“Look, Adrien, it’s not that I don’t agree with you. I do, but…”
“But you’re too cowardly to take a stand? Come on, Gregorio, you know this is our best chance to remain undetected.”
“Or our best chance to be found out for certain, this time. We barely managed to escape the last outbreak. If it had taken place ten years later, the humans would have found the toxin in the victims’ blood, and it would all be over. And now I’m getting word that at least a few of the deaths in Africa aren’t from the plague, but from us…” He shook his head.
Adrien gave a grim laugh. “I wouldn’t be surprised. An opportunity to expand territory makes the young bloods greedy.”
Gregorio gave a sigh. “I can’t condone keeping humans closer to us than they already are. You know what’s happened every time we’ve tried keeping them for food. The toxin is carried in our saliva, too. A low dose over a long period provokes a response. They grow ravenous, heedless of all but hunger. Afraid of the sun and fire, but precious little else. We were lucky in earlier times, we could mask our purges as the Plague, polio…even damned dysentery. Plant a Plague victim in view on the pyre, and they were all too happy to let all the bodies burn.” Gregorio scowled at Adrien. “Now they have medicine. They ask questions. They’re very, very close to answers that would hurt us.”
“Which is why I want a feeding population. With careful control, it can be done.” Adrien spread his arms wide. “Look, you know where my territory is. The United fucking States. I can’t take a piss without worrying it’s on camera. It’s getting uncomfortable having to dispose of a body or more per week. Soon my son is going to need a supply as well…I’m going to draw unwanted attention regardless.”
“You would rather draw hunters than police?” Gregorio raised an eyebrow.
“I can take the hunters. Police would run me out of my territory and back to Moulins for good. I had a taste of that already. I like this age, I’m not giving it up.” Adrien’s voice was harsh. “Can Danilo be convinced?”
“Maybe, but it isn’t the house of D’Ambrosio you should worry about.”
“And who should I worry about, Gregorio?”
“Marcello Rovigatti leads the Sanguinarium now, and you and his mother, Velia, have never been on good terms.”
Adrien gave a snort. “That’s not true, once we were on very…intimate terms. That might be why she wanted my heart that one time.”