parts 7 and 8
Kendra tried to learn more about the world and time of this place as she healed. Things would be different, and it could be very important for her to understand how different things were from what she was used to. Not only a different time but a different country than her home, not that she’d had a normal childhood. But the more she read about the things going on, the more confused she felt. Such blind, unreasoning fear and prejudice…
She was also spending a good amount of time looking at the obituary listings and the bits of information in the hospital admissions. She hoped that she wouldn’t see the things that she found, but they were there. Exsanguinated bodies, though not as many as she was used to. Bodies that had been mauled and mutilated – were they human homicides, feral dogs, or demonic activity? There were very few listings of disappearances, but perhaps that was caused by a lack of reporting.
“Pleasant readings, Kendra?” Erik’s voice came from the doorway.
“No. Too many people hating for things they should not hate about, and too many people dead from what could be what I need to find. The papers hold very little that is pleasant to read about,” Kendra shook her head.
“I’ve shared that thought about the news being unpleasant,” Erik admitted. “What do you need to find? You mentioned that it was dangerous…”
“I see that Charles told you little, or perhaps he does not want to believe,” Kendra paused, trying to organize her thoughts. “I am Kendra, the Vampire Slayer. In my own world, the beginning was a dark and dangerous time, with the world filled with demons. When the most powerful demons left, this allowed other things to spread, humans and many types of lesser demons. One of those lesser demons is the vampire. In all the world, there is one girl Chosen to fight, empowered to have strength equal to the demons and vampires. I am that girl. If there are demons and vampires endangering the people of this world, I must hunt them and kill them.”
“That sounds…” Erik faltered, searching for the right word. “Dangerous. What happens if you run into more than you can handle?”
“When one Slayer dies, another is Chosen. That is how it works, how it’s always worked,” Kendra looked at him, and tried to smile. “It is my destiny. One night, I will enter battle with them, and I will not win. Until then, I will do what I can to make the world… this world safer.”
“Your destiny is to fight monsters? Not to get married and raise a family?” Erik arched one eyebrow.
“No. I have been raised knowing that this would be my destiny,” Kendra found it odd how much he reminded her of Buffy in that moment, asking if a Slayer could have a ‘normal’ life. Erik really had very little in common with Buffy at all. “This is my life.”
“Because you’ve been raised believing this, you want to go out looking for vampires in New York?” Erik shook his head, and sighed.
Erik spoke again, the words phrased as an offer, though the tone said otherwise. “We could go with you, Charles and I need a break from working on our cerebral scanner, and you wouldn’t be familiar with the area.”
“That would be excellent,” Kendra nodded, already trying to determine what weapons would be the best to take with her. Several stakes, of course, and at least one knife. It was such a pity that Charles had no practical spears, and only the target bolts for a crossbow. She could work on that later, she was certain. “It would be good to have a guide to the area.”
“What happens if you don’t find any vampires?” Erik asked.
“There will be vampires,” Kendra had no doubts. “I may not recognize the demons, but there will be things for me to fight. I can feel… there is something in that direction that I should slay. I do not know what it is, but I can feel it. Slayers are given the ability to sense our prey, to feel the darkness and evil that fills the vampires and demons. It is that sense that I hope your device will enhance. At home, my Watcher had many books about the different demons and how to kill them. What will kill one demon may not kill another, so we could prepare for what I would face. If I can prepare in advance here…”
Erik nodded, “I understand how that would be an advantage.”
Kendra wondered what strange and unwelcome thoughts were going through Erik’s mind as he left the room, murmuring something about finding Charles.
It felt like the two men took hours to be ready for the trip to the city, but Kendra knew that was her own impatience. She had three stakes and a pair of knives, all hidden from casual view. She’d felt a moment of dismay at the realization that somehow Mr. Pointy had remained in Sunnydale. “A stake is a weapon. I have other stakes, and they will serve just as well.”
“Kendra, are you certain that you’re healed enough to do this? You had a hole that went through your entire body,” Charles protested. “Even healing faster than I do, that’s… An ordinary woman would barely be out of the hospital.”
“But I am not an ordinary woman. I am the Slayer,” Kendra smiled. “This should only be a quick, small patrol, to see what is out there.”
She watched out the window of the car as Charles drove them into the city. He was talking with Erik about their device, and the discussion quickly went into far more engineering detail than Kendra could follow. They could both use a break from their project. The world was full of people, and deserved someone to stand against the vampires, against the darkness. Life would be better once she was Slaying again.
End part 7.
People were giving them strange looks as they walked down the sidewalk. Kendra paid them little attention, trying to get a sense of direction for the chill of danger that she felt. Somewhere, there was something that needed slain, and if she could follow the feeling… There would be time later to think about the way people were pointedly not looking at her or the whispers about ‘why would two gentlemen like that be walking with someone like her?’ or the harsh comments about her clothing. She certainly didn’t want to consider the number of men who seemed to be thinking about parts of her body.
“Kendra, is there something that you’re looking for? Some kind of store, or a landmark? The Empire State building is that way,” Charles murmured, his voice behind her ears as well as reaching them. “I don’t know what you’re looking for.”
“There is something this way, something that I need to attend to. Something dark,” Kendra shook her head. “It feels much like a vampire, but different than I am used to.”
Charles stumbled, his mouth opening as if to say something. Instead of whatever he’d clearly wanted to say, he just shook his head, “It seems I need to get out more before I forget how to walk.”
Erik was trying not to laugh at his friend. “You’re a professor of medicine and biology, educated in physics and engineering, and now you can’t walk down the sidewalk without stumbling? Really, Charles, you need to spend less time in the study and more exercising.”
“Glad that I could amuse you,” Charles retorted, looking more amused than insulted.
Kendra followed the feeling of the vampire, trying to sort out if it was one vampire or several, how old and how hungry. If she could have an idea how dangerous her opponent was before the fight, she could plan better. But the feeling was different than before. She thought there was only one, turned no more than twenty years ago, but there were oddities to the feeling of power. Like a familiar word twisted by an accent.
A smile formed as she realized that she had ended up a few feet ahead of Charles and Erik. They were still following her, perhaps out of confused curiosity, but she would have space to fight with. She turned into the alley, unsurprised to see what looked like a couple seizing a romantic moment.
“I know you are there, vampire,” her words were a challenge.
“Why can’t feel… what’s wrong with his mind?” Charles stumbled again, “She’s so afraid.”
Dropping the woman to the ground, the vampire spun and threw a punch and Kendra, eyes glowing red and fangs bared.
A small part of Kendra’s mind wanted to know why his eyes were glowing red instead of the normal yellow, why his fangs were different, and why he had none of the ugly ridges on his forehead. She would think of that later, after the fight. She dodged the punch, landing her own beneath his ribs, sending him crashing into the wall. While a vampire truly didn’t need the breath in their lungs, driving it out would give her a chance to see how well he took the hit, and how quickly he could recover.
It was a short, uneven fight. The vampire depended entirely on his speed and strength, which were less than what she had expected. He did seem to be recovering faster, but that would do him little good. He didn’t even see the stake until it slid between his ribs.
The vampire burst into flames, the flesh rapidly crumbling while the bones took a few seconds longer. In moments, there was only a small pile of ashes and a few metal rivets and what looked like a metal tooth to mark where the vampire had stood. Behind her, Charles was helping the frightened victim to her feet.
“That man, he was… he… his teeth,” the woman was sobbing now, clinging to Charles.
“He will not be a danger to you any longer,” Kendra offered. Moving closer, she tried to figure out if the woman was clinging to Charles from blood-loss, or from her emotions running rampant. The only thing she was sure of was that she didn’t like it. “Perhaps Charles can take you to the hospital?”
Stepping towards Kendra, Erik looked at the ashes. “Is that normal?”
“A bit different than what I am used to,” Kendra admitted. “He was not the same as the ones at home. His eyes were red, not yellow, and the teeth were different. The vampires here should not be a problem if they are all like him.”
“After seeing that, Charles should believe you. Though I hope you won’t be fighting any demons,” Erik offered. “I suppose Charles will be taking her to the hospital. Did you want to patrol any further, or can we go now?”
Kendra considered Erik, who looked shaken by the fight, even if he hadn’t been involved. Charles looked dismayed by the woman clinging to him, something that oddly made Kendra feel better. She didn’t know the city, and her two guides looked rather less than guiding at the moment. “I suppose that we could go home as soon as we finish dealing with her,” Kendra offered.
It took more time than Kendra had expected before the woman, Victoria Grey, was admitted to the hospital emergency room. There had been so many forms to try to fill out that it had just left her shaking her head. Someone had told Charles that a police officer would be over to talk to Ms Grey in the morning, and that he might be contacted as well, ‘just for an official statement’.
By the time they pulled into the driveway of the mansion, Kendra was more than ready to call it a night. “I think the hospital was more tiring than the fight.”
“I couldn’t hear him. Normally I hear something of everyone’s thoughts, even if they are indistinct, but,” Charles shook his head. “I couldn’t sense that man. The vampire. He was… he was trying to kill Ms Grey, and I couldn’t…. I couldn’t hear anything.”
“I will tell you what my first watcher once told me. Never depend on only one sense when things involve vampires. If you only watch the one in front of you, a second can sneak up behind. If you only listen, you may miss the scent of their weapons, the earth of their graves. For you, do not depend entirely on hearing a person’s thoughts. It will make you careless,” Kendra looked at Charles, hoping that he would understand how serious the situation could be. The vampire you don’t see or underestimated could be the one that left you dead or turned.
“I’ll have to remember that,” Charles sighed. “I think… Good night. I hope your dreams are more enjoyable than the walk tonight.”
Kendra walked towards her room, wondering when this had started to feel like home, instead of just feeling like the place that Charles was allowing her to stay. And why had it bothered her to see Ms Grey clinging to him like that?
End part 8.