Thanks for reading! Happy holidays, stay safe!
Downwind, a mile further up the cliffs, the Horror's howl was followed by a silly little whistle—Gage's way of showing he was thoroughly impressed.
"Heh heh. That's one peeved puppy." His voice, ever cursed to crackle with eternal adolescence, held steady in this instance nonetheless. Distance made the heart grow stronger, and Gage was far enough away this time to know the beast bayed for another's blood. Somebody else's problem, just like Paige had planned.
Gage craned his subtly fang-scarred neck to get a better view of the impending chaos below. Finding his perspective wanting, he sunk sharp nails into the old pine he'd been slumped against and scrambled quickly to a perch high in its boughs. Gage wasn't truly built for climbing—evolution had stamped out that skill even from hominids as spindly and primitive as the common teenage boy—but vampiric strength made up for that, as it did for most things. The bark yielded like sponge before his grasp.
Ah, but what a thrill! The power, the speed, the night air on his face, the sight that went for miles in the moonlight, cast prismatic by his senses, perfect and predatory. If he wasn't under that man's thumb, vampirism would be SUCH a gift!
Paige was already above him, standing tall with folded arms on the tree's tip, looking like a fallen Christmas angel. Gage flashed a fanged grin at this striking sight of her. He much preferred Paige's leadership to their true master's sway. For one, Gage wasn't bound to her commands, a harsh fact of unlife when it came to orders given by the tyrant that had sired them. Then, even when Paige was strict, Gage always felt she needed him, if only as a fraction in the math of strength in numbers. To his pinstriped progenitor, he was instead a sacrificial pawn, a thrall born of convenience. Paige and Youth Culture, they were thralls, too—one chance encounter turned the whole trio—but Gage could sense that prideful, cunning Paige was meant for more, and had convinced himself she couldn't seize that fate without his help. That, and he thought she was super hot. Plus their names rhymed. Way cool.
It was with these simple musings in his mind that Gage surveyed the fruit of Paige's schemes.
"Heh. They fell for it just the way you said they would. Spectral suckers." Gage licked his thin lips, imagining the coming carnage in sweet detail. "Now they'll be shreds in seconds!"
Paige shot him a look of pure distaste. "That's not the plan, you flea. What's wrong with you?"
Gage shriveled into himself until he looked like a weird human pug. "Uh, right. We want the beast in shreds, not them."
"Torn to bits," Youth Culture quipped, herself roosted upon a nearby branch.
"...Taken care of. That's what Jones asked for. If he wants savagery, he can be more specific." Paige's scowl suggested there was more to her frustration than just phrasing, but without explicit statement, Gage was lost. "It's thanks to his loophole's largesse that we can tie this snare at all. If you fools had your way, we'd squander it and end up dog food like those cops."