New York held an abundance of demons and vampires. Easily enough to keep a Slayer occupied for years, certainly enough to help her burn off her frustration at the letter Mr. Kruchten had received. No good explanation… sinister motives… Was this what she fought so hard to defend? Was this why she had been Called as a Slayer? She rather doubted that she’d been Called to allow arrogant men to mock her. On the almost better hand, being the… a Slayer meant that there was always a way to release stress. There would be things to hunt, monsters to kill.
A few scattered vampires near a closed bar tried to attack her, only to discover that she wasn’t a helpless, easily frightened girl. A lone ghoul skulking near a bus station went down swiftly, the twitching body stuffed into a dumpster. A vampire woman dressed in something far too tight and short to be respectable tried to attack her, quickly dispatched by a stake through her heart. Kendra didn’t feel much calmer. Then she’d heard a loud scream, a man’s voice thick with fear and pain.
She’d followed the sound of screaming, running faster when there had been a deep roar and the screaming cut off in mid-cry. The crouching figure had been half again as tall as she was, covered with supple green hide, with a bristly mane over a skull that had tiny beady eyes and a gaping maw filled with fangs. It had apparently found a couple out walking, and the woman had been huddled in a doorway whimpering as the demon had ripped into the still-twitching body of the man. Clearly that was no misunderstood mutant.
She’d gone after it with the iron bar, judging the knife too small to be practical against that large of a foe. The hide may have been thicker than that of a human, but she could see that her strikes were hurting it. The talons at the ends of each of the three fingers had ruined her jacket, and left smaller wounds over her arms and shoulders, but she had kept it from getting any solid hits to her throat or belly.
She’d managed to get a solid hit to the monster’s head, dropping it to the ground. Catching her breath, she’d switched to the knife, intending to decapitate it to be sure that it was really dead and not just pretending. After the beast was completely dead, then she could see if the woman was injured or just frightened and distraught.
To her painful dismay, it hadn’t been quite dead. If she’d been just a bit slower, it would have taken her arm off when she’d crouched to sever its head. Instead, those many fangs had gouged into her arm, a few of them nearing the bones.
It hadn’t made her arm feel any better to hurl the raggedly severed head into the wall of the building across the street, but she’d done it anyhow. And she’d kicked the body a few times for good measure. There may have also been a few words that Mr. Zabuto had not known that she’d picked up…
Vanessa had been uninjured, but terribly upset. Kendra insisted on walking with her back to the woman’s small apartment, not wanting anything else to happen to her that night. In her current state, she would have been easy prey for too many predators. In a pleasant twist of fate, Vanessa’s roommate Annette had been a nurse, and had insisted on treating Kendra’s arm.
Having the wound washed with some sort of stinging antiseptic before allowing Annette to sew it up with far too many stitches hadn’t made the night feel any better, but it would help the wound. She had listened quietly as Annette had fretted about rabies vaccinations, and left her apparent belief that it had been caused by a large and very angry dog pass unchallenged. Kendra had nodded solemnly at the instructions to keep the wound clean, to have the bandages changed at least daily, more often if the wounds appeared to be draining, and to monitor for signs of fever or discoloration and swelling at the wounds.
Kendra had listened to the instructions carefully, though she had no intention of following up with a visit to a regular physician in the morning. She knew the signs to look for as an injury healed, and expected things to be better far sooner than Annette mentioned, though Annette was probably accustomed to patients who were ordinary humans, not Slayers. At least the bandages would kept the ashes from any more vampires she killed after she’d left Vanessa and Annette’s apartment from getting into those wounds, and the smaller cuts over her arms and shoulders had closed over and been partially shielded by the tattered remains of the jacket by the time she had reached the apartment to begin with.
She’d washed up at the bathroom sink after she’d returned home to the mansion-turned-school, not wanting to get the bandages wet. In the morning, she’d have to talk to Ms. Weaver about her arm. It was difficult to try to change bandages on her own… But she wasn’t quite on her own here. Granted, there wasn’t a Watcher to help identify demons or alert her to prophecies, but she had plenty of people to help her with injuries, or to make certain that there was somewhere safe to sleep and things to eat. Her circumstances could be far worse… and had been, on some occasions.
Kendra missed the group breakfast, and stopped by the kitchen to grab some fruit that she could take with her while she put the children through their morning physical training. She promised herself to speak to Ms Weaver after the children went on to their classes, and to be sure she ate plenty of lunch. With a small sigh, she went outside.
Kendra watched the children running laps around the portion of the grounds that had been made over into a track. Some of them had good form for running, others needed a bit more work, and there was plenty of variation in speed. The Weaver twins were quite fast, easily reaching speeds that would be the envy of most adults, and comparable to certain sorts of annoying demons. It helped explain how they slipped out of trouble so easily.
After a few laps, she allowed the youngest children to go play on the playground that had been set up, currently no more than a slide and a set of swings. She set another group to the basketball court with instructions to pass the basketballs back and forth and for everyone to take turns shooting at the basket. It wasn’t that she really expected them to all become brilliant basketball players as that she wanted them to work on their coordination, aim, and awareness of the locations of people around them. If they had fun at the same time, they would learn better and complain less… Kendra tried not to let herself be envious of the fact that they could have fun while learning. She could still hear an echo of what Mr. Zabuto had told her – “a Slayer did not have time for fun.”
Eventually, the time came to shoo the children off to where they would have their next lessons. She watched as Jean and Misty walked away, speaking to each other in soft tones while some of the boys raced off towards the school. Maybe the girls would be good for each other. Jean had been horribly frightened, both by her friend’s death and by her brief stay at the asylum, while Misty seemed angry at the whole world. If the school was fortunate, they’d help each other heal. Otherwise, their anger and suffering could echo on each other and lead the two girls down a path of anger and bitterness that could only lead to trouble and suffering. She would have to watch them carefully.
Her arm ached as she tucked a braid behind her ear, and Kendra sighed. It was definitely time to find Ms. Weaver and talk about her injury.
End part 21.