The Shadows: A Vampire Huntress Legend

The Shadows: A Vampire Huntress Legend

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by L. A. Banks
     
 

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In the newest Vampire Huntress novel from national bestselling author, L. A. Banks, more than vampires are coming out to play. . .

The Dark Realms are taking cover after an angel onslaught from On High. The Anti-Christ has been injured and the fourth Biblical seal has been broken. Yonnie and Val, a strange combination of a daywalker and an angel

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Overview

In the newest Vampire Huntress novel from national bestselling author, L. A. Banks, more than vampires are coming out to play. . .

The Dark Realms are taking cover after an angel onslaught from On High. The Anti-Christ has been injured and the fourth Biblical seal has been broken. Yonnie and Val, a strange combination of a daywalker and an angel hybrid, have joined Damali and Carlos's team. And the two new Council Level vamps, Elizabeth Bathory and Lucrezia Borgia, are still in recovery from their last mission.

Seething in the underworld is the Unnamed One, so furious that he's bringing the battle topside, unleashing a full-frontal assault on mankind for the offenses committed by the Vampire Huntress team. This time, Damali and Carlos must address serious human casualties and collateral damage...all while the vampire councilman, Nuit rebuilds Blood Music to become more than a record label, but a media brainwashing empire for the dark lord.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Though this 11th installment in Banks' Vampire Huntress Legend tale contains many interesting references to esoteric religious mysteries and features titillating S&M sex scenes, it will be difficult for the uninitiated to give a fig about the multitudes of angelic characters who sit around wishing for non-gore spattered clothes and whining about their fallen companions as the apocalypse swirls around them. Most of the action is in Hell, where Lucifer and his wife, Lilith, are feverishly working to protect the Anti-Christ and bring about the end of days. Lucifer's right hand man, Fallon Nuit, is successfully using his multimedia empire to flood the airwaves with bad mojo, while Elizabeth Bathory gorily resurrects her husband, Count Dracula, and then bleeds and moans through some physically improbable sex with him and Lucrezia Borgia, Nuit's wife. Though a lot of ass gets kicked, there's so little forward momentum that the story becomes a soul-sucking drag.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
From the Publisher
Praise for the Vampire Huntress Legends Series:

"This ‘end of days’ scenario is a wild amalgam of Christianity, vampire lore, world myth, functional morality, street philosophy and hot sex. Three double page line drawings...perfectly illustrate Banks’s over the top supernatural characters and scenes."—Publishers Weekly on The Cursed

"A splendid tale that brings together action suspense, mystery, mind-blowing battle scenes and love scenes."—Urban Reviews on The Cursed

“Superior vampire fiction.”—-Booklist on The Forbidden

Urban Reviews on The Cursed

A splendid tale that brings together action suspense, mystery, mind-blowing battle scenes and love scenes.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781429926966
Publisher:
St. Martin's Press
Publication date:
07/08/2008
Series:
Vampire Huntress Legends , #11
Sold by:
Macmillan
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
368
Sales rank:
107,164
File size:
0 MB

Read an Excerpt

The Shadows


By L. A. Banks

St. Martin's Press

Copyright © 2008 Leslie Esdaile Banks
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-4299-2696-6


CHAPTER 1

San Diego, California ... at the Guardian team compound home


It was what it was. Shit!

Carlos turned off the big-screen HDTV that was mounted on his and Damali's bedroom suite wall and then flung the remote control across the coffee table. The images continued to burn inside his head even after he shut off the television. Flames engulfed everything, appearing like fast-moving lava as they ate up countryside, homes, streets, abandoned cars, and people who couldn't make it out of the unrelenting smoke. Orchids, farms, olive groves — nothing stood a chance. Entire economies were disrupted, from small village infrastructures to that of the larger national interests.

Athens had been burning for weeks after he and Damali had severely injured the Dark Realm's heir apparent on a remote Greek island. Fair exchange was no robbery, according to the laws of revenge and reciprocity in the underworld, and since the offense had occurred on Greek soil, unfortunately the innocents of that land would pay the ultimate price. Greece was under spiritual siege, no matter what the news reports claimed. Yeah, right ... wildfires. Scores of people had died from fires that raged out of control. The international news said it was a combination of arid weather and high Mediterranean winds, along with overwhelmed local fire departments. The battle between Heaven and Hell on a remote Greek island obviously didn't make the six o'clock news.

If they could have just gotten off a direct white-light bolt to make the attempted hit on the Antichrist a clean kill ... damn! Today he'd get back on a mission. After weeks of nearly paralyzing fatigue, he could feel something shifting within the energy of the house. They'd all rested, even if they hadn't all recovered; it was time to go hunting again.

No doubt the Greek capital was now taking the brunt of the Beast's fury. Then again, in all likelihood, razing the land with billowing flames was just a ploy by the Devil to distract the warrior angels, to get them to pull up from their wrecking search for the wounded Antichrist throughout the bowels of Hell. It made sense that they'd redirect their efforts to attend to their primary mission — saving humanity. Brilliant. Dark. Twisted. But absolutely genius. Carlos stood and then walked across the room.

As soon as he opened the door leading out to the main hall, the soft filter of voices and the general hubbub of compound activity greeted him. The mild chaos was soothing. His nerves had been shot ever since he'd known for sure that his wife was pregnant. In rare glimpses he saw the strain of that reality in Marlene's wise eyes, but she hid it well. Shabazz was another story. His brow was constantly knit, like his. Of course Mar was gonna see it and then tell her husband — but Shabazz never spoke on it or stepped to him about it. Worry wafted off the senior Guardian brother in quiet, tight waves, but Shabazz was old-school enough to keep up a cool façade in front of the team. Every now and then Shabazz would give him a subtle nod that said it all without words: I gotchure back.

Carlos dragged his fingers through his hair as he walked down the hall. Damali being pregnant was the biggest open secret in the house that he'd ever witnessed. He was just glad nobody else beyond Marlene and Shabazz had picked up on Damali's condition yet.

The team would be happy, but they'd also freak. They all knew how dangerous it would be to have one of the Neterus in a vulnerable position this close to the end of days. But with a house full of seers, sooner or later the cat would be out of the bag. He was just glad that everyone was observing the house rule not to look into anyone else's personal auras or business without consent. But sooner or later, it would be obvious to anybody with a normal pair of eyes. Then what? Panic on a team fighting the kinds of entities that had now surfaced from the pit was an extremely dangerous thing.


Fallon Nuit paused for a moment to admire his newly reconstructed Los Angeles high-rise. Human bodies milled about in the landscaped courtyard, casting a succulent array of flavors onto his palate. He inhaled slowly as he entered the building through the huge revolving glass doors, enjoying the fragrance of pulsing life that had been baked to warm perfection by the sun's rays. Cattle. Some grain-fed beef, some garbage-fed meat on the hoof — what did it matter as long as they bled in the end?

Blood Music International would reign again, now more than just a lucrative hip-hop label, but renamed and transformed into a multimedia empire — Council Group Entertainment. His gallantry in battle, as well as his shrewd observation of a potential double-cross by the Neterus, had been rewarded. He'd been the only vampire councilman who knew that Yolando had been a fraud from the start, and thus his territory had been expanded to control all of the topside communications for the Dark Lord. In addition to his considerable holdings, he now owned everything that Yolando had once had principality over. Nuit smiled as he surveyed his expanded territory. Death was good. Très bon.

Black-and-white marble and clean chrome lines stared back at him under the gleaming sun that poured through the massive open atrium, much to his satisfaction. The entire building was made of huge plates of glass inviting in the sun. The irony of it all made him heady. To stand in the sun as a daywalker while retaining all of his vampire powers had been a fantasy for centuries; now he was living it.

Flanked by several patient human bodyguards, he chuckled privately as his gaze roved over the jarring signature splash of scarlet color in the middle of the floor that was supposed to resemble royal embossing wax ... but for those who truly understood, it was spilled blood. And plenty of it. Right in plain sight — the same way he'd corrupt the minds of the cattle all around him, feeding them propaganda, polluting their minds, and driving them in the direction the underworld needed to herd them. Perhaps he and the council had been going about it all wrong. Rather than attack the Neterus directly, attack humankind and watch the Neterus twist in the wind. That would draw them out.

They would pay for what they'd done to Lucrezia and Elizabeth, two gorgeous councilwomen wives who were now injured so badly that if they came out by day, they couldn't retain their illusion of beauty. Nuit lifted his chin, throttling back the unproductive rage beginning to surface within him, and pulled down on his monogrammed cuffs so that just the right corporate length showed beneath his custom-tailored Armani suit.

Although his mate, Lucrezia, was trapped again by the night, where her beauty still flourished, she'd survived the heinous attempt at silver poisoning. Sebastian's wife, Elizabeth, fared no better. It was a horrific crime against his vampire family. However, time was on his side to settle the score. That was the one thing he and Sebastian could seem to agree on. The tragedy that had befallen their wives oddly quelled their incessant rivalry. Joining forces was the only way to best the Neterus, especially since Sebastian had also been maimed. And when he finally found Yonnie ...

As Nuit brushed invisible lint off his lapels he sent his gaze around the lobby one last time. Another bit of irony lifted the corner of his mouth into a sinister half smile; Carlos and Damali's aggressive move on the chessboard of war actually put him in position to be the strongest vampire on the council.

Lilith was indisposed, feverishly working to heal the Dark Lord's heir. The Dark Lord was walking the planet, creating topside chaos to keep the angel corps frenetically working to save humanity, thereby effectively thinning their resources to hunt for his injured son. The other members of the Vampire Council had been exterminated, discredited, injured, or hijacked by the Light. That left him as the only legitimate holdover from the old regime of Dante.

Nuit straightened his already perfect posture, finding an additional millimeter of height to add to his six-foot-two, aristocratic bearing. What made it all the more glorious was the fact that he'd been the only one to predict the outcome of the events that had recently unfolded. Even Lilith took solid consideration of his counsel now, as did their ultimate ruler. One day, or night, when he finally ripped out Carlos Rivera's entrails, he'd have to thank him for positioning him so well.

Satisfied, he smoothed back his expertly barbered thicket of salt-and-pepper hair that he'd purposely allowed to become silver-flecked to add to his new daytime demeanor. Gone were the nights of perpetual, visceral youth; his new façade was strictly that of an entertainment-industry maverick. As he began walking, he was closely followed by a retinue of henchmen who looked like Secret Service agents. Every human who swarmed around his seemingly forty-five-year-old visage donned wires in their ears, dark suits, and barely concealed weapons.

Ignoring the mild stir they created in the lobby, he crossed over the gold inlaid crest on the floor that glittered against the red hue like a maker's mark. He opened his graceful hand that held the horrific potential of black lightning and bloodletting, staring down at the gold crest ring of office that he wore like a wedding band. The craftsmanship of the piece was befitting of royalty, of age-old entitlement, and he admired how the near resemblance of that crest to the one on the floor looked against his café au lait skin.

He almost laughed at how the new corporate logo had been slightly toned down from the one in the Vampire Council's pentagram-shaped bargaining table in Hell, but it still was what it was: a sign of absolute power.


J.L. looked up with a smile as Carlos passed his equipment room in search of Damali. Guts of computers, television innards, cell phones, stereo system circuitry, and other varying bits of technology that he couldn't immediately recognize littered the long workbench in front of his Guardian brother.

He could tell by J.L.'s broad grin that a cursory greeting wasn't going to be enough — J.L. wanted to talk. His Guardian brother's entire vibe practically yanked him into the room. Problem was, he didn't feel like talking; he just wanted to find Damali. He wanted to know how she felt and to get her take on starting a new demon hunt.

Renewed energy made him impatient. He hadn't felt this clear and this good in weeks. But the way J.L. popped up like an excited jack-in-the-box to round the table made him laugh. Maybe the big secret had finally gotten out? The entire room was crackling with J.L.'s tactical sensory charge, as pure adrenaline made it waft off his skin and begin to lift the edges of Carlos's hair.

"What's up, man?" Carlos said, chuckling as J.L. pulled him into a quick Guardian brother hug. "You've got blue static jumpin' all over you. I think you've been cooped up in the compound too long."

"That's no lie — but I finally figured it out," J.L. said excitedly. "The downtime made me focus. Now I know what's up."

Carlos beamed and just nodded. "Yeah ... sooner or later I knew you would, man."

J.L. playfully punched Carlos in the shoulder with a lightning-fast martial arts spar and then dashed back over to the table where he'd been working. "You know I got skills, brother," J.L. said, laughing. "Check it out." He held a tiny silver object that looked like a small transistor the size of a pencil lead on the tip of his index finger. "No cheating ... make a clean guess, man. You're gonna love it!"

The smile slowly faded from Carlos's face. J.L. hadn't figured out his secret ... this was about something else. Carlos nodded, trying to play it cool, and then stepped farther into the compound's brain center — the tech lab.

J.L.'s smile widened and Carlos shoved his hands into his jeans pockets. Damn, he'd almost slipped and told on himself. In that moment he realized just how badly he'd wanted to share the good news about the baby with the household, and he had to really be on guard not to go against the advice of the Neteru Council On High. They'd said to wait; this time he was following the rules to the letter. Marlene and Shabazz had found out on their own. That was something different. But no grand announcements at this juncture were authorized. The older couple instinctively knew that, too, even before Damali had asked them to keep the info on the down-low.

"Okay, enlighten me, oh genius one," Carlos said with a half smile after a moment.

There was no way to know what new gadget J.L. had developed for the team security systems, short of going into J.L.'s razor-sharp mind for a subtle thought scan, but that would be cheating. He could tell that he'd made J.L.'s day by being stumped, so he allowed his Guardian brother to revel in the triumph. Curiosity pushed Carlos's other thoughts aside as he stepped closer and peered down at the tiny object J.L. held out for him to inspect.

"You know how all of us have been in a funk ever since we came out of that last battle in Greece?"

Carlos nodded. "Yeah ... but you know who we were up against, too, so it stands to reason. But the Covenant said we were all clean and would shake it soon."

"True," J.L. said with a wide smile. "If we had a chance not to mentally get weighed down again for a little while."

Carlos just stared at his Guardian brother for a moment, studying the quiet warrior burning deep within his almond-shaped, brown eyes. It was as though thousands of years of ancient Asian wisdom had coalesced into one soul as the two men stood facing each other, both expectant of the other's reaction. J.L.'s smile faded, giving way to his more serious side. Everybody's energy had been zapped after that battle, and it felt like they'd been walking through quicksand. Not even Marlene's white baths were helping.

"Talk to me," Carlos said quietly.

"It's been coming through the airwaves ... the assault. You-know-who is the Prince of the Airwaves."

"Shit ..." Carlos murmured, more closely studying the tiny bit of silver metal on J.L.'s finger.

"Yeah," J.L. said with triumph. "Once again, Inez's baby girl was our canary in a coal mine. All of us thought we were burnt-out from battle, and Inez's mom just from age and the pure shock of being inducted into this life. But neither of them went to war with us over in Greece. They stayed back home in New York in the Covenant safe house until we got back, right?"

"Right," Carlos said, extracting his hands from his pockets to fold his arms.

"Yeah, well, I get up real early every morning to do my tai chi on the back deck — gotta pass through the kitchen. I have a routine ... make my green tea, let it steep, while I do my thing. The three-year-old gets up real early like that, too. I pass her every day in the kitchen eating her cereal and every morning her grandmother can barely make it into the kitchen and the kid is always sniffling. So a few days ago I asked the little bird why she was always so sad in the morning ... and get this, man. She said the cartoons make her cry."

"Huh? Cartoons?" Dumbfounded, Carlos simply stared at J.L.

J.L. gingerly set down the small silver-coated chip on a piece of black velvet on the workbench. "That's what I said, man. So I asked her which ones she watched and the kid said everything makes her cry on TV now. She said it wasn't good anymore."

"That's ... crazy."

J.L. nodded. "Yeah, and you and I both know the kid is a seer, right?"

"Right ..."

"Inez's mom said she was just being dramatic because she wouldn't allow her to bust into Inez and Big Mike's room first thing in the morning, so it was just a daily tantrum ... but I didn't feel that, bro. I wasn't feeling like the kid was making it up. There was genuine melancholy."

"This is too deep," Carlos said, raking his fingers through his hair.

"Uh-huh. My take exactly. So I got some old DVDs of Barney and other stuff she likes, and the kid was happy. Then I'd try a direct broadcast, and the poor little thing would hide her face and say it was scaring her."

"Whoa ... man ..."


(Continues...)

Excerpted from The Shadows by L. A. Banks. Copyright © 2008 Leslie Esdaile Banks. Excerpted by permission of St. Martin's Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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