speak.
“You’re right, it’s here,” I said. “Looking for the package now. Requesting extraction shortly. Over.”
A voice crackled on the other line. “We’ve been trying to contact you—you were told to keep your mic and earpiece on. Over.”
Ugh. I tossed that shit the moment I got off the boat. “I will be requesting extraction shortly,” I repeated slowly in case he missed the part where I was too fucking busy to get in a fight with him yet again. “Over.”
“Don’t talk to me ’til you have the damn thing, Kore. Over.”
“Bite me, cocksucker. Over and out.”
There was a reason I didn’t have any friends.
I put the damn walkie-talkie back in its pouch on my belt. No matter my profession, I always had the most obnoxious co-workers.
Penlight in hand, I moved back into the main warehouse in search of the crate. A series of letters and numbers were on each, and I scanned the codes for the latest ones. Midway through the stacks, I came upon those that had arrived within the timeframe I sought. The crate structure was weak, and it took only one kick from me to break open the side. A little messier than a crowbar, but it got the job done.
I dropped to my knees, cleared away the splinters, then hauled out the boxes within, one by one.
Each box had a package of papers sealed in plastic on the top with further shipping information. I found the one I was looking for—a square box of cardboard, decent weight and the size of...well...a human head, actually, which it could very well have been as I’d stolen stranger things before—and picked it up as I stood. Time for my extraction so I could get the fuck out of Dodge.
Pain laced my skull and my vision blurred as something cracked me over the head. The box fell, corner striking the cement ground and caving in. My penlight joined it and spun in circles away from me. I regained my balance only to have something hard and cold strike the side of my face, snapping my head to the side.
This time I hit the ground.
Something heavy clattered as I fell, but I didn’t know what—my ears were ringing and it seemed far more important to get my head on straight. I wiped the blood from my upper lip and glanced up at my attacker. So, there were six inside, then. Yet another white guy stood before me, dressed in black like the others, an assault rifle hanging from a strap on his shoulder and 9mm in hand.
He raised the gun.
I kicked him hard in the shin, then jerked my foot back and around his calf. He went stumbling. My fingers folded around a switchblade in my belt; I flicked it out and whipped it in his direction. The blade hit its mark, implanting in his hand.
He dropped his gun, tore the knife out with his free hand, and glared at me. This one was older than the wounded kid. Thirties, maybe. Mercenary, probably. Experienced, definitely. I half expected him to mutter something about it just being a flesh wound.
I scrambled to my feet and waited, shifting my weight from foot to foot.
He moved fast, swinging the knife my way. The blade narrowly missed my chest as I stepped backward. He attacked again, and once more I dodged. A blur played over my eyes, lightheadedness catching up with me—I shifted slower this time as I fought to keep my balance, and the blade nicked my collarbone.
I winced. My attacker noticed and smiled. I figured he’d be smiling a little less when I blew his brains out, so I whipped out a Mosquito.
Or I would’ve if my right one had still been there.
The gun lay on the ground behind him—motherfucker, someone was always on me about the thumb break on my holster, but I always forgot.
His smile widened.
I reached for my second. He ducked the first and knocked my hand away before I could pull the other SIG from its holster. I kicked the knife from his grip, snatched his wrists and jerked him toward me as I delivered a head butt. Hey, I had a tough skull and didn’t need to do much thinking anyway.
He broke from my hold, grabbed my forearm, and gave it an awful twist as he spun behind me. He locked my arm against my back and reached around to squeeze my throat.
“Nice try, girly,” he said in a low voice by my ear.
Nothing bothers me more than a man referring to a grown woman as “girly.” I struggled in his grasp, but consciousness was fading quickly.
“No weapons left and you’re not strong enough to keep fighting,” he continued. “Just quit. It’ll be easier.”
But I wasn’t quite without defenses yet.
I closed my eyes. Took in a long, deep breath. Focused. Felt around me, pulling at the energy in the room, at everything creeping in the darkness, hovering under the surface. It crackled, snapped, reached for me, ready for my beckoning. It took all of my remaining strength, but I did the most difficult thing of all.
I let go.
Let go of my fractured consciousness. Let go of my self-control. Let go of a thirty-something woman named Persephone Takata—severed the connection with my very identity.
My heart was pounding, my whole body thrumming in time with it. Blood rushed, crackling with energy I felt twisting through my veins. At the base of my skull, a pounding started that would be one hell of a headache later, but not now. No, now my head swam in something deliciously murky, like a warm swamp ready to pull me under with weighted, welcoming arms. I opened my eyes to see the room go grainy and hazy. If my attacker faced me, he’d see my irises swirl with red, the whites of my eyes turn black. It was usually enough to scare the average person off, but this situation called for more; I drew in my power, coiling it into a tight, buzzing ball, then released it.
The force knocked my opponent back into a pile of crates; the crash boomed through the warehouse and splinters flew.
I spun to face him. Red pulsed around me and a wonderful fire traced my spine. Man Number Six tried to stand, and as he looked up, he froze.
I didn’t need a weapon as I stalked toward him, grinning deliriously. No knives, no guns. No toys. My fingers locked around his collar and I yanked him up, gazing steadily into his eyes. The look of terror in their depths made something warm and delightful burn in me.
No, I didn’t need a weapon because I’m my father’s daughter.
I rammed my free hand against his chest. Something beyond myself, beyond the warehouse—beyond this very dimension—reached through me and tore into him. His body jerked and he screamed. I held on, watching detached until he fell silent and still. For a glorious moment I felt what took him—felt the tug on me to join him, to sink into the arms of oblivion and be done with it.
My fingers peeled back from his shirt and he slumped to the ground.
I crumpled as well.
Knees gave first, thumped hard enough to send shocks up my thighs. I fell onto my hands and sucked in air greedily, but it didn’t seem enough—the air was stagnant and warm and did nothing to ease the ache in my lungs. My nose bled, my skull felt cracked in two. I reached out and pulled everything back into me, stuffing all the bits I’d let go of back into myself and sealing it away. Bile rose in my throat; I swallowed it back.
I am Peri Takata. If I still had my name, my head was still on straight. I swiped at the blood on my lip, soaking it up with the back of the glove on my hand. I still had to get out of the warehouse and to safety, and I couldn’t afford to fall apart yet.
My legs shook and threatened to dump me on my ass again as I stood straight. My penlight waited for me, casting a thin beam of light across the cement; I snatched it up first, then grabbed the package I’d come here to retrieve.
“Kore here,” I said as I pulled out my walkie-talkie once more, using my code name in the very unlikely event someone listened in on our channel. “I have the package. Get me the fuck out of here. Over.”
“Proceed to the southern dock,” came the voice on the other end. “We have a boat waiting. Over and out.”
About fucking time.
Before heading to the extraction point, I stopped next to the wounded kid again. He still lay there on his back where I’d left him. He looked up at me, saw the package, and relief passed over his face.
“You got it,” he said. “Good.”
“Yes, I did. Thanks for your help.”
I brought my heel down on his throat and snapped his neck.
I couldn’t blame that death on the genes from my biological father, and it certainly wasn’t the influence of those who raised me, who were really nice people.I guess I’m just naturally a violent bitch at heart.