Ch 29: Team Congo #1
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OCs belong to me, and as always I remain…the man behind the curtain.
Ch 29: Team Congo #1
Xander had been offered the Congo Team, but had declined. It was in the Congo of his own world that he had lost Moliehi, his first African Slayer. She was his pride and joy a child of no more than eleven when he found her, she was a lioness when it came to the hunt. She was fast, sure, and wily, but she was taken down by a pack of Nur’Bai demons, pygmy sized monsters with voracious appetites. He buried what was left of her and hunted the monsters down. He finally used explosives to destroy them in their den. He still mourned her. Her name meant ‘The One Who Is Awaited’, and he had loved her as if she were his own daughter. No, he left the Congo to those who had been chosen.
Team Congo made up of Jamila Hathor, Mexican were-jaguars Jorge Lopez and Santiago Moreno, Elizabeth Bathory, Hanna Ashford (dhampir), Daniel Osborne, Laura Lee Boyle, and three of the lesser Heartsblood were-pack leopards (Geoffrey Dylan, former African Safari Guide, Paul Ngani, Zimbabwean Civil Servant, Gillian Foster-Stephens, former London Zookeeper).
Jamila, and Elizabeth had been designated as the team’s nominal leaders. Hannah was, however, considered to be the authority on the Congo. Though she had been born in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania in 1863, she had been raised by her father George David Ashford, and his partner, Allen Quartermain on the Dark Continent. Hannah mother was attacked and killed by a vampire on the day she was born. She had been cut from her dead mother’s womb by her mother’s elder brother, Doctor John Baumann, M. D. Her father slew the vampire, but Hannah was affected. She was born a dhampir, an anti-vampire. As such she was an anomaly. For though she lived, she had some of the vampiric powers, the ability to shapechange (her form was a very large gray Irish Wolfhound), she did not age past the age of twenty-five, she was much faster, stronger, and resilient that a normal human, and she healed faster. She also discovered that her blood was pure poison to vampires! She did, however, also inherit the Red-Thirst of the vampire. A dhampir that succumbs to the temptation to drink human blood is just as damned as a vampire. Hannah held out for almost sixty years, until her adopted daughter was killed by a renegade tribal chieftain.She drained him dry! She then committed her second damning sin…she killed herself. The Light offered her redemption, and she accepted. From the age of two Hannah knew Africa, and Africa knew Hannah. Somewhere hidden on the continent still was her father’s old partner, this she knew. He had been blessed/cursed by a witch doctor who had told him that Africa would not let him die…but that is a story for a different time.
The party arrived in Kinshasa just before sundown three days after they left Atlanta. Ostensibly they were a Big Game Safari led by Geoffrey, and Paul. The hotel they checked into was not what you would call five star…it was more like a star, and a half, but it was the best available at the time. Oz, and Laura Lee didn’t care as long as they were together. In fact the only two who did complain were the two leaders!
Jamila complained about the noxious odors, and the constant cacophony of the surrounding humanity. She like all of her kind had an acute sense of smell and amazing hearing. It seemed that the average citizen of Kinshasa had yet to hear about soap, and water, and that said average citizen’s vocal expressions were of the same decibels as a chainsaw. Elizabeth complained about the presence of numerous insects, snakes, and monkeys that inhabited her assigned room.
They only stayed in the city long enough to haggle the supplies they would take with them on their journey into the bush…three long interminable days.
Their rented Range Rovers got them off to a good start, but they knew that the last twenty miles had to be made on foot. They had been briefed on what to expect. Most of the enemy troops where they were headed would probably be native supernaturals, ie: were-jackals, were-leopards, and perhaps a vampire or two. Who their leader(s) were, however, was unknown.
The last few miles were traversed by night in animal form. Jamila became a huge black lioness. Elizabeth the only vampire in the group shifted to the form of a pure white wolf. Both vampires and dhampirs in this world could shapechange. She was joined by a large rust red wolf (Oz), a small golden wolf (Laura Lee), two jaguars, three leopards, and a huge gray Irish Wolfhound(Hannah). Less than a mile from the old fort Elizabeth and Hannah changed again becoming a huge white raven, and a great horned owl respectively.
In these forms the ladies performed recon duty. The enemy was making no attempt to hide. The jungle was their domain, and the fort was badly overgrown by the surrounding vegetation. Their visible watch consisted only of a single jackal pacing the fort’s wall and a pair of leopards lounging in nearby trees. The rest of the contingent wandered, a larger band than they had planned on, in and around the fort performing mundane tasks. The only real surprise were those who led this enemy group. In the center of the fort stood a creature with the body of a tall lean woman and the head and tail of a cheetah. She was joined by a man dressed in bush gear wearing gloves and bandages covering his head and face. Both were speaking to a huge hunchbacked female. This creature had skin the color of pea soup, long greasy black hair, and dirty red head scarf, wore a long ragged black dress that spoke of old Russia. The raven, and the owl swiftly flew back to their team, and resumed human form.
They described the three leaders to Jamila.
“Haptuset,” snarled the Bast. “She is one of my kind, the youngest of us all. She is very fast. The cheetah is her form. She must be left to me.”
“The hunchback is Lyudmila. She is a half-ogre witch, a grand daughter of the late unlamented Baba Yaga. Powerful in her own right, but my witchcraft should be more than a match for hers.
I do not know the man who's face and body were covered so completely.”
Hannah resume human form abruptly. “If he is as you described him he may be Doctor Robert Griffin. Robert’s father was the infamous Invisible Man. Robert was a serious scientist, a physician and a friend of my father’s. He ran a clinic here in Africa for the local native population. Then he found his father’s formula in an old journal that had been left to him when the old man died. He spent years trying to refine the formula. He failed. The resulting potion did give him invisibility, but it also caused him to fall prey to a similar madness to that which claimed his father. Similar but not the same. Robert’s madness let him keep the high intellect, and cunning that was his, but it made him irrevocably evil, and gave him a great degree of megalomania. I almost married Robert when we were young, sadly his experiments broke us up, and I lost him to the madness.” Her expression was one of sad loss.
The three women returned to their animal forms, and the team moved into position for their attack. Neutralizing this enemy outpost was important in the overall scheme of things. If they were able to complete this mission it would be one less place that the main enemy would be able to use for reinforcements, or as a last ditch bolt hole to regroup. They now knew that they were badly outnumbered, but there was no time to call in help from Heartsblood’s Cairo, or Johannesburg offices at this late date. The attacks in the Congo, Vegas, Dublin, and Yorkshire had to happen at approximately the same time for the goal to be achieved. Both of the leaders knew that the must hurt the enemy badly here, even if they ultimately lost the battle. This was the rather ominous telepathic message that they now sent to their teammates. All of the team’s members indicated their assent, and their willingness to continue, even knowing that losing the battle would likely mean their own death's. Contemplating this knowledge, the Nighthunter band moved into attack positions. Jamila shifted once more…from black lioness to her favorite form a huge, deadly sable colored smilodon, a sabre-tooth tiger. This then was the cue for Team Congo to begin their attack.
Author's Note: Next up is Part 1 of Team Dublin. Yes, chapters are coming slower now. Research takes time. Reviews are still the fuel by which we run, and I love feedback.