This wasn't how Sunshine thought the evening would go.
Con had not been able to find out much about whoever was trying to stop them, trying to uphold the status quo of bloody vampire-human relations. Either his contacts - whoever and whatever they were, Sunshine didn't ask - did not know who was behind it, or were too afraid to say so. Though Con showed next to no expression at the best of times, Sunshine could hear frustration in his toneless voice when he had told her.
Tonight was supposed to be another meeting with those possibly willing to listen. It wasn't. Other visitors had gotten there before them, and the results were splattered across the walls and floor.
Constantine knew something was up even before they stepped out of the strange, sick-making Otherspace into the derelict warehouse where the meeting was supposed to take place. Sunshine's slower human senses only registered something was wrong when she stepped back into reality and felt Con yank her by the hand out of the way of two vampires locked together, tearing at each other. The shock of it made her feel cold. She hadn't even had time to notice them until they were past, and Con was already preoccupied, taking care of a vampire who had lunged at him.
The place was in uproar, crowds of vampires tearing at each other. Those who had come to meet with them, against those who had come to prevent the meeting from taking place. In Sunshine's experience, if negotiations dissolved into violence it had always been her and Con against all comers. This was not that. Unable to tell friend from foe - though some part of her human mind wanted to remind her that they were all technically her, and humanity's, foes - she focused on avoiding being barreled into by the various seethes of violence around her, and shielding Con's blind-spots from attack. A few who saw the one human among the vampires lunged at her, seeking an easy target. They did not get much of a chance to see the error of their ways.
"These were sent to destroy those who would meet with us," Constantine hissed quickly into her ear, amid the din. "But they are not faring as well as they'd hoped. If they retreat, we must follow."
Follow where, she wanted to ask, but a fresh seethe of vampires enveloped them and there was no more time to talk. Constantine, at least, seemed to be able to tell one group from another. Some part of Sunshine's mind, among all the blood and horror, vaguely wondered if it was anything like being able to tell people who were related to one another from those who were not, but she decided it likely had something to do with vampire senses that had no analogue in humans.
Without warning, Constantine's bloody hand found hers again. Both hands were coated thickly with dark blood, and keeping a grip was difficult as he yanked them both into the roaring Otherspace, reality streaming past them like a silently raging river.
"They seek to go to ground," Constantine murmured through the silence, "but we will not let them."
Rae nodded, running alongside him. She tried not to think that they were, with little foreknowledge or preparation, apparently following vampires back to their master's earthplace. The glimpses of reality she was able to catch as they streamed past were utterly unfamiliar. She had no idea where they were, much less where they were going - though, as they ran, she began to feel the sense of alignment she had felt before, the last time they had sought out a master vampire in his earthplace. The feeling of connection between their running selves and the unknown destination of those they pursued.
Too many times to count, Constantine tore them out of the chaotic Otherspace to face oncoming groups of vampires. These were not those they were chasing; these were stronger, sent to stop their advance. During the second encounter, in the moment of dispatching one vampire ('dispatching' felt like a safe way to think about it, to Sunshine - it very nearly denied the blood and revulsion of the act itself), another sucker tore into Rae's shoulder. Even before she had a chance to cry out, Constantine had dealt with that one, leaving its broken self on the ruined pavement. Constantine, her vampire, glanced at her - she could see him wondering if his fragile human were okay (though 'okay' probably wasn't the word he would have used) but there was no comfort to be offered. Neither did she expect any. Sunshine made herself grit her bloodied teeth and get back up, letting adrenaline carry her back into the fray, and then back into Otherspace to carry them on toward their destination.
They ran, and fought, and ran again, and fought, for what seemed like forever. Sunshine stopped being fully conscious of the alignment that pulled them on. It was part of her - and good thing, too, because she couldn't have held it in her mind if she had to. There was only so long a human body could run on its own energy before it began to run on sheer adrenaline. It was the bitter taste in her mouth below the metallic taste of blood. Eventually, the body runs on sheer instinct, unable to stop, only vaguely conscious, having no fear left to be afraid of finding out what would happen if one did stop. Weariness and pain pulled at her as strongly as any alignment.
The master, when Sunshine and Constantine reached their destination at last, was old. Older than Bo had been. Ancient. Her presence was a stifling weight, the very air around her felt unbreatheable and sick to Sunshine's shaky, exhausted self, burning down her throat and into her lungs. The master vampire's cold, dispassionate eyes were the color of Nothing. Her gaze from atop the dias was the inexorable pull of entropy, her voice like no sound reality should stand to exist, her flesh perfect like no flesh could ever be. She had no name for them, and they had no name for her. Those vampires she kept around her did not lounge, as Bo's had done; they descended on Constantine and Sunshine without warning. Bo had been sure of victory - this master vampire had survived so long by not indulging in such over-confidence.
Sunshine, the grey cobwebs of exhaustion and shock growing in the corners of her vision, fought towards the dias in a kind of daze. Her shield flickered in and out of existence with the barest thought, bolts of crackling plasma forming in her hands that soon plunged into vampiric chests and pierced their unbeating hearts. It felt almost as though her magic were the one fighting, merely carrying Sunshine's form along for the ride. Once or twice, she noticed faint pain on the periphery of her awareness - once as her foot came down wrong, her ankle twisting savagely as her blood-slicked shoes found no purchase, another time as teeth tore into her forearm in the split-moment before her other hand tore into that vampire's chest.
It was the touch of Sunshine's hand upon the master vampire's flesh that at last awoke the sunlight-net set into her skin, which erupted into furious golden flame as Sunshine's hand finally tore the master's heart free. The flame shielded her from the bulk of the backlash that followed, as the master vampire's animus was released. Not that it wasn't bad enough. Sunshine was spent. Her magic was all that was holding her together.
Surely the worst was over, with the master vanquished. Surely the surviving followers would disperse...
But no. Sunshine would have said that there was nothing left on earth that would chill her blood, after what this night had required her to do. The sound made by the remaining vampires in that moment - pain and anguish, endless fury and violent promise - proved her wrong.