Blood in Berlin
The Kindred Vampires, Book 3
by Celine Chatillon
eBook ISBN: 978-1-77111-737-1
In 1938, Vampire Edwin Carstairs joins British Military Intelligence. A Nazi scientist, Madame V, is creating vampire-soldiers. What will Edwin do when his lost love Ophelia Jones is discovered taking an eager part in experiments that risk the very survival of human and vampire-kind alike?
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London, Summer 1938
Edwin sensed he was being followed even before he saw the man.
The stranger didn’t act particularly adept at keeping a low profile, but he seemed more than determined. Edwin zigged and zagged through the late night-black back alleys of the London docklands, trying to throw the man off his trail, but to no avail. His follower had no intention of giving up. Edwin heaved a sigh and shook his head. All right, let’s talk, shall we?
Edwin slowed his pace and strolled casually toward the yellowed light and tinny sounds of piano playing and the thunk of darts spilling from the doorway of the Crown and Anchor. He was a semi-regular whenever he visited London, so his coming out of the night and into the warmth of the public house brought no cause of alarm or surprise for its owners or denizens. For a nod to the landlord, his usual pint of bitter was placed in front of him on the bar. He cradled it carefully and took up residence in a back booth just as the stranger entered the establishment. The man ordered a pint at the bar then came over to where Edwin sat.
“Good evening. Nice spot. So glad you decided to come in out of the dark.”
Edwin looked up at the stranger standing before him. About age thirty-five and of average height, his stalker boasted a full head of auburn-brown hair and a big bushy mustache. Somehow he cast the air of a military man, in spite of the nondescript worker’s garb he wore. Could it be his ramrod-straight posture and the smell of expensive pipe tobacco about his person?
“Yes, I agree wholeheartedly.” Edwin indicated for the man to sit opposite. “The Crown and Anchor is a lively little back-alley pub, where a man can wet his whistle in peace or join in a game of shove-ha’penny at his leisure.”
“But you don’t really need the sustenance of ale, do you, Mr. Carstairs?”
The hair on the back of Edwin’s neck stood at attention. The stranger knew his name, knew that he wasn’t an ordinary man. Occasionally Edwin had been followed by men who thought perhaps he might be… interested…in them as a dalliance. If the mood struck him, he would take these lost souls up on their offers of casual sex, and partake of the life-force in their blood as payment for services rendered. Edwin sensed this man didn’t desire his company in that way—at least not tonight. This was a man on a mission.
Edwin leaned forward and lowered his voice. “You seem to know a lot about me, sir, but I don’t even know your name.”
“Oh, forgive my rudeness. My name is Bates: Captain Reggie Bates, Military Intelligence.” He extended his hand and shook Edwin’s firmly. “I know only what my superiors have told me about you, Mr. Carstairs, and you’re quite an interesting person…” His voice faded and a look of amusement glinted in his gray-blue eyes. “Quite an interesting person, I must say.”
Edwin raised an eyebrow. “And what exactly do your superiors know about me, Captain Bates?”
“Only this.” Reggie reached into his greatcoat inner pocket and pulled out a paper. He handed the document over to Edwin with a grin, and settled back in his seat to enjoy his pint as Edwin read:
Edwin Carstairs: American by birth. Thought to have been killed in 1903 at age 23 by a Liverpool pier explosion. His body was never recovered. A man with similar physical appearance and identical name was sighted in England in 1918 during the outbreak of influenza. Last seen at the funeral of Ophelia Jones. Carstairs moved to the Continent sometime after the epidemic and does not appear to age. He is usually seen in public at night. Possible connections to Kindred society of blood-drinkers…
How did the government—the military, no less!—know about the Kindred? Edwin quieted his sense of panic and made note to alert his fellow Kindred that perhaps the twentieth century would be more challenging than the centuries previous in maintaining their anonymity. Clearing his throat, he casually resettled himself in his seat in order to give out the usual cover story
“How quaint. I didn’t know the military believed in fairy tales, Captain.” Edwin tossed the paper back to its owner and took another sip of his ale.
“You’re more than a fairy tale, Mr. Carstairs. You’re practically a legend in intelligence circles. There have been reported sightings of you, in Paris, transforming yourself into a raven whenever you found yourself in a somewhat tight spot… Quite a talent, if I say so myself.” Reggie stroked his mustache and flashed Edwin a look of pure admiration. He folded the paper and placed it back into his coat’s inner pocket. “So, you’re not curious about why I tracked you down tonight?”
“I am. I most certainly am.” Edwin could see that the handsome Captain Bates would not be scared off with a simple flash of fangs or a mystical transformation into a flying creature before his puny human eyes. No, Bates was a Kindred’s equal in terms of courage and determination. No sense arguing; the man would have his way.
Hmm…Edwin smiled as his cock hardened at the thought. Letting the Captain have his way with me might be quite enjoyable, too.
“Your country—your adopted country—needs you, Mr. Carstairs.” Reggie put his hands flat on the table between them and looked deep into Edwin’s eyes. “I’ve been designated your go-between with M.I. We need a person with your knowledge and particular…abilities…to help us stop a weapons program that has the potential to threaten world peace and destroy civilization as we know it.”
“You mean it could start another Great War?”
Reggie nodded somberly. Edwin shuddered. It didn’t bear thinking upon, not another worldwide conflict to murder and mutilate yet another generation of young men with poison gas and shell-shock, leaving a legacy of political unrest along with the horrors of starvation and homelessness for untold millions of innocents.
Edwin had hidden himself away after the first year of the war. He had been no coward, as he had served in a French unit under an assumed name. They’d fought in the battles along the Chemin des Dames, the ironically named “Ladies’ Road” built by a French king for his female courtiers long ago. But gradually it became unbearable for Edwin to see his human friends die like pigs led to the slaughter. He was capable of resurrecting himself again and again from the machine gun fire, but they could not.
Ophelia had longed to remain in Europe, but Edwin insisted upon leaving. They rejoined their Kindred sire, Hamlet, in Bombay. Edwin helped Hamlet with his export business, enjoying the beauty of the Orient until they could safely return to Europe…But all the while, the memories of his lost comrades haunted him.
“What can I do to prevent another war, Captain?”
“You can help us stop a weapons program headed by a woman named Veronique Von Hassel, otherwise known as Madame V. We think you may have met her before.”
“Veronique?” Edwin remembered a comely and highly clever lass who had been quite taken with both of them while they dwelt in Paris, after Ophelia’s transformation from mortal to immortal. Eventually the infatuation had died down, and Veronique had moved on to Berlin to attend university. What field had she wanted to study? Chemistry? Biology?
“She is a Nazi scientist—a top Nazi scientist,” Reggie interrupted Edwin’s troubling thoughts. “And she’s got an eager lab partner we’re certain you know well.”
Edwin’s eyes widened. “You don’t mean… Ophelia?”
“The same. Our intelligence contacts tell us that Miss Jones has been seen with Professor Von Hassel throughout the city and at her laboratory. We believe Miss Jones plays an integral part in the research and development of this weapon. We want to know more.”
“You mean you want to know how to stop it or copy it for yourselves.” Edwin knew all too well how the military mind worked. If they couldn’t beat an enemy, they’d steal his weaponry and use it against them. But how was Ophelia helping Veronique with her science experiments? Ophelia had no proper schooling, and her skills definitely lay in the fields of hospitality and adult entertainment, one could safely say.
“From what I understand, no, the British military establishment does not want to copy this weapon.” Bates emphasized his point with a fist to the table. “To do so is…unthinkable. No decent society would ever venture upon such a program. To take away human choice and dignity in such a way…”
The Captain’s ruddy features turned pale. Edwin immediately knew what Ophelia was doing in Berlin. He sighed. They had argued and had parted not on the best of terms almost fifteen years before. But she knew what she was doing ran against the rules of the Kindred. So why was Ophelia doing it?
Edwin reached over and gently took Reggie’s hand in his. “She’s turning soldiers into vampires, isn’t she?”
Bates only nodded.
“All right, Captain, I’ll stop her. Whatever it takes, I will stop her.”
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