parts 35 and 36
As Kendra left what would have been the normal earshot of the two men, the tan one spoke again. “Gabe?”
“I don’t like finding out there’s more dangers out there when they try to eat me.”
“Jack, do you think Fury knows about these vampires?”
“If he doesn’t, he should. If he does, maybe that fancy new unit of his will know how to get rid of them.”
“Right. I’ll call him in the morning,” Gabe promised.
Kendra wondered who this ‘Fury’ was, and what sort of unit he was involved with. Perhaps he was connected to the Watchers, or maybe some sort of military organization? Frowning, Kendra considered the idea of the military getting involved with vampires and demons. It had potential – potential to be a wonderful help or an utter disaster, and she wasn’t certain which. Either way, she had no power to direct it.
As her mind spun out various scenarios of the military involved with vampires and demons, Kendra sighed. She could picture military funded hunts of anything that didn’t pass for human. Picture vampires trying to turn soldiers, believing them to have great potential as minions due to already knowing how to fight and use modern weapons. Soldiers with heat-detecting goggles searching for vampires. “No, even if this ends poorly, I could not have just stood back and let those men be killed. That would be a betrayal of me Calling.”
Kendra could also remember an old saying about intentions and roads to hell. She just hoped this wouldn’t be the first step to disaster. With a bit more likely fortune, the rest of her night would be without such troubling encounters. Of course, Kendra knew better than to count on such a pleasant hope.
Kendra fought a vampire lurking near a bar, hoping to catch the inebriated patrons as the staggered to their cars. Drawing a stake, Kendra attacked the vampire. He dodged behind a car, glaring at her with red eyes. Kendra vaulted towards the vampire, who lunged out of the way with growled curses. She tried to stab him with the stake, but he jumped back, slamming into a truck. Kendra lunged forward, finally staking the vampire, though the metallic ‘pang!’ suggested that she had also staked the truck.
As the vampire crumbled into hot ashes and fell away, the truck was revealed to have acquired a large dent and a small hole in the door. A glance at the bar revealed that despite the shouting and thumping noises, nobody was paying any attention to the parking lot. Relieved, Kendra left the bar.
No more than a few blocks later, what appeared to be a prostitute clad in a short leopard print dress suddenly snarled “Slayer!” attacking Kendra with ember-bright eyes and a mouthful of fangs.
Kendra managed to evade the initial lunge, redirecting the female’s momentum to send her crashing into a lamp-post. It didn’t surprise her in the slightest to see the fanged woman pick herself up, shaking her head as if to clear it. The next lunge was slower, and Kendra had time to strike with her knife, drawing blood across the female’s torso. The blood was a bright orange color, definitely nothing like the bright red of humans, or the darker red of vampires, and the scent was wrong, somehow reminding her of rotting citrus rather than copper.
Snarling, the female lunged at Kendra again, her hands curled so that her long nails looked rather like claws. The previous slash had left the top of her dress falling down around her waist, revealing that, while quite generously endowed, she was not wearing any sort of brassiere. One hand caught at Kendra’s arm, gouging at her sleeve and drawing blood even through the leather.
Kendra tried to remember any sort of orange blooded bright eyes demons, and hoped that physical damage would be enough to kill this demon. While she was hoping, she hoped that the nails, or claws, were not poisonous, as the marks already stung and burned. Her second strike was more solid, a deep blow to the guts that only became worse as the female twisted and tore herself away from Kendra.
Kendra watched as the female demon staggered a few steps, her hands clutching at her stomach in an effort to keep her organs internal, rather than letting them spill at her feet. She collapsed, glaring at Kendra and snarling words in no language that Kendra recognized, though the expression suggested curses and hopes for a painful, prolonged death.
Despite the urge to flee the scene, to get away before any unwelcome attention was drawn in by the sounds of the fight, Kendra waited. Probably dead wasn’t good enough with attacking demons – you had to be certain. When the orange-blooded female had stopped moving, Kendra edged closer. The she-demon didn’t seem to be breathing, and there was no visible pulse. Knife still in hand, Kendra moved in closer, almost close enough to touch, and extended her senses, trying to feel for the smallest sign of lingering threat.
The she-demon was dead.
Kendra had to kill another three vampires that were attracted by the scent of her blood before she made it back to the car. None of them were particularly challenging, or imaginative in their insults. She felt no signs of impending bad magic, though she was hardly the best person to look or sense for such things. She thought that she saw a very tall gangly figure lurking in an alley, a figure that retreated deeper into the shadows as she passed. For a moment, she considered investigating, pursuing the maybe-demon. But there was no feeling of impending attack, no radiating threat, so Kendra just kept going, ignoring the tall figure and hoping that she wouldn’t regret that decision later.
She just wanted to go home and rest. Rest and hope that she hadn’t made dreadful mistakes.
End part 35.
When Kendra finally woke, after strange dreams about gaudily cloaked mages floating behind her on patrol, asking about tallow candles, sea salt, Fyarl horn and Maerrocholith scales amidst images of demon-prostitutes, zombie soldiers, and a library run by a werewolf. There had also been a sword, one that a small green man who seemed to be made of leaves said could only be wielded by the Worthy – with an audible capital letter. There had also been something about a curse on a baseball team, and an odd, thin man with a plate of cheese. None of it made any sense to Kendra.
If she had a Watcher, she’d be asking that Watcher to look for rituals using tallow candles, sea salt, Fyarl horn and Maerrocholith scales. She’d also need to remember to watch for unusual swords, especially ones that looked like the one in her dream. As for the rest? The demon-prostitutes had to be due to that orange-blooded she-demon that had attacked her. She jotted down what details she could remember anyhow, just in case. Slayers often had dreams that contained warnings, often vague and sometimes symbolic. If images or individuals repeated, then that was also significant.
Heading for a quick shower, Kendra sighed, “At least de dream did not speak of the blood of de worthy. Once was enough of dat.”
Finishing her shower, Kendra dressed for the day, that twitchy feeling not abating until she had both a knife in her right boot and a stake up her left sleeve. One part of her wanted to get whatever was making her feel one edge and in need of weapons over with and out of the way, another part dreaded the inevitable arrival of whatever impending disaster was causing the feeling. Her best guess was that it involved the Great Lord of the Dead that those ritual-casting vampires had spoken about, though it was always possible that something else entirely was responsible.
At least the few places where that she-demon’s claws had drawn blood were healing nicely, with no sign of poison or infection. That was one less thing to worry about.
By the time she made it down to the main parts of the school, lunch was almost over. Kendra collected some food, giving a small wave to Jean and Misty before settling to eat. She didn’t even think about the fact that she’d positioned herself with her back to a wall, and facing the door.
“Miss Kendra? Will you help us work on meditation some more?” Jean asked, edging towards the table where Kendra was seated.
In one sense, the meditation lessons went well. There were no interruptions, no difficult flares of Jean’s mindreading abilities, Misty didn’t accidentally change to look like anyone else, and there was no return of the flamboyantly clad Dr. Strange. What Kendra did notice was that Jean sank into a deeper focus than Misty, one that was less aware of the world around her. That as Jean focused on her breathing, a few small bits of driftwood lifted into the air, moving from about four inches to about six inches above the ground as she inhaled, sinking back to four as she breathed out.
“Jean told me that you said you fight vampires. That she saw them in your mind,” Misty’s voice was soft, and Jean showed no reaction.
Kendra sighed, not surprised that Jean had talked to her friend. They seemed to be forging a strong bond, partly from being the only girls of their age. “Vampires and other monsters.”
“And that’s why you aren’t sure that you’ll still be here to answer questions when I’m older.” Misty spoke again, these words not a question.
“It is not a safe t’ing to do. It is very important, but not safe. Small injuries are common, sometimes dere are larger ones. One night, there will be an injury that I can not get back up from, one that keeps me down just few moments too long, or there will be one enemy that I did not see. As a Slayer, it is me destiny to fight the monsters for as long as I can, to save as many people as I can, until…” Kendra shuddered.
“Until you die,” Misty whispered, her expression full of dismay.
Kendra nodded. “It is somet’ing I wish to delay. I would take assistance, in defiance of centuries of tradition, if I knew that those who wanted to help were capable of defending themselves, if they had an idea what is out there. Charles and Erik went with me once, and they were frightened. The knowledge that a Slayer does not get old is part of why I am trying so hard to get things organized here, to get things started. I may not be around to continue them. You must know how to defend yourselves, to do that you must be strong and healthy. You must be able to control your minds, your bodies, and your abilities, or else everything else is for naught. You must know when to fight, when to defend, and when to stay back. How to be friends, how to heal and help one another.”
“You won’t have to keep fighting alone,” Misty whispered, her words sounding like a promise. Sounding like there was some sort of painful memories behind them. “Not like…”
“Misty?” Kendra looked at the blue girl, wondering why she had stopped her words.
“It’s… I don’t want to talk about it.” She was staring at her hands now.
“If you change your mind, I will listen,” Kendra offered.
Misty seemed to weigh that offer, comparing it to things known only to herself. Slowly, she nodded, whispering, “I’ll remember that, Miss Kendra.”
What Kendra didn’t know was that in New York, a man called Gabe was still thinking about the dark woman who had saved him and Jack from vampires. Things very like some of the enemies that he’d fought during his tour of duty, enemies that he’d been told had worn strange costumes to increase the fear their attacks caused, or that they’d run afoul of some dangerous local fungus. Enemies that he’d desperately wanted to believe were just as human as he and those he fought beside.
Last night, that hadn’t been his imagination. They hadn’t been wearing costumes, and even if they had, costumes wouldn’t make them dissolve into ashes. Neither would strange and deadly mushrooms.
Which meant that the ones in the jungle had been real also.
He was almost surprised that his hand didn’t shake as he dialed the number for the man who had once been his commander. A man with iron will and a long list of political connections and enemies. A man who had moved from commanding soldiers in battle to running an elite organization designed to handle unusual situations.
If Nick Fury didn’t already know about vampires, then someone needed to tell him right away.
One gorgeous woman with amazing skills wouldn’t be enough to defend against vampires. Not when they’d been in those jungles and here in New York. That could only mean that they were wide-spread. If nothing else, Fury could get that woman some better equipment… once he found her. And Nick Fury would be able to find that woman, of that Gabriel Jones had no doubts at all. It would just be a question of time.
Though it might be easier to find her if they had a name…
End part 36.