In which Jedivan makes a choice

In the compound, Eyes had shown him the torpid form of his Justicar, Alistair Nix. And she had given him a choice.

Stop pursuing this, or die.

There was no honour in that death, Jed reasoned, nothing gained by fruitlessly railing against Eyes. And so, he had swallowed his pride and agreed to her terms. And Eyes had given him Alistair’s sword, as a sign of his complicity. A good sword. But worth his honour? Worth the Justicar’s life? The memory of Alistair burned in his mind, troubled him.

All that blood, all that power, just going to waste.

Jed found himself on the cliffs by the sea, the spring winds soft and clement, giving no heed to the turmoil that dwelled inside him. Finding his hands idle, he drew his sword and hunted the rats that hid in the flowers by the cliff. They died easily enough, but the scent of their blood did nothing for him, and the sword was just a sword.
Looking out to sea, Jed found a growing emptiness inside him. All those years spent playing politics, only to see his life fall apart around him. His position too weak to protect him, his blood too thin to let him sire. The loneliness hit him like an ache in his heart, and he closed his eyes, feeling a grim determination form.

All that blood, all that power, just going to waste.

Jed launched himself into the air, heading back to Eyes’ compound.

“I’m sorry, I can’t let you in,” said the guard at the door, a man dressed entirely in motorcycle leathers, face obscured by an opaque vizor. “It’s by appointment only, generally speaking. And then there’s the fee for entry.”
“Fee?” Jedivan took care not to snarl, though the beast crawled on many legs within him.
The guard nodded. “Company policy. Discourages timewasters, see? Not that I’d be accusing you of such.” He touched the brim of his cap. “One person, human or thinblood, per appointment.”
“Fine,” Jed growled, and he was off again.

The overpopulation meant that there were thinbloods a-plenty on the streets, but never on their own. Always in packs, huddled close for safety, like sheep. Jedivan growled with frustration as he flew, following a group of three to a remote spot up near the Grim estuary.
A dark-haired girl and two shaggy-looking men; all kindred, all hungry; eyes sunken, skin taut. He could take them.
Jed landed silently behind them, drawing his sword. The girl froze mid-step, touching the other two, and Jed lunged at them. The girl twisted, opening her mouth and vomiting a gout of shadow.

Blackness. A tearing pain in his chest as something hit him, rending. Jed staggered backwards, spitting blood.

The shadow was a pool, some twenty feet across, tendrils grasping for him as he stumbled. Jed spread his wings, and with a powerful downbeat he took to the air. The shadow stretched and warped, coiling at his ankles, but he flew too fast and too high.

Jed flew and did not look back.

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