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Custom Made: Chapter 12
Places and People, chapters 1 to 10
Prssk Nymph Bearer LoveThe moment the ramp dropped Love scuttled down to solid ground. As soon as she was off the ramp she had to resist the urge to drop to her belly, just to feel a world that didn't shake under her toes.
"Nymph Bearer… Love, is it?"
Love turned her head to the new voice, then instinctively stepped back, her antennae withdrawing.
The female Human in her black armour arched that thin line of hair above her right eye. Love had been enjoying the warmth of Ced, Ath and the rest of the Firstborn. This was a cold shock through her abdomen.
This woman felt every bit like the Feraylsen of Love's home city of Two Peaks. Cold, calculating, as if Love was little more than a useful tool. Even her eyes had a different cast to them. It wasn’t just the different shape, her eyes had a narrow tilt to them that was unlike Rom. No, with the emanations from the Human, those eyes also carried a different feel that Love couldn’t quite describe.
"We have need of you Nymph," the woman began without bothering to offer a name. "The Prisk tunnels are compromised and we need a Bearer to guide the drones. Come with me."
[No,] Love replied to her own surprise. This woman, identified by Love’s embedded translator as HMDC.Mof.9645Ezc.3929, had the authority of a general. And if the hive was being taken over by Scrrsk without the counter influence of the Prrsk, that was indeed very bad. But this woman wasn’t interested in the Prrsk.
And Ced superseded her.
"No?" Mof asked, her face darkening while tones of displeasure seeped into the immediate area.
[I- We, will not go without Ced Uhk.]
HMHC.Ced.3374Uhk.5698 - CedThe thump of landing brought him awake.
There was shouting and a buzzing of dataspace that bothered him in a way that indicated he wasn’t wearing his armour. Ced realized suddenly that he’d been drifting on the very edge of wakefulness for the last little while. What was going on? Fuzzy warmth surrounded him, with the odd jabbing of a sharp nail or bony limb. On his left side, he was also holding a short knobby hand with fat little pads on the end of their fingers.
“Wh-whuh?” his throat was parched, he couldn’t speak.
“Are you awake?” Moss called out. She sounded… angry?
Ced cracked an eye open. He tried to talk again. “Wh-where?”
It took Ced awhile to focus on the Feraylsen leaning over him. The first thing he noticed was the impossibly blue eyes of Moss. With a name like Moss, shouldn’t her eyes be green? Ced grunted and shifted, trying to turn onto his side. He was still surrounded by fuzzy somethings, but a more immediate concern made itself felt.
“Au-agh!” Ced clutched his left side with his right hand. It hurt! So did his right hip. So did his left arm! “What, what happened?
Yinglet heads popped up around him, identifying the source of the warm fur that had probably kept Ced asleep for so long. The Yinglets knew better than to say anything with Moss looking so angry.
“You fought the Scrrsk in the tunnels!” Moss said to him accusingly. Ced looked at Moss and almost felt like he was looking at her with new eyes. Her black nose quivered and those round floppy ears were now flattened back against her head. Her eyes had narrowed and the rounded horizontal bars of her pupils had contracted to slits. She rested the bare pads of her hands on his arm as she looked down at him.
“Oh,” Ced muttered, vaguely feeling like an idiot. “I remember now.”
“You survive,” the Zawess had said.
He’d fought the Scrrsk. Killed the Scrrsk in the tunnels. A lot of them. At first, he’d kept them at range with his drivers and interrupter turrets. When those grubs with the overlapping deviation fields had arrived, he’d switched to his hardlight sword. Ced had killed a lot of Scrrsk, and for a while, he’d felt invincible doing it.
Ced knew that nearly dying should mean more to him, but right now he just felt… numb.
Moss seemed like she should be crying, but she certainly wasn’t shedding any tears. Even so… “I”m sorry,” Ced told her.
Moss’s eyes widened, and her nose quivered again. Rather than respond, she turned her head away. “Don’t do that again,” Moss told him, her voice shaking.
He carefully looked around and realized he wasn’t in the back of the maker transport. This bay was much larger, with the wall looming over him on two sides and boxes stacked to the ceiling on the other. The slow turn of his head eventually brought him nose to snoot with the mottled black and white head of Bod. The whiskers extending from just above Bod’s eyes tickled Ced’s forehead.
“Is okay?” the Yinglet asked in a surprisingly small voice. Ced looked closer and realized this was the yinglet he’d been holding hands with. Another look surprised Ced. It was the Yinglet’s foot? Their hands and feet were the same? He hadn’t even noticed.
“Yeah, I will be,” Ced replied as he released the hand… foot.
Bod’s ears perked up and a big smile spread across his face. The other five suddenly wore similar expressions.
Five? Ced blinked again and saw they’d picked up a shiny jet black yinglet and a small yellow yinglet. Reflexively, he reached out to scritch the yellow one around its ear. The reaction was immediate as the boy’s lower eyelids rose up and he mrrred happily.
“Nuh! I’m ze girl! Me first!” The black one grabbed Ced’s hand and put it on her head. Ced stifled a small groan as she tweaked the still tender and sore muscles of his arm.
Ced looked over as his other hand was lifted up, only to see brown Norf pushing his head into position for scritches. A split second later Poon and Fike grabbed his arm and started pulling.
“Nuh, was first!”
“Stop!” Moss ordered, her voice fearful and angry. Four sets of long pointed ears and two sets of shorter rounded ears dropped and the Yinglets all cringed. Moss closed her eyes and shook herself before speaking again, her voice calm and controlled. “He is injured and it’s time to move. I promise I’ll give you all a brushing when we get settled.”
That brought all six pairs of ears back up! With a chorus of “Oh yes!”s and “I can’t waits!”s and “Will zhere be foods?”s the Yinglets all backed off.
As soon as he had some space, Ced could see a brown Prrsk drone waiting just behind Moss. One of the many drones picked up from the harvest tower. Ced reached out in a way that was mostly habitual. He didn't form any particular thoughts or message, instead just directing his curiosity at her presence.
Ced felt the response of the drone in a similar fashion. A feeling of being needed, two individuals waited. Love, and one other.
“Time to go,” Ced muttered. The Yinglets took the hint and hopped up onto their skinny legs, scattering to make room for him. The little stilt-rats were the only reason he’d been comfortable really. All he’d been laying on was a folded up blanket for a pillow. The drone stepped forward, looming over Ced. She lowered both sets of hands to him. Her smaller manipulating hands reached for Ceds hands. Her larger work hands reached past, one to the right side of his back and one under his left thigh, both carefully avoiding direct contact with his injuries. The large hands, graspers with two wide and flat fingers and two similar opposing thumbs cupped and lifted him gently, but without difficulty. Ced held her hands with his as she lifted to help him remain steady.
Those last moments in the tunnel, when the drone had done her best to drag him away. There was no question that these ladies were strong, stronger than him without his armour for sure.
The drone circled around Ced, carefully adjusting her hands to help him remain steady. Her hold didn’t shake in the slightest. When she was behind him, she lowered the large work hands and placed them at his hips where he could walk with her limbs to rest on if he needed.
For the first wobbly steps, he didn’t let go. As he continued moving, Ced was able to find his balance.
With her help and Moss hanging very close to Ced’s side, they started moving. Ced took the chance to look around at what he quickly realized was a large storage bay. Quite a few Prrsk drones were marching in to pick-up large boxes and march them back out, each large crate needing four Prrsk to lift and move. The boxes were stacked high on top of each other, made to lock securely together. A device in the roof of the storage bay would pick up the top box of a stack without even touching it, float the box over and carefully set the box down by itself for the Prrsk to carry it away.
The Yinglets preceded Ced, Moss and the Drone, laughing as the ran out and down the ramp. He found himself squinting at the light streaming in from outside, reflections of sunlight off glass and metal towers flicking in the distance from the gilded buildings. A brief mental probe told him that the Firstborn were around him and in similar strength to what he’d seen when he’d landed at the tower. The walk down the ramp was harder than he’d expected, Ced’s legs hardly better than sacks of water. It didn’t take him long to hear her voice.
“... Let the Yesingletz in!? Even at their best they are dangerous distractions, slowing work by being unavoidably underfoot!”
They stopped as the arrived just behind the cowering crowd of Yinglets. Drones still rushed around while Human soldiers gathered and watched from afar. The most interesting thing standing next to this woman with her helmet hanging off her hip was the defiant looking Love.
“And you!” Mof Ezc almost shouted, pointing at Ced. But she paused as she looked at him. “... What are you?”
Even through the fatigue and the dull throbbing pain of his healing wounds, Ced managed to crack a bit of a smile. “Good question. Ced Uhk, unattached. What task needs doing?”
Love moved, her feet deceptively quiet on the stone. Before Mof could even react, the Nymph Bearer had placed herself next to Ced.
Mof took a deep breath, visibly pushing away her agitation. Ced was surprised to realize he could actually feel that irritation ebbing away through the Prrsk level awareness. “The Scrrsk have taken control of the Prisk warrens. We need a Bearer to take control of the tunnels.”
Ced blinked. He looked at Mof, and then to Love. “Are you able to direct the Prrsk as a Nymph?”
Love tilted her head and nodded. “My control will be weakened, I cannot rule the extent of a hive, but my emanations should be enough to support the wills of the Drones until they can return to my range.”
“Then there is no reason to become a full Bearer yet,” Ced noted. Love shifted, her form relaxing. Her form of tension was a bit different. Their limbs were full of fluids instead of bundles of muscle. When she was tense, her blood pressure was extremely high, making her movements stiff and her posture wide, robbing her joints of flexibility.
“A Bearer is typically stuck in their location, and the hive chamber is…” Ced hesitated, blinking in surprise at having more knowledge on the subject than he expected. “The chamber is reinforced to spread the Bearer’s will, but the exits and adjoining tunnels are purposefully restricted. You are essentially telling Love to stay here and be discarded.”
Mof’s tension dropped away as she understood the nature of the problem. Ced had given her something she could work with. “And we aren’t planning to stay here. I understand.” Mof nodded then turned her head back to Love. “Then I will have you-”
Love scuttled sideways to hide behind Ced. He could feel the supporting hands of the drone moving as Love pushed the drone to the side.
Mof’s eye twitched. She sighed and looked Ced in the eyes. “If you could have her, as a Nymph, take up position in the chamber of the Bearer and guide the Prisk, we can begin the process of recovering the Prisk transport and storage network. We really don’t have time for any… games.”
Ced turned his head to look at Love. She looked back to him with gold multi-faceted eyes. “Love?” Ced asked simply. Deeper, without words, he promised Love. He wouldn’t leave her behind and he would help her if he could.
The Prrsk Bearer inclined her head. [We will do as you ask.]
“Okay, point us in the right direction,” Ced replied.
Mof nodded her head, annoyance still seeping out, but accepting the answer. “I have problems to see to. I was *expecting to hand… Love, off to Tec Uhj to plan the tunnel clearing.” Mof half turned, still looking at Ced. “Instead, it seems I will have to accept you as the contact.” A dense packet of information touched Ced through dataspace, sent by Mof. Before he even had a chance to look, she finished turning away and marched off, impatient to do whatever it was she was doing.
Ced looked at Love, and then to Moss, the again at Mof’s already distant back. “Well, that was an exciting way to wake up.”
Ced digested the packet Mof had left him and contacted General Tec Uhj.
HMLC.Ciq.4236Ath.6753 - Ath“Welcome to the workshop.”
“Is this everyone?” Ath’s voice echoed through the contained maker dataspace. There were several people already here when Ath had appeared. A model of the Swordbird he’d seen put to such effective use floated above them in dataspace, the left wing ‘blown out’ to display all the bits that went into the design.
The first speaker, a black-skinned woman named Zal, shook her head. “Well no, we are missing Bac. She’s the one most familiar with basic templating and materials application and shaping.”
“So she shaped the Swordbirds?”
“They aren’t Swordbirds! They are Peregrine Ornithopters! Striking with incalculable speed to smash their prey from the sky! They are weapons of speed!”
“And that’s Gar! He has focused on gravity control, thruster designs and general mobility.”
“You’re ignoring me again! First it was my glimmering hedgehog grenade! Then it was my-”
A surprisingly short woman stepped in, pushing Gar aside. She smiled and spoke even as he sputtered with indignation. “And I’m Yer. So far I’ve only done deep dives on plasma and driver weapons systems, although I’ve started to look at some of the rarer stuff. Not as much as Zal has though.”
“Well, before we get back to me, We also have Deg who started off getting into power systems and hasn’t managed to find his way out.”
Deg, who might as well have been Zal’s brother with the same calm smile and amber eyes, certainly didn’t have Zal’s predilection to speech. He simply smiled and waved.
“And we have Qaj who is up to his eyeballs in the hardlight stuff.”
Qaj nodded as well. “Fun stuff, the flexible feathers you saw were extremely difficult to tune, but the challenge of the task has been fulfilling!”
Zal resumed her introductions, bringing back around to herself. “I have focused on the more exotic designs that are deeper in the template memory, but with few Feraylsen designs that actually use this stuff, I’ve kept most of my work to just making stuff work.”
“Okay,” Ath nodded. He was still partially admiring the model of the Swordbird on display. “I really am impressed after this baby of yours pretty much saved my life, but you have more engineers in the other companies. Why am I here?”
“Why am I here, he askes,” Qaj waved a hand as he spoke, the motion pushing the Swordbird aside. He then pointed at the now empty space and Ath’s ugly maker transport popped into view. “You’ve been dismissive of this design in the few moments we’ve known each other but it’s already shown its worth.”
Yer stepped pas Ath, taking position right below the visual representation. She put her hands together, then pushed out as if pushing her way through water. The maker transport separated into its various pieces, turrets, maker, power grid, hull and more all on display as it tidily spilled its guts.
“You slapped this together in a day, by yourself,” Yer noted. “Now, the template designer is somewhat strict on making sure the design can function, but it isn’t any good at making sure your design is actually effective.” Yer turned her head and looked at Ath. “Your design has been tested in both production and combat and has passed its trails very effectively. It might not be perfect, but only by yourself you’ve made a balanced, functional design that has proven that it deserves respect.”
Ath didn’t really know what to say, his eyes squinting in disbelief as he looked at his ugly pillow.
“So what does that make me?”
“Honestly,” Zal spoke up, leading the conversation again, “You were able to successfully balance all the various complicated systems needed by the transport while making multiple ammunition types. Even in transport and combat the maker is able to work unimpeded due to an interesting use of gravity and inertia dampeners. And if I see this correctly, you also made custom swords for a high class? You’re a skilled generalist and probably the best template designer we have in the city.”
“Okay, this is all a bit much,” Ath broke in, not wanting her to go any further. “You brought me here to work, right? What do you have going?”
Qaj waved again, causing Ath’s transport to puff into motes of light. He then grabbed and pulled, dragging the Swordbird down to sit in front of Ath. Qaj pointed next to Ath and a second Swordbird appeared, or at least the hull of one appeared.
“What did the most damage to our birds was the hypersonic spikes fired by the uh…”
Deg interjected for Zal, “The pilots call them craballoons,”
“Yes, the craballoons fired spikes at incredible speeds and with impressive accuracy. Most Scrrsk attacks have a high rate of scattering, but these certainly did not. Hardlight barriers are damn tough, but require we have windows to shoot through, or we have emitters timed to flicker on and off. A process that becomes more dangerous with larger or complex hardlight constructs”
“Okay,” Ath nodded, “I’m with you.”
Qaj is the one who spoke next. “Fortunately, most hardlight emitters take only a moment to activate. This window of time increases for larger light constructs, and for harder, more durable constructs.”
Ath blinked. “I hadn’t noticed. The tanks have been pretty quick.”
Qaj frowned. “Not quick enough in some cases, but since they are always in groups, they can compensate for each other. This problem is more apparent with the Swordbirds-” “Ornithopters!” “-that live and die on a split second. Hush Gar.”
“Uncivilized swine…” Gar muttered quietly.
“The Swordbirds have to have a very dense hardlight construct in order to do hold up against the impacts that are sustained by a bird in flight. The feathers that control the flight of the bird and are so effective at slicing Scrrsk to ribbons also occupy a large portion of the available physical space and power budget that would have been used in more traditional Feraylsen vehicles to simply cover the bird in a bland hardlight bubble.”
Qaj pushed the complete bird, but instead of the bird moving, the hull of the bird slid aside. The new hull beside them floated over and covered the momentarily bare Swordbird. “So Bac isn’t here because we let her sleep in. Frankly she had been awake far too long trying to adapt a type of active hull called ‘charged plate’ that doesn’t seem to be used in Feraylsen templates. It has a moderate energy draw and needs various safeties as it is vulnerable to energy attacks, but most Scrrsk weapons aren’t energy-based.”
“And you need to try and weave this charged plate into an already extremely complex design.”
Ath scratched his chin. “You aren’t entirely prevented from using a hardlight bubble though.”
“No, but it actually interferes with the flight profile of the bird. The bubble isn’t aerodynamic.”
Ath had never heard that concept before. As soon as it was said, he knew exactly what the meant. He shook his head at the ever-annoying feeling of discovering he knew something he’d never been taught. Ath considered the construct before him.
“Okay. I guess a hardlight emitter brigandine probably wouldn’t work out…”
“Brigandine?” Zal asked curiously.
“A type of armour made of riveted overlapping plates,” Gar explained without his previous venom. “Typically shaped by being riveted to thick cloth or even gambeson armour. Brigandine armour provides solid support, is a bit heavy, but is easy to make and repair.”
“Ah. hmmm.” Zal nodded with understanding. “We should keep that in mind, but not for this.”
“Why don’t you use more feathers?”
“Because the feathers, or variable emitters, have a set range of variability.” Qaj pulled a single emitter from the ball on the stubby wing of the Swordbird. A long blade shimmered into view. Qaj flicked a finger for the feather to bend upwards, then he flicked again to make it bend all the way downwards. He flicked his finger once more for the feather to straighten, but this time it flexed slightly, twisting just a touch one way then the other. “We could perhaps make it do more, but that requires a larger variable emitter. They have certain wave-form sets that we have to use to make it do what we want. Not to mention that while a static shape is surprisingly energy efficient, even under attack, a forming or shifting construct of light draws a non-negligible amount of power for every moment it is moving.”
“And you expect the charge plate to be better.”
“... Why aren’t we already using the stuff?”
“Because…. Uuuaaaahhhh… it’s not Feraylsen made.” Six heads turned to see a white-skinned woman yawning with clenched fist covering her mouth. The yawn came to its conclusion and Bac resumed talking. “Everything else we’ve looked at, uh, feels the same. The charged plate is different, although I’m not good at describing the differences. Zal found this stuff, but she’s been too busy looking through all the different toys. I spent a while looking at just the plate and I can tell you that if you look at the components closely though, it’s obvious someone else designed this stuff… uuuuahhhhhh.” Bac clearly hadn’t had enough sleep as another yawn took over.
Ath felt like there was a big pile of questions one might ask regarding that, but he really had no idea where he could or would even start. “You’re sure it’ll work though?” Ath asked the tired woman with bags under her eyes.
“Sure, it takes the same sort of power as everything else on this bird, therefore we can make it work. Just gotta get the balance and fit it in. The Swordbird,” “Ornithopter!” is already very tight. Hush Gar.”
“I hate you all.”
“And that’s not the last of it!” Zal noted with a big smile. “Someone gave us a bunch of extras. I’m looking forward to seeing just what all we can make!”
HMHC.Ced.3374Uhk.5698 - CedCed laughed, a spontaneous reaction to a rogue thought.
“What are you laughing at now?” Moss asked with a noticeable pout in her voice.
“At the rate we’re going, you’re going to end up driving me everywhere,” Ced laughed again.
“Well before you needed to be ready to fight!” Moss defended herself. “And now you’re injured! Someone has to drive you!”
“And I wouldn’t have it any other way than to have you in control. I appreciate your help.”
Ced didn’t miss the way Moss’s ears slowly rose into the air. A rare sign of pleasure. He also didn’t miss the subtle undertones of puzzlement from Love.
[You draw out her better side.]
Ced blinked. [Better side?]
[But not just you. Interacting with Humans made the one called Sees change slightly as well. As if removing a binding preventing her from speaking.]
[I don’t understand.]
Love turned her eyes on Ced. [Perhaps it is only these two Feraylsen, but We suspect you Humans have made them better.]
Ced noticed Love had taken to using the royal we since speaking to Mof, but he decided not to delve into that. [I don’t know enough about making them better… but you sound like you’ve seen a lot of Feraylsen. You’re just a Nymph right? How old are you?]
[I have experienced two and a half full Tsunit’kar rotations upon Si’Tsunit.]
[Two and a half, Si’Tsunit… you’re two and a half years old? But you’re so, so...?]
[We do not age the same way.]
[Then explain why you sound like you know so much.]
[The Bearer of the Harvest tower shared her memories with me. Soon, I will be consuming the memories of Teservi as well.]
“You’re talking to the Prisk aren’t you?” Moss spoke up suddenly, breaking the silence.
“It’s Prrsk, and how can you tell?”
Moss snapped at him. “Just because the Psioxern left a function in the translators for renaming doesn’t mean you Humans should just give every creature you meet a new nickname!” Even as she spoke, Moss pulled the large hover to a stop. They had arrived at the relatively small entrance hallway to the Bearer’s chamber. Love was the first to step out on one side, with the supporting drone on the other. The Hover bobbed slightly as the two troopers, geared up much like Ced had been, stepped off next.
“Okay… I know Ath renamed the Yinglets, but what else did I rename?”
Moss looked at him for a moment like he’d forgotten her name. Then, as she opened the hover door to step off, she gave him an answer that didn’t make sense. “The Prisk! That’s what they’re called, that’s what they’ve always been called.”
Ced blinked, taken aback. He opened the door and let the Prrsk drone carefully help him out. One he was on his feet he’d be mobile enough not to need the help, but getting out of the vehicle was different.
[You didn’t notice?] Love asked simply. [You changed what name you used for our kind. Prrsk is closer to the true name, Prisk is the spoken designation given to us by the Feraylsen.]
“Oh.” Ced answered, unsure how to respond to that. He kept finding reasons to feel dumb today.
“What do you mean by ‘Oh’?” Moss complained.
“Prrsk is the way they refer to themselves. They just never argued with the Feraylsen name.”
Moss looked up at him, her gem blue eyes wide with surprise. But Moss didn’t reply. She closed her mouth and looked forward.
The six of them started walking for the old Bearer chamber. Ced didn’t miss a platoon of soldiers manning one hallway. The next split on the other side of the hallway was blocked by a couple of heavy hardlight projectors, silvery light shining out on anyone who passed by.
The Bearer chamber was very close, taking them only a couple minutes to reach. It was clean now, scrubbed bare by lethargic, slow-moving drones who even now occupied the chamber.
[What you said earlier,] Ced called out as Love walked forward, gently drawing one of the subdued drones towards her with pulses of emotion.
[Yes?] Love asked, sounding absentminded.
[You said you had to consume memories? I have a feeling you mean that… literally. Is that the same with the Srrsk?]
“I can feel that tickle of you talking to her,” Moss complained. Ced didn’t reply. He had a feeling he was onto something important.
[Yes, by consuming fellow Prrsk, I can absorb their memories. Bearers and Nymphs don’t need to do this, we are able to commune for a time to transfer what we know. That is what I was doing while accompanying the Bearer of the harvest tower.]
[And the Scrrsk?]
Love stopped and turned, looking directly into Ced’s eyes.
[Yes, they can do the same.] She didn’t move. Love knew Ced wasn’t done yet.
[The Scrrsk can devour Prrsk for their memories.]
[That seems strange. How is it Scrrsk can… can eat Prrsk to absorb what they know?]
“Ced?” Moss asked. “What’s wrong?”
Loved turned the rest of herself around and approached Ced. She approached him slowly, carefully, watching him for his reaction. He could feel her unease. [I learned something from the Bearer of the harvest tower. She saw the attack on the first day, giving her the awareness and time to delve deep into ancestral memories. To dredge up the old memories that are stored in our very genes.] Love tapped on her head with a dainty hand. [It takes time to recall the oldest memories of the Scrrsk, and doing so can see a Bearer… removed. But the Bearer of the harvest tower had that time and opportunity.]
Ced looked down at the so very young Nymph with her yellow gemstone eyes and feathery antennae. So very unlike-
[You already know what I am going to say, I can feel it on the air. The Feraylsen took away our pheromones, replaced them with radio waves to make us malleable in new ways... ]
[Took you away from your home, and changed you,] Ced prompted.
[Yes,] Love replied, the air around her heavy and grave. [They took us, and they took others of our home. The Feraylsen took the Prrsk-]
[And the Scrrsk.]
[Yes. And the Scrrsk.]
Aleister Kane: Demon for Hire (Episode 1)
A man in his 30’s was sitting alone in a dark church, soaked head to toe with rain. The faint glow of a few candles did little to help light the large Cathedral. The man was sitting on a pew, crying and looking up at a statue of Jesus on the cross. A raging thunderstorm and howling wind made up most of the audible noise in the air. The large bell in the tower rang at the stroke of midnight, startling the man as he prayed under his breath.
The man - Zachary Yards-Dale - had heard rumors about the new priest in the city here. He drunkenly stumbled to the dark confession booth. Stone gargoyles appeared to be glaring at him from the ceiling, making him feel uneasy. He sat in booth and cleared his throat, breathing heavy out of nervousness.
“F-forgive me Father, for I-I have sinned... It’s been 7 years since my last confession.... I’m sorry it’s so late...”
A gravelly voice came from the other side, “May the lord help you to confess your sins, my son. Tell me what ails you.”
“It’s been very hard since my wife passed. Sometimes I get urges to do something about it.”
“What do mean by urges, my son?”
“I just get the overwhelming need to end her suffering.”
“But if she’s passed how can this be?”
“I believe she’s gone Father, she was possessed four months ago and all I can do is keep her chained in the basement. The things she says to me. The things she’s threatened to do if she gets out.... I know she can’t be in there.... I don’t know what else to do.” He started crying again, he took out his flask and gave it a swig.
“My son, that’s a very serious accusation to make. Have you consulted the previous priest or any from the other churches? Have you tried exorcisms?”
“We have, they’ve all given up. The said my faith wasn’t strong enough... please Father, I’ve heard things about what you can do...”
“I don’t know what you’ve heard, but I can assure you it’s false.”
“Please Father! I have liquidated lots of assets to pay you! I know you have a way of dealing with demons. Please!”
A tray slid from the wall panel, “You brought untraceable bills?”
“Yes! I promise! It’s all there!” He placed a pile of cash in the tray.
The tray slid back in and the sound of someone flipping through it with their finger could be heard. “Take me to her, my son.”
Zachary stepped out of the booth and saw the priest was over at the statue, looking up at it. He was a young man with long black hair, ear piercings and facial stubble: very unorthodox for a priest, but Zachary figured it was something the younger priests did to relate to youth to try and keep religion from completely dying out. He had an old fashioned priest robe like they would wear in Rome and the typical white collar. He was running his gloved fingers along his cross necklace. “You took your time, my son. It’s of the essence.”
“I’ve got to be honest Father. I’m not fit to drive. It was a huge mistake for me to drive here in the first place...”
“What is your address? I’ll get there myself.”
Zachary started to scribble something on a piece of paper with an unsteady hand. “How will you take care of the situation, Father?”
“The lords hand will provide guidance, my son. I am but a tool to be used in his plan. I will only know when he guides my hand.”
Zachary handed him the paper, the priest examined it. “I will do everything in my power to free her from the demon. Know this: if she can’t be exorcised, I will help her soul escape unending torment. You can rest assured.”
“I’ve made my peace, Father....” Zachary was unsure what to call the young priest.
“Father Kane, my son.”
“Thank you, Father Kane.”
Father Kane pulled up a hood from under his shirt collar and opened the church doors. The moment he passed the doors to the outside his eyes changed from a dark brown to bright glowing silver. He got onto his black street bike and started it. The heavy downpour and thunder masked the engine startup but the headlights turned on. Without his helmet, he sat on the bike and sped off to his destination.
“It fuckin’ figures that we would have to deal with a bank robbery and hostage situation well into the night. What’s it been, ten hours now?” A portly police officer was sitting in the passenger seat of his cop car. Spotlights from around the large bank in downtown Manhattan and from the helicopters lit up the exterior of the building. It was surrounded by cops, SWAT and all sorts of other groups. A large gathering of people were formed outside the perimeter and tons of news stations were reporting on the event. “At least it’s done fuckin’ stormin’ out, I don’t want to have to babysit these buncha yahoos anymore. I missed the game.”
“I’m glad your precious game is more important to you than the lives you swore to protect, sergeant Porkins.” A brown haired man with a tanned trench-coat walked up behind him. He had a Brooklyn accent. The other officers around him started to chuckle.
“The fuck you call me, Columbo?” He got out of his police car to confront him.
“You and your crew are dismissed for the night to rest. Night crews gonna take over for you.”
“Normally I would be ecstatic to hear that kind of news Rook, but last I heard I don’t take orders from a third rate Detective.”
“I’ve got Lieutenant Mosley on speed dial in my pocket if you argue. You’re more than welcome to give him a ring if you want him up your ass sweetheart. He’s in a cranky mood as it stands from this shit.”
Sergeant ‘Porkins’ gave him a dirty look before conceding. “Detective Creepshow is taking the reigns now on Lieutenant Mosley’s orders. Get some rest and I expect you all back in the precinct by 11am sharp!”
Detective Rook watched him leave with amusement. He followed him with his blood red iris’s, and listened to his heart beating fast from high blood pressure. ‘Prick’s hearts gonna pop one of these days.’ He thought.
“Detective Rook, glad you could make it sir.” Another officer approached him.
“I was investigating another important case officer, hostage situations and bank robberies aren’t really my forte.”
“Well Chief Byron told me to tell you that it’s a ‘special case’ you are equipped for. Whatever the hell that means.”
Detective Rook knew exactly what that meant. “I see, take me to someone with the details.”
He nodded, turned around and lead him to a large tent. Inside was a small SWAT team of six men and women in full tactical gear. There was another woman on the security monitors on the side.
“That will be all officer. Leave us.” He ordered to the officer who brought him there. He nodded and went back to his post. Rook closed the doors to the tent once he entered. The six removed their helmets. They were all pale skinned and had red eyes like Rook did, three men and three women. Vampires.
“So Chief Byron wanted to get the team back together. Is that it? Hello Ms. Zimmerman.” He called to the human woman watching the monitors.
Without turning around she replied, “Hello John. I trust you’ve been staying out of trouble lately?”
“I may have accidentally drank my last perp, but otherwise I’ve my hands are clean.”
The other vampires all laughed and hugged him as he walked by. “Good to see you guys!”
Ms. Zimmerman turned around. “Don’t mistake this for a proper team reunion ladies and gentlemen. We’re dealing with members of the Black Talons here.”
“But I thought their leaders were all hunted down?”
A humongous Russian vampire spoke in a deep accent, “Kamaria Morowa pretty well took charge, John. They are more disorganized, but they are still threat.”
John looked up at the 7’4” man in front of him and patted him on the chest. “But not to you big man.” He gave him a smile.
“Bishop’s right, John.” A black female touched his shoulder. “The snipers tried shooting one and had no idea what was going on when the bullet did nothing. They drank one of the hostages in retaliation and threw the body onto the street to warn them not to try anything again.”
An Asian woman also spoke up, “Yup. Bruce and I were on the scene already and we could smell the feeding frenzy of course. That was just an hour ago.”
“Who else knows?”
A white man walked up behind and put his arms around her. “We informed Chief Byrons immediately and Ms. Tina Zimmerman over there of course.”
“What the fuck is this Bruce?” He pointed at the pair. “Since when were you and Angela dating?”
Angela answered, “Um, married actually John... we sent you an invitation... you were on a case...”
“Shit, I’m sorry guys...”
Bruce laughed it off, “Your investigation stopped that human trafficking ring in the end so don’t sweat it man.”
Tina turned back around, “Focus you guys! You are all more than capable of dealing with other vamps, but you need to be discreet. If word gets out that vampires are holding them hostage, we might get the attention of the King’s Guard or whatever they’re called.”
“They can’t exactly do much in police jurisdiction.” A Latin woman with long wavy hair scoffed.
“Yes that’s true Sean, but do you guys really need Slade himself getting a whiff of our existence?” John added.
The all went silent. Bishop was the only one that answered, “No.... He scares me.”
This time Tina was confused, “Who’s that?”
“He’s basically the boogeyman to our kind. If BISHOP BOROKOV - the not so friendly giant here is scared by him then it’s best to not risk his involvement.”
The group was a special division of the police force that’s existence was a secret to all but a very select few. They were made up entirely of vampires and were tasked with handling crimes involving monsters and other supernatural creatures. The members themselves were donated blood from the blood banks for sustenance but they never harmed humans themselves.
Jonathan “John” Rook used to be the leader and tactician, being the oldest member by a large margin and possessing a a calculating and analytical mind.
Rachelle “Queenie” Freeman was the black woman from before, often compared to ‘Michonne’ from ‘The Walking Dead’ in terms of appearance. She was the technology expert and worked closely with Tina.
Tina Zimmerman was the only human on the team and would provide surveillance and Queenie’s tech support from the outside.
Bishop Borokov was the muscle in situations that required fighting or breaking things. They all possessed supernatural strength as vampires but he was on a whole other level.
Bruce and Angela Nite (who used to have the last name Nguyen) were the trained combatants, doing regular police duty when not with the team. They acted as mediators typically between the regular police and the team and made any arrests they could.
Sean “The Pawn” Jacobs was the Latin woman in charge of explosives. She was nicknamed “The Pawn” because she routinely got put in danger causing distractions or disarming bombs on the front line.
Finally came the Frenchman, Michael King. He was a weapons expert, being an expert marksmen and weapons combatant.
John gathered everyone around a table with blueprints to the bank. “We need a plan. We don’t know how many other vamps are in there or exactly what measures they’ve taken to bar our entry. So I think....”
The storm was still raging as Father Kane arrived to the household. He flicked the switch as he entered but nothing happened. The power had been knocked out by the storm, but there was an eery orange glow from the crack of the door to the basement. A low gurgling sound could be heard coming from downstairs.
Without fear or hesitation, he opened the door and walked down the steps slowly, his hood was up so the demon couldn’t see his face from profile as he walked down. Strapped to a bed in the middle of the room was a middle aged woman with demonic yellow eyes and rotting features. She was wearing a night gown.
“Father Karras, your mother sucks cocks in hell.” Her voice was unnaturally deep and masculine.
“The names not Karras, demon. It’s Kane.” He kept his head down as he approached, playing with his cross necklace the whole time. His eyes were kept closed.
“You’ve never seen ‘The Exorcist’, Father? I’ve always wanted to try that line!”
Father Kane froze in his tracks, listening.
“What? No sense of humor?”
“I’ve never been known to possess one, no.”
“Now THAT’S funny! You see the pun don’t you!?” A demonic cackle erupted from her mouth.
“Or what, Father?”
“I know that there’s 7 of you in the other room. There’s no way out now...”
All of the other doors opened and demons of various shapes and sizes crawled out to surround him.
The woman snapped her bindings and floated off the bed, “That little bitch Zachary ratted is out huh? It doesn’t matter... you’re trapped without backup.” All of the demons took a step closer to him.
Father Kane removed him hood and robes. Underneath was a full leather and cloth outfit that was designed for flexibility and durability. His long black hair flowed around him and he revealed his glowing silver iris’ to the demons.
“Who are you?”
Another demon that had six eyes and was on all fours spoke. “Aleister? Not the half demon son of Astaroth...”
The demon posing as the wife transformed into a much more insect like appearance, “This pip-squeak can’t be the son of one of the two most powerful demons in existence.”
Aleister tugged his cross necklace off and pushed down where the chain was like a pen. With a click it expanded into a staff with two blades ends. “I’m one and the same.”
Before the could even react, he stabbed the spear behind himself into the face of the four legged demon, the blade pierced its skull like it was made of butter. The light from it’s eyes dimmed as it went limp. Not seeing another option, the other demons all leapt at him to try and take him down. He used the staff to vault himself into the air and he landed on the ceiling upside down. He started spinning the staff like a helicopter blade at a high speed it actually helped anchor him on the roof and it sliced up one of the leaping demons and the arm of another. The resistance was enough to slow it down to the point that two demons grabbed both ends of the staff and tackled Aleister through the basement ceiling to the ground level floor. They pinned him against the fireplace with their large strength and body mass.
The other four remaining demons leapt or slithered up through the large hole to continue their assault. Aleister tapped a spot on the staff twice with two fingers and suddenly blades protruded from all along the shaft of the staff other than where he was gripping. The blades stabbed and burned their hands, causing them to let go in pain.
As the other demons charged for another attack he did a spinning jump kick and booted one in the face, knocking it back into two others. Simultaneously he grabbed one of the bladed ends and twisted it and pulled it up the shaft. The staff retained the spikes on one end, but the other end shortened into a handle and retracted itself. The end with the spikes also grew thicker and wider until it resembled a spike baseball bat. He swung at the head of the only demon still coming after him at that moment and impaled it’s head with the spikes, caving in it’s skull with the force of the swing.
As the five remaining gained their composure the made a combined assault on him. They managed to tear into his flesh with powerful claws as he tried to duck and dive out of the way. The demons were much more cautious about his weapon now and stayed just beyond the reach of his swings.
Aleister twisted the handle of the bat and a cross guard popped out. The bat end retracted the spikes and the shaft became longer and thinner, transforming into a broadsword. Now with the added reach he popped off the head of another and backed through the doorway to a staircase heading upstairs. He swung the blade and threw kicks to follow up the swings just to keep them far enough away.
The insect lady demon made a bold decision to move in on him before he could take another step about halfway up the stairs. She pinned his left arm that was holding the sword to the metal rail so he couldn’t swing it. She dug a talon into his chest and started to gore him. The force of her body weight made him drop the sword over the side.
Two of others surrounded him on from the side and above him on the staircase. With an audible grunt he squirmed under the weight of the demons. With his free right hand he brought it to her face and blasted a fireball full force into her face. It wasn’t enough to kill but the pressure was immediately relieved off his body as the three demons recoiled away. He used his free chance to run up the stairs, leaving his weapon down by the stairs.
The flames from his pyrokinetic blast caught some of the wallpaper on fire and it started o build in intensity quickly. The fourth demon picked up the sword he dropped and immediately the flesh on it’s hands started to boil and melt like it was coated in acid, causing it to drop it again, the demon was unable to wield it.
Using his conjured fireballs to keep the demons at bay, Aleister tried to think of a way to either kill them or get his weapon back. The demons cornered him by a window. The roaring thunder shook the whole house, giving him an idea.
“Follow me if you dare.” He said to the demons before elbowing the glass. A rush of wind, rain and glass blew into the house as Aleister leapt to the ledge of the roof and climbed up.
Two of the demons chased him immediately, the one that tried to grab the sword almost made chase but stopped when the insect woman turned around. The fire was creeping up the stairs. “Where are you going? He’s on the run!”
“Exactly, he’s not much of a threat without the weapon, I’m going to guard it.”
The demon showed her its scalded flesh, “Don’t touch it.”
She nodded and made her way downstairs. The fire was hot but it didn’t bother her, it wasn’t anywhere near as hot as his conjured hellfire had been.
Aleister struggled to keep his footing on the slippery, soaked roof. It had a very sharp peak and angle that made it difficult to climb even in ideal conditions. He noticed a tv antenna at the top of the house and made his way towards it. Two of the demons were in pursuit with a third not far behind. Whenever they got too close he would kick them or blast them with fire from a distance.
The antenna got struck by lightning, likely repeatedly over the course of the whole night. Aleister reached the peak and fell backwards onto his back just in time to avoid a claw coming his way. The claw slashed the large antenna off, with Aleister just managing to grab it in time. He could sense the air starting to heat up around him and knew it was now or never. He took the jagged end and stabbed it into the demons chest and jumped as far back as he could.
The lightning struck the rod with such intensity that the demon convulsed before exploding into gore, showering everything around it. The other two demons roared and charged for him - pinning him down. One was about to snap it’s jaws around his head when his eyes started to glow yellow. His skin turned red and his muscle mass tripled and his height got much taller. His entire upper body ripped through the clothes and his boots too, leaving him with just his pants. Horns sprouted from his forehead - puncturing the demon’s long snout. It couldn’t lift its jaws around it and Aleister whipped his head back, taking the demon’s head clean off. The other demon backed up a bit, not expecting him to turn into a demon himself. He lifted the decapitated head off his horns and examined it before crushing it in one hand.
Aleister tilted his head to the side and cracked his neck. Large bat-like wings stretched out of his back. The other demon turned to run, but Aleister grabbed its tail and pulled it towards him.
“Look, we’re just following orders!”
“I don’t care.” Aleister slammed the demon through the roof, going through a few floors until they were back at the main level. The insect woman recoiled in surprise as they landed and her face grew terrified as he stood up. Aleister grasped the other demon’s torso with one hand and legs with the other and ripped him in half. The flames danced around them as heavy rain poured into the hole.
Aleister’s face was obscured by his own hair blowing from the wind and the shadows; his glowing yellow eyes were still visible as he glared at her.
“I’ll leave! You don’t have to ever see me again! I won’t harm any more humans!”
“No, you won’t.” Aleister picked up the sword with one hand and sliced all of her limbs off before she could even react. With his free hand he grasped her throat and took a mighty leap up that same flight of stairs as before.
Aleister reverted back to his human form and carried her to the broken window. Holding her outside of it. The raging inferno behind him was now consuming the whole house.
The insect woman changed back to her human form sans limbs as he held her there.
“Any last words, demon?” He scowled.
A series of flashes that couldn’t be mistaken for lightning shined from across the street. Aleister turned his head to see a car drive off as fast as it could down the street. Several people were staring out their windows at the burning house and the sound of emergency vehicles could be heard approaching. The storm was starting to wane.
“It looks like in the end, you lose. Son of Astaroth!” She cackled like a witch as he drove the sword through her torso. Many of the onlookers jumped back, realizing what had happened. A woman sheltered the eyes of her child that had just woke up to investigate.
Knowing he had to work fast, Aleister dropped her dead, human body onto the ground below. He tapped the blade in a specific pattern, turning it back into his necklace which he put on. There was no other choice but to get on his bike and speed off. The blaze cremated the bodies of the dead demons but the woman’s torso was just out of range of the fire as the emergency services arrived.
John and the team were all in their positions. Sean had set explosives in three key locations: two smaller ones with just enough power to make an entrance for two teams and a larger one elsewhere to draw the attention of the vampires inside.
Inside all of their earpieces, Tina’s voice crackled, “Everyone’s in position, we don’t have much of a window here before their people in the security room realizes what’s going on. All but select cameras have been set to loop so they don’t see you coming. They might get wise to our plans before too long. From what we’ve gathered they apparently aren’t that interested in money. But they were after something in a briefcase instead.”
“Alpha team, ready.” John answered. He was with King, Bruce and Angela as part of the assault team towards the back of the building.
“Bravo team, ready.” Queenie answered. She was with Bishop and Sean close to the hall where the security room was.
“Proceed.” Tina answered.
Sean pressed the button and the explosions could be heard. The main one as promised was very audible and Tina could see the security camera feed she hacked into on the monitor.
From inside a bald vampire was standing with about a dozen other vampires. There were about 40 hostages all blindfolded and bound against a wall that screamed at the explosion.
The bald vampire rolled his eyes, “Motherfucker! Anton, take three men and investigate.” He ordered, pulling out a radio. “Security, what do we got?”
A crackled voice answered back, “They set a charge, but no ones entering the building.”
“Like fuck they aren’t. I want every patrol to split into pairs and search the other areas. I know a diversion when I see one.”
“Right away, Ivan” A voice echoed back.
Tina could hear the radio chatter using her own scanners. “I don’t know how many are there, but they’re wise to our ploy guys.” She transmitted to them.
“Since when does anything ever go our way?” John shook his head and put a finger to his earpiece. “Hey guys, initiate contingency B. We can’t let them know we’re officially here, the last thing we need are dead hostages.”
“You can’t be serious, John. What about A?” Tina questioned.
“Contingency A was for if we were spotted, they know we’re here. We’re already compromised.”
“If you do that we all go dark until the missions over one way or another. You know that, right?” Sean radioed.
“Just do it. You all know your parts.”
Queenie put her finger to her earpiece, “On it.” She set down a bag she was carrying and pulled out two objects, one was a small EMP with enough power to knock out the electronics in the building. The other was encased in an anti-EMP casing. She pressed the button and the lights all went dark, not a big deal for vampires, but the cameras and radios all died as well. Queenie opened up the casing and pulled out a freakishly tiny drone about the size of a phones camera lens and a controller.
Turning everything on, she proceeded to fly it through the building, keeping track of other vampires. “Bishop, be discreet. We can’t have you getting any of the hostages killed, but you have to take out any vamps quietly.”
He nodded and walked off down the hall.
“What about me?” Sean asked.
“We’re staying right here. I’m flying this little guy and you gotta be my bodyguard while I concentrate.
“I’m not much for combat, Queenie...”
“That pistil has anti amp bullets loaded, girl. You’ll be fine! I’m fairly certain they won’t have the same.”
“FAIRLY!?” Sean pulled the gun out and they crouched in the corner by the hole in the wall. “So reassuring!”
“They can’t kill you with regular bullets, like they would have consecrated rounds anyways. We don’t exist.”
“Regular bullets WILL kill us if there’s enough of them! And they hurt like a bitch regardless.”
“Shut it, drama queen!”
Back with John’s group when the power first went out, he basically repeated what Queenie said, “They probably have regular bullets, but they will likely be fairly high caliber. Make sure to take them out stealthily if possible and only resort to your guns if absolutely necessary. It’s imperative that we don’t let the vamps with the hostages know we’re here. We can’t leave any alive.”
From Tina’s tent she threw her hands in the air and stood up, walking over to the coffee pot and poured herself some. “Figures... First REAL operation in years and it lasted all of two minutes for me.” She leaned on the table and took a sip of her coffee when one monitor sprung to life again, showing the drone feed.
“Well at least I can watch something.” She said as she walked back to the desk, her heels clicking on the pavement below. The deafening sound of the helicopters above and the large crowd outside was giving her a headache.
Ivan and his men inside all raised their guns on the hostages once the power went out. He pulled his radio again. “Kill anyone you find.” He said but none of the other radios in proximity turned on as he said it.
“FUCK!” He threw the radio at the wall by some of the hostages heads, shattering it. They of course yelped in terror and huddled in closer. “The radios are fuckin’ dead!” He pointed at three more men. “You three let every motherfucker know to kill on sight, you got that?”
They nodded but didn’t move.
“Fuckin’ go!” He shouted before they sped away. “Stupid assholes...”
A pair of vampires walked right around the corner into Bishop, who picked them up by the tops of their heads with one hand each and smashed their heads together repeatedly until the squished remains detached from their bodies altogether.
John was holding a handgun as he leaned against a wall, he made a hand gesture to Bruce and King to split up on the opposite side of the hall and for Angela to come join him. They all nodded and obeyed. The falling footsteps of many feet could be heard patrolling. John listened closely and held out five fingers on his empty hand and raised on his gun hand to indicate a group of six.
With incredible speed King let his assault rifle fall to his side with the strap, unholstered his pistol and screwed on a silencer barrel to it. The other three all put their guns away and pulled out their consecrated knives, the blades were blessed to kill monsters. The knives were said to be ‘confiscated’ from members of the King’s Sacred Guard - a group of monster hunters - when they got detained for various things. They repurposed them for their task squad, replacing the grips so their skin wouldn’t burn.
As soon as the enemy vamps turned the corner three of them were stabbed in the head with the knives and King aimed three precise shots with his pistol at the other three and they all turned to ash.
Queenie was behind a photo copying machine and Sean was peaking around the next corner to keep an eye.
“Other than the security room on the right there, I count 39 hostages and 24 vamps. It looks like we just killed about 8 of them, so that would leave 16 plus however many are behind that sealed security room door.” Queenie spoke in a hushed tone.
The security room door opened and four vampires walked out with assault rifles, going the opposite direction they were. Sean panicked and tried to run to behind cover where Queenie was to get out of sight. Her shadow tipped off one of them with the change of lighting and turned her head. “What the? Guys!”
She opened fire at Sean - who collapsed in pain playing dead - and her comrades turned to approach her. “There’s an opening here, inform Ivan so he can kill a few hostages!”
Sean knew they couldn’t let any of the other vamps know what was going on so she opened her eyes and lifted her gun to fire at the female vamp her first couple shots missed so she was shot a few more times in retaliation. Queenie stood up and fired at the other vamps and also missed multiple shots before landing a fatal shot on one of them. The two remaining vamps noticed a flat bullet right against Sean’s forehead, not piercing the skin and faint glow of her red eyes before they turned to run. The pair kept firing down the hall at them but they nimbly dodged out of the way. A bullet managed to catch one in the shoulder but they split up at an intersection at the end of the hall.
“Fuck! That’s not good...” Queenie checked her empty clip on her gun, “How’re you doing?”
“I can feel the massive headache coming on, but I’m alive. I really fucked up didn’t I?”
The escaping vampire that wasn’t shot was suddenly thrown onto the floor at the end of the hall with a thud. From around the corner walked Bishop, who picked him up and walked back towards the pair.
“Bishop!” Queenie and Sean yelled in unison.
“I heard gunfire, I break small vamp.” He said in his deep Russian accent.
“Bishop, did you see the other one?” Sean inquired.
“Did not. You require protection, yes?”
“It would be nice... we aren’t built for combat...” Queenie answered.
John’s group managed to take out a few more small patrols, luckily the blades and bullets they used eliminated their bodies as evidence. Once they heard gunfire, Angela pinched the bridge of her nose in disappointment. “Great, sounds like Bravo Team’s compromised!”
John brushes his shaggier brown hair out of the way, “Double time people.”
The shot vampire that got away ran into the main room with Ivan and his men. The vampires arm looked like it was mummified from the bullet, “Ivan, sir. We’re dealing with other bloodsuckers. We’re not equipped for taking out our own kind!”
Without hesitation, Ivan ripped the decaying arm off his body and smacked him in the head with it. The arm exploded into a cloud of ash. The other vampire fell on his back, clutching the bleeding stump where his arm was.
Ivan pulled out a handgun and aimed it at his head. “Guess again, Dipshit.” He squeezed the trigger and the other vamp turned to ash. “Waste half these insects. Switch to consecrated bullets.” He ordered before motioning his head to a large vampire with shoulder length black hair and a beard to follow him. The larger vampire was carrying a metal briefcase in one hand and a pistol with the other. As he walked he reached by his ear and crushed the micro drone without even paying it any attention. The sound of automatic fire filled the room and people screaming.
Tina slammed her hands on the desk once the drones feed cut out, spilling her coffee in the process. “This is bad!”
Ivan turned his head back around when he heard his own people scream instead. Alpha Team entered the room and took out half of the others with military precision. Before any hostages could be hurt, they had no choice but to redirect at Alpha Team. John noticed the briefcase and instinctively rushed for it. The large vampire turned around and John froze in place.
The big vampire was about shoot him while he was frozen in place, but Bruce tackled him to the ground - getting grazed by the bullet in the process.
From the shadows ran Bishop. This other vampire was easily about 6’4” but Bishop still had another foot on that vamp, tossing him around while they fought. The tussle knocked the briefcase out of his hand and the gun out of Ivan’s. The briefcase was thrown in between John, who had just gotten his bearings and Ivan.
Ivan and John both dove for the briefcase, their faces transforming into more monstrous forms as they fought. Their fangs protruded from their jaws and their faces became more monster like.
With unparalleled strength, Bishop put his hands in the other vampires mouth and ripped his head off, leaving only his jaw and tongue dangling from the body. All of the other hostile vampires had been eliminated and every member of the team all surrounded the fighting pair.
Ivan and John both got a hand on the case, pulling with their immense strength. The locks on the case snapped and landed on the ground with five strange syringes with a purple liquid landed on the ground. The pair instinctively dove for it before Bishop stomped on Ivan’s back, pinning him on the ground. John kicked the closed briefcase out of the way and his face went back to normal. He was panting heavily.
“Queenie, I need you and Sean to escort the hostages out. Don’t remove their blindfolds until they’re clear outside. Tina should have already called Damage Control to clean up the vamps before the real investigations happen.”
They nodded and walked over to them, muttering instructions as they helped them to their feet. Bishop picked Ivan up and held his arms to his sides so he couldn’t move. John continued.
“Angela, take your husband to Tina back out the entrance we made. He was shot with a vamp bullet so it’ll be a rough one, believe me.”
She nodded and they proceeded. King kept his gun trained on Ivan, Bishop held him in place and John set the briefcase on a nearby desk.
“What the hell is this shit, and why escalate it to this level?”
Ivan just chuckled. “Awe, c’mon man. I know you’ve been around for a long time. Isn’t that right Johnny boy?”
“The fuck you just call me?”
“That’s top priority cargo for The Organization.”
“What the fuck does The Organization want with this shit?” John asked, turning to King. The other team members had already vacated with everyone else at that point, leaving the four of them alone.
King spoke with a thick French accent for the first time all mission, “If THEY want eet, eet must be world class bad.”
“They’ll be pissed they won’t get all of the samples.” Ivan sighed.
John grasped the sides of the case, “They won’t be getting any.” He opened it up to see that one of the syringes was missing. A rush of panic came over his face, “No!” He turned with his pistol pointed at Ivan’s smug grin.
The whites of Ivan’s eyes went as red as his irises and his body mass swelled up. He dropped the empty syringe and elbowed Bishop in the solar plexus, knocking him backwards. John and King’s gunfire didn’t seem to penetrate his skin with their vampire killing bullets and with more incredible speed than even their reflexes could see he almost teleported by their sides and crashed their weapons with his hands. With his free hands he smacked them both across the room.
Bishop ran for him with rage in his eyes. Ivan deflected every powerful blow like nothing before following it up with literal bone shattering strikes - knocking Bishop to the ground in pain. His left arm was snapped in half and his jaw was dislocated. Ivan almost seemed to float to the briefcase and shut it.
“Normally I would make it a point to kill you all, but I’m feeling merciful today and I gotta run.” A pair of bat wings sprouted from his back and he flew straight through the roof of the tall hall.
The aforementioned Damage Control people rushed in and noticed them laying around.
“What ze fuck happened?!” King got to his feet, rubbing his head. He reached a hand out to John to help him up.
“We got our ass kicked is what happened. What the fuck was that substance?”
One of the Damage Control guys in a HAZMAT suit walked up to them, “I didn’t know you fuckers could fly, Detective.”
“We can’t, that’s new. You guys got this, Greg?”
“Yessir. Go get your wounds patched up and report to the Chief.”
John nodded. He and King helped Bishop to his feet and they all left out the back exit.
After they explained what happened and got patched up, Tina was typing up their report. “I’ve never seen you guys take a beating like that. Will you guys be ok?”
Angela chuckled, “We heal extraordinarily quick from nearly anything. We’ll be fine.”
Queenie lifted up the empty vial and gave it a shake, “Looks like we have to investigate what this shit is. I’ll analyze it, but the compounds are probably more complex than anything we’ve tried to examine.”
“So where does that leave us?” Bruce asked.
“I can try and find more leads about this Ivan character and his connection to The Organization.” John answered.
“John, that’s a hell of a slippery slope to try investigating them. You’re asking for trouble.” Sean replied.
“I don’t want to just sit here and do nothing while we wait for results!”
“You won’t have to.” Tina interjected by throwing a file onto the table between them all. “This just came in from tonight from the suburbs in Queens.”
John opened up the file and everyone examined it. They could see a woman who was missing her limbs and had a hole in her chest. There were pictures of burnt wreckage from the house.
“A serial killer and arsonist?” He questioned.
“The victim is Lisa Yards-Dale. Her husband is missing. The next set of pictures shows that she had satanic carvings in along her body, some scar tissue at this point.”
“Whoever did this probably killed the husband and tortured the poor woman until they were done with her.” Angela frowned. They passed the pictures around.
“That’s what I thought too, except they found the burned remains of “unidentifiable animals” as they put it. On the next few pictures.”
King frowned, “Eez hard to tell, but eet looks like maybe Lycan fur or maybe a demon per’aps?”
“These pics were confiscated from a reporter who was caught speeding away from the crime scene.”
The photo showed a shirtless man with glowing silver eyes and long black hair holding the helpless woman by the throat. He was holding a sword.
“Whoever this guys is, that’s not a red eye trick of the camera light. Looks like we got an investigation.” John narrowed his eyes.
Aleister walked into his lonely dark church. His wounds were healing by he still looked visibly hurt. A single blonde woman was standing and staring at the statue of Jesus.
“Aleister Kane, I presume?” She didn’t turn around.
“Who are you?” He was ready to activate his weapon.
She turned around and held up a wad of cash. “Name’s Crystal Hudson. I have a job for you.”