NIGHT OF AUGUST 2 & 3
Danger Zone 2:00 p.m.
Preparing to Fly 6:00 p.m.
The Prisoner Sunset
Arrival in Toronto Sunset
That Was Then 8:30 p.m.
The Lion’s Den 9:30 p.m.
Roar, pt 1 10:00 p.m.
Roar, pt 2
Suckle Me Elmo 10:00 p.m.
Define Good 10:15 p.m.
Desperately seeking Micah 10:30 p.m.
Old Enemies Meet 10:30 p.m.
Interloo’d 10:30 p.m.
Rumble in Toronto 11:00 p.m.
Disclosure 11:30 – 12:30 a.m.
After the Dance 12:15 a.m.
Aftermath 12:30 – 1:00 a.m.
Toast 1:10 a.m.
Old Friends 1:15 a.m.
Goodnight Ladies 12:45 – 1:30 a.m.
Lullaby 1 – 2:00 a.m.
One of These Nights 1:30 a.m.
Closer to Home 1:30 a.m.
Xena 1:30 a.m.
Reality Bites 1:40 a.m.
That Thing You Do 1:40 a.m.
Presto 1:45 a.m.
Bad Julian! 2:00 a.m.
Going to the Chapel 2:30 a.m.
Bygones 2:30 a.m.
Campfire Days 2:35 a.m.
Old friends (Evie) 2:40 a.m.
Blitzkreig 3:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.
Bad Moon Rising 3:00 a.m.
Old Friends Interlude 3:10 a.m.
Unholy Alliance 3:15 a.m.
Good Byes 3:30 a.m.
The >Bummer’ Club 3:35 a.m.
Why Not? part 1 3:45 a.m.
Cry Little Sister, pt1 4:00 a.m.
Woman’s Work 4:00 a.m.
Why Not? part 2 4:30 a.m.
Cry Little Sister, pt 2 4:30 a.m.
Smile 🙂 5:00 a.m.
Near Dawn 5:00 a.m.
Pillow Talk 5:20 a.m.
Respite 6:00 a.m.
by Phoenix W
shortly before 2:00 p.m.
They were dead tired, every one of them, as they came off the freeway into downtown Toronto. Dennis was driving, with James attempting to co‑pilot, face set in a grim expression as his eyes flicked rapidly between the map and the passing streets and signs.
“Turn left at the next corner,” he announced as they passed their third stop light. “The hotel should be on that street.”
“Hmm,” Dennis replied, concentrating on merging to the right, avoiding the other, rather aggressive, drivers.
“That’s it!” Evie exclaimed from the back, pointing to the right. “Whew! I wasn’t looking forward to another afternoon of meandering through the city looking for the hotel.”
“Hey,” Dennis defended himself, “It wasn’t my fault they had the streets blocked off for that parade!”
“Hush,” Trapper murmured. “Let’s park it and check in. If we’re lucky we’ll have a few hours to rest before we do our sound check.”
Dennis pulled into the parking area and they piled out, moaning and mumbling. As the road‑weary band staggered into the main lobby, hauling overnight bags and instruments, Evie thought she could see the staff collectively shaking their heads. *Probably hallucinating from our five-hour drive on four hours sleep, * she thought. *Then again, maybe not, * as she caught a glimpse of their party in the floor to ceiling mirrors. They were a blur of denim and black leather, instrument cases and long hair. If it hadn’t been for the violin case tucked under James’ leather‑clad arm, and the bodhran Dennis was carrying, she was sure they could’ve passed for rock and roll. *Close enough* she thought.
The concierge reluctantly parted with two room keys, and they headed for the elevators. Evie’s head swiveled as they passed the lounge ‑ and she nudged Trapper. “Looks like we dropped into the middle of a Con,” she whispered.
“Hmm,” Trapper agreed, mentally registering approval for a young man in the skin tight black leather leggings. “We should seem nearly innocuous by comparison.”
Michael snorted. “That’ll be a first.”
James followed the direction of Trapper’s gaze, and raised his eyebrows appreciatively. “Nice.”
“Our taste is too similar, my dear,” she smiled.
He laughed and held the door for her. “Going up?”
Shouldering her way into their shared room, Trapper commented to Evie, “I think this trip is good for James. He needs to get out more often.”
“He’s not the only one,” Evie responded with a grunt as she heaved her guitar onto her bed and dropped her bag on the floor.
“Ah, the glorious sameness of the Radisson,” Trapper commented dryly. “Right down to the Sci‑Fi Convention.”
“Just like home,” her friend replied, flopping on the bed beside the guitar.
“And when we walk out of here in black spandex, no one will look twice.” she pointed out, hands behind her head, staring at the ceiling. “Unlike that horrible place in South Dakota.”
“I want to go look for the Raven now.”
“What?!” Her friend stared at her, aghast. “We have a sound check in less than two hours, and you want to hunt up the Raven?”
Evie leaned over and opened the drawer beneath the nightstand, pulling out the phone book beneath. “Right. Let’s start here.”
“Oh. Well, duh.”
“Then we can drive over and scope out the place.”
“No way.” Trapper had her hands on her hips and was looking slightly irate. “We just don’t have time. Let’s do it after the sound check.”
“How about on the way?”
The blond woman sighed, blowing her bangs out of her eyes. “All right. But we won’t have time to stop.”
Evie gave her one thumb up as she used the other one to continue to peruse the yellow pages. A few minutes later, as Trapper washed the road dust from her face, she heard a whoop.
“Found it?” she called to the other room. An elated “Yes!” gave her a strange feeling of apprehension mixed with excitement. They had scheduled a week’s layover in Toronto specifically so that the two of them could look up the Raven and generally sightsee in Toronto. After all, Trapper reminded herself, she was the one who’s gotten Evie interested in the Fang Gang to start with. She wasn’t sure what the boys had planned.
“I’m sure they’ll be open after the gig tonight,” Evie was babbling, too excited to show her exhaustion any more. “We’ve gotta go!”
“We will,” Trapper reminded her. “Besides, I like the Raven,” she added cheerfully, drying her face. “They dress like me.”
Preparing to Fly
At “The Phoenix” Concert Theater, in Toronto
“Check, mike one, check, check.” Dark forms moved around the stage.
“Move that boom stand center stage,” the bodiless imperative came through the monitor speakers.
Evie glanced around at the organized chaos that characterized every sound check she’d ever participated in, and then shifted her focus back to her acoustic guitar, adjusting the tuning minutely to match the pitch indicated by the electric tuner. James came over to her, fiddle in hand.
“I feel like I’m going to puke.”
Evie glanced at him, then back to her guitar tuner. “So everything’s normal, eh?”
“Yeah,” nervous, he blew his jet black hair out of his eyes. Tucking the fiddle under his chin, he drew the bow across his strings in an effortless triple stop. A cacophony of sound ensued. “Is that the note you’re looking for?”
“No, I got that one already,” she replied, still focused on her tuner.
“Ok,” he pouted, his handsome face pulled in a deliberately exaggerated frown. “I know when I’m not wanted. I’ll just go sit over here. And fret.”
“Nah., that’s my job, isn’t it?” They both laughed at the joke and he wandered away, twiddling a tune.
Evie finished with the acoustic and picked up her black Fender Stratocaster to fine‑tune it. Michael had finished tuning his bass and was reading a book, totally engrossed. Trapper was talking to the sound guy, while Dennis tested the settings for his electronic drums. James had somehow found himself an admiring cute young man. “How does he do that?” she thought with a smile, as she tuned the Strat.
Satisfied at last, she carefully placed the electric guitar in its stand next to the acoustic, and walked over to Dennis, who was still obliviously tapping his drum pads. Every now and then he reached over to tweak the settings. After a few minutes he looked up at Evie. “I really like this new module. You done?”
“You’re last, as usual,” she teased good‑naturedly. That had been some time in coming. Dennis had been just a bit sensitive to being the “touring” drummer, a temporary replacement for the “real” drummer who was also their sound engineer. Time and the road had worn away any awkwardness, though, and now the tall, sandy‑haired drummer was just one of them, if only temporarily.
Trapper finished hashing things out with the sound guy and wandered over, the spurs on her boots jingling. Dennis looked up at her, grinning. “Why do you wear those things?”
“Because I *can*,” she shot back in her best deadpan style. “You two done here?”
“Yup,” Evie replied at the same time Dennis said “not quite.”
“Well, then, Evie’s earned herself an espresso, and *you*,” she stared conspicuously at the shrinking Dennis, “have not.” She smiled at him. “Join us whenever you’re ready.”
“This was a good choice, this place,” Trapper said as they walked toward the bar.
Evie looked around and smiled. “I have to admit. It does have a certain appeal, for the name alone.”
They sat down at the bar while the bartender brought over the espresso. “On the house,” he announced cheerfully and winked. Definitely not bad, especially for a bar, Trapper thought. Dimly lit, smoky it certainly would become, but not scuzzy. Unlike some venues they’d played, she smiled grimly.
“And the live radio broadcast won’t hurt our album sales either,” Evie commented, reading her friend’s mind.
“Not a bit,” Trapper agreed, as they clinked coffee‑cups. “To us.”
They drank coffee and compared notes. “How about the Raven,” Evie said excitedly. “Tell me you weren’t surprised to see it there for real. Go ahead.”
“OK,” Trapper obliged. “I wasn’t surprised.” Evie looked nonplussed. “You aren’t prone to hallucinations or compulsive lying,” Trapper continued undisturbed, “so of course it had to exist.”
Evie nodded. “Still, I think I was a bit surprised. So tell me you’re not looking forward to meeting Nick. That is,” she added, “if we find him.”
“No, I can’t say that,” Trapper admitted, grinning. “But right now, it’s time to rock and roll.” She pointed to the sound guy, who was gesturing them to return to the stage.
“Right, then,” Evie put on her best English accent, which was none too good. “Let’s do it. Sound check . . . ho!”
The lighting system looked impressive from the stage. “Well, I don’t need to see out there anyway,” Evie thought as she plugged in and checked her guitar one more time. Then she and Trapper leaned into their mikes for the a capella opening to their first piece. Their solo women’s voices echoed through the nearly empty room, the harmonies so non western that they always reminded Evie of a Balkan women’s choir.
Then Dennis tapped out the intro and they rolled into ‘Carlow’, fiddle and electric bass giving the old Irish tune a new voice. So much for “that fiddle and banjo crap” Evie thought gleefully, driving out power chords on the strat. If their audience didn’t dance, it wouldn’t be for lack of enthusiasm on the part of the band, that was for sure.
Unnoticed, two indistinguishable figures stood near the bar. One nodded at the music, and the other said something quietly in response. Then they both turned and left the building.
He paced back and forth in the tiny cell he was in. Damn that woman! If he didn’t find some way to kill her soon, it would be the death of him. He didn’t think he could stand another one of her feedings. Where Hanna had been deliberately gentle, she was purposefully cruel. The difference between the way he felt after each of them was profound. Almost comparative with the way a woman who chooses to make love to one man feels when she is raped by another.
He turned on his heel. Now, who the hell is this guy? He was tall, about the same height as Micah. His eyes were the palest blue, with dark rings about them. His hair was a pale, sun like golden color, grown long and drawn back into a ponytail down his back. He had a mustache which met his sideburns, but he had no beard. And he carried himself like a god. As if he knew there was no one in this world that could best him at anything. Micah didn’t know him, but he could see that he was someone he definitely didn’t want to piss off.
“Oh come,” he voice was deep, almost a whisper, “I am more than certain, Merneptah, that you know who I am.”
Micah shook his head. “Nope. ‘Fraid not.”
The man leaned in a little, one pale hand resting on the bars to his cell. “Perhaps I should rephrase the statement. I am absolutely certain that you know my wife. Rather intimately, I might add.”
Micah’s brows furrowed. “Your wife? Hey man, I don’t know you. And I certainly don’t consort with any man’s . . . wife . . . Oh shit!”
A golden eyebrow rose. “Indeed.”
“Hey, look,” he backed up a bit, “it wasn’t like I knew she was taken. In all honesty, you were supposed to be dead! So she’s free right? I mean, you can’t expect her to be loyal to a dead man forever, can you?” It wasn’t that Micah was afraid. He would never back down from any man . . . except maybe this one. Especially when he looked at him like that.
“Can I not?” The door to the cell opened, and he was inside. Walking toward him. “She is MY wife, and what I expect of her, she knows quite well. Whether I am living, dead, or have moved onto another, she is mine and she knows her place. I have given her life, I have given her eternity, and for that I expect her loyalty even into the fires of Hell.”
He had backed him into the corner. Micah didn’t want to fight him. Couldn’t fight him, not even if he hadn’t been drained by that bitch.
“At least we agree on that point.” The bastard actually smiled! Here he was, backed into a corner because he was afraid of the son‑of‑a‑bitch, and he had the nerve to smile at him! “You see, ‘Micah’, though she is convinced otherwise, I despise that woman.”
“Hanna? How could you? There isn’t a bone in that woman’s body that isn’t worthy of being loved!” He saw the look in his eyes and shut up. He wasn’t telling him anything he didn’t already know.
“I am well aware of the merits of my wife. Which is precisely why she is MY wife. I was speaking of your captor.” He said this with exaggerated patience, as if he were talking to a six‑year‑old child.
He let his breath out. “Oh. You mean August?”
“August . . . always the arrogant one.”
It was Micah’s turn to raise an eyebrow. And this guy thought August was arrogant? “So what is it you want from me. I mean, besides leaving your wife alone?”
He nodded. “I was beginning to wonder about you. Surely one who had lived as long as you and not lost their head must have the wits to function well. But you had me believing you were incompetent for a moment there.”
Micah’s upper lip curled. God he wished he could knock that arrogance out of him!
“Here is my proposal: you lead my wife to me, and you’ll be free of ‘August’.”
“Lead your wife to you? Why don’t you go find her yourself? I’m not going to help you ‘punish’ her, if that’s what you’re planning!”
“Punish her?” He looked at him, actually looking hurt by the suggestion. “I love that woman with all my being, Micah. I would never willingly harm her.”
“Okay, so then what do you want her for?”
“I SAID WAKE UP!”
“What?” He opened his eyes. What the hell was going on?
August stood over him, kicking him in the side. “Wake up, you bastard! You can’t get away from me like that!”
“What the hell?” He tried to get to his knees, only to find himself hampered by the chain around his neck.
She laughed harshly. “That’s right, baby boy. How does that slave’s collar feel? I don’t want you forgetting while you’re out tonight whom you belong to!”
“Out tonight? Where am I going?” He was definitely confused. Was it just a dream?
“You are going with our friends to the Raven again. There’s someone special there you’re going to take care of tonight!” She said this as she walked away.
Two men, the ones who had chained him here in the first place, unlocked his manacles. But not his collar. They dragged him to his feet, pulling him a little forward before pulling him up. Good, at least they didn’t deliberately hit his head on the . . . SHELF!
He turned around and looked at the shelf that was above his “prison.” On it, there was a ceramic funeral urn. He nodded to himself. So that’s how! He really is in there!
“I’m waiting!” She called, her voice halfway down the hall. He let the men help him on his way after he swore a silent vow to the urn. He would bring Hanna to him . . .
Arrival in Toronto
The Marriot Hotel
Zara looked down to the street from her suite in the hotel. All the people moving from one place to another using different means to get there. She then looked to the horizon, at the beautiful sunset. A small frown appeared on her face. She realized that as soon as darkness surrounded this land, they would come out. The vampires. They didn’t disturb her that much. Not much at all. Just the thought of them made her cringe.
She then looked back down to the streets of Toronto. How did she get here? The answer came out complicated for her. She had been so happy back in Egypt, back in her little home there. Why did she ever come to America? Once again the answer equally confusing. She had roamed the states for a few years just trying to abandon old memories come back. Memories of times long past and of places long gone. This new land seemed good for wandering. And that’s what she did, she wandered.
All the people she met were fascinating individuals. None gave her a better hint of where to go next than the man she met in Seattle only a day or so ago. He was an eerie man, very dark but not preternatural. Mortal in every way, and yet, dark. He spoke of the little bar in Toronto, Canada. The one with the men who never saw daylight. The story intrigued her and her ancient instincts told her to go.
She didn’t know why she trusted the dark man but his seriousness was too much to bear. That next morning she left for Toronto. And here she was, staring out the window from a quite luxurious hotel suite. Tonight she would go find the little club. She had to find it. Instinct told her so. Yes, tonight she would find this club. She had to find the Raven.
That was Then
This is Now
Four Seasons Hotel & later the Raven
The sun had just dipped below the horizon when Kat sat straight up in bed. She wrestled with the covers that had maintained their place over her head and face. Sleep always hit her like a speeding train, but it also deserted her just as quickly ‑ leaving her refreshed and wide awake.
She swung her legs out of the bed causing the gown to jingle jangle. “Ugh!” she said, “Nothing like waking up in the clothes you wore out the night before.” Kat sniffed. “Nice.” Standing up, she searched briefly for the cryptic Raven card among the covers, then placed it securely on the night stand.
Kat stripped on her walk to the bathroom, and once there, turned on the shower water. Brushing her teeth, she looked in the mirror and thought, “Man, I’m bony.”
According to current fashion she was perfect ‑ tall, leggy and thin ‑ but originally she had been considered a freak. Kat had been taller than everyone in her village by the time she was fifteen. She looked nothing like either of her parents and her propensity to reveal too much about her “unnatural talents” caused people to shun her. One day, dressing Kat up as a boy, her parents had taken her to a monastery near Paris and left her there. They seemed embarrassed by their betrayal but left her, just the same. Kat spent the next eight tortuous years as a Benedictine monk ‑ dressed in a rough brown cassock and adhering to a vow of silence.
Even after her transformation into a vampire, Kat lived whatever public life she had, as a man. Up until about 70 years ago, only a few select individuals had known her as a female. It was only in the late 1920’s that she began to feel comfortable enough to venture out as a woman from time to time. She was still taller than most, but people seemed to see her as interesting rather than deformed. Business‑wise she had continued to represent herself as a man; It allowed her the freedom to be intelligent, as well as, powerful.
Nowadays, it was a plus to be a strong woman . . . being considered ‘a looker’ didn’t hurt either. It felt funny to Kat to allow herself pride in her female form ‑ after all, she had been hiding it for almost 800 years ‑ only society’s perceptions had changed. She chuckled at the capriciousness of it all and stepped into the steaming shower.
Kat stood in a darkened doorway across the street from the Raven. The neighborhood was pretty run down and she could feel that the alley next to the club had seen some pretty heinous acts performed in it recently. The club itself looked pretty harmless, though. Hell, it probably wasn’t even open yet.
“I believe you are trying to talk yourself out of going in, my dear,” she said to herself. “Now, just march right over there and try the door. If it’s locked, you can go feed and come back later.” She didn’t move from her perch in the doorway. “Yep, here I go.” Nothing. She pulled the calling card out of her bra and looked at it again. Familie. Someone had gone to an awful lot of trouble to give her this.
Kat stuffed the card back under her T‑shirt as she leaned out to look in both directions. She sailed across the street faster than the eye could see, and hooked herself around the corner into the alley. She pressed her back against the brick and began waiting for the perfect moment . . . which was never going to present itself. So nodding her head brusquely, she agreed with herself that she had to act NOW. Kat bravely stepped out from the alley.
Kat jumped back. Her immediate reaction was bare her fangs and hiss. “So much for pretending to be human,” she thought.
Vachon grinned. This chick looked like a vampire deer caught in the headlights!
“Hey, its okay,” he said, trying to calm her down. He made a show of looking around, “No one here but me,” he added.
Kat stepped out of the alley’s shadows, trying to compose herself. This vampire was definitely not the one in her room last night. Besides that, he was really cute. She felt herself relax a little.
“I’m Javier,” he said, “You’ve never been to the Raven before, have you?”
She was dumbfounded. She had spent almost 800 years running away from him?!
Vachon stuck his hand out, “Come on. I don’t bite.”
Kat raised an eyebrow skeptically.
“Well, yes I do,” he laughed ‑ “But you know what I meant.”
She didn’t take his hand, but stood beside him. They walked in silence up to the metallic black door with the red lettering overhead. Kat grabbed the ornate door handle and pulled. Turning to the long-haired vampire next to her, she said, “I’m Kat.”
The Lion’s Den
Cat was a great name for her – she moved like a feline. Vachon watched appreciatively as she led the way into the club. She seemed pretty sure of herself, all of a sudden.
Kat surveyed her surroundings. It looked like a typical Gothic hangout, but it was definitely of a higher caliber. The bar was dark polished mahogany and the assorted tables had marble tops. The quality of fixtures and accessories was superior; A lot of money and care went into the Raven. She especially enjoyed the heavy chains hanging from the ceiling. Was that an ancient Roman bust?!
The place was deserted. “No bartender?” she asked, turning to face her host.
Vachon looked up, “Huh?” He had been focusing farther down – on her tight purple velvet pants. “Oh. Miklos is around here somewhere.” He chose a barstool and sat on it.
Kat wasn’t sure she wanted to sit down just yet. Meeting her first vampire had gone surprisingly well, but the night was still young.
“A lot of vampires come here?” she asked, trying to appear nonchalant.
“Yeah,” he responded, patting the seat next to him. “It’s been a kind of haven for a lot of us. The original owner wanted it that way.”
“Where’s the original owner now?” she asked, her curiosity piqued. Kat sat down tentatively.
“She packed up a couple of years back and moved on,” he told her. “LaCroix runs it now,” Vachon added as he stood on the stool’s rungs. He leaned over the bar, trying to spy some refreshment.
“Excuse me, Sr. Vachon,” came a deep voice from the doorway behind the bar. A dark, imposing vampire appeared carrying a case of wine.
“What can I get for you and your guest?” he asked coolly.
Kat smiled as Vachon sheepishly retook his seat. She had sensed Miklos beforehand and was convinced that he wouldn’t pose a threat. The vampire was fiercely protective but not evil, in any sense of the word. Besides, he had no idea who she was.
Her handsome, young chaperone ordered them both a glass of “LaCroix’s best.” While Miklos uncorked a dusty bottle he had chosen from the crate, Kat returned to their earlier discussion.
“What’s an average night like here?” she inquired.
‘Do you mean, when does it start picking up in here?” He reached for the glass Miklos had set down on a cocktail napkin in front of him.
“Yes. Thank you,” she directed her answer first at Vachon, then at the bartender. She didn’t feel much like wine this evening, so she let her glass stay put.
“Basically, people start trickling in about . . .” he consulted a beautiful gold time piece he kept in his pocket, “ . . . now.” He lifted the glass, savored the rich aroma and, after raising it in honor of his beautiful new friend, brought it to his lips. Javier locked eyes with Kat as he tasted what the Raven was most famous for – its collection of bloods. Lowering the glass, he slowly licked the delicious thick liquid from his lips. The sensations he got from this quality of ‘wine’ were always unparalleled.
His companion seemed transfixed by his lips. She was slowly leaning in, her face only inches from his. Kat reached up and delicately touched the corner of his mouth. Quickly looking at her finger and then back at Vachon, she haltingly brought it to her own lips. Now it was Javier that was transfixed. She carefully licked the tip of her bloodied index finger and slowly her eyes widened in surprise. She smiled. Javier smiled back.
Roar, part one
While she and Javier finished their beverages, patrons of the bar had begun to filter in. She observed them all. None of them were who she had come in search of. Kat began to relax.
Most were nondescript, although one vampire did catch her attention. She was standing by herself at the other end of the room; She was dark, elegant and commanding. There was a soft golden glow about her that suggested to Kat that she was of long life and of noble birth.
Javier caught Kat’s attention by beckoning to her. He leaned in close and began to speak softly into her ear. His voice was deep and soothing, and the breath he used to speak felt delicious on her neck. Just when she thought she had better start paying attention to what he was saying, she felt it.
It began low, like the charged air before a thunderstorm and quickly escalated into the loud screech of electronic feedback. She couldn’t actually hear any of it. It was more like a sharp pulling – no, prodding. Whatever the hell it was, it gripped her like a seizure.
Vachon felt her stiffen and he pulled back.
“What’s the mat -?” he started to say, until he spotted LaCroix and Nick Knight entering the Raven.
“Oh, there’s the owner . . . ” he trailed off. He had shifted his focus back to Kat and saw something he couldn’t believe.
She was definitely there in front of him – he could still make out the “I (skull and crossbones) New York” on her T-shirt – but, she was dimming! All the fire and electricity that had exuded from her only seconds ago was being extinguished. It was as if she was going from ‘real-life’ to a sepia tone photograph. He was speechless.
“Your feelings for Teresa were resolved decades ago. Why do you insist on feeling guilt over her death?” LaCroix inquired. He really did not want an answer; He had heard it all before. His beloved Nicholas was determined to blame himself for all the evil that occurred around him.
“Why don’t you focus on solving the crime? You are a detective, are you not?” The contempt was obvious in his voice.
“You’re right,” Nick responded. He paused briefly at the top of the stairs, letting LaCroix proceed without him. Looking around, he saw Vachon at the bar. Nick acknowledged him with a minute bow of his head. There was someone with him, a human someone, but her back was turned. What Vachon did with his personal life was none of his business . . . as long as he didn’t hurt Tracey. Nicholas de Brabant went to join his maker at the bar.
Roar, part two
“Get a grip honey,” she heard herself say.
Kat had taken a furtive look around and saw that nobody else was reacting as if a lumbering, slobbering monster had just invaded the Raven. In fact, the only person who was reacting like that, was Javier Vachon and he was looking directly at Kat!
She focused on a nearby candle flame and tried to calm down. Maybe what she was sensing was environmental and not necessarily specific to any one vampire.
Without letting down her guard, Kat attempted to sift through the whirling melange of impressions. After a moment, she realized that there were actually two different things going on here. The first was a low, thrumming undercurrent that typically signaled some grave future event. And the other was a sharper, more insistent gnawing that drove her to distraction. That sensation she did attribute to a single vampire – the one she was seeking . . . the one that was seeking her.
Kat switched her concentration back to the princely one in front of her. He seemed to be dealing with her murky transformation a bit better now.
“Are you all right?” he asked, concerned.
“I’m sorry,” she declared. “I should have told you what was going on. I was hoping to run into someone tonight.”
“Oh,” he muttered.
“No! I don’t know this person.” She felt her words spilling out, uncontrollable, “I’m almost 800 years old and I had never met another vampire and so when I got this invitation to a business party, I figured . . .”
“Excuse me?” he interrupted her commentary midstream.
“I said I got this invitation, so I decided to take a trip to Canada. That’s when I found the Raven card in my bed . . .”
“No, before that,” he said firmly.
She was silent, replaying in her mind what she had just said.
“You’re 800 years old and you have never met another vampire before?” he filled in, unbelieving.
“Oh.” Kat was beginning to feel extremely uncomfortable, “That.”
“I don’t get it. What about the one that brought you across?”
“Um, I was brought across one night in 1228 and I was alone when I woke up. I have never met the vampire who made me,” she explained, stressing the phrase she was unfamiliar with.
Vachon was full of questions now. “How did you survive?! How could you -?” Kat cut him off.
“It’s a long story, needless to say.” She squirmed on her stool. “The gist of the whole thing is that I got this card last night,” she said as she reached into her shirt and plucked out the wrinkled business card. Kat handed it to him and continued, “And here I am.” She smiled as if she had perfectly explained the whole strange mess.
“And that’s why you were sneaking around outside,” he said while he read the card. Kat nodded.
“And that’s also why you looked so shocked when I approached you out front,” he ventured, the whole time gesturing with the tiny black cardboard summons.
“Right. And that’s why I flipped out a minute ago. I think the vampire that left me this card just walked in.”
Vachon looked back up at the staircase. “Oh shit,” he said, starting to laugh nervously. Lucien LaCroix was approaching his usual perch where the bar met the back wall, and Nick Knight was coming down the stairs.
Of all the reactions she had anticipated, laughter was not one of them. Annoyed, she shoved him in the chest with her right hand. He regained his composure and announced, “This oughta be good.”
Suckle me Elmo
Some street in Toronto
Zara took a deep breath of the cool summer air as she walked down the street. She was starting to like Toronto; This clean little town seemed like a nice spot to live. Maybe she’d settle here in the future.
She kept walking at a fairly even pace following the directions that the operator had given her for the Raven. She made a turn onto Main Street and looked around for signs as to where she was. Luckily some sign saying ARaven-two blocks ahead” caught her eye. She smiled at her good fortune.
Looking around, she realized that it shouldn’t be so dead this early in the evening. Suddenly, she heard a tiny, barely audible voice ask, “Will you be my friend?” She turned around only to see an Elmo doll leering at her, fangs bared.
“This town is too weird,” she mumbled. She took a step back looking at the Elmo doll, slightly afraid. The doll lunged at her throat and bit down. “Get off me!” she yelled. She ripped the little monster from her throat and kicked him into the alley.
Staying only long enough to hear the little monster say, “Ha ha, that tickled,” she headed toward the Raven. The wound on her neck began to heal slowly. By the time she appeared at the doors of the Raven, the wound was totally gone. “This could get weird,” she mumbled to the night air, “really weird.”
LaCroix took his seat at the end of the bar. It was his usual haunt; Here he could attend to assorted paperwork and keep an eye on the clientele. There was bound to be something amusing taking place, there always was.
Miklos, on top of things, quickly brought him a glass of “Minette.” It was from his own private stock. He brought it to his lips and lovingly savored its unique palate. The Raven’s current supplier was superlative ‑ Lucien took note to reward him accordingly.
Nicholas approached him and commenced his chattering about Teresa again. What they needed to discuss was the staking of his precious Angelique ‑ NOT the inevitable death of a common street whore. He deftly steered the conversation to a more favorable vein.
A few feet away, Vachon was on the alert for whatever might happen next. But strangely, neither of the elder vampires were behaving as if anything strange was going on.
“Are you sure?” he asked Kat in a loud whisper. “I mean, they’ve both looked right at you several times and they don’t seem to care.”
She chanced a quick glance and saw two men. One was striking in a black collarless silk shirt. He had closely cropped hair, piercing
blue eyes and a cold presence that verily demanded attention. Next to him was a handsome, blonde vampire. He appeared less powerful to Kat but more approachable. Turning back, she said obscurely, “They don’t seem to care because they aren’t really looking at me.”
Vachon, his brow creased in confusion, waited for her to elaborate.
“I’ve got this thing where I can camouflage myself. When they look over here, all they see is you. Well, you and a nondescript mortal. If they were human, they probably wouldn’t see me at all,” she explained. “I don’t mean that I’ve disappeared completely. It’s kind of like I have made myself inconsequential . . . does that make any sense?”
“Why can I see you then?”
“I think it’s because you know that I’m here. And the fact that we are so close . . . ” she continued, gesturing back and forth between them, “physically.”
A few moments passed while Javier digested it all. “Don’t you want to confront them?” he asked, inspired.
“Yes,” Kat answered confidently. “No,” she added, with less conviction. “I don’t know. Maybe later.” She was getting exasperated and fidgety; She stood up.
Javier took her hand because she seemed like a skittish colt ready to make a break for it. Her delicate hand was just as cold as his, but it trembled. He was beginning to regret his cavalier attitude toward what, to her, was a momentous occasion. He could understand her reluctance to face the past. He, too, had been running away; For centuries he fled from that fateful night in Mexico and his Incan brother.
“Just hang on for a while longer,” he said, trying to console his female counterpart. He drew Kat closer. He was starting to feel protective again. The funny thing was, neither Urs nor Kat needed protecting.
She squeezed his hand and looked into his eyes. “Thank you Javier Vachon,” she murmured. She kissed him tenderly on the lips. He smelled and tasted of sandalwood ‑ masculine and earthy.
“Don’t get up,” she said, “I’ll be right back.”
Vachon reluctantly let go, and watched her walk away . . . to the bathroom of all places.
Desperately Seeking Micah
Vachon looked up from his contemplation of the bar‑counter at the same moment four people he had never seen before walked into the Raven. Nick and LaCroix were close by, discussing the murder of one of Nick’s many mistakes, the prostitute Teresa, as well as the staking of Angelique. Angelique. The very thought of someone staking his lovely, dark goddess enraged him.
Nick and then LaCroix turned their attention to a small party entering the club. Of the four, they recognized Starr. Though, for some reason, LaCroix was certain that he should know the tiny woman dressed in black.
They approached the counter and the three vampires sitting there. LaCroix inclined his head. “Gentlemen. Ladies. Welcome to the Raven.”
The two men were definitely breathing, though only one of them had any semblance of actual mortality. He smelled of the woods, and something wild. The other was most definitely an Immortal. LaCroix had bumped into Duncan MacLeod enough to recognize that fact. Which left the two women. Starr, whom he knew well. And the tiny woman, dark haired, dark eyed, pale as the moon, and altogether lovely. Both were definitely vampires, though it had to have been recently for Starr, since the last time he saw her, this was not so. He watched her body movements, the way her eyes kept looking to the other woman in appeal. Yes, this woman was responsible for Starr’s vampire state. A new fledgling Childe and its Sire. How precious. He gave the tiny woman a penetrating glance. Oh, but there was power in this one!
“Forgive me, Madame,” he smiled smoothly, “I don’t believe we have met.” He reached forward, took her tiny hand into his, raised it to his lips. He tasted the flavor of her upon his lips and wondered at what a delight her blood must be.
“We have never met, Titus Lucius. But you knew my husband.” The voice was velvet, soft.
He didn’t know which surprised him more: The fact that she called him by his given name, or the fact that she was speaking in the Old Latin.
“Have I?” he asked in the same language. If he had burned with curiosity before, it engulfed him now.
“You were a Roman general, were you not? I believe the lot of you tried to emulate him.”
“Emulate him?” He laughed aloud. “Why, then he must have been a great man!” He didn’t believe his ears. He had been a master, a god! Emulate someone? Him? Never. Except perhaps . . .
“He was indeed great. The greatest Roman to ever live.”
“Caesar!” LaCroix gasped involuntarily. Yes, of course! The only Roman more wonderful than even LaCroix himself, even in his own mind.
She nodded at his response. “He uses the less August title of . . . ”
“Jonas Clay. Yes. I remember now.” He reappraised her. The last time he had spoken to Jonas, he had told him of his tiny wife. What had he said her name was . . . “Hanna?”
Again, she nodded slightly. No smile, no flicker of life in her face.
“And where, my dear lady, is your husband? He and I are indeed friends of old. It has been decades since I last saw him.”
“That is because he has been dead for 73 years.”
LaCroix stopped cold. The great Caesar, truly dead at last. He didn’t know if he should weep . . . or laugh.
“That is not what we are here for.” She was speaking in English again.
“What are you here for then?” He was shocked. The woman was overwhelmed by her grief. He could read that now. It wasn’t that she was simply cold or aloof. She was trying to keep a tight reign on herself. So what could possibly concern this woman more than the death of her husband?
“Angelique’s sword‑wielding brother. What about him?”
“He is missing.”
“Missing? And this is cause for concern?” The two men with her looked at each other, and Starr chewed on a nail nervously.
Hanna’s eyes grew a few shades darker, an event that caused the hair on the back of Nick’s neck to rise, and Vachon to bury himself deeper into his glass of “Clarissa.”
“Yes, it is a cause for concern. The person he was last seen in the company of was found . . . slaughtered.”
“Slaughtered?” This caused Nick to interrupt whatever LaCroix intended to say. “How so?”
“Well, let us see,” her voice raised a few octaves, and she continued sweetly. “His eyes were carved out with a spoon. His tongue was removed piece by piece with a pair of pliers. His ears were sawed off with a carving knife. His nose was cut off with scissors. Each finger was removed with the same pliers that removed his tongue. His toes were . . . ”
“All right, I get the point.” Nick put his face in his hands. Sometimes, the thought of getting sick was appealing.
“Well, I believe it is safe to assume that Micah did not perpetuate this . . . work himself?” LaCroix asserted himself again, looked at the again-suffering Nicholas.
“Actually, Lucius, I would not be to certain of that,” She said, but wished she had not.
The look LaCroix gave her could have murdered stone. “And exactly how would you come by that conclusion?”
“I know Micah fairly well, Lucius, so I know that, of his own accord, he would not commit a crime of that nature. But we believe that he might have become . . . a type of blood slave to a woman that has no such qualms.”
“You think a woman commanded Micah to torture a man to death in that manner?” He was amazed. What kind of woman would have power like that, or even the nerve?
“I do. And I believe you know her as well. She goes by the name of August.”
Old Enemies Meet
Angelique stood in the shadows of the Raven watching the bright lights and the mortals and vampires as they gyrated to the music. Something was wrong. She wasn’t sure if it was the after effect of her staking or a deeper, more instinctual knowledge. She took a deep breath as a familiar group of people wandered into the club.
Her copper eyes narrowed as she recognized one of the women. Starr. Anger flared as the neonate strutted into the bar, flanked by a small woman, the woman that her brother had fallen in love with. Poor taste on his part, but she had not been overtly hostile to her so she would not bother her, for now. A tall blonde gentleman that she had never seen before and, she looked closer, Methos was part of the group.
Methos? What in Isis’s name was he doing with that ragtag group of assorted vampires? She started to move out of the shadows, toward the cluster of mortals and assorted other not so mortals assembled at the bar.
Starr heard the hiss and turned. Angelique, damn. She was moving toward the bar, resplendent in her black velvet catsuit and a gold ankh glistening in the swirling lights of the Raven. A sheer black Leopard print scarf was tied sarong style around her waist and she had on chunky heeled ankle boots.
Angelique slipped up behind Starr. “Hello, traitor. Here for a taste of me?” She sneered into Starr’s ear. “I don’t appreciate the amateur attempt to stake me that you arranged earlier tonight. I will repay you.” The ancient vampire’s smile was arctic as she turned and stood at LaCroix’s side.
The farther she got from the owner of the Raven and his blonde comrade, the weaker the tugging sensation got. It was still pretty potent but by the time she reached the “little ghouls” room, she no longer felt so cinched up.
In front of the mirrors stood two preening mortals. It was difficult for them to see their entire bodies because the mirrors were actually several broken shards arranged decoratively an inch or so apart. It created a kind of reflective mosaic with strips of magenta wall paper running through.
Kat had gotten so used to interacting with humans that she automatically went into one of the stalls. She sat on the seat, rattled the paper roll and then flushed the toilet. Pungent marijuana smoke drifted by heavily as Kat opened the door. One girl had the joint and the other was busily lighting a clove cigarette ‑ probably to mask any illegal odors.
“Cool place, huh?” one of them inquired. There was always a weird sort of comraderie among humans in the ladies room. Especially at a bar.
“Definitely,” responded Kat. She bent over, turned on the ornate faucet and splashed her face. It was refreshing and helped her snap out of the shock/panic thing she had going.
“Are you okay?” the shorter girl asked. “You look a little pale.”
“Yeah,” Kat smiled. “I just need to eat.”
After the mortal females filed out, Kat spent the next several minutes stretching and cracking various parts of her body. She was entirely too tense. She came to the conclusion that the warning undercurrent had started when she arrived in Toronto. It only got stronger the closer she got to the Raven.
Leaving the bathroom, herself, Kat noticed a group of sundry ‘mythical creatures’ around Javier and the bar’s owner. She had never seen so many non‑mortals in one place before! She had maybe met fifty all told in her entire 800 years on this planet. From what she could decipher, there appeared to be a human teenager in the midst of several vampires, a Wolf, a Wizard and an Immortal.
Kat was going to have to get used to this weirdness. She claimed a table, well hidden in the shadows and remarked, “Only at the Raven, I guess.”
Rumble in Toronto
by Kustenhin & HannaClay
The building was fairly nondescript. The only thing that identified it as their destination was a sign above a smooth metallic door that proclaimed it to be The Raven. According to Warren, a favorite haunt of the vampire community. But, according to a message Shayna had received earlier that day, it was also where they could find Joe Dawson, the guy who was supposed to induct her into the Watchers.
“So, this is where your . . . friends hang out huh?” Shayna asked as they entered the club.
Shayna took in her surroundings. An oddly lit, but mostly dark place, with chains hanging from various spots, and loud Goth music blaring from speakers overhead . . . Very cool.
Warren and Shayna wandered into the thick of the crowed, looking for . . . well, Joe Dawson, even though, neither of them knew what he looked like. Shayna scanned the crowed looking for someone she didn’t know, and Elmo stirred from inside of her backpack.
“Would you settle down, I already let you out to feed,” she seemed to whisper to no one in particular. “So, Warren, what do you think we should do now . . . ”
Warren had spotted two familiar faces surrounded by several other people at the bar. “Let’s go wait by the bar . . . ”
He tugged her toward the centerpiece of the Raven, the crowed parting at Warren’s approach, more likely because they were heading toward LaCroix’s general direction than anything else. The group seemed to be discussing something important when Warren interrupted with a “Hi Nick, how’s it going?!”.
The two shook hands. “Oh, not so good, Warren.”
Shayna snickered, I’ll bet , images of winged cows floated through her head. Warren greeted a very imposing man, LaCroix, and was introduced to the others standing around them . . . Shayna wasn’t really paying attention. Elmo stirred again seeming agitated, and one of the men who had been talking to Nick and LaCroix before shot her a look of recognition. She didn’t recognize him. (No, definitely not, she would have remembered.) As introductions came to a halt, she turned her attention to the whole group. This lot gave her the creeps, she would not have been surprised if they were all vampires . . . especially LaCroix, he seemed the type.
‘That type’ had turned his attention to her now, his icy blue eyes seemingly slicing to the center of her brain. “And who is your young friend?” he intoned.
The attention of the group fell upon Shayna; they hadn’t noticed her before . . . “This is um . . . ,” Warren decided to fall back on the old cover, ” This is my cousin, Shayna.”
The cover was unnecessary here though. The vampires and Immortal could sense that Warren was different, like he didn’t belong, Nick and LaCroix knew better anyway. ” I see,” said LaCroix. He studied the teen intently. This must be the one who had, in a manner of speaking, created Warren, although his new existence had been brought about by accident.
“So,” asked Nick, ” What brings you two to Toronto?”
“She’s going to be inducted into the Watchers,” said the man who had seemed to recognize her before.
“How did you know that?” Shayna’s curiosity dripped off every word.
He rolled up his sleeve revealing the telltale tattoo.
“Oh, you’re a Watcher!”
“After a fashion,” he said cryptically. “Joe told me he’d be meeting you here. My name’s . . . ” he hesitated, “Methos.”.
They shook hands.
“So where’s Joe Dawson?”
“Right behind you,” came a gruff voice. “And I think its time we talked.”
“You can deal with your business with the girl in a moment, Joseph.”
Shayna felt a chill run up and down her spine at the sound of that voice. It was deceptively soft, but there was iron in it.
Joe looked at Methos, and then back at the tiny woman that he, Warren, and Shayna had all mistaken for a child. “And just why would I want to do that?”
She stepped forward and, although she was much smaller than everyone present, she seemed to tower above them. “Although this girl might be in need of training at the present moment, I am absolutely certain that it can wait for one half of an hour while we discuss something of profound importance.”
“Which might be?” Joe was beginning to definitely not like this woman. She reminded him of LaCroix in many ways, and he still despised the man for the way he had treated Seilidhe.
“Micah has disappeared. I know that you are aware of this. You are also aware of what happened to his previous ‘ Watcher ‘. Between the lot of us, we know most of what is going on. Now, although we could discuss this here, I doubt that, considering the nature of the conversation and those involved, it would not be the wisest course.”
Joe took a deep breath, tried to control his annoyance, and then nodded.
“Then,” LaCroix smiled condescendingly at the party, “shall we proceed to my parlor?”
They all began to follow LaCroix to the ‘office’ in the back. As Friedreich passed Warren, he noticed the unusual man was glaring daggers at him.
“You got a problem, friend?” he asked gruffly.
“Yeah, I have a problem.” Warren took one of his ceremonial daggers out of his belt, held it in his hand. Ready.
Friedreich felt his hackles rise. He knew they would fight the minute he laid eyes on the man. But he really didn’t want to do it here. “So? What’s your problem? I haven’t done anything to you. Yet.”
Warren couldn’t keep the snarl off his face any longer. “You’re Garou. Aren’t you?”
Friedreich felt it. As surely as if he had a thought, he knew this was it. “Yeah. So?”
The knife was out, in his side before he could step sideways. He howled in rage, and all activity in the Raven stopped. He was about to change into Crinos and rip this mortal to shreds when he felt the steel grip of a tiny hand on his arm. He controlled his fury, but the pain in his side made it almost impossible.
Warren went for another sweep, and then saw nothing but a blinding white flash as he hit the closest wall. Then he felt the pain. He knew that damn Garou hadn’t moved. His eyes never left him. So what had happened? He opened his eyes, and looked up into the dreadful face to the tiny woman who had hit him.
“You are lucky, Warren, that I did not kill you. Or that I did not allow Friedreich to rip you into the tiny pieces that you deserve to be in. I intend to find out what provoked your attack on him, and then I’ll decide whether to let him continue with what he has in mind. Until then, I will allow that child you came with to see to your needs. Do not, for one moment, think that I will allow you to escape from me until I have gotten what I wish from you. You have gravely wounded one of mine, and you are lucky that I did not kill you on the spot. My patience will run very thin should you seek to deter me. Now, get to your feet, and get in that room. Before I decide to help you on your way.”
As activity in the club slowly returned to normal, and the others made their way to the back, Shayna ran over to Warren.
“Why did you attack him Warren? You idiot what were you thinking?! In a room full of . . . people who don’t understand.”
The Mage made to get up, wincing at the pain that shot through his very thick skull and back. “WHAT WAS I THINKING? Damn it, he’s Garou. Do you honestly think I was going to let one of those bastards walk right by me and not do something?! And why the hell did you just stand there? I could have used some help with that little midget from Hell.”
Shayna looked at Warren; Hanna must have hit him harder than she thought. “Warren, look at me,” she indicated her 100-pound frame. “Do you honestly think that I could do any damage to someone who could lift you up off the ground and toss you across the room like so much a rag doll?! And what about that guy, you said he’s Garou . . . ‘Cum on lets be real here.”
Warren finally made it all the way to his feet. “No, I suppose not. But we should do something about your lack of self defense skills if you’re going to mix with this bunch.” He picked up his dagger that had skidded from his grasp when Hanna hurled him across the room, resheathing it over its twin.
Dawson came back round to see if they were all right. “Come on you two, we had better not keep them waiting.” He shot a look at Warren “Unless you’d like Hanna to toss you into orbit?”
Warren stormed ahead of Shayna and Dawson, grumbling to himself in Welsh. Joe and Shayna sighed collectively.
As they made their way to the back, Joe regarded his new trainee. “Well kid. It looks like your going to have your hands full.”
It was a little cramped. With twelve bodies in the room (thirteen if Elmo was included), there was little space for maneuvering. Hanna squeezed to the front of the group since, though she knew little about Micah’s actual circumstances, she knew more than enough about his “captor.” She turned around in time to see Angelique walk in the door. And groaned. She watched the ancient vampire move past LaCroix and, surprisingly, past Starr, with only a small bit of actual verbal interaction. LaCroix watched Angelique possessively, as always. Starr backed up a few feet, looking scared, angry and hurt all at the same time. Hanna watched them in frustration. The last thing they needed was another fight, and with Angelique in the same room as Starr . . . they were certainly in for some trouble.
Once everyone settled down, Hanna almost laughed at the way they had arranged themselves. Shayna and Warren were with Joe and Methos, far to one side of the room, and away from the vampires. Vachon and the newly-arrived Urs stuck close to Nick and LaCroix, again off to another side. Angelique sat in the back of the room, away from everyone. And Starr stuck close to the wounded yet healing Friedreich, both of them near Hanna. She was about to start when the door opened and in sauntered Duncan MacLeod.
“Mac!” Joe greeted his old friend. Duncan smiled his naturally friendly smile, nodded to Methos, gave Starr a sympathetic grin. LaCroix glared daggers at him, which he ignored as he walked over to Angelique. His kissed her on the lips, and then sat down beside her.
Hanna glanced around the room one last time, wishing desperately that the disaster in the room that was waiting to happen would not.
“All right. Let us begin. First off, I believe we will have to set the pace a little slow, since Shayna and her friend have little understanding of us or our respective situations. According to Methos here, there have been some killings, rather gruesome ones at that. And all the victims, so far, have been vampires. Unless you count the one Watcher, who was butchered.”
Vachon blinked slowly and then asked, “How many have died, that we know of?”
Hanna looked to Methos, and he shrugged. “Four that I am aware of, but there are probably more. We had four Watchers report that they had heard of bodies that various police details have found so on and so forth. But we’ve only confirmed four.”
“Angelique would have been the fifth,” Nick added, Ahad she not sent Cleo to get LaCroix and me for help.”
All eyes turned to Angelique, and the outrage and disgust in her eyes added truth to Nick’s words. No one in the room doubted that by will alone, the dark goddess survived what should have been a fatal attack.
Hanna realized, as she looked at Angelique, that she was blaming Starr for her attack. That she thought Starr was responsible. Unfortunately, Angelique hadn’t quite improved her opinion of Hanna either, so there was nothing the tiny woman could do to convince Angelique she was wrong.
“All right, Methos. So there are four dead vampires that we know of. What do we know of the murderers?”
“Again, not much. No one has seen anything. Except whatever Angelique might have seen.”
All eyes were upon her again. She looked hard at Starr. “Why don’t you ask the little traitor who’s responsible for the murders? I’m certain she will be able to enlighten us.”
“What?!” Starr was on her feet. “You can’t think that I have anything to do with all these people being killed!”
“Can’t I?” Angelique shot back. “After everything you’ve done, to me, to Sion, to Elizabeth, to Micah. You don’t think that I know what you’re capable of?!”
“But it wasn’t . . . I didn’t . . . IT WASN’T MY FAULT!” She sank back down besides Friedreich, her head in her hands. She wasn’t weak, not Starr. But it hurt to have people actually believe her capable of atrocities.
Angelique blazed with fury. Oh, how she wanted to see that little two-faced, back-stabbing traitor suffer. This was nothing to her. She had so many things planned for making Starr pay that she didn’t know where to begin.
“Angelique. Listen to me.” Hanna watched her closely, readying herself for any attack Angelique’s grief and anger might cause her to make. “I will only say this once, and whether or not you believe me is up to you. Starr is not responsible for what happened. Not to Sion. Not to Elizabeth. Whatever responsibility she has to you revolves around the pencil she staked you with, which you repaid by having Cleo attack her, and then finishing her off yourself. She has already given up her mortality because of your sense of vengeance. And any involvements she had with your brother caused him no harm, cause him no problems, save for increasing the rift between you. I know Starr. I know her very well. No matter what you believe of her, I am absolutely certain she could not, would not, ever be capable of the hideous acts that are comprising these murders. Had it been Starr who arranged your attack, she would only have done something that caused you annoyance, never anything that had the possibility of causing your death. Now,” she looked between the two of them,” you will put this aside for now. I do not care if you continue to hate each other until the end of time. But I will not allow your personal war to get in the way of our solving this dilemma. Micah has disappeared. Micah’s Watcher was murdered in a manner that suggests whoever is responsible for the murders, is not only responsible for Micah’s disappearance, but the murder of his Watcher as well. Angelique, please, for your brother’s sake, let it go for now. And Starr, I know how much you love to antagonize everyone, especially Angelique. Please, not now. Control that natural trouble-seeking instinct of yours and for once, behave. Do you both understand?”
Angelique glared at her hard, her eyes yellow, her fangs barred. And then her concern for her brother won through. She wasn’t asking forgiveness, or forgetfulness. She just wanted the two of them to put it aside until they could find Micah and stop the murders. She was capable of that. Mature enough for it. She nodded. And watched Starr nod, her face still in her hands. Good. She’d let her go for now. She always had the rest of eternity to make her pay.
Hanna eased slightly. She knew them both well enough to know that Angelique would not break her word, and that Starr would always keep faith . . . with her anyway.
She was about to start again, when there came the sound of clapping.
Everyone looked around at each other, trying to see who the smart ass was. But no one present was producing the sound. And then there was laughter. Harsh, cold, and terribly amused. Then the room seemed suddenly more crowded than before, not with bodies, but with a presence. Shayna looked to the front of the room and gasped, then unconsciously grabbed Warren’s arm. The others first looked at the girl, and then followed her gaze . . . to Hanna. The tiny woman was almost swollen with hate and outrage and power. Everyone moved out of their seats, the mortals away from her, along with some of the vampires. Only Friedreich had the courage to approach.
“What is it?” he asked, fully expecting to get hurt for daring to get near her. If Angelique appeared to be inflamed by rage, the hatred in Hanna’s face could only be described as a conflagration.
Her eyes fell upon his face, and he felt her fury, outrage and hatred run through his body. Her voice came through clenched teeth. One word. And it was all that was necessary.
“August?” LaCroix asked, an eyebrow raised.
“Who’s August?” a few of the others asked. Angelique knew, but said nothing. And Friedreich stood in front of Hanna, prepared to fight her if necessary to keep her in control of her fury.
The laughter came again, this time a bit louder. As if it were actually coming from someone in the room.
“August?” The contralto voice was cloyingly sweet. “That would be me!”
Everyone turned to the door to see two figures standing there. One was well recognizable as Micah. The other was a tall, stately woman, with hair the color of light honey. Her skin was a golden color. Her eyes were dark. She was not beautiful, far from it. But what she lacked in physical beauty, she made up for in the way she carried herself, in her very presence.
She walked to the front of the room, kissing Angelique on the lips as she passed her. Friedreich very literally had to pull Hanna out of the way, because the tiny vampire wasn’t about to move on her own.
Micah followed her quietly, his face haggard and worn. He did not look up at his sister when she called his name. He did not look at Duncan, who reached out an arm to help him when he nearly stumbled. He kept his eyes to the floor, defeated, dejected.
August smiled sweetly at Hanna, then moved forward, and cupped a hand under her tiny chin. “Now there’s my sweet little girl! It’s been so long since I last saw you, my dear little baby girl! And oh, how I’ve missed you!”
Hanna would have ripped her heart out, then and there. But Micah was in danger, she could feel it. When she looked at him, she could see the blood coursing in his veins. Most of it was not his own. Most of it was August’s. Knowing that, should she wish it, August could command Micah to kill them all, and Micah would try until they had to kill him, Hanna withheld herself.
Warren watched the woman hard when she entered the room. Whatever he felt about that tiny vampire after she threw him across the room, he could tell that her basic nature was good. Even looking at his hated enemy, a Garou, he could see that he too was, by nature, good. But as he watched the woman walk across the room to confront Hanna, he could see nothing but pure evil. Negative energy. The man that was with her looked coerced, not doubt. And he could see tiny tendrils of power vines that radiated from August and surrounded the man. Hmmm, Warren thought to himself as he started to rub the silver medallion around his neck, maybe if I . . .
“Warren,” Shayna whispered to him, “don’t you even! If you do something wrong that woman will roast you alive!”
He looked at her, then back to August. And took his hand off his medallion.
“This is your doing.” Hanna looked at her, steel in her eyes and her voice. It wasn’t a question. It was more a statement of fact.
“Yes, my lovely,” August smiled sweetly at her toy. “And as long as I have dear little Micah, I’m going to continue.”
“Micah?” Angelique asked, coming forward, trying to get nearer to her brother. “What does he have to do with this?”
“Oh everything! You see, my dear Priestess, he’s the one who’s been killing everyone for me! He picks the targets, he supervises the Immortals and Watchers that do the killings. And he does it willingly, don’t you Micah?”
He kept his eyes to the ground, trying not to hear any of it. His knuckles were clenched so tight that a trickle of blood moved dripped from one hand.
She smiled again. “You see? He’s been such a bad boy lately.”
“All right!” Hanna snapped. “Enough of the game! What do you want from us!?”
“From you? Your pretty little head on a plate! From the others, I’ll think of something fitting.”
“Let him go,” she breathed. “You can have me if you want me, but let Micah go.”
August laughed. “Let him go? While I still have uses for him? Not a chance!” She leaned forward, acting as if she were going to whisper, yet still speaking in a voice loud enough to be heard by everyone. “You know, Hanna love, if Jonas ever found out about you and your . . . little friend here, things would go very badly for you!”
“But that is not going to happen, is it? Since you saw fit to kill him that is.”
August put one finger to her lips and whispered, “Shhhhh!” Then she turned to the others and winked. “I’ll be sure to have Micah visit the lot of you . . . soon!” She started to laugh yet again, when another even more annoying laugh broke through hers.
“Tee‑hee hee! Elmo wants to PLAY!” Everyone saw the red, furry streak as it moved from Shayna’s backpack to August’s throat, but until it had latched itself there, no one had known what it was.
“NO!” Nick shouted, his head in his hands, as he began to suffer from post‑traumatic stress.
“What the Hell!?” Vachon had put Urs protectively behind him as August struggled about the room, trying to dislodge the furry vampire Muppet at her throat.
“ELMO!” Shayna yelled, suddenly very afraid for the little vampire Muppet.
Chunks of flesh came away as she tore Elmo from her throat and tossed him across the room. August hissed, grabbed Micah who had not moved during the event, and vanished.
Everyone looked for the little red Muppet, more in fright than concern. He climbed up on LaCroix’s desk, sat down and hung his feet over the edge. “Tee hee hee. That tickles!”
Shayna nearly fainted in Warren’s arms. Joe, Methos and Duncan all looked sick. Nick still shook in his fear. Starr stared at Elmo like he was a snake that had just bit her. Angelique, Vachon and Urs gave him a wide berth. LaCroix glared at him, wondering how to go about ripping out his stuffing to make him stop laughing. Friedreich leaned against the wall and breathed deeply. And Hanna looked hard at Elmo, and then smiled.
She walked slowly toward Elmo, tilted her head slightly to the side, studying his appearance. A child’s toy had become a lethal killer, with an annoying sense of humor.
Elmo looked up at the tiny lady that approached him. But not too much. Sitting on the desk, he was almost as tall as she. “Elmo wants to play!”
She grinned again. “Elmo? Yes, I think Elmo will get to play very soon.”
Elmo laughed. “Yay! Does Elmo get to play with the” his voice got very hushed, “mean nasty lady?”
“Oh yes,” she nodded. “Elmo can play with the “mean nasty lady” to his heart’s content!”
Just then, there came a knock on the door. When it opened, Julian Luna and his bodyguard, Cash, walked in. Julian scanned the room, noting all who were present. Including the . . . Muppet?
“So. Have I missed anything?”
After the Dance Is Over
Toronto: at The Phoenix, and later at The Raven
(12:15 a.m.) They staggered off stage, dripping wet. “I think I need a shower,” Michael joked enthusiastically, carrying his bass to the case and packing it in tenderly.
“I have never in my life been called back for three encores!” James was ecstatic, and twirled on one foot, doing a little dance step. “That was totally fab!”
“Aren’t we glad we had enough material?” Evie pushed her brown hair away from her forehead, too hot to leave it there. “Oh jeez, Trapper! I don’t want to go to the Raven looking like this! Power shower?”
“Power hose, more like,” Traps replied, dropping into an armchair, exhausted. “If we go back to the hotel, I will not escape the lure of the bed. I’m not sure I want to go tonight.”
“Oh, no,” Evie warned, as she finished with the strat, and turned to get the acoustic guitar. “You promised.”
“Oh, I did, didn’t I,” Trapper groaned, pushing herself out of her chair. “Well, I’ll do my best to freshen up here.” She smirked at the rest of them as she moved toward the bathroom. “At least my instrument is easy to break down at the end of the gig.”
“Snot.” “Goon.” “Creep.”
“Love you too,” she breezed from the room, looking perkier already.
When Evie finally emerged from the same bathroom, face washed and make up reapplied, James was already gone. “To tour the gay Toronto nightlife,” Trapper smiled. “I told him to be good and get to bed before dawn, so we can make our gig at the Waterfront Centre tomorrow afternoon.”
Michael headed for the door, visibly drooping, with bass and jacket in hand. “I’m for bath and bed,” he announced. “I’m too old for this crap.”
“Well, we won’t stay out too late, either,” Evie promised. She looked to Dennis. “Coming?”
“Sure, why not?” The drummer’s equipment had vanished, and Evie assumed it was in the van. “Let’s party.”
As they cruised past the Raven, the street appeared deserted, making Evie wonder if this was such a good idea after all. “Remember, this is not the best part of town,” she cautioned the other two, as Dennis parked the van.
“Would vampires hang out here if it was?” Trapper was actually grinning. Evie wasn’t sure what to make of her sometimes. “Well, let’s just keep our eyes open, eh,” she reiterated, pulling on her denim jacket and jumping out the side door.
They walked to the door, noticing there was in fact a few hangers‑on, even at this hour. Pushing open the doors, they were greeted by a wall of sound. “Sounds like they’re not ready to shut down the place yet,” Dennis shouted over the heavy industrial beat. “Think they’d want to hire us?”
“Somehow I don’t think we’re their type,” Evie gave him one of her lopsided grins.
“I think I need a drink,” Trapper said, heading for the bar. The others followed, staring openly at both the decor and the patrons.
Suddenly Evie gripped Trapper’s upper arm. “There’s Miklos!” she hissed in the taller woman’s ear.
“No way! Where!” “Oh man, behind the bar!” “Incredible!” The two women stood amid the milling crowd and stared at the dark vampire.
“Listen, I think he might notice you if you stay like this,” Dennis gently took their arms and steered them toward the bar. “Let’s order drinks. And try to look inconspicuous, eh?” He elbowed Trapper first, then Evie, obviously amused at their slightly dazed expressions.
Miklos preferred to close, most nights. That way he could be sure everything ‑ and everyone ‑ was tucked safely away before sunrise. He noticed the humans who sat at the end of the bar, and sauntered over to take their order. As he approached them, he frowned at the goofy expressions on the faces of the women, and the manic grin the man was wearing. His instincts told him there was something wrong here. These people, in their denim and spandex, looked nothing like their usual clientele.
“You missed last call,” he said in a forbidding tone.
“That’s ok,” the short, dark‑haired woman said cheerfully. She was still staring like a tourist. The taller blonde woman recovered more quickly. “Could I get a diet coke, please?” she asked, favoring him with a stunning smile.
He very nearly laughed, which was an unusual occurrence for him. As it was, the corner of his mouth twitched just slightly as he replied, “Surely. Diet coke. No problem.” He glanced back to the first woman, who gave him a me‑too gesture, and the man who shook his head negative.
He brought back their drinks, and the blonde woman paid him. As he turned to leave, he heard a small “excuse me?”
He turned back to the strange party, to discover the dark‑haired woman looking almost embarrassed. “I don’t suppose . . . that is . . . um . . . ” He was surprised. Usually mortals became totally incapable of speech when faced with the stony stare he favored her with now. She continued, “I was just wondering if, um, well if LaCroix was here,” she finally managed to get out.
“LaCroix,” he replied, his voice flat, face expressionless.
“Yes,” she looked at him, then away. “Isn’t he the proprietor here?”
“He is.” Miklos crossed his arms and stared at her, daring her to continue.
“Well, we kind of met a long time ago, and I thought . . . ”
The mortal man spoke suddenly into the following silence, “She thought that he might like to hire us. We’re musicians.”
Miklos frowned at him. “We don’t often have live music here.”
The blonde woman rummaged through her bag and found a cassette tape and a business card, which she pushed across the bar to him. “Give him this,” she suggested. “And tell him Evie stopped by.”
(1:00 a.m.) Miklos studied the card, and the tape. Then he turned his gaze to the three mortals. “Wait here,” was all he said. Then he walked to the other end of the bar and disappeared.
Trapper picked up her coke and sipped it. “That was pretty gutsy, girl. Hope it doesn’t get us all killed.”
“That is not likely to happen, at least not here,” the voice that came from behind them was unmistakable. Evie turned to face him. “Good evening Monsieur LaCroix. Comment c’a va?”
12:30 – 1:00 a.m.
The words “you could have heard a pin drop” took on new meaning once Julian walked in the door. The look he and Hanna exchanged caused Vachon to comment, “Hell, woman! Is there anyone who isn’t an enemy of yours?”
She gave him a withering look, and then moved to Angelique when she sank back into her chair. She was almost pale, which, all things considered, was quite a feat. Hanna moved up beside her, asked Duncan to move, and sat down next to her. Angelique didn’t move. Hanna watched her haunted face for a moment and then, in an alien gesture considering who it came from, reached forward and touched Angelique’s hand.
That almost broke her. She was trying desperately not to fly off into hysterics, or erupt into a violent rage. None of these things would help her brother. Oh, Micah!
“Did you see his hair?” she asked Hanna, not turning her head, her voice barely a whisper.
“And his face?! How is that possible? He’s been alive for four thousand years, and hasn’t aged physically one single day passed the day he died!”
Hanna sighed. “I know.”
Angelique turned her head, and her dark eyes met a pair as dark and haunted as her own. “How? Why?”
Hanna shook her head. “I do not know. Perhaps it is because he was once a Pharaoh, just as she was, and she cannot help but to love having that kind of slave. Perhaps it is because he was an easy target, considering what happened in Los Angeles. Perhaps as another way to get to me. I do not know.”
Angelique bowed her head in grief for her brother, and Duncan came, pressed her head against his chest, and held her.
“What I can say, though, is that he is not at her side of his own will. She has bonded him to her, and until either he dies, or she does, that bond will never be broken.”
LaCroix tried to control his urge to rip Duncan’s head off for daring to touch his woman. Duncan returned LaCroix’s gaze, and then smiled, knowing how much it would irritate him.
Urs struggled with the situation for a moment, and then decided she needed to get a break from the group, and ran out the door.
Shayna was busy trying to get Elmo back into her backpack, but the vampire Muppet wouldn’t hear of it. “ELMO WANTS TO PLAY!” he yelled at the top of his nonexistent little lungs.
“Please, Shayna, just let him be. Perhaps it’s best that he stays with one of his . . . own kind.” Joe fumbled over the last bit. He didn’t doubt for one second that none of the vampires present would want to be saddled with a Muppet, least of all Elmo. He glanced at LaCroix glaring spears at Duncan, and smiled. “Perhaps LaCroix wouldn’t mind watching him for a bit.”
LaCroix was about to deliver a blistering ultimatum about what Joe could do with himself when Hanna hissed at him, “Just do it. We’ll deal with it later.”
LaCroix bared his fangs at her. “Yes, your majesty.” At that moment, Miklos stepped in the room, handed LaCroix a tape and a card, and whispered something in his ear. He nodded, gave Hanna withering look, then walked out of the room.
She shook her head, sighed, and turned back to Angelique.
Methos and Joe looked at Shayna then turned to Warren. “Perhaps we should let Shayna get some air?” Joe asked him suggestively.
Warren took one look at Shayna, noticed the fact that she was several shades paler, and nodded. “Yes. Let’s.”
As they passed by Duncan, Joe touched him on the shoulder. “Come on. Let the two of them talk about it alone for now. If Angelique needs you, Hanna will let you know.”
Duncan looked down, sighed, and then kissed the top of her head. He pulled away reluctantly, then let Joe and Methos lead him out to the bar for what was to be, hopefully, a stiff drink.
Starr stuck close to Friedreich the moment Julian and Cash walked through the door. Not again, she swore to herself. I’ll kill that bastard first!
Nick and Vachon left together, discussing Muppets and cows.
“So, what did I miss?” Julian asked, breaking the sudden silence.
“Tell Elmo a story!” Elmo climbed down from the desk and walked over to Julian. “Elmo wants to play!” He started tugging on Julian’s pant leg.
Julian kicked out, and sent Elmo flying across the room. “What in Caine’s name was that thing?”
“Elmo,” Hanna sighed. Why did he have to show up now? She’d used up too much of herself trying to keep from attacking the projection of August. She didn’t have the strength to deal with Julian at the moment. But she had to, didn’t she? She squeezed Angelique’s hand. “Why don’t you go rest for a little bit? I’ll talk to his ‘Highness’ here, and then we’ll see if we can do anything about Micah. All right?”
Angelique nodded, and then left the room. Starr and Friedreich looked at Hanna, and after she nodded to them, they left as well. Cash walked out behind them, leaving Hanna alone in the room with Julian.
“So. What is it you are after this time, Julian?” she asked as he opened his suitcase. “Elizabeth is not here, so it cannot be her. Starr is safely powerful enough, and trained enough, to defend herself. Or are you here for me this time?”
He smiled deceptively. “You’re always so perceptive.” From his luggage he pulled out a Super Soaker.
She raised one eyebrow. “And that is?”
He grinned. “A water gun.”
Her eyes widened in fear, and she stood up quickly. But not quick enough. Julian fired away, and she fell backwards. He fired until the thing was empty, and then pulled out another. When he emptied that one, the puddle of water underneath her was sufficient to keep her immobile.
She opened her mouth to scream for Friedreich, but Julian brought the butt of the gun down and smashed her in the face. He tossed the gun aside, then rummaged through his suitcase again, until he found what he was looking for. He pulled out a sharp wooden stake, smooth, polished with the word “HANNA” carved in it.
“You see, I’ve been saving this for you. And it was so easy. I’m almost disappointed.” He brought down the stake in a hard thrust, and impaled her to the floor. He knelt beside her, and grabbed her wrist, raised it to his throat. ‘It’s amazing really. You have all this power, and you can’t defend yourself from water! Too bad for you! But oh, am I going to enjoy eating your heart once I’ve drained you!” He bit into her wrist, and started draining every ounce of blood that he could.
And then, when he had almost finished her, he felt a sharp, stabbing pain on the back of his neck. He dropped her wrist, and reached back a hand to feel what it was. And then his hand was bit. He jerked it back, and found that same furry red monster clinging to his hand with . . . fangs? He tried shaking him off, but Elmo didn’t budge until he had several chunks out of his hand. He managed to shake him off his hand, but then Elmo latched onto his face, and he screamed, though this was muffled by the fact that his mouth was full of fur. Julian ripped him off his face, threw him across the room, and ran out the door.
Elmo crawled over to where Hanna lay, staked, drained, and near final death. He patted her hand, and waited.
Angelique walked out of the back room, her head high. She refused to give in and let that homely woman take her brother like that. Oh no, she will pay. Pay for that and the fact that she had usurped Angelique as the leader of Egypt. The only reason that hag had gotten Marc Anthony was because she had trapped Angelique into a tomb in the Valley of the Kings. Angelique had been the Pharaoh, the glittering beauty of Egypt, and the lover of an Emperor. Then her handmaiden had found the secret and used it to try to rule the world.
Well, her time was over. August was toast. Burnt crispy vampire toast.
“Angelique?” Lucien’s voice stopped her. “You would do well to control the anger. Redirect it, if you will.” He touched her face, a small comforting gesture. His crystal blue eyes reflected the anger burning within her. “I would not wish his fate on my worst enemy.”
She turned to Lucien a small frightening smile on her face. “I will have my revenge.”
Zara looked up at the Raven sign and sighed. Shaking the encounter with Elmo from her mind, she decided it was time to enter the place. As she opened the door, she wondered what she would encounter inside.
She stepped through the threshold and she felt the sensation that others were there. She looked around The Raven carefully and when her eyes hit the three men, also looking around, her mouth fell open.
“Methos,” she uttered quietly. The men spotted her. She was nailed to the spot as she gazed at her mentor of long ago. He stood and smiled at her. She walked up to him, shaking her head in disbelief, a smile on her face.
“A friend of yours, Methos?” the youngest man said, watching the scene.
“I guess you could say that,” Methos said as he took her in an embrace. “Zara, it’s been ages.”
“When I came here I never expected to see you!” her excited voice rang out as she continued. “Where have you been for the past four thousand years?” The two companions seemed surprised.
“A little here and there,” he said with his thick accent. “I’m surprised no one has taken your head yet, Zara.”
She grinned at him, “You’re confidence is overwhelming.”
She looked down at the young immortal, as well as, the older man and smiled. “Methos, where are your manners, no introductions?”
The older man stood and offered his hand “I’m Joe Dawson.”
She took it, “I’m Zara, pleasure to meet you Mr. Dawson.”
He smiled at her, “Please, just Joe.”
She chuckled, “Very well, just Joe.” Together they had a brief laugh but then the younger immortal stepped up to her.
With an amazingly charming smile the man also offered his hand, “Duncan MacLeod of the Clan MacLeod.” His Scottish accent making the words musical.
She took his hand and nodded “Pleasure to meet you Duncan.” Joe Dawson eyed her but she took no notice.
She looked around The Raven and sighed “So, what are you doing in a place like this?” her voice directed toward Methos more than the rest.
“I could ask you the same Zara,” a parental smile on his face.
“Oh come now Methos, quit playing daddy.”
He sighed, “We have some friends here who seem to be in need of help.”
Zara nodded and looked around once again.
Suddenly, Dawson turned to Duncan. “Let’s let them catch up.” he said quietly. Duncan nodded and they both moved to another table, beers in hand.
She watched as they left and then smiled to Methos, “I’ve missed you, old friend.”
His smile shone back, “Ah, Zara, my most dedicated student. My eldest living student, as well.”
Pride welled up within her. She felt adoration for Methos, for taking her in all those years ago. “Methos, my mentor, The eldest living immortal.”
They sat at their table looking over at the two of them talking. Dawson sighed and said “She’s a pretty lady.”
“Old, too,” Duncan added.
Joe nodded, once again looking at Zara, “I wonder why she’s here, at the Raven.”
“I don’t know,” Duncan shrugged , AWhat a funny coincidence, in any case.”
Dawson turned back to MacLeod, “They haven’t seen each other in 4000 years and they meet now, in the middle of this?”
Duncan looked at Dawson. “Only time will tell.”
Outside the Raven
12:45 – 1:30 a.m.
12:45 a.m. Urs walked out the front door of the Raven, at the same time a small group of mortals walked in. They were all worn out, but they all burned with excitement. She shook her head as one said something, then she muttered, “Musicians.”
She walked slowly, enjoying the night air. She really didn’t know what to make of what had happened in LaCroix’s back room. She didn’t know any of them, except for Javier, Nick and LaCroix. She didn’t care about any of them. But three of them terrified her. She didn’t know why she was afraid of the one called Angelique, but there was just something about her. And then those two other women, what were their names? That tiny, conceited little bitch, and the insane one that Elmo had attacked? They both smelled of something rotten.
She kept to her musing as she entered the abandoned church that Javier called home. Screed had been here, she could tell. There were a few extra rats by the door, a telltale sign that Screed was there doing the housekeeping.
“Screed?” she called out as she stepped over the pile of dead rats. Boy, he was sure sloppy about it this time, she thought as she noticed spots of blood here and there as she moved further into the abode. It wasn’t until she reached Javier’s sleeping place that she realized something was wrong. There was a creaking sound behind her, and when she turned, what she saw made her scream . . .
1:20 a.m. He came in through the side door. He hated using the front, since it offered too much exposure to the street. Urs always used the front door, so did Tracy. They both saw it as safer since there was more light on the street. His two blondes were like that though, always trying to avoid danger. He couldn’t stand it though. He loved it when he was in trouble. He thrived on it.
The first wrong thing he noticed was the scent of death. And then the pile of dead rats. Screed was never sloppy about his exterminating. Whenever he came to rid the place of rats, he inadvertently ended up straightening the place up a bit as he moved this or that to get to the rats he chased.
Then there was a trail of blood drops that were sparse at first, then quickly became denser. He followed them down to his sleeping abode, and wished he hadn’t.
Screed had been torn into many pieces, and each one was laid out in a circle underneath the large cross that Vachon kept in the place just to bug Nick.
He sank to his knees, near Screed’s head, and placed his hand on it. Oh Screed. He shook his head as the blood tears started. He looked up toward the ceiling, meaning to scream at heaven, when he saw Urs. He rose to his feet, his jaw dropped open in shock.
Someone had staked her to the huge crucifix, and nailed her hand and feet in a mockery of Christ. That done, they had cut her open from her groin to her neck, and then peeled back the pieces. Her insides had been used as decorations, her intestines had been used as a wreath, her heart was lodged in her mouth.
1:30 a.m. LaCroix was heavily involved in a discussion with a group of people when Vachon reentered the Raven. He was haggard, worn. He looked as if he gained centuries in the few moments he had been gone.
He walked up to LaCroix, ignored the others. “Urs and Screed are dead.”
Casa Loma, outskirts of Toronto
1 – 2:00 a.m.
“On candy stripe legs the spider man comes
Softly through the shadow of the evening sun
Stealing past the windows of the blissfully dead
Looking for the victim shivering in bed
Searching out fear in the gathering gloom and
A movement in the corner of the room!
And there is nothing I can do
When I realize with fright
That the spider man is having me for dinner tonight!”
Micah watched her as she stalked about one of the many den areas in the Casa Loma. She had bought the place from the director, it having been a tourist attraction. Ninety-eight rooms, secret passage ways, stables with porcelain troughs . . . everything that a proper castle should have. The director wouldn’t sell it at first, but once she had worked on his mind a little, he willingly donated all the furniture and cut the asking price in half.
She alternated between screaming, muttering and smashing objects that presented themselves when the impulse struck. One of the Watchers that she had hired to carry out her assassinations had come to report on the whereabouts of their next target, when she gave him a withering look, and he disintegrated slowly in front of Micah’s eyes.
“I’ll rip the fur out of that damned Muppet if it’s the last thing I do!”
Micah actually smiled for the first time since he had come under August’s control. “I guess that means Hanna’s not a top priority anymore?”
She wheeled around and gave him a hateful look. “Don’t try my patience now, Micah. I’m not in the mood for it. Of course the little bitch is my top priority. But I want that THING dead first!”
“Well then, I guess we will have to see what we can do to accommodate you.”
They both turned as Horton walked into the room. August let out a sigh of relief.
“My dear Horton! How glad I am to see you again!”
He smiled as he took her hand and kissed it. “It is I who am happy. Happy to be of service.” He glared at Micah. “I heard you had the freak here under your control, but I know that an Immortal scum such as himself would never be of any use to you. He certainly wouldn’t help you willingly.”
She smiled warmly. “You’re right, of course. But Micah serves other purposes.”
“Oh yes. The little stone in your shoe? I thought you’d already had Hanna killed?”
“Not yet, but soon.”
“As ever, I am yours to command.” He bowed graciously to her.
“Thank you. And since you are so loyal to me, Horton my love, I have a special gift.” She turned to Micah. “Come here, Pharaoh.”
He glared at her, and made no move to obey.
“Micah!” Her voice sent shockwaves through his body, his blood, his brain. “Come here. NOW!”
He started walking toward her. Why should he fight? This was his love, his Queen. Of course he’d obey.
“On your hands and knees, slave!”
He immediately got down on all fours and crawled to her side. She nodded to Horton, and he brought some of the burning ash and coals from the fireplace and dumped them on the marble floor. August walked around in them a little, then turn to Micah and pointed to her feet.
“I’ve gotten my shoes dirty. Clean them.”
He reached out a hand to brush them off. She grabbed him by the back of his neck, and he winced. But he loved this, right?
“No, no, my dear Pharaoh. Not that way.” She pressed his head down to her shoes. The coals were still hot, and the parts of his face that were near them started to burn. His hair started to curl and singe. But this is what she wanted, and he lived to serve her every whim.
He reached out to hold on to one shoe to stabilize himself, but she again told him no. So he leaned even further forward, ignoring the burning of the coals on his right cheek. He opened his mouth, extended his tongue, and obeyed her will.
“Quietly he laughs and shaking his head
Creeps closer now
Closer to the foot of the bed
And softer than shadow and quicker than flies
His arms are all around me and his tongue in my eyes”
When Micah had finished licking clean her shoes, she laughed happily. Oh, how she loved having him for a blood slave. It was almost as fun as when she had Jonas in the same position.
Then she turned back to Horton, a look of unholy joy in her eyes. “Now, Horton dear, it’s your turn.” She nodded to him, then turned back to Micah.
“Up, Micah. Up on your knees.” He obeyed. She motioned Horton to his side. They both ignored the smell of burned flesh.
Horton reached forward, grabbed a handful of hair, pulled his head to the side. “Now you’re my pet for a little while, you Immortal wretch. You all think you’re so much better than us. But you aren’t. You’re freaks. And I’m going to teach you your place.” He pushed Micah’s face back down into the coals. As Micah struggled to raise his head, August again asserted her will, and he relaxed. If it was what she wanted, then it was his duty to obey.
Her hold over him almost broke when he felt Horton ripping off his pants. But she had an iron‑tight hold, and he did not fight.
“Be still be calm be quiet now my precious boy
Don’t struggle like that or I will only love you more
For it’s much too late to get away or turn on the light
The spider man is having you for dinner tonight”
When Horton was done, Micah was engulfed by the pain of his charred face, and his violated body. August had removed her control over him for the moment, but he did not attack either one. He was so consumed by self‑loathing that he did not even remove his face from the smoldering coals. He was used to that pain.
“Oh, look,” Horton mocked as he pulled his pants back on, Ado you think he’s broken yet?”
August pulled his head back and studied his face for a moment. “No. Not yet. But he wishes he was.” She nodded to Horton, and he helped her turn him over onto his back. “It’s time we had a snack, don’t you think, Horton dear? All this work is making me hungry.”
She licked Micah’s burned lips, then proceeded down his chin to his chest. “Right about here,” she whispered as she licked a circle above his heart. And then, like a viper striking, she was latched on him.
At the same time, Horton had positioned himself kneeling besides Micah’s exposed lower half. He grinned evilly. “It’s been such a long time since I’ve had such a wonderful treat. Thank you, my Queen. This will taste . . . wonderful.”
Micah’s screams could be heard throughout the property, and even for a mile or so beyond.
“And I feel like I’m being eaten
By a thousand million shivering furry holes
And I know that in the morning I will wake up
In the shivering cold
And the spider man is always hungry . . . ”
One of these Nights
At the Raven
(1:10 a.m.) “Bon soir, ma petite,” the elegant but cold gentleman bent over Evie’s hand in a formal greeting. “How nice to see you again, though in truth your timing could use a little work.” His gaze swept over the other two musicians, seemingly irritated. “Please do introduce me, however.”
Trapper offered her hand to the ancient vampire as well, returning his smile. “Traepischke. A pleasure to make your acquaintance.”
“Indeed.” LaCroix raised her hand to his lips briefly, noting the woman’s strength and lack of fear. Promising himself a return visit, he turned to the third human.
“Dennis,” the man offered his hand also. “But don’t kiss the hand, eh?”
LaCroix managed to smile indulgently and shook his hand. “Of course not. You’re not at all my type.” He leaned on the bar next to Evie. “So, my dear. How have you been keeping yourself in the last… few years?” He glanced back to the others. “Did she happen to relate the circumstances of our acquaintance?”
“Not in any great detail,” Trapper replied, her returning smile a tight-focus spot.
“That’s good,” LaCroix said, his eyes searching Evie’s face. “It’s best not to know everything about one’s friends.”
“I had to come, you know,” Evie said nervously, compelled to explain. “To see if it’s really real.”
LaCroix passed one hand across his face in a weary gesture. “All too real, my dear. As I said, this is not a good time. Not to be rude, but perhaps you should be on your way.”
“Perhaps you’d like to listen to our tape before you decide,” Dennis offered nonchalantly. “We won’t be in town for long.”
“Or you could come to our gig tomorrow afternoon,” Trapper said sweetly, a knowing smile on her face. “It’s at the Waterfront Centre, and it’s free.”
LaCroix narrowed his eyes in a long, evaluatory stare. “I don’t do ‘events’.”
“What a shame.”
(1:30 a.m.) A gorgeous long-haired creature strode over to LaCroix, barely glancing at the two women and man. “Urs and Screed are dead.” he announced flatly.
Evie gasped, realizing this must surely be Vachon. A memory unraveled itself in slow motion, of their entrance to the club and the pretty woman with the curly blonde hair they’d passed on their way in. It was Urs, she realized belatedly. She’d barely noticed her, and now she was dead. She saw Trapper’s eyes widen slightly, her only indication of surprised recognition.
If LaCroix had seemed slightly irritated before, he was closely approaching rage. “Outside my club?” he asked the younger vampire in a dangerous tone, seeming to forget the humans standing watch.
A tall woman with short red hair practically flew to Vachon’s side, grasping his arm. “Oh I’m so sorry! I should have warned you,” she cried.
Nick suddenly appeared at LaCroix’s side, seemingly from nowhere. “Warned him, how?”
Trapper’s jaw dropped, but no one noticed, the focus having shifted to the newcomer. The woman seemed a bit disoriented, and mumbled something about not being able to explain right now.
Nick frowned. “Who are you?”
“I know who she is,” said LaCroix, recovering his humor. “You are Katherine Cannelle, n’est-ce pas?”
“Maybe this is a good time to leave,” Dennis suggested, putting his hand on Trapper’s arm. “It’s getting a little crowded in here.” She just stood, transfixed, staring at Nick.
Evie stared, perplexed, at the scene playing itself out before them. “I’m beginning to feel like Alice, here,” she murmured.
Dennis, persistent, waved his hand in front of Trapper’s face. “Earth to Trapper. Suggest immanent departure.” Trapper glared at him. “Not now,” she hissed. Then she stiffened, eyes fixed on a far table. “Evie, pinch me. I think that’s Duncan MacLeod over there!”
“And Joe Dawson, and Methos too, unless I’m mistaken. Well,” Evie mused thoughtfully, studying the table. “It appears we have a full house tonight.” She grinned at Trapper. “Just proves that we can’t go anywhere without seeing someone we know.”
Just then, Julian Luna walked past, laughing maliciously. Evie blanched, and headed over to the table where the party was hastily breaking up. “What the hell is going on?” she demanded of the quickly emptying table. “What was he doing here?”
Closer to Home
LaCroix was heavily involved in a discussion with a group of people when Vachon reentered the Raven. He was haggard, worn. He looked as if he gained centuries in the few moments he had been gone.
He walked up to LaCroix, ignoring the others. “Urs and Screed are dead.”
Kat, noticing Vachon’s return, had heard his bleak announcement. She dislodged herself from the shadows and rushed to him.
“Oh I’m so sorry! I should have warned you,” she cried.
Nick, ever the cop, interjected, “Warned him, how?”
Turning to the one who had spoken she said, “I can’t explain it right now.” Kat was to get a little disoriented. She felt more for this vampire than she did for the older one, the one she had identified as last night’s intruder. All attempts to disguise what she was, were gone. She was too concerned with Vachon’s agony at the moment.
Apparently everyone in the small group began to notice her camouflage slipping away because they were all regarding her in amazement.
Nick was beginning to get a little confused himself. “Who are you?” he demanded.
“I know who she is,” said LaCroix, smirking. “You are Katherine Cannelle, n’est-ce pas?”
Xena Vampire Slayer
1:30 a.m. +
ADuncan, may I talk to you for a moment?” Angelique tapped Mac on the shoulder.
Methos turned from where he was chatting with a pretty young thing and held out a hand, “Perhaps, you could join all of us?”
Angelique looked pointedly at the stranger.
“She is one of my students. It’s quite safe.”
Skye picked that moment to return, “Mac! There you are.”
Angelique turned and hissed at her, fangs bared. Skye recoiled, then whipped out her Katana in a lightening fast motion. Mac groaned. “Ladies, let’s not fight here.” He put a hand on Skye’s shoulder. “This is Angelique Sukhmet, a friend.”
“You have vampire friends?” She snorted, circling the outraged Angelique, looking very much like Xena, sans leather bustier.
“A few,” Duncan smiled as the woman eyed each other, like wary cats in a dark alley. “Besides we have a much bigger problem right now anyway.”
Skye put her Katana away finally, her green eyes never leaving Angelique’s face, “Which is?”
Joe spoke up, “Watchers are killing immortals and,” his voice lowered to a raspy whisper, “Vampires too, apparently.”
“You are Katherine Cannelle, n’est-ce pas?”
Kat slowly and deliberately turned her gaze from the anguished Javier to the distinguished gentleman that had just spoken. The only
thing keeping Kat from losing it totally, was her vice-grip on Vachon’s fore arm. No one called her Katherine Cannelle! Technically,
it wasn’t even her name, but the fact that he used that particular combination scared her to death.
As demurely as possible she said, “I’m afraid that you have the advantage.” She stuck out her free hand.
“Yes,” he purred, “I do.”
“Nick, can we please get back to Urs and Screed’s murder?” Vachon blurted out. Kat let her hand drop, unshaken.
“Of course we can,” interjected Nick with a pointed glare at LaCroix. “Tell me what happened, Vachon.” Whatever game LaCroix
was currently playing could wait.
While Vachon described with amazing detail the grisly scene he found at home, someone called out, “LaCroix!” Kat looked over just
as the older vampire turned to leave. He caught her eye and winked.
LaCroix was definitely the vampire in her room last night. She was glad she had chosen not to confront him then – he most certainly
was a force to be reckoned with. But, she asked herself, “If he had gone to all that trouble to leave her the card, why wasn’t he
admitting it now?”
Up until this moment, Kat had assumed that family had referred to the family of vampires’ – as a whole. Was he possibly trying to
tell her that he was the one that brought her across?!
“Come on, Kat. Let’s go.” Javier brought her back to reality. “Nick is going to get a friend to meet us at my place.”
And what about Nick? He was obviously connected to LaCroix.
That Thing You Do
Evie‑Phoenix & Trapper
At the Raven
Trapper barely glanced at Evie as she dashed off after the disbanding group of people at the table. The fact that their drummer Dennis remained with her only just registered on her consciousness. The focus of her attention right now was the small group of vampires talking at the bar.
LaCroix did not stay to hear Vachon’s description of the horrific murders of Screed and Urs. Trapper shook her head sympathetically. What a major bummer this must be for the Spaniard. She wondered about the woman glued to his side; a vampire also? She was extremely hard to ‘get a fix’ on. Trapper was usually quite good at ‘reading’ people, but this gal was nearly opaque. A mystery for later, she mused as the two of them left and Nick used the phone at the bar to make a call. Now or never, she thought as he hung up. She
stepped over to him.
“Hi,” she announced cheerfully, sticking her hand out in front of her. “My name’s Trapper. You’re Nick?”
Looking somewhat distracted, he automatically took her proffered hand in a handshake. “Trapper?” he glanced around the club. “Should I know you?”
“I’m a friend of a friend,” she replied easily, offering a blinding smile which actually caught his attention. He found himself smiling a little in return.
“I’d offer to buy you a drink but,” Nick shrugged amicably, “as you can see the bar is closed.” “And,” he added, looking at his watch, “While I’d much rather stay and make your acquaintance, I’m afraid I have to go.” His eyes traveled to hers, where they rested for several heartbeats, during which neither of them moved.
“Well,” she said at last, “I’m sorry we don’t have more time to chat.”
“Will you be around?” he asked her, moving away reluctantly.
“A few days. We’re playing at the Waterfront Centre tomorrow afternoon.” She walked with him slowly toward the door. “I know you won’t be there. Actually, we suffer from the same condition.”
He stopped suddenly and spun around to stare at her in surprise. “Sun allergy,” she explained with a shrug and another one of “those” smiles. “I don’t tan, I burn. Oh, and sick like you wouldn’t believe!”
“I do believe it. Me too,” he grinned, relieved. “Big time.” He paused. “Will I see you again?”
“I’ll stop by here tomorrow night,” Trapper promised. She dug out another business card and wrote the name of their hotel on the back. “This is where we’re staying. Give me a call if you like.” She thought to herself, “Anytime at all.”
Nick took her hand, card and all. Removing the card with his other hand, he held onto hers, and raised it to his lips. Trapper shivered a little as the cool little kiss traveled up her arm, like a wave. He released her hand gently. Then stepping away, he bowed, briefly, and moved quickly out the door.
“Now can we go?” Dennis’ voice came from behind her. Trapper sighed resignedly, and reluctantly came back down to earth from the cloud she’d just been on.
“I suppose we should. We do have a gig tomorrow. Where’s Evie?” She turned to face their drummer who was looking at her quizzically. “What are you looking at?”
“Nothing,” he replied mildly. “Just never saw you look like that before.”
“Never mind.” He turned away from the singer to scan the crowd, which had thinned out considerably. “Where is Eve, anyway?”
“Considering all of the brouhaha tonight, I hope she’s okay.” Trapper started for the front door. “You check toward the back, and I’ll see if she’s out front.”
“Splitting up probably wasn’t one of my better ideas, ” Trapper thought to herself as she wound her way through the tables. “I mean, I can take care of myself, but I’m not so sure about Dennis.”
Shayna and Warren sat at the far end of the bar. Although she had since regained a more healthy coloring, Shayna still did not believe what she had seen. Elmo had just flown out of her backpack and attacked August. She was obviously evil, but why did the little fur ball attack her? He seemed to have a knack for ‘playing’. Maybe it was for the best. It did get rid of August. Shayna thought about it some more (always a dangerous thing). Yeah, maybe it was for the best. At least Elmo hadn’t gone berserk and attacked everybody in the room; That would have been messy. Nope, he went for the villain.
What about all the other stuff? What was going on between Hanna, August and Micah? Everyone seemed to be everyone else’s enemy, to some extent or another. The only ones she trusted were mortals. Who knows what kind of hidden agenda the others had? Shayna turned to pose the question to Warren, but found he had walked over to a group of people. Joe, Angelique, LaCroix . . . she recognized some of them, but it appeared that there were some newcomers, as well.
(2:00 a.m.) “Watchers are killing immortals. Vampires too, apparently,” she caught Dawson saying as she joined the group.
“Hi guys, what’s going on?”
“Glad to see you’re looking better kid,” said Dawson. It took a minute for his previous words to sink in.
“WAIT A MINUTE, what do you mean Watchers are killing immortals . . . I thought Michelle said that was like, a big No No.”
‘It is,” said Mac. Methos and someone Shayna hadn’t seen before nodded in agreement. Before she could inquire into the situation further, Julian and Cash walked quickly past the group. Julian appeared to have been bitten severely. He stopped abruptly before hitting the door and turned to face the group.
“If that . . . that red thing ever comes near me again, I’ll have Cash rip it to shreds.” Then he directed his parting comment to Starr and Friedreich.
‘Oh, by the way,” he said venomously, “that little Saxon bitch is as good as dead.” He began to laugh viciously as her left the club.
Friedreich stared hatefully at the Prince’s back. AIf he thinks he will ever get the chance, that arrogant bastard’s got another . . .” He stopped in mid-sentence, realizing that Luna had already gotten that chance. Starr was halfway to the back room with Friedreich. The rest were close behind.
Hanna lay in a puddle of water; staked and drained. How she despised being helpless. Her vision was getting cloudy and she felt so very weak. She felt weaker than she had ever felt before, even when she had been mortal. If she was lucky enough to escape final death, Julian Luna wouldn’t be. She felt all of her strength oozing out. She was pissed, royally pissed. Her only regret was that she would no longer be able to protect Starr. But there was comfort in the fact that Friedreich would still be there for her. That, and he would go after Julian and Cash and shred them to pieces. She tried to smile at the thought. Having the Prince of San Francisco splattered all over kingdom come was a very appealing idea.
Hanna began to feel her senses leaving her and the black of nothingness closing in on her like a vise. Then she heard a voice pleading, begging her not to die. It was very faint. It was Starr and . . . yes, she could also hear a rumble that belonged to a nearly Crinosed Friedreich. There were several other voices, as well. And the most comforting sensation she had felt since Julian attacked her, a soft patting and a high-pitched whine.
LaCroix’s office was buzzing with commotion. Starr and Friedreich were kneeling next to Hanna and a grief-stricken Elmo, soft whining to himself. Everyone was reacting in their own characteristic way, wondering how Luna had gotten away with this so easily. Shayna and Warren watched as Friedreich pulled the offending stake out of Hanna’s chest. The small woman jerked but didn’t Frenzy, the water held her in place. Starr slashed open her wrist and was about to feed her Sire when the Garou stopped her.
“Be careful Starr,” he growled, “only feed her a little, otherwise she’ll kill you. Here, I’ll donate some, too.”
Starr and Friedreich alternated for a half hour . . . but Hanna wasn’t getting much better. It still pained her to move at all. Starr and Friedreich were getting weak. Hanna was so desperate for blood, she couldn’t control herself. It took LaCroix, Methos and Duncan to pull her away each time. The only saving grace was that puddle of water. Otherwise, everyone in the room would probably have been lunch.
Shayna and Warren had been watching the whole thing.
“You can help you know,” she directed at Warren.
The young Mage glared at her. The whole situation mirrored too closely what had happened to Greer. He refused to be put in that position again; It would only cause him more grief. Better that she died as she is.
“I know what you’re thinking Warren. She is not Greer. You have the means to help Hanna, help her. It’s your duty, your station in life. Warren, you are a Guardian. You have to help. Protect the innocent, help people in need . . . That is what you do, what you were trained to do. Unless you’ve suddenly turned your back on everything that makes you what you are.”
“Or maybe you’re just a coward,” she finally spat out.
Warren stared at Hanna’s tiny form, helpless and in pain. Images of Greer floated through his mind . . . Images of everything he had lost. But, he had heard Shayna’s words . . . they were very similar to the advice of an old friend. Similar to the words that had kept him from becoming everything he hated most.
In an instant he was at Hanna’s side, putting her into a sitting position. A crinosed Friedreich growled and tried to shove Warren out of the way, but the Mage held his place.
“Do you want her to live or not?” Warren’s words were devoid of challenge. He had entered a mode of consciousness he rarely had called upon. His voice had an echo to it, but was not quite a whisper. Friedreich had no time to answer. Calling upon an energy that was deeply embedded in his very soul, Warren’s eyes began to glow a bright radiant purple. The energy (for lack of a better term) began to pour from his eyes and shoot down to his hands. He had ceased being Warren Casey and became something else: A being who wished only to serve and protect life, in any form, no matter what. Everyone in the room backed away toward the door and Elmo flew to Shayna’s backpack for cover. Friedreich, however, had been caught in the crackling purple energy that surrounded Hanna and Warren.
Warren cut his wrist and let the blood flow into Hanna’s mouth. She reached up and pulled him closer. As she sucked at his blood, Warren grabbed Friedreich by the arm. In his unearthly tone he said, “I misjudged you before, Garou. You are not the evil, sadistic, being I had thought you to be. My attack was out of instinct . . . ” He cringed slightly but continued, “You’re strong, loyal and good. You would do anything for your friends. I find that to be very honorable. With those feelings and the mix of your blood and mine flowing through her, she should recover . . . But I will have to sacrifice something of myself . . . ” Warren trailed off. He pulled his wrist away from Hanna, an action she did not like. The purple energy began to swirl more quickly around them. Warren put his hand to Hanna’s forehead, absorbing part of her aura. Amplifying the extremely latent vampire element in his blood, Warren’s eyes turned from purple to fierce blue, and fangs replaced his normally short canines. Warren then fed off Hanna and let her feed off of him. The cycle was repeated. Friedreich was caught in the middle of it all, his feelings for Hanna acting as medium for the bond.
After what seemed like an eternity, the purple energy flowed back into Warren, and released Hanna and Friedreich. The Garou moved away from the Mage and knelt by Hanna who was beginning to wake up. Warren got up and staggered over to Shayna.
“I did my best,” he said weakly and collapsed into a nearby chair.
Hanna was now standing, leaning on Friedreich. Starr approached her dazed Sire, concern etched onto her face.
“Are you all right, Hanna?” she asked.
‘I think…” She looked down from Friedreich to Warren in a slightly confused but knowing way, “What did you do to me?”
Bad Julian! No Biscuit
Angelique topped talking, distracted by a short, angry screech. Starr had stopping talking to Friedreich and Lucian had also stopped and looked at the door of the back room at the furious noise. Julian exited the back office, a small smirk on his face, Cash following behind.
“Duncan, Skye, could you cover me?” The couple nodded.
Angelique approached Julian and put a hand on his arm. Duncan stood behind Angelique Katana drawn, Skye in a similar posture on the other side of Angelique. Lucian stood off to one side, ready to join in if needed.
“Julian,” She leaned forward and kissed his cheek. “Leaving so soon?” She smiled. “Perhaps we are in Toronto without the permission of the Prince of Toronto?” She tapped her chin with one long nail. “But that would be bad, wouldn’t it?”
Starr snickered from where she was standing behind Angelique.
Angelique commented, coquettishly, “Perhaps Starr should go see what mischief you have been up to?”
Starr went into the back room.
“You bastard!” She screamed as she barreled out of the back door. “You staked Hanna!”
Going to the Chapel
Nicholas Knight parked on Grenville, right in front of the Coroner’s building. He wanted Natalie to check out the two vampire corpses but, since she was on duty, they had decided to make it look like a lunch date. He was used to ‘eating lunch’ in the middle of the night; He wondered if Nat ever would be.
Dr. Natalie Lambert was already through the front doors and on her way down the walk by the time he had turned off the car.
“Hello stranger,” she said brightly. Despite the horrors that were occurring in the vampire community, Nick smiled.
“Madame,” he said, putting on airs. He had circled behind the ’62 Caddie and was currently holding the door for her.
“Why, thank you Hobbes,” she replied, just as haughtily. Nat quickly kissed his cheek then slid daintily into the passenger seat. She was holding imaginary skirts out of the way as he closed the car door.
“So what’s this all about, exactly?” she inquired as he sat down. “I’ve got a gunshot slash poison victim waiting patiently for my expert opinion.”
Nick pulled his door shut and started the car before he began, “Well, like I told you on the phone, there are two vampire bodies I’d like your opinion on.”
“Anyone we know?” Nat had turned in her seat – as much as possible with the seat belt – and focused intently on the detective. He looked drawn and tired.
“Urs and Screed,” he informed her. “They were friends of Vachon’s. He found them slaughtered in his home.”
As Natalie moaned in sympathy and grimaced, Nick continued. “That’s not all. A transient vampire named Teresa was killed yesterday and a close friend of LaCroix’s was attacked with a crossbow.” He purposely left out any connection he had to the dead girl.
“Did his friend get a good look at her attacker?” Natalie asked; She had slipped effortlessly into her investigative mode.
“She described them as clean cut conservative types.”
“Well, that narrows it down,” Nat commented sarcastically.
“They also had tattoos on their wrists,” he added.
Within minutes they had reached the abandoned church that Vachon called home. The place was falling apart, as was the rest of the neighborhood. The only light was a streetlamp on the corner. As the car came to a stop, Natalie saw the long-haired Vachon and a slender redhead appear in the circle of light.
“Who’s that with him?” she asked.
“Her name’s Katherine,” Nick replied shortly. He was so tired of LaCroix’s secrets. Just before he slammed the Caddie’s door, he said, “I think she’s my sister.”
Hanna looked at Warren in wonder. A few hours ago, he had attacked Friedreich for seemingly no reason. And yet here he was, risking his own life to save hers.
She managed a rare smile for him. He had been coerced by his nature into helping someone he would have rather seen dead. And she had nothing but compassion for him. She had felt much of the same way when, while she was helping vampires, werewolves and mortals try to escape the fires of the Inquisition, she had ended up helping Mages and the like. She had always despised magic users, since most of them perverted the energies they tried to use. But not this one.
Starr reached out with one hand and touched her Sire’s shoulder, making certain she was all right. When Hanna nodded, she turned quickly and left.
Hanna watched the door for a moment, then turned to Friedreich. “Go with her.”
“Not a chance! I’m not about to leave you after what just happened!”
“Friedreich, I am not in any danger at the present moment. And there are more than enough people here to help me in any case. But Starr is going after Julian. I do not want you to stop her, or protect him in any way. She has earned the right to kill him, if she is capable of it, of which I have no doubts. But I want you to keep her alive, just in case he has any more tricks up his sleeve.”
He stared at her for a moment, and knew she was right. No one in this room would let anything happen to her. Not right now anyway. And he wasn’t about to lose Starr.
“All right. I’ll make sure she keeps her head on straight, and doesn’t get staked for her troubles.” He kissed her cheek, and then moved off to find Starr.
Methos caught her as she started to fall. “Still a bit weak are we, my little one?”
She glared at him, and then laughed. “Oh Methos. If you were not such a fossil, I would consider taking a playful bite or two.”
He smirked. “All right. Even.”
She leaned her head on his shoulder. There came a very loud rustling noise from Shayna’s direction, and before anyone could move, Elmo was out of the backpack and in Hanna’s arms.
“Is Hanna all right? Elmo was worried that Hanna was gonna leave Elmo. But not Hanna!” He shook his little red, furry head and giggled. “Hanna is gonna stay for a long time, and play with Elmo. Hanna is Elmo’s friend.”
Again, she laughed, and hugged the little Muppet. “Do not be afraid, Elmo. Hanna is not planning on leaving anytime soon. At least, not until Micah is safe and August is dead.”
Methos helped her sit down, and moved out of the way when LaCroix sat beside her.
“Does that . . . thing have to stay?”
She smiled again. This was getting easy! “He was here first, after all.”
He glared at Elmo, then raised an eyebrow at her comment. “Feeling a bit light-hearted are we?”
She paused and thought for a moment before answering. “I suppose. It is nice to know that someone thinks that I am worth saving. That has not happened in quite a while.”
“I was curious. How was it possible for him to overtake you?”
“It was the water.”
She smiled at him and leaned close. “Planning on something?”
He laughed. “No. Not yet.” Although, this sudden lightheartedness on her part was making her quite . . . attractive at the moment.
She looked at him knowingly. “Pity.” And smiled. “Anyway,” she leaned back into the chair, Elmo cuddled against her cheek, “I have a particularly inconvenient flaw. Water disables me. I go around it if I am able. But anything even remotely close to a puddle is enough to cause me to become immobile.”
“A peculiar trait.”
“Well, not all of us are perfect like you.”
He stopped, his mouth slightly agape in the beginnings of a protest. And then he realized she was teasing him.
“You’re right of course. Only someone like myself is capable of perfection.”
She laughed, a clean and clear laugh. Elmo started to giggle. Duncan and Methos exchanged glances.
“Oh, please,” Joe muttered under his breath.
Hanna looked at Joe and continued to laugh. He had to admit though, her laughter was contagious. He slowly began to smile back.
And suddenly, almost as if she hadn’t been laughing only moments ago, she turned to LaCroix.
“Did I hear Evie?”
Starr followed his scent. She didn’t know how really. Maybe it was Hanna’s teachings, or something she learned from Friedreich. But she walked a bit hurried down the street, following the smell of his blood.
She ended up at the Metropolitan, and after checking that her sense of smell wasn’t off, she decided this was where that ratfink was staying.
She didn’t even bother with the desk clerk. She knew Julian well enough to know which room he’d be staying in. She walked around toward the back, where it was a bit darker than the rest of the building. She looked the wall over, and then extended her claws. Moving to the wall, she started to climb.
Julian looked himself over in the mirror, making certain every bite of that little monster had healed. He fed off of Cash, who had reluctantly agreed to help him. Oh, he shouldn’t have let Cash know that he had attacked Hanna. He realized that now. After what happened last year, Cash had been developing a weakness for Hanna and her get, Starr. Another one he regretted letting live. Julian had felt his hold over Cash weakening with each passing day. Now, it was only his sense of duty that kept him at Julian’s side. He had saved his life on a number of occasions, and Cash couldn’t leave him until he felt that he paid his debt.
He made sure that Cash wasn’t in the room before he picked up the phone and called her.
It rang several times before she picked up. “This had better be good, Julian.”
“How did you . . . ? Never mind. I’ve got a problem.”
“Which is?” There was a scream in the background, one of profound agony.
“What’s that? Another toy?”
“Oh, it’s just my darling Micah providing entertainment for Horton and me.”
Julian cringed at the thought. However devoted he was to serving her, he was glad that he never warranted “Special Treatment.”
“Well, I just met with Hanna.”
“And?” The voice was eager.
“And I screwed up. I had her to the point of diablerie, when that little furry freak attacked me!”
She laughed. “He got you as well? It seems that furry little beast has appointed himself her protector.”
“Anyway, he cut me off. I couldn’t finish her.”
The silence was deadly. “Well, that’s too bad, isn’t it? You certainly won’t get a second chance at it.”
“I know. But now what? The rest of them have found her by now, and probably healed her. She’ll be after me.”
She laughed coldly. “You should have thought about that before you let her go.”
“August, I need your help!”
“Sorry, Julian love. I don’t help weakling Princes who can’t manage to kill tiny little whores or their stuffed toys!”
“After everything I’ve done for you?” he whined. “Hell, I even helped you murder her bloody husband! Don’t I deserve any assistance?”
There was nothing but silence.
“Please August, don’t let her kill me! I’ll do anything you ask! Just help me!”
She laughed again. “No. But I did enjoy hearing you grovel. Give my regards to the whore when she comes for you. Tell her I won’t fail.” And the line went dead.
He hung up the phone, his hands shaking. He collapsed in a nearby chair. What was he going to do now?
“You know,” Starr smirked from the doorway into the bedroom, causing Julian to jump in fright, “it’s a good thing I came for you instead of Hanna. If she had heard what I just did, she’d more than just kill you. She’d keep you for a few years and torture the hell out of you for killing her husband.”
He backed away from her. “No, she wouldn’t. She’s not capable of torture.”
She laughed as she walked closer. “Oh, I know that. But then, you killed her husband. And you have no idea what that means to her.”
He backed into the wall. “So, what are you going to do?”
She grinned. “Unfortunately for you, I’m not so squirmy about ripping you to pieces. And I’m going to enjoy every minute of it. I’ve been dying to eat your heart since the day we first met.”
She moved like lightning, ripping one of the bedposts off the canopy, flying toward Julian, pulling him down, and staking him to the bed. She lowered her head, and tore out his throat, and drank every drop of blood in his body. But she didn’t stop there. She wanted his essence. His power. So she kept at him, until every ounce of life force was gone from his body. She felt a surge rush through her, not unlike the one that a Quickening produced. Once she came back to herself, she laughed at Julian’s twisted face. God that felt good!
With one swift motion, she grabbed his head and braced herself against his body, and then ripped his head off. And then, with purpose, carried his remains to the fireplace.
Marshmallows would have made the moment perfect.
Friedreich stood guard by the front door in Lupus. A porter had come by and tried to pet the “dog,” but he snapped and sent the porter running for cover.
When he heard the muffled sound of Julian’s scream, he Crinosed then entered the room. He watched Starr feed, enjoying the pleasure she got from her first kill. And he realized that was the reason Hanna had let Starr kill Julian, instead of doing the deed herself. She wanted Starr to be able to function on her own, because she knew how much the neonate hated being dependant on anyone.
As she watched Julian roast on the flames, Friedreich laughed at a sudden thought. She turned on her heels, ready to attack. When she realized who it was, she yelled, “Don’t ever do that again!”
“Sorry. I just had a thought of roasting marshmallows.”
Starr looked at him and then laughed. “Me too!”
His eyes glittered with something more than mirth as he looked at her. She returned his gaze, calm and collected.
She didn’t know at exactly what moment they were in each other’s arms, or when they had moved to the bed she had just killed Julian on. But she did know that she loved him, that he loved her.
And they made good use of that bed.
at the Raven
“Did I hear Evie?”
LaCroix frowned at Hanna. “Yes, I’m afraid you did. Tonight, of all nights, for her to arrive here.”
“Bad timing.” Hanna felt herself relaxing. “We’ve all been guilty of it, once or twice.” “Excepting your perfect self,” she added with the briefest of smiles.
Just at that moment, Evie poked her head into the room and looked around. “Hanna!” Surprise was written on her face. “What is going on? I just saw…”
“Nothing.” LaCroix’s expression was flat, his eyes glittering. “You saw nothing.”
All was quiet for a moment, till Evie replied, “You tried that in LA. It didn’t work then, either.”
LaCroix sighed. “I was never sure that wasn’t a fluke.”
Hanna waved the woman over to where she sat, recovering from her ordeal. “Julian ambushed me,” she explained. “I survived. I doubt he will.”
“I wouldn’t cry.” Evie paused for a moment, considering. “There’s something else going on here.”
The sound of a male throat being cleared reminded them there were others in the room. Evie turned to see Duncan, Methos and Joe standing around, looking somewhat at loose ends.
“Ah,” she nodded toward them. “The cavalry?”
“In which case, you must be the heavy artillery,” Hanna replied, deadpan.
Evie frowned at her, puzzled.
“Our Hanna is discovering the healing power of laughter,” LaCroix elucidated drily. “But her point is a valid one. You and your kind are not cut out for this kind of action.”
“Whoa there buster,” Evie replied, incensed at this slight to her competence. “Just ’cause we’re mortal and less than superhuman doesn’t mean we’re chopped liver.”
“Do you suppose this would be our exit cue?” Methos gestured tactfully toward the door, indicating that Duncan and Joe should precede him.
Duncan nodded. “I want to check on Angelique, make sure she’s ok.”
“Besides,” Evie continued, ignoring the men as they left, “Who says we *want* to be a part of… whatever you’ve got going on here?” She turned to Hanna. “What *is* going on here, anyway?”
“If you ladies will excuse me,” LaCroix stood and bowed to Evie and Hanna, “I have matters to attend before the evening is gone.”
Hanna continued. “You remember Angelique and her brother Micah?” When Evie nodded she gave her the whole sordid tale, ending with Autumn’s departure.
“In a word.”
“Bad lady hurt Hanna’s friend.”
Evie screamed and leaped to her feet. “Omygod! What is *that*?”
Elmo crawled into Hanna’s lap from under the chair. “Bad man hurt Hanna. Elmo will protect you, friend Hanna!”
Evie was nearly hyperventilating, wildly eyeing the room in shock and disbelief. Being faced with a walking, talking muppet was one thing C this one had fangs!
“Elmo, this is Evie,” Hanna introduced the little muppet vampire to the terrified and bewildered woman. “She’s my friend.”
“Hi, Evie,” Elmo’s perky little voice made the whole scene all the more bizarre. “Will you play with me?”
“Hi Elmo,” Evie managed to croak out unsteadily. “I can’t really play right now. I’m *very* tired.” She sat, rather suddenly, in a nearby chair.
“What are you doing in Toronto?” Hanna asked, as Elmo settled on her lap, humming cheerfully to himself.
“My band is touring,” she replied, taking deep breaths and trying not to stare at the furry abomination. “We’re playing again tomorrow afternoon.”
“What a shame so many of us will have to miss you.” Hanna paused thoughtfully. “You know, you could be quite helpful.”
“What do you have in mind?”
Toronto & Seacouver, Canada
New Jerusalem, Massachusetts
Los Angeles, California
From about 3 a.m. until roughly 8 p.m. (Toronto time)
All told, by the time the sun set in Toronto, 30 different Vampires (Classical and Kindred) as well as five Immortals were dead.
The largest tally was in New Jerusalem, about an hour outside of Boston. The reason this city suffered the worst was because, not only had August lived there long enough to know where most of the vampires hid, but Hanna had founded the city along with her husband. New Jerusalem suffered the loss of almost every vampire within its city limits because most of them knew Hanna, some even loved her a little. Of the 30 vampires to die that day, 23 of them lived in New Jerusalem.
Some of their havens were destroyed, burning to the ground with their occupants helpless inside. Others were dragged out into the middle of the street, and staked to wait for the sun. Most of them died when the club, the Taboo, was burned to the ground.
The Taboo was the most interesting building in the city. Even the Prince’s tower, a tall, black glassed building in the center of the city, couldn’t stand out against the backdrop of the Taboo. To all general appearances, it looked like a regular three-story warehouse. The original owner had gotten into a fight with a customer one day and had chased him around the city in his vintage 66 Chevy Bel-Air. Coming around the corner, the owner had lost control of his car, and ran it into the front of the building. He had died upon impact, but the car was lodged firmly into the building. The man who took over the building removed the damaged front-end of the car, and then worked the rest of the car over until it became the entrance into the club. To get inside, one had to open the trunk of the car, and walk down the steps to the double doors that led inside. A novel concept. Too bad for the vampires inside.
When the place was burned, the assassins had welded shut the trunk, making escape impossible. There were no windows in the building, mainly because most of the vampires who stayed there liked to work in the daytime when it suited them. A convenient death trap.
Of those to escape the death toll in New Jerusalem (for not even the Prince, a man who had lived for 600 years in the body of a 10-year-old, had escaped), only a Nosferatu by the name of Marcus (who had previously been Alexander the Great) and a Mummy that went by the name of John Smith survived. Even John’s girlfriend, the Brujah primogen named Joxcasta, had died in the club. The two made their way north, grieving all the while.
In Chicago, a pretty little girl who called herself Lola, but whose name was really Beverly, died when August’s group showed up to pay her a little visit. She was a fairly new vampire, since her maker had just recently re-become a vampire. She didn’t really know what to make of Janette when she had first met her. But the woman had taken pity on her, since she was a hooker, and brought her across. She had been a vampire for one week when the Watcher/Immortal assassins caught up with her.
When Janette entered her club that night, she found Beverly’s pieces scattered around the place. Each one had been pinned here or there with a note card attached describing which part it was, and how it was removed.
Janette locked the door to her club, and took flight. Headed for Toronto. She wanted blood. And she was going to find out why LaCroix had one of hers murdered . . . before she ripped HIM to pieces . . .
In Seacouver, Ritchie Ryan was practicing in Mac’s dojo. A little with the sword. A little with the dummy. After working up a decent sweat, he knelt down and practiced some of the meditation techniques Mac had taught him. When Mac got back from Paris, he was going to show him just how much he learned in these past few months.
He would never get the chance. As he entered into his “rest place,” he felt knives in his body, ropes pulling his arms back, and then a sword at his throat.
Unfortunately for the Immortal who took his head, it wasn’t much of a Quickening . . .
In Paris, Hugh and Amanda were lounging in Mac’s barge, discussing the consequences if they decided to redecorate the place while he was gone. Amanda sensed them first. She had felt vampires before, been in their presence. Hugh had not.
They both prepared quickly for a battle when they both felt the approach of two Immortals. The vampires were in the barge, and to both their shocks, they noticed the tattoos on the wrists. They were Watchers as well.
Amanda had killed half the Watcher vampires, Hugh working on the others, when the Immortals entered. Amanda escaped, but only because Hugh had forced her out of the entry way as one of the Immortals took his head. His body blocked the exit well enough to allow Amanda enough time to escape.
In Los Angeles, the other six vampires were killed. Two of them were roasted at Benihana’s, and then served as kebabs. Three of them were cut into pieces and feed to the sharks at Sea World.
The last one, an old friend of Jonas’ who went by the name of Robert, and looked a hell of a lot like Van Gogh, was staked over a badger’s hole. The creature was smoked out from the other end, and ended up clawing it’s way to freedom, passing through Robert’s abdominal cavity on its way out. Of course, a nearby Grizzly caught the scent, and decided a free meal was a good idea . . .
Three other Immortals were killed when they reached Toronto. They had some news for MacLeod and Methos, so they traveled together for safety. A lot of good it did them when the top of their car, as well as their heads, were removed when the lifting part of the bridge came down on them unexpectedly.
The Immortal who was present at that one enjoyed the three Quickenings she received. She wasn’t particularly good with a sword, but with her wiles, she had taken 15 heads over the past five years, without lifting a blade . . .
And of course, no one at the Raven knew any of this . . . yet.
Bad Moon Rising
It was the scream that broke the tenuous hold on Angelique’s control. She stopped in mid sentence, swaying as the anguished scream echoed in her head.
“Angelique?” LaCroix inquired, as he watched her liquid expression go form concern for the conversation to a rage that he had never encountered in her for all his thousand plus years of knowing her. Micah must be at the root of this anger. Of course he would feel no less for any he considered family.
Duncan looked at her, his face paling at her expression. She whirled and started out the door, he started to follow.
LaCroix put a cold hand on his arm. “It’s best she went alone, Mr. MacLeod.”
Duncan shook off the vampire’s hand. “He is my friend too,” he snarled as he stalked after Angelique. He found her on the street. The wind was beginning to whip around the street, picking up and swirling bits of debris.
“Angelique.” She turned her head, vampiric eyes greeted him.
“It will not be pretty.” She growled as her pets sat at her side. Lucius had matured into a formidable size for a male Leopard. Cleo watched Duncan, her tail whipping slowly across the sidewalk.
“I am going to kill.”
Duncan nodded his mouth tight. “I understand.”
“Are you sure you want to do this?”
“He was my friend.”
“And my best student.” Methos stepped out of the shadow of the alley. “He would do the same for us.”
She nodded. Then she lifted her head up to the sky and held her arms out, palms up. The wind whipped higher, snapping the trenchcoat the men wore around their legs. Angelique seemed to gather, then expand with a dull red glow. She began to chant in ancient Egyptian, calling on Goddesses long dormant. Her face changed, her nose reforming, her eyes tilting, turning catlike.
She turned to the men, her face looking vaguely like that of her pets. “Sekhmet has come.” Her eyes burned like rubies. “Meet me at Casa Loma. I will wait for you. Lucius will show the way.” The large cat stood and stalked over to Duncan and Methos. Then she and Cleo disappeared into the Toronto night.
((Okay, I can’t help it. Here goes.))
Trapper made her way across the darkened club. A few guttering candles on the tables supplied the only light, but it was enough for her to navigate by. Dennis had gone his own way to search for Evie a few minutes ago, and was lost to sight. Trapper had a nagging bit of worry about that. He wasn’t exactly streetwise. “Maybe,” she thought, “I should’ve given him one of my boot knives.” She shook her head to clear it of THAT notion. “He’d probably stab himself, which would open a whole new can of worms,” she sighed. “Like he really needs to bleed in THIS place. Yep, I can see it now, Dennis, vin du jour.” She smiled humorlessly to herself and continued to follow the faint sound of voices, which seemed to be coming from a small, very dark side room.
As she approached the doorway, she was stopped by a sudden darkness that erupted from the opening, nearly colliding with her.
LaCroix put a hand out to the nearby chair to steady himself as he recovered his composure. Arching one eyebrow, he looked at Trapper. “You’re still here?”
“Of course I’m still here, ” she replied calmly, folding her arms and cocking her head to one side. “And where would I be going without Evie? I simply couldn’t think of leaving without her. After all, we have a gig tomorrow.”
“Ah, yes.” LaCroix took a step towards her. “I had thought I might persuade you to forego your engagement, and return home early.” He placed a hand on her shoulder. “It would be in your best interests.”
“Thank you for thinking of us, but I don’t think so. I’m looking forward to staying in town for awhile, actually.” Trapper looked directly into his eyes and slowly smiled. “And playing here, as well.”
“Well,” he said, softly, breaking eye contact. “It could be a once-in-a-lifetime experience.” He pulled back his hand, and began to move away.
Trapper swiftly reached out and snagged his arm, forcing him to face her once more. “For lots of people,” she said pointedly, as she dropped his arm again.
“Indeed.” LaCroix smiled in spite of himself. He was surprised to realize that he was, perhaps, not the only predator in the room. “You have spirit, I’ll give you that.” With a bow, he was gone.
Trapper turned to the doorway and peeked through.
“Evie! There you are!”
Evie looked up, startled, from an intense conversation she was having with a woman dressed in shadow. She guiltily looked at her watch.
“Late, isn’t it? I guess we really should be going.” She gestured across the table. “Trapper, this is Hanna. We were just discussing some of the..strange things that’ve been going on here.”
Trapper raised a questioning eyebrow.
“I’ll fill you in later,” Evie said, as she gathered her notebook from the table. “We do have a gig.” She leaned over to mention something she’d just thought of to Hanna.
Trapper leaned in the doorway, waiting to leave. There was something else in the room, she felt. Another wisp of consciousness. The hairs on her neck bristled as she felt a tentative touch at her ankle. It was like a small hand, but…fuzzy?!
“Aaagh!” Trapper shouted and kicked backward. The room exploded with sound! The shrieks were deafening.
“EEK! Bad lady! Ow! Ow! Hurts, friend Hanna! Make it stop!!”
Trapper looked down to see the source of the cacophony. From what we could make out in the dim light, it was writhing, fuzzy, red, and thoroughly impaled on her spur. “What is this?” she loudly demanded.
Evie leaped to her feet and ran closer. “It’s Hanna’s friend: a Fang-Me-Elmo, I guess you’d call it.”
Trapper turned and held her heel out to Evie and Hanna, who had risen to help. “Just get-it-off-my-foot!” she said, through gritted teeth.
It took a minute, but they managed to disengage Elmo from the spur. He appeared to be none the worse for wear, but whimpered as he clambered up Hanna to perch on her shoulder.
“Now I really think we should go.” Evie quickly embraced Hanna. “I’ll contact you after the gig.” She moved to the exit.
Trapper turned back to Hanna. “It was good to finally meet you in the flesh. Hopefully ,we’ll have a chance to talk under better circumstances.” She glanced at Elmo, who was quietly growling. “And you, furball,” she said, pointing a finger at him. “You were just lucky these weren’t blessed spurs.”
With that, they took off to find Dennis and get to bed. It was going to be a long couple of days, and this could be the last chance for an uninterrupted night’s sleep for a while.
about 3:15 a.m.
Alma remembered with longing the days when Janette had run the Raven. Oh, how she had missed her maker. She ran a cool hand over the smooth flesh of the brunette next to her. She was lovely, but nothing like Janette.
The girl moved slightly, nestled her head closer to Alma. She smiled, then leaned down and licked the hollow of her throat. She was about to proceed to her tiny breast when she felt a rough hand grab her by the back of the neck and pull her off the bed.
The girl woke up at the sound of Alma screaming, just in time to feel a sword as it cut her head away from her body.
“You bastards! I’ll kill you for that!” She struggled against the force of the arms that held her.
“Oh, I don’t think so, my little dyke slut!” The man had flaxen hair, pale eyes, an English accent, and a peculiar tattoo on the inside of one wrist. And yet, he was a vampire. She could feel it.
“What the hell are you doing?”
He tossed one of the men holding her something. “I’m entertaining myself. Now, I wonder, if I used you hard enough, would you stop being a lesbian long enough to enjoy it?”
She stopped struggling in amazement. “What?!”
“I always wondered about that. If you gave a lesbian a good, hard fuck, would she appreciate it or not?”
She struggled anew. “Not on your life, asshole!”
He smiled viciously. “Oh, I think so.” He nodded to the others, and they dragged her to the bed.
They tossed her on the bed, next to her dead lovely. She smelled the blood, and tried to control her instincts.
“That’s right, whore. Fight it!” And then he stopped. “Wait just a moment! I have an idea!” He moved quickly, rearranging the body of her dead companion. “Here, since you like it so much, you dyke bitch, eat it for me.”
He had arranged her dead girlfriend so that her vagina was in Alma’s face. Alma tried to fight, but the men were pinning her down, and she couldn’t move.
“NO!” She tried to move her head, but he forced her face into it. Pulling out a thin stiletto, he stabbed her in the back twice.
“Now, do as I say!”
She started, hating every moment of it. She had loved the taste of her girl only an hour ago, but now, it made her sick.
She felt him enter her, hard and fast. As he thrust himself harder into her, he stabbed her each time. The agony was exquisite.
When he had worked himself hard enough, he nodded to one of the others, and the man pulled out what had been thrown to him. Another corkscrew from the Raven. He drove it through the back of her head, pinning her to her dead lover.
Horton laughed when he pulled himself out of her. Well, maybe giving a dyke a good fuck wouldn’t change her inclinations, but he sure enjoyed the torture. He stuffed his stiletto up her crotch a few times just for good measure, then licked the blade clean. Oh, how he loved his work!
His fellow Watchers held her arms as the one with the sword positioned himself, then cut off her head. Horton watched with detachment. Killing them was no fun. The torture was what he enjoyed, what he was there for. For some reason, he thought of MacLeod suddenly. What would that pretty boy think if he knew what had really been done to Darius before Horton had killed him? He laughed harshly. Oh, that boy would get his soon!
The sword was cleaned and then sheathed. One of the Watchers smiled appreciatively. “You know, in all the time I’ve been watching you Immortals, I’ve never really appreciated the way you guys wield your swords. Until now that is.”
The Immortal smiled. “Thank you.”
Horton rounded up his goons. He laughed to himself when he thought of what his lovely Sire, August, had told him. About how MacLeod, Dawson and the others thought there was just some renegade group of Watchers killing vampires. He wondered about how horrified they would all be if they learned that, not only were there Watchers involved, but that they were all vampires as well. That they found their prey so easily because they were each a Childe of August. And that, not only were the Vampire Watchers involved, but they had a small group of Immortals helping them as well. All of them bonded and completely loyal.
As he left Alma’s apartment, he laughed happily to himself, “A hunting we will go, a hunting we will go . . . ”
Zara had watched everything going on at the club from Methos’s side: The brutal staking and revival of the one they called Hanna. Having to watch the same little Elmo guy who had attacked her before without so much as saying a word, the one they called Angelique preparing to save this Micah person. She had always been quiet, but now she had to say something to Methos.
They stood in the street, the one they called Lucien, Duncan, Methos and herself. She shook her head, overwhelmed with the events of tonight. She turned to Methos “Dear, wouldn’t that be ONE of your best students and what are you planning on doing?!” Lucien turned and looked at her and she realized he hadn’t noticed her.
“There’s too much, Zara,” he began, “and right now my friend is being tortured.” Her eyes met his.
“I hope you realize I’ll be joining you.”
A sign of aggravation showed on his face. “No, you won’t. When you came here, you didn’t expect to be wrapped up in this.”
She continued to stare into his eyes, never once pulling away from them. “Methos, I haven’t seen you in 4,000 years and you expect me to lose MY quality time?!”
It was LaCriox who interrupted their little discussion first.
“Pardon me but I don’t know who you are and quite frankly, I don’t care,” his voice said cold and impatiently, “However, we must be leaving, NOW.”
Methos looked at her once again, “Zara please, stay here. Look over Joe,” his English voice said with sincerity. “If anything happens in here tonight, he’ll need someone to protect him.”
She turned to look at the sky, “And what about you, Methos, what if something happens to you?”
This time, MacLeod intervened. “Zara, we’ll be fine. Please, protect Joe,” he pleaded.
She looked at the three of them and threw up her arms “Fine! Just fine.” She turned to Methos, “You take care of yourself, Methos.”
He smiled down at her, “I always do Zara.” He gave her a passionate kiss goodbye and she turned to walk back into the Raven.
A tear in her eye, she looked back at him once more. She waved to them all and then turned to the door, heading for it again. As she walked back into the Raven her eyes searched for Dawson. She saw him sitting at a table and she sat down across from him.
“They’re going to save this Micah person,” she said woefully.
“Shit,” Dawson said as he looked up at her.
“Yeah, my sentiments exactly,” Zara said. A look of confusion appeared on Dawson’s face.
“Why didn’t you go?” he asked.
“It seems my job is to protect you Just Joe,” she said with a half smile. He returned the smile and then silence fell on the group. She looked down at the table and the same thought kept repeating in her mind: Please, come back to me Methos.
The “Bummer” Club
Hanna watched the men as they prepared to attempt a rescue mission. She had flashes of Darkenloft, her father’s fortress. She remembered when the men had prepared to go to help Harold fight William at the Battle of Hastings. None of them had returned. Shortly afterwards the fortress was razed and she had been the only one left alive. Her father had lost his head to the sword. Please Caine, not Methos and Duncan as well!
Methos made his goodbyes to the one he called Zara, after LaCroix had gone out of his way to be an ass . . . yet again. She looked around at the faces of the passers‑by, waiting for the impassioned farewell to end. When Zara walked back inside, dejected, Hanna grabbed Methos’ arm.
“I should be going with you. It is my right. But we all know that I am in no condition to face her. Now, she will be expecting Angelique and he will be expecting me. That’s the only reason she showed up with Micah in the first place; She knew we would fall for the bait. Also, Angelique will not be thinking straight, so keep her away from August. I am more than certain she plans to kill her.”
LaCroix asserted his will yet again. “Is that enough? Can we be on our way , or must we endure every female farewell before we go off to do battle?”
Her hand flashed out, caught him by the throat. “Do not doubt for one moment, Lucius, that I could not kill you at this very moment if the will took me. You are impatient because of Angelique. This I realize, and the only reason I will forgive your natural outbursts. But is it always your habit to rush into situations blindly? I think not. There is no one amongst you who knows August the way I do. You have no idea of the way she fights. Better some warning and a little time lost, then that precious head of yours
He nodded, his eyes flaring yellow.
“Good.” She let him go, then turned back to Methos and Duncan. “Most of her defenses will be designed for Angelique or myself, so you should have enough chance to survive. But, she is quite capable of getting inside your head, and she will use whatever she can find there against you. She could have you cutting each other’s heads off before you knew who it was. Remember that.”
They nodded and moved away.
“Oh, and gentlemen, just one minor note. No one kills her but me. Is that understood? Make certain Angelique knows it as well. She may have a claim on the right, considering poor Micah, but I have seniority. If Angelique wants her heart, she can have it, but no one kills her but me. Period. If I find out otherwise, whoever is responsible will pay.”
Methos and Duncan knew her well enough to know she meant every word. And they both had known Jonas long enough to know why she was so angry. LaCroix, however, was not so inclined. Until, of course, he looked into her eyes and saw the black pit of Hell. He thought of it for a moment, then nodded. It was better for him to concentrate on keeping Angelique safe anyway.
Hanna walked back inside, following Lucius the Leopard to the fires of perdition. She sat down at the bar next to Joe. Actually, Joe had to help her up onto the stool. She rolled her eyes, “They never make stools for short people.”
He laughed and then returned to his morose musings.
The three of them were quite a group. From the look of them, it could be assumed that their best friend had died. They all looked at each other, and shared that same thought.
Orwas about to die anyway.
Why Not is a Perfectly Good Reason
Warren slunk onto a bar stool. What a headache. What a toothache.
“Man, you don’t look so good,” Dawson said. He eyed the Mage. Warren looked like he had been to hell and back. He was unusually pale…his eyes, still purple, had not returned to their natural electric blue.
Shayna climbed onto a stool next to Warren. “That’s what I told him, but he won’t stay still. He just about paced a hole in the floor,” she motioned with one hand, “back there,” waving towards LaCroix’s office. “And he refuses to take any aspirin. Or lay down or….” She trailed off, not liking the look Warren shot her.
“I doubt,” he said faintly, “That taking a simple aspirin will help.” Warren hung his head in his hands. They were shaking. Actually, his entire body seemed to be shaking, jerking ever so slightly, like the body tends to do after receiving a severe electrical shock.
Sitting on the other side of Dawson, Hanna stared intently at the ailing Mage.
“I know what he requires.” Giving Elmo a slight push out of the way, (he had been sitting on top of the bar next to Hanna) she hopped down from the stool and approached Warren. She lifted his head from his hands, and gazed into his eyes, which had started fluctuating in color at her touch. Blue, purple, grey….red.
“You were mortal, but now….”
Warren shoved her hand away; Her touch made the ache worse. It frightened him, because it was no longer confined to his head. It burned in the pit of his stomach.
“Please,” he rasped. “I only saved you because protecting life and destroying it’s adversaries is my reason for being.” He looked as if he were about to throw‑up. “I did not wish to see you suffer a final death that held no meaning….so, wasteful…you are not evil like some I have encountered….” Warren lurched forward, almost falling off the stool. Joe and Shayna offered a steadying hand. He pushed it away however. The sensation of the life around him was beginning to over whelm him….he could hear every Mortal heart in the room pounding, resounding in his skull.
Hanna felt his distress through the bond they now had. She had never been bound in this way to any one. It disconcerted her. The feelings she was getting from him were bordering on hysteria. But outwardly, he only looked as if he were only going to vomit, NOT attack everyone with a heartbeat he could get his hands on.
That’s when a sheik, an insane wail, like none of them had heard before ripped its way from Warren’s throat. He wobbled in his place on the stool, rubbing his head, trying to make the noise in his head stop….But it wouldn’t. NO, NO he was NOT a killer…a protector….a preserver…YES BUT NOT A KILLER. This was not the path he was to follow…to become a creature of the darkness….
“NO!!!!!!” He shrieked. Losing his balance he toppled off the stool. Dawson, got up and took several steps back. A brown haired, petite woman followed suit.
“Is he going to be all right?” she asked Shayna. Who didn’t hear the question, she was too busy trying to calm Warren down.
Who was batting her comforting gestures away….
“I…I, I…HAVE TO GET AWAY!!!!!!!” Warren tried to stand but LIFE was to smothering…the energies…the heart….by the goddess, it was all so smothering……So tempting…It must taste so good……
And it did. Warrens vision had narrowed down to a tiny tunnel. It was blurry, too. All he could see was Hanna bent over him pouring LIFE down his throat. Ah, but it did taste so very good..Though, not what he expected. He had always been taught that to experience LIFE by blood was not for a Guardian. Only the Dark ones, chosen by the goddess were given this honor. He was told it was a perversion of all HE was. It was, if he drank of LIFE. But this felt so right and tasted so very good. Maybe he should have listened to Greer………
Slowly, ever so slowly he came to his senses. And he found it all to be quite embarrassing. He was laying on the floor, with Hanna, Shayna, Dawson, a woman he vaguely recognized…and yes, Elmo all looking down at him. He also realized the group was attracting stares from the crowd.
A slightly balding man leaned over from behind the bar and suggested in a annoyed voice, “Perhaps you all should leave.” He glanced furtively at the gathering crowed.
“Miklos is right, perhaps it would be wise if we left.” Hanna and Dawson hauled Warren to a standing position. The group made their way out of the club.
Cry Little Sister, Pt.1
Angelique startled at the sight of Lucien with Methos and Duncan. Lucien preferred to keep out of personal situations; He trusted her judgement. He shrugged at her. “It has been a long time since I have been in battle. Free food is always welcome.” His mouth tipped in a mirthless smirk.
“Angelique?” Duncan spoke up.
“Hanna told us that she wants August for herself.”
“I’m not here for her. I want to see my brother. The problem is, we have to hack our way to him.” She set her hands on the locked gate and pulled them open with frightening ease. “Watch your necks.”
Five minutes later they had found the first of the guards. Angelique approached him, her eyes a dull crimson. Their aura radiated out as she stopped in front of him. The guards looked terrified.
“Who frightens you more Ghoul, Her or me?” She hissed as she grabbed the guard by the throat.
“Please,” the guard begged as he dangled off the ground. His sword dropped out of his nerveless fingers.
Angelique laughed, then pulled him close, sinking her fangs into the man’s neck. She drained him dry, tearing a large chunk out of his neck as she finished.
Duncan stabbed him through the heart. “He needs to die to be free of the blood bond.” Duncan shrugged and explained in a whisper as they moved on. “And a quickening is too dangerous right now.”
LaCroix snagged the next guard, draining him with relish and tearing off the head. They moved quietly, dispatching victims with stealth and speed. Until Micah screamed again.
All four stopped, brought up short by the noise. Duncan’s face tightened with anger, his features drawing into a fierce scowl. Methos, gentle Methos, was transformed into a savage warrior. Angelique stumbled, then stood, her hands clenched in tight fists at her sides. She seemed to expand in a shimmer of crimson light as she moved toward Casa Loma. A guard tried to stop her but she hissed and grabbed him by the throat, her nails piercing his flesh. Then she leaned her head back and let the blood of her vanquished foe flow into her mouth with a feral growl.
Duncan looked away at the savage delight she was taking. He had never seen her act so inhuman. She had been catty and occasionally cruel but she had never relished in destruction and death like this. He had never seen her warrior side, and it was a revelation. He was having trouble restraining his natural inclination to take heads. The quickening would leave him too vulnerable and the light show would be too easily noticed. Instead, he hacked and slashed, buying as much time as possible.
Methos stopped after that chilling scream. “This is too easy,” He whispered. “It’s like they are on auto pilot.”
“Maybe they are as frightened of Angelique as they are of their master right now,” Duncan whispered back. “She’s scaring me quite a bit.”
Methos smiled a thin ill-humored grimace. “Sekhmet.”
“An ancient Egyptian Goddess. The patroness of war, the drinker of men’s blood.” Methos watched as some of the guards broke and ran from Angelique. She caught them, snapping mortal and vampire alike into broken vessels. LaCroix was standing off to one side, finishing a leisurely meal, and watching hot eyed as Angelique went on the rampage.
“Even the old General is impressed with her.” Methos smiled as they crept closer to the house.
After both Detective Knight and Dr. Lambert had gotten as much as they could from the intact crime scene, someone was going to have to take Urs down from the cross. Of the three who had the physical strength to do it, only one could look at the bodies and not see someone they knew.
Kat stepped carefully around Screed and up to the desecrated crucifix over Vachon’s sleeping space. She “undecorated” the area and removed Urs’ torn heart from the dead girl’s mouth. Natalie reverently took each loose piece as it was handed to her and placed it on an old linen altar cloth. There was no need to bag the corpses because there was no need to gather evidence; No crime had been committed…
Javier was stonily quiet and standing on the far side of the organ loft – away from the carnage. Nick distanced himself from the activity surrounding Urs because he was concerned about the religious symbol to which she was attached. Vachon had assured him, on several occasions, that the old church had been de-consecrated, but de Brabant remained unsure. Instead, he busied himself with laying what was left of the cockney sailor onto an old wool blanket.
Kat meticulously worked the corkscrews out of the obviously once beautiful girl’s hands and feet. The whole thing was so horrific that Kat found herself calling upon long-unused practices of her religious order. The prayer she intoned in Latin was more of a mantra for inner peace than a plea for the dead woman’s immortal soul – although, that probably wouldn’t hurt.
The last implement to be removed was the stake. Kat carefully wriggled her arm between Urs’ ravaged body and the oddly beautiful, antique cross. With her free hand she pulled with all of her strength until the gore-covered instrument of death came free. She tossed it aside in disgust and then lowered the body gently down. Kat pulled the edges of the once immaculate purple and white altar cloth over Urs’ nakedness.
Straightening up, Kat found herself looking directly into the mortal doctor’s compassionate face. Natalie nodded her head in silence, thanking her. Kat responded by letting a brief and mirthless smile touch her lips. She absentmindedly wiped her bloody hands on her pants and looked to the others for further instruction.
Vachon was standing next to Nick with a shovel in his hands.
Why Not is a Perfectly Good Reason, part two
After Warren’s little episode, they left the Raven and went to a small three-story bookstore on Queen Street. It served as Watcher headquarters . . . at least in Toronto. It operated like a normal bookstore, although, a lot of the customers did think it odd that the clerks all had the same tattoo on their wrists.
It was a favorite cover for them. No one was ever the wiser. Not even when a group of people, (a vampire, a Mage, an immortal and two mortals) were hurriedly let in the back by a small elderly man. Of course, it being five in the morning, not a lot of people are out at that time.
“What are you all doing here?” asked the man in a squeaky voice. His name was Mickey.
“Sorry to drop in like this but we’ve got big problems. Um, listen. Warren is, really sick, could we go upstairs?”
Micky looked at Warren – who was leaning on Hanna and Shayna for support.
Elmo was perched on Warren’s shoulder and was patting his head. “Don’t throw up,” it screeched.
“Weird,” Micky muttered under his breath. “Okay . . . actually you came at a good time; No one else is here except me.” Micky looked around nervously as if he were afraid of every single shadow.
Dawson shook his head while everyone made it up the stairs. The poor little guy probably was scared, but he was one hell of a good researcher. Dawson looked around suspiciously; Mickey wasn’t normally this jumpy, though. “Wonder what’s got him so wired?” he muttered.
“Did you say something Joe?” asked Zara.
“No . . . Hey, you better get behind Warren. It looks like he’s about to fall backward . . . Sorry,” he shrugged “Not much help on stairs.”
When they all reached the top floor, Hanna and Shayna let Warren collapse on a couch. Elmo went from perching on his shoulder to sitting on his chest, still trying to pat Warren’s head. Warren wasn’t complaining, he found it sort of soothing. What he didn’t find soothing was the blood, some of the Raven’s ‘house special’, swishing around his stomach like liquid mercury.
“Sssso, Shayna, what’s going on? Who are these people any way?”
“It’s all right Micky. They’re acquaintances of mine; They’re cool. Listen, there is something going down at Casa Loma. Is there anybody out there observing?”
Micky’s look shot around the room. He was awfully uptight about something . . . “Should there be?”
“No,” Hanna said a bit too quickly. She pulled Dawson aside a bit rougher than he would have liked. “Joseph, I do not think it wise to involve anyone else.”
“There are rogues out there killing your kind and, apparently, they aren’t too discriminating against Watchers either. We are the best source of information you have. I doubt doing a little digging on this August, will hurt. Besides, Mac and Methos are already there. They need all the help we can give them, even if we can’t outright hunt these bastards down.”
“And why can’t we?”
The two turned to face Shayna. “Why can’t we find them? You say that the Watchers can dig up all kinds of information. Why can’t we find them and give these bastards what’s coming to them?”
Everyone in the room regarded her for a moment (except for Warren and Elmo, the man had passed out and the little fur ball had fallen asleep on his chest.)
Hanna spoke up first, “You foolish girl, they are hunting Vampires – they have successfully killed vampires. What makes you think mortals can do anything to them? Think about it. They must be vampires, as well, a mortal could not have simply torn apart a vampire like that.” She laughed harshly. “I do not think that even your pet Mage could do anything at this moment . . . ”
“HEY, this is not the time for petty insults. And, in case you forgot, that pet Mage just saved your life!” she retorted. “Okay, so we can’t kill them, but we do have an advantage over them: Brains. Anybody who’s that overtly violent has to be mentally deficient or something, right? They must have a weakness . . . something that we can take advantage of . . . and trap them, at least.”
Hanna glared at her. Dawson however, looked to be seriously considering her suggestion. “Sounds like a definite plan. It needs some work though. There’s only one problem so far . . . The tribunal would have my head if I bent the rules too severely again. Technically, you’re not even a Watcher yet. So, by all rights, I shouldn’t even be discussing any of this with you. I think we should take care of this minor technicality. Micky?”
The mousy man had already run down the stairs and returned with a portable tattoo kit and an old looking book. “Hope you don’t have a needle phobia kid.”
Hanna and Zara watched as Shayna took her oath and was (quite painfully) tattooed.
“So, what do you think of the plan?” Zara asked, as if it were a definite reality. She wanted to help Methos anyway she could, and this seemed to be a good plan, after some major tweaking, anyway.
Hanna only glared at the Immie. She was still undecided. She did not want any more lives to be put at stake. Six was too much as it was.
But maybe it could work . . .
Cry little Sister Pt.
Micah was chained to the wall, curled into a tight ball. He looked up, started, feral as she crept toward him. His face bore scars from the burns; his eyebrows were half regrown.
Angelique smothered her anguish. Her brother, the handsome, woman collecting Merntaph, was reduced to being a pet. A creature less than human, less than the omnipotent being that he was, to be abused and tortured at the whim of an unbalanced madwoman. A blood tear coursed down her face in a scarlet stream.
“Brother.” She greeted him in soft Egyptian from their youth. He said nothing. He just cringed from her touch.
“Merntaph, I can help ease this pain.”
“That is impossible.” He whispered as he looked at Duncan. “Only death can release me.”
Duncan looked at Micah, four hundred years of sorrow in his dark eyes. He stepped closer. “Is that what ya want? To let that witch win?” He growled, anger bringing out his burr. “I canna believe that.”
“I long for death to release me from my shame.”
“I cannot believe that a Pharaoh would accept this,” LaCroix spoke up. He waved one elegant hand in a languid circle. ” As a defeat.” He looked at Micah. “How did you manage to hang onto Egypt for ten years?”
Micah growled at him.
“Yes. That’s it, use the anger.” LaCroix goaded him. “The anger will set you free. Remember how you raged at each attack at your Egypt? How you fought fire with fire? You are a mighty Pharaoh, August was but a glorified whore for Rome.” He smiled as Micah clenched his fists and tugged at his wall chain. “A whore could never defeat the son of a God.”
He looked at his sister, answering her in Egyptian. “LaCroix is right. August cannot win. I must protect Hanna.”
“Then be still.” She put her hands on the neck collar and pulled it off his neck. Then she stood, Micah on his knees before her and touched him. The Crimson light enveloped him, surrounding him and healing the age and damages that August and Horton had done. Angelique invoked Isis, giving her brother some of her goddess’s strength, drawing out his courage and fighting spirit.
When a healed Merntaph stood before her, she smiled and hugged him. “Together we can defeat her.” He smiled back
“Yes we can.” He sobered. “You must leave. Now!” He looked up, fear in his eyes. “Horton is coming.”
Smile : )
In and around Watcher HQ
It wasn’t a very convincing lie, but it would have to do. “I, uh, got to go pick up some supplies. I’ll be back in a couple hours . . . I think.” And with that, Micky left the unique group of people/Muppets upstairs at Watcher Headquarters.
The mousy Watcher made his way through a small side alley. Why was he doing this? Micky had been a Watcher for more than forty years and not once, repeat not once, had he broken the rules. Not when the entire game had been on the brink of exposure, not when Shapiro had seen fit to declare war on Immortals (some conflict that turned out to be). Not once. So why was he about to betray his friend, the Society?
He had absolutely no idea. Only an overwhelming compulsion . . . an overwhelming desire to obey the voice echoing in his head. The one driving him to this particular spot at this particular time, to tell all he knew to . . . Micky froze. Not out of fear or shock, but because he had been instructed to do so. Micky had come here to report to . . .
A sadistic, evil bastard that Micky had nothing but utter contempt for, yet, could not resist obeying HIS every command. Horton smiled at his thrall. AMindless, puny mortal,” he thought.
“You have information?”
“Yes,” Micky answered in a mindless monotone that screamed Mind control.
“Well?” Horton spat impatiently.
“They are at the store.”
“They? Be more specific, you little maggot.”
The insult didn’t register. Micky simply continued in his droning monotone. “Joe Dawson, Hanna Clay, Zara, Warren Casey, Shayna Houp, Elmo . . . Muppet.”
“I only recognize three of those names, who are the rest?”
“Zara: Immortal. Warren Casey: Mage . . . he is sick . . . Shayna Houp: new Watcher . . . under Joe’s instruction . . . ”
“A new Watcher you say? Interesting . . . What can you tell me about this new Watcher? Could she be useful?”
“Only a kid . . . sixteen . . . she proposed a plan the others are discussing . . . ”
“What kind of plan?”
“Find the renegades . . . trap them . . . ”
“Oh really?” Horton smiled maliciously. Beginning to formulate some sick plan. “Is that all?”
“Good.” Horton yawned. “You have outlived your usefulness old man . . . ”
Poor Micky was never able to move out of the way, the gleam of a sword was the last thing he saw. His last moments on earth never registered anywhere in his consciousness.
The past four hours had been crawling by. Warren was still out of it, it was dawn so Hanna had gone around to shut all the windows on the third floor and fallen asleep in a chair. So had Zarra. Shayna and Dawson had been down manning the store, discussing Watcher etiquette, and that little psycho fur ball was . . .
“What are you doing Elmo?” Shayna looked up at her pet curiously. He was perched up high on a shelf, coloring book and red crayon in hand.
“Elmo make everyone pretty. Wanna see?”
Dawson frowned. “Does he have to stay down here? What if someone comes in?”
“At this time of the morning? Okay I’ll take him up stairs.”
Elmo floated down to her lap. “NO, GOT TO SEE PRETTY COLOR BOOK FIRST!”
“All right, let me see . . . ”
Elmo handed it over, but kept a tight grip on the edge. “Ha Ha Ha. You can’t take it. Ha Ha Ha.”
“Elmo, give me the book. If you keep that up, I’ll tear it in half.”
He let it go instantly. Shayna flipped thru the book. It was a Sesame Street coloring book . . . And every character on every page . . . Big Bird . . . Grover . . . Telly . . . Oscar . . . all of them were red.
“See? See? Now they all like Elmo. Ha Ha Ha.” There was a slightly insane tone to Elmo’s laugh. Shayna looked at her pet, ever so slightly weirded out. The little muppet had his fangs in place and the white part of his ping pong ball eyes were a greenish gold color.
“Elmo tired of color . . . Want some red stuff. Elmo hungry.” He smacked his furry little lips . . . and Shayna cringed.
“Um, can you wait a bit Elmo . . . uh . . . ”
“NO ELMO HUNGRY NOW!”
“Well, um Elmo . . . uh . . . ” Before Shayna could decide whether to try and reason with him or make a mad dash to the nearest blood bank, the buzzer from the back door interrupted. <Whew, saved by the bell>
“I got it!” She made a mad dash toward the back instead.
Dawson took one look at Elmo and followed as quickly as he could. Elmo was all alone in the front of the store.
<Maybe Hanna will feed Elmo> the hungry muppet thought.
“It must be Micky. He probably needs help carrying in the supplies,” Dawson said as Shayna opened the back door. But no one was there. Just a box wrapped in smiley face wrapping paper. Shayna smiled. “I love smiley faces!” She bent down to pick up the box “Ugh, this is heavier than it looks.”
**Later that day, after electing not to open the mysterious box till everyone (or most everyone) was awake . . .
“I don’t like this,” Dawson circled around the table that the box rested on.
“Well, I always did like a good mystery. Why don’t we just open it?” suggested Zara.
“Yes, lets,” concurred Hanna.
“Okay! Don’t worry so much Joe, no wonder you’re so grey” Shayna said. She tried to rip at the paper . . . but found that the edges had some sort of rubber seal on them. “That’s weird. I can’t get the rubber to come off.”
“Perhaps I may be of help.” Hanna stepped in front of Shayna, extending one of her silver Werewolf claws. She slashed thru the rubber effortlessly.
“There. That should do.” Hanna flipped open the top of the box. And everyone in the room regretted the second she had. The stench made everyone in the room gag.
Inside the box lay layer upon layer of flesh chunks. Arranged neatly, cut into tiny squares. On top of that lay a bloody skull and two leg bones arranged in the skull and crossed bone’s fashion.
“Oh, sick. Is that a real human skull?” Shayna asked between gags.
“Yes I am afraid so,” said Hanna in an icy, neutral tone.
“And this, this is . . . is . . . Oh THAT SICK BASTARD! HOW COULD HE DO THIS?!” The words had come streaming from Joe’s mouth so quickly they could barely understand him. Hanna took a card from his shaking hand. It had been laying next to the skull.
The card didn’t have any tell tale signs on the front, just a smiley face with fangs. But on the inside written in neat, wavy hand writing was this:
Your friend Micky had out lived his usefulness. This is what I do to people who serve me. I’d like to describe his death in vivid detail to you all, but I’m sure your imaginations can do more justice to it. And I am sure it will serve you well in imagining what I will do to you all.
“That sick bastard . . . I thought he was dead . . . I . . . I . . . ”
“Calm down Joe . . . It’s . . . ” Shayna tried to calm him down, but he was NOT in a good mood.
“DON’T TELL ME IT’S ALL RIGHT. IT IS NOT ALL RIGHT!” Dawson was seething. His face was red and tears welled in his eyes.
“I’ll just have to do a better job of killing him this time.”
about 5:00 a.m.
The bar was almost deserted, so Cleo and Lucius were allowed into the Raven. The cats paced, restless after all the activity at Casa Loma, across the empty dance floor.
“Welcome back,” Sky emerged out of the shadows, her arms crossed. “Good to see ya’ll in one piece.”
Duncan smiled tightly. “It was almost too easy.”
“It was too easy.” Methos watched the pacing cats. “Where’s the rest of the group?”
Sky shrugged. “They went off to watcher HQ.”
Methos looked at Duncan. “Horton.”
“Horton is dead.”
Duncan looked at Sky, his face savage with rage. “That bastard’s not dead. He’s a vampire.”
Sky looked rather green at that statement.
“It gets worse,” Methos growled. “He is holding your new assignment as a blood slave.”
Sky’s face tightened at that. “Not for long.”
“I have given him what he needs to fight his masters,” Angelique spoke up, “My brother will be safe.”
Sky’s eyes bugged at that. “Your brother?”
“Yes.” Angelique swayed, drained. “And I trust you will keep him safe while I sleep.” LaCroix caught her in his arms.
“The dawn approaches.” He pulled a key out of his pocket and handed it to Duncan. “I hope I can trust you to lock up.” He scooped the unresisting Angelique into his arms. She nuzzled into him, her dark arms around his neck. “I will see to her comfort.” With a curt nod he left, the Leopards trailing after him.
Duncan shrugged and went to the bar, leaping over the counter and pulling a bottle of Drambuie from the back wall. He poured a shot for himself, Sky and Methos. They drank it in silence.
“Horton is going down,” Sky whispered as Duncan poured another round.
LaCroix set Angelique down on the black silk comforter. She lay there exhausted, worried, as her poured her a glass of private stock. “Come Angelique, drink this, it will help.”
“Nothing will help,” she sighed as she sat up and accepted LaCroix’s offer of wine. He sat next to her as she took a few halfhearted sips. “I know what that bastard Horton did to my brother,” her voice lowered to a harsh hiss and her hand tightened around the glass. The glass cracked, then shattered, shards buried in her hand.
“Here, give me your hand.” He took her hand in his and carefully picked out the pieces of glass.
“My brother violated like that, humiliated, hurt,” she whispered as she stared at a painting on one of LaCroix’s walls. “I want to kill Horton.” She turned to look at LaCroix, pink tears streaming down her face. ‘What would you do?” She cupped his cheek. “What would you do if they did that to your Nick?”
LaCroix’s eyes flashed yellow and his mouth flattened into an unpleasant smile. “I would kill them,” he growled. “But I would make them long for death, first.” He kissed her palm. AI would make them beg me to end the torments I would devise.” His eyes cleared to ice blue. “But then, you could do the same, Dark Venus.” His eyes darkened, dilating. “I was quite impressed with you this evening.’ He kissed her face, soaking up the blood tears.
She looked at him, a slow smile spreading across her full mouth. “You are easily amused, Lucien.”
He bared one of her shoulders, kissing it. AI could think of many amusements.” He nuzzled her neck. “Very many.”
She turned to him. “Please feel free to show me some,” she said in a throaty voice, as she unbuttoned the top buttons of his shirt.
The physical part was over but the emotional would be years in fading away. Vachon stood guard at the fresh grave of his long-dead friends, at a loss for what to do next. Knight and the women had left him alone to pay his final respects.
“The sun’s about to come up,” she said, “and you can’t stay at the church.”
He turned to face her, unable to formulate any coherent response. Javier was exhausted and in shock. All he wanted to do was close his eyes and not have to deal with any of it anymore.
“Nick took the coroner home,” she continued, as if he were an active participant in this conversation. “You need to get some rest and it’s not safe here.” Kat walked up to him, grabbed his arm and hauled him off toward the Four Seasons.