Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Excerpt & Tour: Succubus by Brandon Varnell

SynopsisChristian is the Catholic Church’s best executioner. Dedicated. Devout. Deadly. Ever since the Church saved him from the decimated ruins of his hometown, his commitment to their cause has been unshakable.

Then he’s sent to execute Lilith, who lives in Seal Beach, California. He’s baffled. Lilith is afraid of men. The Church believes she’s a succubus, but he just can’t see it. Yet the way men—both human and monster alike—act as if they’ve been possessed whenever she’s near is disturbing.

With lustful men attacking Lilith and monsters attacking him for being near Lilith, Christian must uncover what’s really going on, and soon, or innocent blood will run through the streets—as will his own.

Love. It can kill a man.

Chapter One

Christian peered through a large gap in the metal roof, the edges of which were frayed and torn, as if God’s hand had reached out from heaven and ripped it asunder. The interior, a warehouse, appeared to be spacious but almost empty. Almost. Although the large room was devoid of boxes, crates, and other equipment, there was something down below that he could easily make out. Something that didn’t belong in a warehouse.
His target: a vampire. To most people, the creature below would have been considered beautiful. Its form carried an elegance that few could match, and its eyes glowed with an otherworldly iridescence. Silvery-blond hair sat almost gently upon its head and pale, nearly translucent skin shone with a brilliant luster in the light of the full moon.
Christian saw no beauty in it. How could something that drank human blood ever be beautiful?
His target wasn’t alone. Arrayed in a semicircle stood half a dozen vampires. Their pale, nearly translucence skin shone in the darkness, and their eyes glowed with an otherworldly iridescence: some blue, some black, some red.
One of the vampires spoke. “Greetings, brother.” Its voice was rough and coarse, as if it hadn’t had anything to drink in days.
Maybe it’s fasting. Christian almost snorted at the thought.
’Tis a grand night, brother,” his target replied.
“Were you spotted?”
“Good. How has thy search gone? Hast thou discovered another delightful treat for us?”
Christian moved silently to better position himself for what was to come. The creatures hadn’t noticed him yet—not that he had expected them to. Few abominations ever looked up. He’d slain dozens of foes this way; the ease with which he had taken their lives had been almost laughable.
“I have indeed; a lovely girl who works the closing shift at a small thrift store. She has no family, no friends, and she longs to feel the affection of another. Easy prey. She’ll not be missed.”
As he mentally prepared himself for his coming task, Christian listened to the almost stereotypical vampire conversation. He really didn’t know what it was with this species, but almost all of them spoke like they lived in the sixteenth century. Couldn’t their manner of speech be a little more up to date? Even bishops and priests had stopped speaking like bad actors in some Shakespearean play decades ago. The least these vampires could do was give the same courtesy.
I think Tristin is beginning to rub off on me.
“Good, good. What time doth this woman leave work?”
“Eleven in the evening.”
“Excellent. Now then, tomorrow we shall―”
Christian had heard enough. After a mental countdown and a quick prayer, he allowed himself to free-fall head first through the hole.
As he dropped, he twisted his body until his feet pointed toward the ground. At the same time, he reached behind him for the two objects on his back: Twin swords, each with a diamond-shaped pommel and a cross-guard shaped like a crucifix with a single ruby in the center. Steel hissed as he pulled his weapons from their sheaths.
He hit the ground with a harsh thud, bone-jarring and forceful enough to make him gasp. He shunted the pain aside and bent his knees to absorb most of the impact, while the rest was absorbed when he pushed himself into a forward roll. He felt his shoulders jolt as he rolled along the ground. Then he leapt to his feet, right in front of his first kill: The vampire that he’d been following.
He had just enough time to see the startled look in his target’s eyes before he brought his twin weapons to bear. A flash of light reflected off the surface of his blades as he swung them forward, too quick for human eyes to follow. They traveled in a blurred line, tracing an almost gentle arc horizontally through the air, the movements spellbinding in their grace.
Then he moved past the vampire, his feet sliding along the floor, kicking up dust as he twisted around to face the rest of his opposition. Blood dripped from the two blades in his hands. They were straight blades, double-edged. The surfaces not covered in thick, dark-red liquid reflected the moonlight spilling in through the hole overhead.
One second passed. Then two. Time seemed to stand still before, with surprising slowness, the vampire’s head slid off its shoulders and fell to the ground. As the head rolled toward the other vampires, the rest of the body fell as well, first to its knees, then toppling the rest of the way with two dull thuds.
Christian felt a moment of regret at having killed, but he shoved his emotions into the deepest recesses of his soul.
This is for the good of mankind.
There was a long moment of silence. The other vampires stared at him in shock, eyes wide and mouths gaping to reveal sharp fangs.
With a flick of his wrists, Christian forced the blood staining his blades to fly off and splatter against the ground. One of the vampires—the leader, Christian guessed—noticed the crucifix cross-guard.
“Shit! It’s an Executioner!”
That seemed to be the cue for the others, jolting them out of their trance-like states. They bared their fangs and unleashed sibilant hisses like a nest of angry vipers.
“Kill him!”
Christian remained where he was as four of the five remaining vampires surrounded him. He stood there, his swords held loosely at his sides, his defense intentionally full of gaps. Even an amateur could see the various weaknesses in his stance to exploit. He observed his enemies with keen eyes, taking in their positions, their stances, the expressions on their faces. Some distance away stood the fifth vampire, arms crossed, watching him.
A slight shift in movement was the only signal Christian received before they attacked. All four charged forward, converging on him, attempting to box him in. Their bloodlust rolled over him in waves.
Less than a second later, three of the four reached him. They attacked. Perhaps they believed that simultaneous attacks from all directions would leave him unable to fight back.
He didn’t know. He didn’t care. Because it didn’t matter. None of the attacks hit. Christian reacted long before the vampires reached him, long before they attacked, almost as if he had predicted their movements.
Christian tilted his head back, avoiding a swipe to his face by a pair of long claw-like nails. He removed the offending limb with a swing of his sword, severing the hand at the wrist.
The vampire screamed as blood poured from the stump. Christian then disemboweled the creature, swinging the sword in his left hand into its stomach, tearing through skin and muscle with ease.
As Christian’s sword finished slicing through the now dead vampire’s torso, he moved to the left. Sensing movement, he bent at the waist, avoiding a foot that shot out in a reverse heel-kick that would have shattered his spine had he not leaned back. As he avoided the attempted kick, one of the vampires moved past his previous position in an obviously failed attempt to tackle him.
That particular vampire ended up losing its head when Christian came back up and swung the sword in his right hand. Dark-crimson blood spurted from the severed neck as the head soared through the air, disappearing into the darkness of the warehouse. The aberration’s body continued running for several feet before it seemed to realize it no longer had a head and subsequently tumbled to the ground. It rolled along the dirty floor, bouncing several times, and then came to a stop.
Air currents flowed at his back. Christian turned. Sparks flew when he thrust out his sword, not blocking the claws that nearly gouged out his face, but redirecting them. Then he thrust out the sword in his right hand, stabbing the vampire through the chest. As the monster released a death gurgle, he kicked it off his sword. The vampire fell onto its back and remained still.
The fourth vampire to have charged in had held back. Maybe it had expected the other three to fail. It could have also been confident that its friends would be up to the task of slaying him, or perhaps it just wanted to wait for an opening. Its footsteps echoed from behind Christian.
Christian danced to the right. He lashed out with the sword in his left hand, severing the vampire’s right arm at the elbow. While his enemy screamed in anguish, he swung the blade in his left hand across the vampire’s throat, leaving a deep, gaping wound.
The abomination’s eyes widened. Its only remaining hand and the stump that used to have a hand moved to its throat. It gurgled and coughed, choking as carnelian liquid gushed from the open wound like a faucet, pouring down its neck and collarbone, staining its shirt. It stared at him with wide, shocked eyes. And then it fell backward, striking the hard ground with a thud, which rang out several decibels louder than it should have. The body twitched once, twice, and then became still.
Just one more and this will end.
“What are you fools doing?! Kill him! Kill him!!”
Christian’s eyes darted to his left. There was another vampire, one that must have been standing guard outside. It came in fast, so fast that Christian’s eyes were incapable of keeping track of the supernatural creature while it moved.
That was okay. He didn’t rely on his eyes to fight. They were useless against opponents whose speed surpassed anything a human could match.
A noise alerted him to movement on his right. Footsteps. The leader still stood several feet away. Was there another guard?
Ducking low, Christian avoided a claw swipe from the vampire coming in from his blind spot. The creature’s thrust flew over his head, its movement so swift it created a powerful gust of wind, causing his hood to soared off his head.
Christian rolled backward while still crouched low, ignoring the pain that flared up in his spine. He avoided the other vampire, which tried to smash his head in with a heel-drop. Instead, all his enemy hit was the ground, which cracked and dented from the power of its strike.
Kipping up to his feet and moving to the right, Christian avoided a thrust that would have impaled him through his left eye and then retaliated, swinging the blade in his right hand. The vampire tried to dodge, but Christian had foreseen this possibility and adjusted his sword’s movement accordingly. He impaled his victim through the chest, the tip of his blade emerging from the vampire’s back.
The vampire looked down at the wound in shock, as if unable to believe its own demise. It shuddered once, and then it died.
With movements that were just as quick as his piercing thrust, Christian yanked the blade from the dead vampire, allowing the creature’s corpse to fall to the floor.
“Damn you!” The voice came from behind him.
Tilting his head, Christian avoided a thrust claw that tried to impale him through the back of his skull. He reversed his grip on the blade in his left hand and thrust it behind him. A croaked gurgle echoed behind him. He yanked the blade out of soft, pliant flesh, spun around, and then swung the sword in his right hand, severing the creature’s head. It flew off as Christian sidestepped the now headless body and let it crumple to the ground.
Just one more. Where was the leader?
The sound of running feet caught his attention. Christian snapped his head toward the exit, where he could see the last vampire attempting to flee.
Not on my watch.
With a single fluid motion, Christian sheathed his blades and moved his hands into the cloak concealing his frame. He reached for the two objects holstered to his thighs, his fingers closing around grooved handles with a trigger. Pulling them out revealed a pair of handguns—one black and the other silver.
He pointed them both at the fleeing vampire and pulled the triggers. The sound of gunfire filled the air. A dozen bullets were unleashed in half as many seconds, a hailstorm of gunfire. The tiny projectiles, nothing more than streaks of incandescent blue light, crossed the killing field in less than a hundredth of a second.
The vampire didn’t stand a chance. The bullets tore through its body with ease. The force with which they were delivered made the creature stumble forward and fall to the ground, the bullets embedding themselves deep within its body.
Then they ignited. Like flares going off in the night, the bullets inside the vampire exploded with the power of a dozen miniature suns. Its mouth opened in a silent scream. It flopped along the ground like a fish, sucking in oxygen. Its body quaked and spasmed as flesh, muscle, bone, and even blood dissolved faster than the time it took to blink. A few seconds after being shot, the vampire was gone—not even ashes remained.
Christian stood amid the bodies of those he had slain. He took a deep breath, held it for one second, then two. Slowly, he released it, and all the tension that he’d built up during the intense fight disappeared.
The battle was over.
Mission accomplished.
Holstering his guns, Christian looked around at the blood on the floor, at the corpses, and for a moment, he felt nothing but pity. These creatures were once human. Humans who, through incredible misfortune, had encountered a vampire that turned them, gave them their lust for blood.
It was sad to think about, and sadder still that he’d been forced to kill them. All Christian could do for them now was pray. He knelt down on the floor, hands clasped, and prayed for God to forgive him for the lives he’d just taken, for it was not their fault they had ended up like this.
His praying done, Christian stood up and pulled a thin phone with a touch screen from the back pocket of his pants. Opening the main menu, he selected one of the only two applications that he used it for: Calling.
Pressing the phone to his ear, Christian waited for someone to answer. He didn’t have to wait long, thankfully.
“Hello,” a male voice answered. “Welcome to the Catholic Church Hotline, where we take care of all your godly needs. My name is Tristin, and I’ll be your priest for this evening. If you have any sins that you would like to confess, then please―”
“Cut that out, Tristin. You know it’s me.”
“Oh, Christian.” Tristin feigned surprise. “It’s so nice to hear from you. It’s been so long since our last clandestine phone call, and you hung up before I could ask if―”
“Look,” Christian said patiently, or as patiently as he could when dealing with Tristin. “I’m just calling in to let headquarters know that my mission is complete. The vampire coven infecting the abandoned sector of Los Angeles at Colyton has been eradicated.”
A low whistle sounded from the other end. “An entire vampire coven, huh? That’s impressive. I thought you only had one target.”
“I did, but it turned out the target was part of a coven. I felt it would be prudent to dispose of them all before they became aware that someone was onto them or they decided to move.”
“Going above and beyond the call of duty, as always,” Tristin joked. “How many were there this time?”
“…… There were only eight in this coven.”
“Only eight, he says. You do realize that when we take out covens, even small ones, we usually need at least three or four other Executioners to do it, don’t you?”
Christian detected a hint of sarcasm in the other man’s voice. He ignored it. “I fail to see your point.”
“I guess I don’t have one,” Tristin replied in a cheery voice, and Christian twitched. “I’m just saying that it’s impressive. That style of yours sure is scary—crazy, insane, and suicidal beyond belief—but also scary. Anyway, I’ve just sent word to the Cleaners. They’re on their way right now to dispose of the evidence, so you should head on back to HQ. You know that Samantha is going to want her report.”
“So, about that thing I was talking about the other day. Would you care to—”
Christian hung up before he could hear the rest of Tristin’s words.
Taking one last look at the bodies, he left the warehouse. No one would discover the evidence of his fight. The Cleaners were most efficient when it came to disposing of corpses, and they always arrived on the scene quickly. He guessed they would show up in maybe five minutes, seven at the most.
Morning was coming. The sun peeked through the city, a towering jungle of glass and steel, its many skyscrapers standing tall like giant monoliths. Sunlight outlined the structures in a reddish-orange glow. In a few short hours, morning would truly be upon them.

Brandon Varnell is a writer... the end.

... Just kidding.

Brandon Varnell is the writer of the American Kitsune series. He has absolutely no skill at anything aside from writing and looking half-baked. He used to play guitar, but due to laziness, he never went anywhere with it. He also used to play a lot of video games, but after suffering this terrible affliction called book addiction, he only plays occasionally these days. Brandon lives mostly within his own imagination, but can occasionally be found in Phoenix, Arizona.

For several years now - at least three - Brandon has dreamed of becoming a full-time author. He would love it if the time came when he could wake up, write several thousand words, and then call it a day. To reach this goal, he tends to write. A lot. He writes fan fiction, he writes original fiction, he writes Erotic fiction... oh, wait. No, he doesn't. He just writes stories with a lot of fan service.

Aside from being an avid writer, Brandon also likes to cosplay. You can generally find him at the local Comicon dressed as various characters from movies, video games and anime. It's also not all that unusual to find him walking around town in a red trench coat, no shirt and carrying a large sword on his back. Kudos to those of you who get the reference. His current favorite people to cosplay are Han Solo (who doesn't want to be a roguish smuggler?), Cloud Strife (he likes the big ass sword), Dante, and Squall Leonhart. He has also thought of trying to cosplay as Darth Vader or Zero (Lelouch Lamperouge from Code Geass), but has decided to stay away from all black cosplay since he lives in Arizona - it's really hot in that state, you know.

He also loves anime, which makes a lot of sense, seeing how the entire American Kitsune series is basically just one big anime parody.

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