Claire yanked the tube away and rolled the bottle across the room, then pulled off her mask. Eve took hers off as well. “Hold your breath,” Claire warned. She yanked the bent paper clip from the lock and used her key. As she pulled the door open, a man fell in with it— a heavyset older man, mouth loose and open and eyes rolled back in his head. She checked for a pulse and found one, slow but steady. The other two who’d been with him were also down, though one was mumbling sleepily.

Claire grabbed Eve’s hand and pulled her over the bodies at a run, heading down the hall.

“They’ll be okay,” Claire assured her. “The fresh air will wake them up soon.”

“Like I care,” Eve said. “We need to find Michael!”

“Take that side of the hall. Slide the windows open and see if you spot anybody.”

Eve wasted no time, but it didn’t yield any victories. They opened every window on the hall, on both sides, but there were no vampires in the cells. Nobody at all, in fact. Eve sent Claire a de-spairing, panicked look that didn’t need words to be understood, and they raced through the open reception area to the other side of the building.

There were no cells on this hall, only a single locked door. Claire fumbled with the keys. Her hands were shaking from the adrenaline, and a clock was running in her head. The three they’d left sleeping were going to wake up soon; they’d be groggy and unsteady, and probably have killer hangover headaches, but time was definitely running out on their window to find Michael and the others.

It was, of course, the second to last key Claire tried that turned the lock. She pushed the door open, stepped through, and had to grab the heavy metal slab on the backswing, because it was on some automatic pneumatic pressure to seal shut. Eve was only halfway through. Thick as it was, the steel could have broken her bones if it had hit her squarely.

Eve squeezed through, and Claire let go; the door hissed shut and locks automatically engaged. They were in a small antecham- ber, and there was another door. Another lock. “Hurry,” Eve said.

She looked around at the blank walls, and then up at the small glass semicircle set above them. Her face set hard. “They could be watching us.”


“Shit,” Claire whispered. She sorted keys again, nearly frantic now, and found one that slotted neatly in. It turned.

The door opened in front of her, on a room that was the mir- ror opposite of the one where they’d found the dead, discarded vampires— the ones who’d failed their conversion back to human.

That had been a hastily assembled morgue.

This was a bright, clean, well- equipped lab, complete with glass- fronted cabinets and counters, stations for preparation of compounds, refrigerators . . . and it held about the same number of tables, and on them lay vampires.

The difference was that these vampires still survived, at least for now.

Claire’s gaze swept down the line, and fixed on tousled blond hair. “There!” she yelled to Eve, and they both raced forward . . .

and then had to stop, because two guards stepped out into their path. These were police officers, wearing Morganville blues, with the Daylighter pins gleaming on their collars. Claire recognized one of them— Officer Halling, the woman who’d found the dead body at the Glass House.

Officer Halling unsnapped her holster and put her hand on the butt of her gun.

Eve didn’t hesitate; she lunged forward with the Taser, but un- fortunately for her, Halling’s partner was fast, and he grabbed Eve by the arm and wrenched it hard, forcing the Taser out of her hand to drop and roll on the floor. Halling dismissed Eve, and focused her cold gaze on Claire.

Claire pulled the scalpel from the cardboard sheath, but she didn’t attack. Instead, she ran in the opposite direction, to the last bed on the end. She’d seen a familiar face there, too.


He was strapped down with some kind of silver- coated web- bing on his arms and legs, and there was an IV needle in his arm, buried in a thick, ropy, blue vein. His skin looked chalky, but be- neath that his arms looked wiry and strong, and his chest thick with muscle.

His eyes were open. He lifted his head to stare at her, and his eyes were a ferocious, unnerving shade of red. He didn’t speak.

Claire ripped the IV out of his arm, and took a scalpel to the webbing that held him down. It was tough and dulled the edge pretty quickly, but she managed to get one hand free.

Oliver did the rest. He rolled onto his side and ripped at the silver web until it was shredded, even though it burned and cut his fingers, and then sat up to tear at the stuff holding his ankles.

A shot shattered glass on a counter past Claire, and she looked up to see Halling taking aim again. This time she wouldn’t be fir- ing a warning shot.

“Stop!” Halling yelled. “Drop the knife!”

Claire did, and it hit the tile floor with a musical clang, but Halling was pointing at the wrong target. Maybe she’d thought it would take Oliver longer to get free, or to recover, but she was wrong.

Dead wrong.

Oliver came off the table in a blur and stopped with her gun arm in one hand and her throat in the other. Claire shut her eyes, because she didn’t want to see, but she heard the snap of bones breaking . . . and when she was able to look again, Halling was down on the floor. Not dead, surprisingly, but her arm was at an entirely wrong angle, held close to her chest. She looked disoriented with shock.

Without much of a pause, Oliver turned toward the other po- liceman, who was holding Eve down. He turned sideways, an ele- gant and weirdly old- fashioned motion, held Halling’s confiscated pistol at his side, and said, “I don’t offer second chances. This is your first and only warning. Drop your weapon now and let the girl go.” It was almost as if he was . . . dueling. He even put his left arm behind his back, crooked at the elbow.

And then he was dueling, because the cop dropped Eve, stood straight, and pulled his own sidearm. It was a fast draw, as fast as anything Claire had ever seen outside of an old Western movie . . .

but it was miles too slow, even then.

Oliver didn’t try hard, but before the man’s gun was halfway up, Oliver brought his own weapon up, leveled, aimed, and fired.

The other man went down.

Oliver held the pose for a long second, watching the man to be sure he wouldn’t get up, and then the tension released and he stum- bled sideways. He crashed into another vampire’s bed and grabbed for support, but couldn’t hold himself upright. He slipped to his knees, tangled in sheets, and as Claire watched in horror, he began to convulse.

“Oliver!” She dropped down next to him in a crouch, not sure what to do, whether she could do anything. “Oliver, can you hear me? Oliver! ”

It went on a long time, but he finally went limp. “I hear you,”

he said. His voice sounded raw and strange, and it sounded . . .

afraid. He opened his eyes then, and they weren’t vampire- red any- more. They were a plain, unremarkable brown. His skin had taken on an odd shimmer, as if it was shifting colors. “You must stop them, Claire. Don’t let them destroy everything we—” He stopped and let out a cry of pain, real pain, and flung out his hand. She didn’t think twice, even given what she’d just seen him do. She grabbed his fingers and held them, felt him shaking as if he were flying apart. His hand closed over hers with crushing strength, but it was only human strength now, not vampire strength.

His skin was glowing underneath, as if something was burning inside him. Or, as if something was being burned out of him.

Whatever was happening to him, it was painful. The breaths he was pulling in sounded tortured and strangled, and his pulse . . .

His pulse? Breaths?

Claire’s eyes widened.

Oliver was, before her eyes, turning human. And she knew, somehow, that this was the very last thing he would want.

“No,” he said, and it burst up out of him like a growl, a primal and furious snarl. His convulsions jerked his back into a tight bow, and Claire gasped and had to pull her hand free as his grip grew tighter and tighter around hers. “No! I wil not!”

It was almost a chant, or a prayer, but she couldn’t imagine God listening to anything that savage, that angry. The rage that fueled it seemed totally beyond the capacity of any human body to create, much less contain.

And suddenly, the glow inside him died, leaving his skin that chalky, translucent white again, as if he was made of milky, empty glass.

He let out a sigh, and his muscles went limp. The brown, suf- fering eyes drifted shut.

She was terrified to touch him, but she put her fingers on his wrist.

Silent. No pulse. No rise and fall of his chest.

But he didn’t look quite as dead as the corpses in the morgue on the other side of the building. Not yet, anyway. He looked— comatose. Suspended between life and death, vampire and human.

She supposed he would have to fall one direction or the other.

Claire dragged him to a more comfortable position— more for herself than him, really— and raced to the other side of the lab.

There were manuals there, chemicals, ranks of IV bags, checklists and protocols.

She grabbed the protocol manual and feverishly slid her finger down the table of contents. Outcomes.

The section was a dry, clinical table of results. Seventy- three percent average deaths, which Claire already knew. But, strangely, only a flat twenty percent human conversion score.

Which left seven percent . . . REV? The code didn’t mean any- thing to her, and she scanned the rows of legends until she found it. REV meant reverted.

Seven percent of those treated with the cure reverted to vam- pire. The line was marked with a footnote symbol, and she scanned down to read it.

Immediate resolution of all REV subjects using Protocol D.

Protocol D, Claire discovered, had an illustration of one of the Daylighters’ special liquid- silver- filled stakes being plunged into a vampire’s chest, then removed to release the liquid.

In other words, they euthanized any vampires who survived their cure and stayed vampire.

Claire let out a slow, shaking breath. She felt numbed, reading it; if she’d wondered before whether she was on the right side, she didn’t now. If Amelie was the devil she knew, Fallon was far, far worse.

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