Home > Immortal Unchained (Argeneau #25)(5)

Immortal Unchained (Argeneau #25)(5)
Author: Lynsay Sands

Asherah unhooked the harness from around the man’s head and began to slowly remove it, pulling the feeding tube out with it.

Sarita half expected the man to begin screaming again, but other than a weak moan he was silent. Once Asherah had set the harness and tube aside, she picked up one of the disposed blood bags and sliced it open, then wiped up the little bit of blood left inside. It amounted to a couple of drops at best, but she waved it under the man’s nose and despite his seeming to be unconscious, two of his upper teeth shifted and slid down in his open mouth, becoming fangs.

Gasping, Sarita took a step back.

“It is fine. We are safe,” Dr. Dressler assured her. “Although if those straps were leather instead of titanium it would be a different matter. Aside from giving them fangs, the nanos make their hosts incredibly strong and extremely fast. They also have astonishing night vision. And they can read and control minds,” he added grimly, finally bending to inject the man with the shot he’d prepared as he said, “Which is why we have to keep them drugged.”

“Them?” Sarita asked with a frown.

“There are eighteen here in my labs,” Dr. Dressler said, straightening from giving the shot.

“Why?” Sarita asked with dismay as he put the used shot on the wheeled tray and set about filling the second syringe. “Surely they’re dangerous?”

“Not normally, no,” he assured her. “As a rule they consume bagged blood. In fact, it’s a law among their kind, now that blood banks exist. They are forbidden to bite us mere mortals.”

Sarita relaxed a little. If they stuck to bagged blood that wasn’t so bad.

“And even before blood banks, they apparently weren’t allow to kill anyone they bit. It’s how they’ve managed to live among us with no one the wiser all these millennia.”

“Millennia?” Sarita narrowed her eyes on the doctor, but he merely shrugged.

“Apparently they were a people isolated from the rest of the world who advanced technologically much more quickly. The nanos were a result of one of those advancements.” He pursed his lips and considered the man. “They claim their home was Atlantis, and that when it sank into the ocean, only those with the nanos survived and crawled out to join the rest of the world. They also say that in Atlantis they had doctors and hospitals as we do today, and were given blood transfusions to combat the nanos’ need for extra blood. But when Atlantis fell it was an end to those transfusions. Technology in the rest of the world was far behind that in Atlantis, and the nanos forced fangs, speed, and the other abilities on them so that they could gain the extra blood they needed to survive.”

Sarita surveyed the man on the table and shook her head. “If I’d passed him on the street, I never would have known he wasn’t human.”

“That’s the beauty of it. He is human,” Dr. Dressler assured her. “He and others like him have children and families and live, laugh, and love just like the rest of us. Only they get to do it longer and don’t suffer illness while they do. He’s no different than you or I except for those nanos. Without them, he would be merely mortal, and with them, we could be immortal.”

Sarita stiffened, something in his voice as he said that last part disturbing her. “You cut him in half,” she said slowly, putting it together in her head. “You want the nanos and cut him in half to try to get them.”

“No,” Dr. Dressler assured her. “That would be a waste. The nanos are programmed to remain in the host body. Even bleeding them dry doesn’t work. The nanos apparently move into the organs and skin to avoid leaving with the blood. You might get a couple from your efforts, but those disintegrate quickly once out of the body.”

Sarita was about to ask how he knew that, and how the man had got cut in half if he hadn’t done it, when Dressler continued, “I know the nanos must be transferrable, though. They have to be for them to turn their life mates.”

“Life mates?” she echoed, briefly distracted.

“Hmm.” He nodded thoughtfully. “Apparently while immortals can read and control most mortals, there are a few instances when they can’t. One is if the mortal is mad. Apparently, that makes it difficult. The other is if the mortal is a life mate to them. In fact, that is how they recognize a life mate.”

Sarita opened her mouth to ask what a life mate was, but closed it again as he said, “Anyway, I didn’t cut him in half in an effort to retrieve nanos. I did it as part of an experiment to see how long his upper and lower body could be separated and yet still repair itself if pressed back together. We started with thirty seconds, and have been working our way up from there. This time it was two hours. Of course you have to void them of blood before doing it or else the nanos try to use what blood they have to try to repair the body at once while separated. The two halves start to seal, the bottom half dying from lack of blood long before it finishes the job. But as long as there is no blood, it’s as if the nanos force the body into a sort of stasis. Once you put the two halves back together and add blood though, they kick into action and heal the body. It works if you just cut off a finger, hand, foot, or limb too. And the faster you give them blood, the faster they heal.”

“Dear God,” Sarita breathed, peering down at the man on the table. She was horrified that Dr. Dressler had actually deliberately inflicted this kind of pain on a living, breathing human . . . vampire or not.

“I have made it my business to find out all I can about their kind but must confess I’m growing tired of this experiment. I think we’ll move on to removing a limb and destroying it, and then see if the nanos can build a new limb in its place.”

“You—” Sarita broke off in shock when he suddenly raised the second syringe he’d prepared and shoved it into her neck, pressing the plunger home. It happened so quickly she didn’t get a chance to react or try to stop him. By the time she started to raise her hand, he was already pulling the needle out and setting it on the wheeled tray.

“Wh—?” She stared at him in horror, unable to form the question she was trying to ask. When she swayed on her feet, he caught her arm to steady her, and then glanced toward the ceiling as the sound of a loud engine reached them.

“That will be the helicopter returning with your life mate,” Dr. Dressler murmured and then offered her a smile as he let her sink slowly to the floor. “The two of you are going to be a great help to me, Sarita. I can’t tell you how much I appreciate it.”

Two

Sarita stirred sleepily, slowly realizing she was on her back in bed. She never slept on her back. She was a side sleeper and always had been. Being on her back with her hands resting just below her breasts . . . well, frankly it made her think of her father in his coffin.

Grimacing as that thought pulled her the rest of the way from sleep, Sarita promptly turned onto her side and let her eyes open. She then froze for a heartbeat before jerking to a sitting position in bed.

“What the hell?” she muttered, staring around at the alien room.

It was not her bedroom in her sunny little apartment in Toronto, Ontario. This room was decorated all in white. It was also at least three times the size of her room at home. Three large ceiling fans hung overhead, spinning in a desultory fashion and stirring up a nice soft breeze, and they, along with the three sets of French doors that lined the wall to her left seemed to parcel off each section of the room without the need for walls. In front of the doors at the far end, a couch, loveseat, and two chairs made up a sitting area, all were wicker with white cushions. In front of the middle set of doors was a small, glass-topped wicker dining table for two. The final set of French doors was right next to the bed she was sitting in, which was a sea of white bedclothes. Sarita had never seen a bed so big. It was bigger than king-sized, certainly. It was also terribly romantic with gossamer white curtains pulled back to drape at each post of the four-poster bed.

All in all, it looked like she’d been dumped in the middle of an advertisement for a honeymoon retreat in a tropical paradise, Sarita thought, peering out at the plants and palm trees she could see through the doors next to the bed. There was a stone floored terrace just outside the doors, but beyond that was a wall of jungle that would offer privacy to any honeymooners making use of the four-poster. It was a lovely room, and a lovely setup . . . but she had no idea how she’d got there or what she was doing there.

   
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