Saturday, January 19, 2019

REPEAT: Urban Fantasy 2x06 "It's Always a Nightmare" Presented by 99geek.ca


ACT TWO
“The Tempus Cult”





Previously on Urban Fantasy:

Rachel Lin Smith was just a normal shy teenage girl until she was turned into a vampire by an evil serial killing monster. Escaping from his evil clutches, she was able to put a stop to his rain of terror with the helped of her geeky friends, who have been working hard to re-acclimate her to her old human life. Her friends include the most popular girl in school Tanya Daytton (Daughter of the mayor and real name Shawna Dixon) and her childhood best friend, the pudgy and geeky Ian Fletcher. The only thing her two best friends have in common is their love for her.

Her other friends include the smart-mouthed loser geek Andrew Grezzy, the cowardly and fussy Bilal Valenca, the gentle giant genius Charlie Gordon, the military obsessed Jason Stride, the sports fan with his brothers car Mike Jones, and Tanya’s best friend Alice. There’s also been two new kids in town, a teen with Synesthesia Jon Mason, and his loyal protector, government experiment Erika Sannik. Together they stopped an infestation of child vampires from taking over the city, shipping them to a private island where they could love unfettered for the rest of their days. But doing so meant promising Tanya’s father, Joseph Dixon a favour. And it was time he collect.

2x06 “It’s Always a Nightmare”

Released on www.patreon.com/99geek (May 2018)

Rachel could hear a bird chirping in the distance, or at least it sounded like a bird chirping, but a little more guttural perhaps. Like no bird she’d ever heard before. The wind swayed around her, rustling branches and blue leaves that brushed against each other and assaulted her hearing with a rainbow of noise.
Through the chaos her sensitive hearing was able to pinpoint a specific rustling that wasn’t the wind. Like that she was off, sprinting through the forest as fast as her hairy legs could carry her. Her lungs pulled deep at the thick milky air, her arm almost snagging on a living vine. The green soil beneath her hairy bare feet was spongy, and gave a bounce to every step.
Finally she spotted her prey. It was a silly bipedal creature, blue skinned so as to blend in with the foliage. Rachel was pretty sure it was a woman, and it yelled something to its smaller ones.
“Scooba!” it yelled to them. “RRootu RRootu!” The small ones turned, running off in separate directions. Rachel wasn’t about to let them get away. They weren’t big enough to make a full meal for her, but their meat tasted most tender. Like a delicacy.
First Rachel pounced at the fully grown prey, just as it was turning away. Its antennae reaching out desperate to sense Rachel, but it couldn’t see her. Rachel was invisible to sight by the visible spectrum, the light sliding off her fur. With claws extended, Rachel sliced her prey down the spine, immobilizing it, and giving her all the time she’d need to hunt down and murder its spawn. Rachel darted off grabbing the closest runtiest one first, Rachel returned it to its mother and started piling her food together. The baby ran to help the mother, its concern for its mother exactly what she’d be relying on for it not to run away.
“Rrootu!” Rachel could hear the mother crying to her child in between gurgles of delicious blood. “Rrootu! Scooba, Tooey Rrootu!”
Rachel found the other one, having crawled all the way to the silver methane river. The blue skinned child fell, not even making it to the methane’s milky safety. Rachel was hungry, too much so to wait any longer. Grabbing the child, she bit into its skull with her widening jaw and sharp predatory teeth. She crunched through his soft skull and drank deep from his brains as his body spasmed at her feet. The kill was a success. And she still had two more prey to go.
Gazing up into the sky, she stood up on her hind legs, bipedal like her prey, and she howled at the raging sun. Howled too at the second light in the sky. Bigger again today, as it had been yesterday from the day before. Closer it seemed to be getting, but that was of little concern to Rachel. She still had two prey left to eat. Returning to where she’d left them, the mother was still trying to shoo her baby away. “Rrootu! Rrootu! Feeday Scooba, Na Tooey Rrootu.”
Rachel put her hand through the baby’s chest ripping out its heart and eating it whole. The mother screamed and cried, but it was hopeless. She would be next, and Rachel would go slower this time. Savour each and every moment.
*     *     *
Jon woke up with a start gasping for breath and writhing on the couch he hadn’t even realized he’d fallen asleep on. He’d woken up early that morning with a head ache, and had come downstairs to watch some early morning broadcasting. As usual there’d been nothing interesting on at 6am. He’d been about to put on something off their DVR, when he must have passed out. And now the sun was up.
“Holy shit,” Gordon exclaimed from the kitchen as Jon startled awake, Andrew making a similar exclamation in the rocking chair by the couch. They both seemed to be looking at a lamp shattered on the floor against the wall by the TV.
“The woman,” Jon said, getting to his feet. He could still remember everything.
“So it was a good dream?” Andrew asked, seeming too eager.
“She had children,” Jon told him. “I ate them.” Why did he think he was Rachel though?
“So it wasn’t a good dream?” Andrew asked again, and Jon threw him a weird look. “We have a bet going. Gordon thought you were having a nightmare.”
“It WAS a nightmare!”
“I dunno,” Andrew told him. “Sounds like a bit of a grey area to me. We should just call it even.”
Gordon returned to the living room with a glass of juice. “You’re givin’ me that five bucks,” he told Andrew, turning his attention on Jon. “Do you remember anything.”
Bilal suddenly came up the stairs from the basement. “I heard something break,” he said to the boys. “What did I miss?”
Jon pointed to the lamp. “Did I throw that in my sleep?”
“Not exactly,” Andrew said. “I was closer to it than you were. It just suddenly flew across the room, right as you woke up.”
Gordon got closer to Jon, and pressed a finger above his lip, wiping away blood Jon didn’t even know was dripping from his nostril. “Does this happen to you often?”
“No,” Jon said with a shake of his head, his heart still beating wild with adrenaline pumping through his veins. He could feel everything in the dream so vividly; remember it all even now. It had been traumatizing.
“That was pretty awesome,” Andrew said behind Jon, his eyes still on the lamp.
“Was it though?” Bilal asked. “I feel like I could have thrown the lamp across the room without a nose bleed.”
“Have you done anything like that before?” Gordon asked Jon.
He shook his head. “What are you all even doing here so early?” Jon asked them, his head still pounding. “Don’t you have homes? And families?”
“It’s like an hour before school,” Bilal told him. “I’m just getting ready to sign up for the running of student council president. The nominations are today.”
“You really don’t have ta get ready for that,” Gordon told him. “It’s only a form outside the office. It’s not like you need to give a speech or somethin’.”
“Oh he’s giving a speech,” Andrew told Gordon.
Bilal nodded confirmation. “Even if it’s just to a hallway full of kids.”
“What about you?” Ian asked Andrew.
“That family you were talking about earlier?” Andrew asked rhetorically, “Mine doesn’t let me turn on the TV in the morning. Or ever, unless I get their permission first. That’s why I’M here.”
“I was downstairs all night working on shit,” Gordon told him. “I just came upstairs cause I was gettin’ juice.” Jon fished a bottle of pills from his pajama bottoms, and poured four into his hand. Gordon offered him the juice, but he ignored the man, swallowing the pills whole.
“Were those Tylenol?” Andrew asked, and Jon looked at the bottle.
He nodded. “Tylenol threes.”
“You probably shouldn’t take so many,” Gordon warned him, but he didn’t frankly care how unhealthy it was for him with his head ringing like a church bell at noon.
“Where’s Erika?” he asked the room, hoping she’d have something or some advice that could help him.
“She’s not here,” Bilal said with a look to the front door.
“She said something about Oakville being too dangerous,” Andrew told Jon, “and wanting to move on to an even more quiet rural part of Canada.”
“What?” Jon asked with surprise. “And you didn’t stop her?”
Andrew shrugged. “I didn’t think it was my place.”
“I just didn’t care,” Bilal piped in.
“I was gettin’ juice,” Gordon repeated, pointing his thumb at the kitchen.
“Come to think of it,” Andrew said to himself. “I probably owe HER five bucks too.”
“She thought I was having a nightmare?” Jon asked, flailing his arms in frustration.
Andrew looked to Gordon before he responded. “She said it’s always a nightmare.”
*     *     *
Rachel woke up in the hospital chair, another night spent at her brother’s side at his girlfriend’s side. She hadn’t felt much like going home and confronting her potentially hysterical mother just yet.
Jacob was already awake, and he was watching her from his own hospital chair by Sabrina’s bed. She too was up, apparently Rachel had been the last person awake.
“You okay?” he asked her as they both seemed to be watching her closely. Had she made noises in her sleep? What a weird dream she’d been having. Maybe some kind of metaphor for her bloodlust? Was her vampire side trying to tell her something? It wouldn’t be the first time, but then what did the light in the sky symbolize?
Was she just hungry?
“I’m fine,” she assured her brother with a lie. She nodded to Sabrina, “How much longer did they say you’d be stuck here?”
“End of the week,” Jacob’s friend replied. “Though my parents say they’re getting me a Switch today.”
“Mariokart AND Stardew Valley,” Jacob told his sister excitedly. “And did you hear about the NES classics coming with their online later this year?”
“I suck at like every NES game,” Rachel admitted with disinterest. “Are you going to school? Or you wanna stay here and play video games with Sabrina?”
Sabrina nudged Jacob in the shoulder. “Go!” she said. “Tell me what happens.”
“You can’t be serious,” Jacob said to his friend. “I have the choice of playing video games or being responsible and you want me to be responsible?”
“Welcome to having a girlfriend,” Rachel said, getting up, and beckoning for her brother to lead the way out the door. “Come on. I’ll walk you.”
Jacob begrudgingly got up. “She’s not my girlfriend,” he muttered, though she was pretty sure even he didn’t believe that anymore. He turned and gave Sabrina one last smile and wave.
“You going to school too?” Jacob asked his sister once they were in the hall. That hadn’t been Rachel’s plan.
“I owe a favour I have to take care of,” she told her little brother. “For the mayor of the city.” She was surprised that his jaw dropped.
“Mayor Dixon?” he asked, and she wondered how knowledgeable he was on local politics. “Wow! Does he know you’re a vampire?”
Rachel remembered the impromptu press conference she’d held yesterday morning. “I think everyone knows now,” she told him. They moved aside to let a nurse pass with a trolly. The hospital was bustling with activity even that early in the morning; a doctor was getting called on the PA as Rachel and her brother made their way to the elevator.
“Not everyone believed you,” Jacob said. “Or Isabol Teung. There’s news stations both local and international calling Voice News out on their ghost stories, invalidating them and insinuating they’re nothing more than a liberal tabloid. A lot of people think it’s just a hoax.”
Rachel stopped to look down at her brother in surprise.
“We’ve been bored,” he defended himself. “She hasn’t gotten her Switch yet! So we’ve been channel surfing. Did you know Iran and North Korea are both working on nuclear missiles. You think you could stop a nuclear apocalypse from happening?”
“I think we have other people working on that,” Rachel told him, unsure how else to respond.
“Rachel!” she was saved by Erika, making her way down the hall towards them. “I was looking for you.”
“What,” Rachel muttered as she got close, “you didn’t come to the children’s ward to gawk at sick kids?”
Erika grinned at her. “I figured I’d manage to squeeze some of that in on the road,” she said and her grin faded. “It’s all the attention you’ve been attracting lately,” she tried to explain as they all got to the elevator and Rachel pushed the button.
“I promise you it hasn’t been on purpose,” Rachel told her. A nurse squeezed in with them just before the doors closed. “What are you saying exactly.”
They both looked at the nurse who didn’t seem to notice their attention.
 “I’m worried I’m putting Jon in danger,” Erika told Rachel. “He’s my responsibility and I have to put him first. If I stay here, it’s only a matter of time before our demons catch up with us.”
“Not like a real demon,” Jacob suggested hopefully.
“No.” Erika shook her head. “Not unless you’d call the president of the United States a demon.” She seemed to think about it for a moment then shrug. “Maybe. But the way everything is exploding here, it’s like this entire town is ready to turn against you. You’ve got all the media on you; I can’t afford that kind of attention.”
“Excuse me,” the nurse interrupted them suddenly. She seemed to be addressing Rachel. “You’re the vampire I saw on TV right?” Rachel shared a look with her brother, wondering if he’d been right about people rejecting her message, and she braced herself for what would come next.
The nurse produced a blood bag. “I wanted to give you this. It’s… well we can’t use it.”
Rachel looked at the bag warily. “What’s wrong with it?” she asked.
“Nothing,” the nurse insisted, “At least nothing you should notice. The hospital has strict rules on usable blood. Regulations that prohibit things like marijuana, diabetes, gay sex. We get hundreds of blood bags a year that don’t meet our standards. I just figured if there’s anyway I could help, after everything you’ve done…” The woman trailed off and Rachel took the bag from her.
“Thank you,” Rachel said, feeling hungrier than she wanted to admit. She looked at the woman’s name tag. Tiffany.
“I’ll start gathering some whenever I can,” she told Rachel. “Come by later and I’ll have more.” She got off on the second floor, and Rachel smirked at Erika.
“See?” the vampire said. “Where you see a city full of danger, I see people who are just looking for someone who can keep them safe.”
“You sure you don’t think you’re better off with our help?” Rachel asked Erika. “You’ve become part of the family here. We’ll fight with you if it comes to it.”
“I can defend Jon well enough on my own,” Erika insisted stubbornly. “I’m more worried about you guys and all the shit you keep getting up to.”
“I think we’ll be fine,” Rachel assured her, hefting the bloodbag in her hand. “Though I could use a ride to city hall. Drop off my brother at school on the way?”
“Yeah,” Erika said. “I think I can manage that. So you owe the mayor a favor? What do you think he wants from you?”
*     *     *
“Whatever it is, it can’t be good,” Tanya told Alice, the redheaded bundle of anxiety was chasing her down the school hallway. “The sooner I deal with whatever the hell it is my father wants, the sooner we can get back to a normal life.”
“But student council nominations are today!” Alice complained. “The form doesn’t go up till noon.”
“I didn’t come here for that,” Tanya said, turning around to face her friend. “I don’t care about your stupid little student council. The world is so much bigger than that. What I’m doing, with Rachel, is so much bigger than this god damned school.”
“So what?” Alice asked, throwing her hands in the air and letting the binder she was holding clatter to the floor. “You’re just gonna flunk out?”
Tanya shrugged. “I wouldn’t give any more of a shit if I did.”
“Heading off to be with your vampire lover?” Deisha asked Tanya from the pillar where she was watching their argument with her arms crossed. She had short hair, and seemed to have dressed up for the day. “Leaving me to claim the title of student council president. Oh Shawna Dixon. You really shouldn’t.”
“You haven’t won yet,” Tanya told the bully coldly. “I heard you’re still gonna have some pretty stiff competition.”
Deisha laughed. “You mean Bilal?” she said with a sneer. “I doubt Bilal has ever done anything stiff, if you know what I mean.” It wasn’t a complicated double entendre.
“She’s right Tanya,” Alice admitted. “I don’t think a virgin has ever won student council president in the history of this school.”
“You’re still calling her Tanya?” Deisha said. “But her secret’s out. Hell it was on national television. Everyone knows little miss perfect is also the mayor’s special little princess.” Deisha had known, of course, before anyone else. Tanya had opened up to Deisha, and things had never been the same with them since.
“Deisha,” Tanya said, almost wanting to engage the school bully. But she changed her mind mid-sentence. “You can have the school.” She stormed out the front doors and didn’t look back.
*     *     *
“What do you know about meteors?” Jon asked Gordon, joining the huge nerd in his basement layer. “Do you mind if I use one of these computers to google some things.” He couldn’t stop thinking about the dream. That light in the sky, it must have been some kind of asteroid. But what did it mean?
“Go for it,” Gordon told the tall red headed kid. “I’m just connecting with Ian.” He pointed to one of his screens that seemed to be trying to connect to skype. “As for what I know about meteors, it’s kind of more than I can say right now. They wiped out the dinosaurs.”
“I think I was witnessing the end of the world,” Jon told Gordon slowly, his eyes glazing over.  “Of a world,” he said with a sigh, rubbing his aching temple. “And for some reason I thought I was Rachel.”
Gordon gave him a look, as if he was going to say something, but the call connected.
“I’m here,” Ian said into the camera. “I’m sorry. There was just a fly the size of my fist.” He spotted something just off camera. “Oh my god it’s coming back.”
“Try to focus,” Gordon said at his screen. “You sure you’ve got the panels set to the right efficiency? You don’t want to blow out the rest of the equipment.”
“I followed your instructions best I could,” Ian insisted. “Though I still have this left over.” Ian raised a piece to show Gordon.
Gordon moaned. “That’s the filter for the home battery cooling fan. Look you’re gonna have to take it apart to fit that in place, or the whole thing is just gonna get mucked up in that climate. I’ll talk you through it.”
“What were you going to say,” Jon interrupted him, his patience running out. “Before the call.”
“About what?” Ian asked on the screen.
“Rachel has been known to have dreams,” Gordon told Jon.
“Dreams that have come true you mean?” Jon asked Gordon. “So I could be seeing the end of a world. With blue trees and crazy predator people.”
“The visions Rachel saw,” Ian piped in, “were because of an entity she encountered due to a rip in reality. They were visions sent from the past to warn her about the future.”
“So dreams are like a connection to something that’s going to happen?” Jon asked, his mind spinning with thought. His eyes turned back to Gordon. “And you’re saying we shouldn’t be concerned?”
“If pop culture has taught us anything,” Ian said on the screen. “It’s that worrying about potential future events will only hasten the arrival of those future events.”
Jon frowned. “And we just take everything pop culture teaches us as truth?”
Gordon looked at Jon with a shrug. “I mean, Andrew’s already left for school, but yeah.” He touched Jon’s shoulder. “Are you sure you didn’t want to go with him? He’d probably be more into discussing this stuff than we are.”
Jon shook his head. “He was more interested in figuring out how to get me to move something with my mind again.” Jon wasn’t interested in strengthening his growing abilities. He wanted to make them go away. The look Gordon gave him implied the man understood, but almost to accentuate his point, Jon rubbed a sore spot on his temple.
“Shit!” Ian said on the screen. “It’s that bug again. Can we hurry this up?”
“Right,” Gordon said. “You’ll need a Philips screwdriver.”
Ian rummaged around off screen. “Got it,” he said in celebration. “So has Rachel been asking about me?”
“I thought you wanted to hurry this up.”
*     *     *
“We don’t feel safe!” A woman screamed at the glass building as Erika drove Rachel past the entrance into the parking lot.
“Join the club,” Erika muttered in agreement with the woman as she pulled up to the metal arm. The ticket man gave them a slit of paper and let them park in the executive zone.
“The mayor told us to look out for you miss,” he told Rachel in the passenger seat, who only smiled back.
“Aren’t you special,” Erika muttered as they drove through.
“I can’t believe these protests are still going on,” Rachel said, pretty convinced the crowd had grown only larger since she’d last been there. They got out of Erika’s SUV, and Rachel approached the front of the building with purpose, hitting the handle of her cane to turn it into an umbrella.
“You thought you could tell everyone their kids were vampires and they’d just go home and back to their lives?” Erika asked facetiously, jogging to catch up.
“You know,” Rachel said with a sly look to the only slightly taller and similarly dark haired girl, “I’m not gonna miss you when you’re gone.”
Erika laughed. “Well I’m gonna see what the Mayor has in store for you first,” she said, pointing up to the large glass structure that was their city hall. “That’s a building?”
“For now,” Rachel told her. “We’ll see how many more visits from me it survives.” She had sort of a record of buildings collapsing on her. There’d been the Tim Horton’s she used to work for, the church she fought Eckhart in, the abandoned building she fought the child vamps. One of the houses on the street of her childhood home.
They followed the path around to the front where the crowd of people were pushing against the line of cops trying to keep the peace. Rachel pulled out her iPhone and called Gordon. “How’s your work with Ian going?” She asked, glad to find he’d skipped school as she had.
“Let me patch you in,” he told her, hanging up on the call. Suddenly she got a skype video call. She looked at Erika before accepting.
Her phone was a split screen between Gordon in his basement and Ian in a jungle.
“Rachel!” Ian said through the phone. “Coming here was a mistake. I’m sorry.”
“He’s just being a wuss,” Gordon assured her from the left side of her screen, looking to his right and shaking his head.
“I think I might be dying of dysentery,” Ian insisted.
“I think you’ve played too much Oregon Trail,” Rachel told him. “I’m outside city hall now, and the parents are more unruly than ever. Tell me things are going well there.”
“He’s almost got everything set up,” Gordon said. “I’m working on a website now where people will be able to watch a live stream from the island, as well as communicate with their children at any time.”
“Stay on the line with me,” Rachel told Ian. “I’m going to need you in a second.”
“And then I can come home right?” Ian said with not just a hint of desperation, “Please?”
“Vampire girl!” someone in the crowd of protesters yelled. Rachel could see reporters behind the protesters scramble to get their equipment set up. “Where are our children!”
Erika stepped forward. “Her name is Rachel,” she corrected the angry mother. Another mother pressed against the police barricade, and this time it was one Rachel recognized. Mrs. Holbrook.
“You promised me that I’d get to talk to my Stacy again!” Holbrook cried to Rachel.
One of the other mothers pushed Mrs. Holbrook. “At least you saw her interviewed on TV. What about my kid?”
“What about Billy,” One timid looking mother asked. “Did you see my Billy there? I’ll take your word for it, just knowing he’s got a better life now…”
Rachel knew Billy. Rachel remembered him clearly, and she knew what Stacy did to him, but how could she tell a mother that? Rachel hated this. The emotions that came after the fighting. She preferred the fight, when she got to make the necessary choices and didn’t have to think about the consequences.
“They’re all good,” Erika assured the mother in Rachel’s silence. “Your kids are loving the island, right Rachel?”
Rachel raised her phone. “You have some of the kids with you?” she asked Ian.
Ian looked around, as if he wasn’t already acutely aware of how many vampire children were in close proximity to him. “Most have gone off to explore the island,” he said.
“Is Stacy there?” Rachel asked.
Ian looked to the right. “Someone went looking for her,” he explained to Rachel. “She’s coming.”
“Mrs. Holbrook,” Rachel said, raising her phone to show the mother, “As promised, I give you your daughter.” She handed the mother her phone.
*     *
Hana was on the couch, where she’d hardly moved all night. Now, the sun was up, but she had no real clue what time it was, or when she’d nodded off. All she knew was that Rachel had never come home last night. She still hadn’t seen either of her kids in days.
She hugged the blanket her husband had brought her around midnight tight to her body and squeezed. She was certain that her hair was a wild tangled mess and she didn’t care.
“Am I a terrible mother?” she asked her husband not for the first time as he joined her in the living room. Instead of responding with a resounding no like he had so many times before, this time he took a surprisingly different strategy.
“Are you going to work today?”
Hana gave her husband a peculiar look. “Why would I?” She asked. “What would be the point?”
Her husband found the remote control on the coffee table under her used Kleenexes, and turned on the TV. “Because she’s there now,” he said simply, turning the channel to a news station. Hana’s daughter, wearing the same clothes she wore yesterday, was on the screen next to a girl Hana didn’t recognize, giving a speech about something Hana didn’t hear as she was already off the couch searching for her car keys.
*     *
Rachel noticed Tanya’s yellow corvette drive past, and turn into the parking lot, and that moment was long enough for her to momentarily lose track of her phone. She found it again, the entire crowd massing around her small screen. Ian had been rounding up all the kids and parading them one at a time to get a chance to talk to their family again.
“I’m gonna want that back,” she yelled into the crowd as she saw Tanya coming up the pass. The school president had her metal bat and still wore the pads she’d been wearing last night. So Rachel wasn’t the only one who hadn’t gotten around to change. Or shower.
“Ugh,” Rachel said jokingly at Tanya as she came in range.
“Look at this loser,” Erika said, seeing Tanya’s large sunglasses, and pulling out shades of her own from a vest pocket and sliding them over her face.
“You know,” Tanya said with a smirk at them, “I used to be cool.”
“Yeah?” Rachel asked. “How does it feel to be like the rest of us?” They ascended the stairs, past the cops on guard, to the entrance of city hall.
“White and nerdy,” Tanya said flatly.
“They see us rollin,” Erika started to sing the Weird Al Yankovic spoof of a rap song. “They hatin’, They look at us and think that we’re so white and nerdy!” The other girls joined in, and they entered the building together singing “White and Nerdy.” None of them actually knew the lyrics.
“The mayor’s been waiting for you,” his assistant said, rolling up to them in a wheelchair.
“Damn right he has,” Rachel said, the three of them putting on a little more than the usual amount of bluster.
“He’ll just keep on waiting if he knows what’s good,” Tanya told the assistant.
“Of course,” she said, offering to take Rachel’s umbrella. “The glass has all been tinted to shield from UV light, you’ll be quite safe while you’re in here.”
Rachel lowered her umbrella and raised her hand to feel the warm sunlight touch her skin. “Huh,” she said, impressed, she closed the umbrella into a cane. “I’ll keep hold of this, thanks.”
“Here Jeeves,” Tanya said, handing the wheelchair bound assistant her metal bat.
“Oh,” The woman said in surprise. “Okay.” She balanced the bat precariously on her lap while she moved her wheels to follow them to the escalator. “The mayor is in his office where he says he’s ready to explain everything. Should I phone ahead and tell him the identity of the third madam who will be joining us today?”
“I prefer being a surprise,” Erika told the woman with a smile. “Keep it real though Jeeves.”
“It’s Melissa.”
They got on the escalator, and Rachel turned around. “You need me to lift you?”
Melissa frowned, and locked her wheels into place on a few steps below her. “This escalator was designed to work with my wheelchair,” she said, following them up to the main floor.
Rachel reached out to touch the flowing water tumbling down the waterfall, and looked up out the ceiling at the sun high in the sky shining down on her. It had been her first time looking at the sun, without it literally burning at her eyes and skin, since becoming a vampire.
“So my dad must be a pretty good boss, huh?” Tanya said, the three girls getting off the escalator and giving Melissa time to do the same. The escalator pushed her wheels along a track and when it stopped she reversed, spinning around and making for her desk.
“He’s been nothing but accommodating to me, Miss. Dixon,” she told Tanya affirmatively.
Tanya rolled her eyes at Rachel. “That doesn’t sound like the daddy I know.”
“Well maybe you should give him a chance, and get to know him a little better,” Melissa said to Tanya with a smile, waving her hand towards the indoor garden. “He’s just through there.”
“Through the forest,” Erika said as they followed the path over the bridge. “My god.”
“Yeah we know,” Tanya said bitterly. “Please don’t make a thing of it.”
“I didn’t say anything,” Erika insisted. She looked over the bridge railing at the small river that ran through the garden. “I mean I feel like I’m bringing cookies to grandma’s house. How much do you think this thing cost to build? How many trees are there? How high is that ceiling?”
“She’s making it a thing,” Tanya muttered.
“She’s leaving, you know,” Rachel warned her.
Tanya turned around and Erika almost walked into her.
“Not yet,” Erika insisted, beckoning for Tanya to continue. They passed into the hallway.
“Why—“ Tanya started to say, but Erika interrupted her.
“Is that your dad’s office?” she asked, pointing to the door at the end of the hallway. It was ajar. Tanya knocked on it and stepped through. The lights were out, the windows somehow making the sky look like night when it wasn’t.
“Like seriously,” Erika said as she joined them in that room. “This place is extravagant as fuck.”
“Dad?” Tanya called into the room. Rachel could hear his heartbeat, even before he passed in front of Tanya’s eyes.
“Right here my dear,” he said, fumbling for something from his floating desk. “I’m just setting everything up.”
“Setting what up?” Tanya asked before Rachel could.
“I’m sure it’s something expensive,” Erika said from the rear.
“How is it suddenly night time?” Rachel asked Tanya’s father.
“Oh it’s not,” He assured her. “That’s just a super easy color correction script. I needed it dark in here so you could see my projections. I can program all the glass in this building to react any way I please.”
“His projections?” Erika asked. “Should I wait outside?” She spotted the mayor’s desk over Tanya’s shoulder. “Is that thing floating?” The desk was like a large metal slab, with rounded edges and adorned with a laptop, picture frame, phone, and other normal desk accessories. All perfectly balanced, hovering over a round pyramid shaped wide glowing base. The base had a black bezel with a blue glow.
Erika took off her sunglasses.
“What do you want to show us?” Rachel asked Mayor Dixon, and he sat down behind his desk. The mayor tapped the spacebar on his laptop and crossed his fingers, suddenly a light shown from the ceiling and a hologram of the Earth projected before them.
“The Earth was once teeming with magical energy,” he told the three teenagers in his office.
“How long ago?” Erika asked.
“A long time,” The mayor said with a frown at her interruption. “It was stripped from the planet thousands of years ago by a mysterious force leaving only magical artifacts behind that still retain any of the magical energy that was once plentiful across the Earth.”
“What kind of force could do something like that?” Erika whispered to Tanya, who gave her a sideways glance through her shades.
“How the hell should I know?”
“Who is she?” Dixon asked his daughter. He squinted through the darkness at the light on her face, and seemed to recognize something. “Are you the girl with abilities President Daggers has been looking for?”
Erika pointed to the door. “I’m gonna wait outside,” she said with a sheepish grin. “I’ll just be in the lobby keeping an eye on things. Really let you wrap up in here.” She backed up and quickly left the room.
Tanya looked back to her father. “Is there a fast forward button on this?” she asked.
The mayor frowned again. “I put a lot of time into all this actually.”
Tanya waved her hand through the globe. “Yeah, I’m sure it cost you a lot of money. What’s the point?” She leaned on the table. “What do you need from us?”
“Just continue,” Rachel told the mayor, wanting to hear what he had to say.
“There is a prophecy,” the mayor told them, “That says a wizard from that ancient time of magic knew that the end was near, and he cast a most powerful spell to jettison him forward into a time long past the end of magic.”
“And someone thinks it’s you,” Tanya said, eyeing the chaingun turret they’d seen him constructing yesterday that now sat quiet in the corner of the room, seemingly watching them. “They think you’re some all-powerful wizard, and they’re coming after you.”
“They’ve been hunting me since seventy seven.”
“What else do you know about the prophecy?” Rachel asked him. “Is it true?”
“How the hell should I know?” the mayor asked, his voice rising. “What matters is that you protect me from these madmen! They are surprisingly resourceful! And…” He gestured wildly with his arms. “Plentiful.”
“So you want us to be your muscle?”  Tanya asked.
Dixon pointed to Rachel. “I wanted her to be my muscle,” he told his daughter. “Spending time with you was just a bonus.”
“You know,” Rachel said, taking a step towards Tanya. “Objectively speaking, that’s kinda swee—“
“No it isn’t,” Tanya said quickly.
“Okay.” Rachel took a step back, and turned back to Tanya’s father. “I want to see this prophecy.”
“You can’t,” the mayor said slowly, as if annunciating for her to understand. “It’s a lost prophecy. Emphasis on ‘lost’.”
“Well what else did it say?” Rachel asked. “What happens after the ancient wizard arrives?”
The mayor leaned back in his chair. “You know this was many slides from now.” He hit the spacebar on his computer a bunch of times. “I think I passed it.”
Rachel closed his laptop, the hologram disappeared.
“He’s to bring with him darkness, and hordes of creatures the likes of which the surface of this Earth has not seen in thousands of years.”
Tanya leaned on her father’s desk again. “You didn’t want to tell us that part?”
“I wasn’t going to lead with it,” Dixon told her, still leaning casually back in his chair. “I mean what’s the point of preparing for something like that.” He leaned forward, his wheels hitting the glass floor with a thud. “I mean, think about it. He’d be the only person in the world with magic. How could we hope to stop him, he’d be a god over us.”
Tanya and Rachel shared a look.
“But the Tempus cult thinks it’s me,” the mayor said to them, as if that should be comforting. “We can all agree it’s definitely not me, stop wasting anymore time worrying about some silly apocalyptic prophecy that will likely never come to pass, and get back to the pressing matter at hand of keeping me safe from crazy cult-members trying to kill me.”
Rachel reached in her pocket for her phone to text Gordon, but she remembered she’d given her phone to the protestors outside. She nudged Tanya. “Text Gordon ‘Tempus Cult’ okay?” She wanted him to get a head start on learning whatever he could on them.
“I mean seriously,” The mayor kept talking. “How many apocalyptic prophecies have come true so far? They’ve come and gone, and we’re still here.”
*     *
Hana came up the pass towards the front of city hall to find the gathering protesters huddled around a phone. It looked like Rachel’s phone.
“Where’s my daughter!” She yelled, struggling through the crowd to get to the phone. “What have you vultures done with her!”
A number of officers stepped away from the blockade to assist Hana. “She went inside City Hall,” one of them called out to her. Behind them, a number of brown robed individuals slid through the hole in the police defenses and sprinted up the steps towards the entrance. There had to be at least twenty of them.
Hana was going to say something about the men to the police officer but she was suddenly yanked by someone in the crowd.
It was Mrs. Holbrook, and she was holding Rachel’s phone. “How long before my Stacy is better and I get to see her grow up again?”
Hana’s jaw dropped. “Never, you stupid old hag.” Hana snatched the phone out of Holbrook’s hands, and the crowd backed away from her with an audible gasp. “When are you all gonna figure it out? Our children are never going to age, or grow old. They’ll never have anything resembling a normal life ever again.”
A hush went over the crowd. A reporter in the back for a local news station yelled past everyone. “You’re the mother of that girl who’s been on the news.”
“I don’t even know the girl you’ve been talking to anymore,” Hana told the reporter. “She isn’t the daughter I raised.” Hana fidgeted with her daughter’s phone awkwardly, and then finally shoved it in her purse.
“How do we feel safe anymore,” Mrs. Holbrook asked Hana, “knowing that at any time monsters could come and take our children away.”
Hana threw her hands in the air. “I don’t have the answers for you,” she said, laughing hysterically. “I don’t know anymore.”
“Mrs. Lin,” an officer called for her, pushing through the crowd. “You’re needed by the mayor.” No she wasn’t. They just didn’t want her disturbing the fragile peace her daughter had brought to this mob. It was a little too late for that.
What had she done? “Forget everything I said,” she pleaded the crowd. “None of that was on the record.”
Laura Holbrook looked to the other mothers around her. “We can’t,” she said, “We can’t just forget. What do we do now?”
“Who can we trust?” someone else in the crowd yelled.
*
“You,” a police officer called to Erika who had taken to observing the strange creatures scurrying around the garden. She thought she saw a beaver amongst the trees.
“Me?” Erika asked rhetorically. There was no one else there. The police woman was short, as short as Rachel, with brown her and a young freckled face. “Hellooo officer. How might I help you this fine morning.” She flashed the policewoman a nice smile, glad she’d put back on her shades. The woman hadn’t recognized her…
“You’re friends with the girl pretending to be a vampire?” the officer asked. Her badge said her name was ‘Detective Dae Daniels’.
“I know it’s hard to believe,” Erika said, following the path back towards the lobby. “But she really is a vampire.”
The detective laughed. “Okay,” she said. “But like, between us. What’s really going on?”
“Look,” Erika said, hooking her finger into the detective’s collar, “You’re really cute and all, but I’m not gonna be the one to convince you a shit you don’t believe.” The policewoman blushed a deep red. “Melissa,” Erika said, pointing to the assistant in the wheelchair. “Do you believe Rachel is a vampire?”
Melissa looked up from her computer screen, where she was typing away at paperwork, and frowned at Erika. “I believe whatever my boss pays me to believe.”
Erika pointed at the assistant and smiled coyly at Detective Dae. “You have to admit that was a good answer.”
Both Erika and Dae noticed the brown robed invaders at the same time, as they stepped off the escalator and proceeded to make a circle around the center of the lobby.
“Are they allowed to do that?” Erika asked Dae.
“Where’s my daughter!” came a loud scream from downstairs. An Asian woman, who could only be the same mother Rachel had been trying to avoid by spending the night at the hospital, came storming up the escalator with her clothes messily disheveled. Her hair looked like she’d just gotten out of bed, jutting oddly to the left.
“Where’s my daughter,” Mrs. Lin said again, passing the robed intruders and making a beeline straight for Erika.
“Are you mad?” Erika said, in her best sweet song voice. “I am your daughter.”
“No you’re not” Mrs. Lin said sternly.
“I know,” Erika said with a grin. “I was quoting a movie. Nicole Kidman. All my references are a little out of date.”
“But you hang out with my daughter,” Mrs. Lin said, ignoring Erika’s joke. “How old are you twenty five?”
“I’m nineteen,” Erika insisted. Rachel’s mother gave her a disbelieving look. “I’ve been smoking since I was twelve.”
The robed men, a good twenty or more, began humming and chanting, as they produced items from their cloaks and began arranging them around their circle.
“They’re not supposed to be here,” Hana said to the Detective, who seemed happy to be staying out of their prior argument.
Erika nodded her agreement. “That’s what I was just saying,” she said.
“Alright,” Dae said, passing the two women to approach the crowd of brown robed men that had formed in the lobby. “I’m afraid you’ll all have to leave. Protestors have to stay behind the barricade.”
Two of the robed men moved to block Dae, but a third stepped in front of them and lowered his hood.
“Blessings to you,” the man said with a Spanish accent, as the robed intruders behind him continued to chant and pour some kind of liquid into a jar. Another robed man placed a wooden chest at the center of the circle, and opened it for Erika to see hundreds of glistening keys inside. “We aren’t protestors. We’re simply here to brighten up your life. Many Blessings.”
“If you want to conduct any kind of service here,” Dae told the man, “You’re going to have to leave, and call again. Make some kind of appointment.” She looked past the man at the rest of the intruders. “Get consent, if you can.”
A few of the men in the circle started drawing on the ground in some sort of red liquid.
“Is that blood?” Hana asked, watching in horror.
“We’re just simple janitorial staff,” the unhooded man assured them. “There’s no need to be alarmed.”
“Come on,” the detective said, trying to go around him. He just moved with his two muscular bodyguards to cut her off again. “You didn’t really think that would work?” It was obvious they were trying to distract her. The excuse was so flimsy, it must have been that every second counted. What were they trying to do?
A few of the men pulled out curved daggers. Detective Dae unholstered her pistol. Instead of coming after her, however, the men with daggers slid the blades against their wrists, and let their blood flow freely into the center of the circle. They seemed to be drawing shapes.
The unhooded man, short dark hair, with dark eyes and gruff facial hair frowned at Dae’s drawn weapon. “You shouldn’t have done that,” he warned Dae. One of the men behind their talking head dropped a black rod from his sleeve and grasped it, the end sparking to life with blue electricity.
Dae eyed the man cautiously. “Drop it,” She said, but the man didn’t respond. Her arm twitched, as if to raise her pistol, but she held back. The man didn’t move a muscle. She raised her pistol.
The man lunged forward, catching Dae with the end of his stun baton before she could even hope to get a shot off.
“What the hell are you doing?” Erika yelled, getting between them and Rachel’s mom. Dae spasmed to the ground, dropping her gun. The man who had so far done all the talking raised his hood and drifted behind his two goons. They stepped forward, the one taking the lead with his stun baton ready to strike.
“Alright sparkie,” Erika chastised the man as he lunged at her and she grabbed the stun baton to yank it from his hand. “If you can’t play nice, you don’t get to use the adult tools.” The second one pulled out a stun baton of his own. “Didn’t you hear me?” She didn’t even strike with her stun baton, instead using it to slap aside the other one, into the first man. He spasmed to the ground. “I said it’s back to safety scissors with you. I mean look what you did.”
She threw aside her stun baton and the other man did the same, coming at her with fists raised. He swung hard and fast, clearly not holding back, but Erika effortlessly dodged each blow. “Oh hun,” she said, hooking her arm onto his and kicking him in the shin. “This is gonna come as a shocker to you guys, but none of that stuff is going to work on me.”
The man dropped to his knee and she twisted his arm behind his back, putting her weight on his back so he’d bend forward until his face was inches from the ground. Striking with her elbow to the back of his head she smashed his face into the ground, knocking him unconscious.
“Get the detective back,” she yelled to Rachel’s mom, Dae stirring painfully on the floor, in no condition to fight. Three more robed men broke from the circle, and Erika pushed forward to give Hana room to get Dae clear.
“Rachel,” Erika yelled towards the garden. The first new attacker went high, so Erika went low, taking his leg out from under him and dropping him on his head in surprise as she kicked the second guy into the third who fell towards Melissa’s desk. “Something’s happening out here!” Melissa started to beat the third man over his head with her keyboard.
The second attacker bounced back towards Erika, who dropped to her knees and let him roll over her back. She then rolled onto her back and smacked him in the face with her arm. By the time she was back to her feet, the first attacker was helping up the first attacker from the first wave. “Come on then,” Erika said, fully aware that behind those guys, there were twenty more still accomplishing whatever dastardly deeds they had planned.
*
“Something is happening in the lobby,” Rachel said, hearing something beyond Tanya’s comprehension. She came around the mayor’s desk as he hit buttons on his laptop to bring up feed from the security cameras.
It seemed like brown robed cultists had drawn a crude looking pentagram into the floor of the lobby with blood, and many of them were chanting around it, lighting candles and bowing before a chest that was filled with coins. No not coins. Keys.
“What they hell are they doing?” Tanya asked, peering over her father’s shoulder to see.
The mayor was going pale. “You have to stop that ritual,” he told them, running his hand through his hair.
“Why?” Tanya asked. “What’s it going to do?”
“Turn us all to dust?” the mayor suggested. “I don’t know but it can’t be good. They’re here for me. They want me so they can cast some sort of ritual just like that one that’s meant to bring magic back to the world.” He grabbed Rachel’s sleeve. “There’s no magic in me. I swear. You can’t let them have me. They’ll kill me for sure.”
“I think we should let them,” Tanya told Rachel, only half joking.
“You stay here and protect your father,” Rachel said, lifting her cane and holding it ready to use as a weapon. “I’ll take care of the people in the lobby.” With that she was gone.
“Dammit,” Tanya complained, about to argue with her. “I’m better use out there helping you,” she said to no one in particular.
“Let’s not take your eyes of the prize now my dear,” Tanya’s father said, pointing to himself. “Protecting me should be priority number one.”
“You make me sick,” Tanya said, ignoring him and watching the video feed.
*
Two robed men got past Erika, carrying bundles of electrical wiring of some kind to somewhere behind the front desk. A passageway leading to the basement. They completely ignored Hana , who was helping Dae back to her feet at the entrance of that managerial tunnel. They were going to pass both women right by, but Dae stepped into their way, still wobbly on her feet.
“Where you fellas headin’ so fast?” Dae asked woozily. She tried to swing a punch but the one guy smacked her with the wires he was carrying, and the second grabbed her to throw her into the center of the room.
“Hey!” Hana yelled at them. “She’s an officer of the law!” Hana swung her hand to slap the nearest robed figure, but he just caught her arm.
“Let go of me,” she insisted.
“You’ve been troublesome enough,” it was the Spanish accented man who was speaking earlier. “I was there, at the excavation site. I saw the trouble you caused.”
“Pretty sure I heard my mother say let go,” Hana’s daughter said, appearing before Hana as if she’d always been there. She grabbed the man’s hand and unclenched it from Hana’s arm easily, twisting his arm around and then hitting him in the chest with the palm of her hand, sending him barreling down the hallway.
“Rachel,” Hana said, embracing her daughter.
“Mom,” Rachel said. “I’m so sorry for--” She didn’t continue, maybe she couldn’t.
Behind Rachel, Hana could see three more men disengage from the circle. “Watch out!” Hana tried to say, letting go of her daughter, but it was too late. Two of them grabbed Rachel and slammed her against the bar.
“We were prepared for your potential involvement VAMPIRE!” The third cultist yelled, pulling a wooden stake from his sleeve and brandishing it over his head. Suddenly a gunshot went off. Dae had grabbed her gun from the middle of the room and shot the cultist with the stake. The bullet went right through his shoulder and he dropped the stake.
Hana’s daughter twisted her body, moving with strength and agility Hana never knew she possessed, and managed to hook the one man by his neck with her legs. She twisted again and sent him flipping onto his back, the other cultist stumbling but staying on his feet. Rachel landed on hers, and delivered a swift kick to his chest. The blow was enough to send him flying over the escalators and through a glass panel out into the crowd of protesters outside.
*
Laura Holbrook and the rest of the protesters were still trying to decide what to do with themselves, when it became apparent that there was some kind of commotion happening inside. The police looked awkwardly at each other but nobody broke ranks. That was, until the gunshots and a man in robes was thrown through a window.
“Shots fired,” one officer said into his walkie talkie, the police turning their attention to the building. “We’re beginning our approach.”
*
“What are they doing?” Tanya asked, pointing to two robed figures who had gotten to the basement.
“They seem to be juryrigging something to the electrical grid,” the mayor told her. “They can’t be allowed to finish their mission.”
“You’re just full of absolutes today,” Tanya muttered, heading for the door. “I’ll take care of it. Try to grab my bat on the way, if Jeeves hasn’t lost it.”
“What about me,” her father complained.
“Just hide behind that big honking turret,” she suggested, opening the door, and making for the garden.
*
Four cultists came at Erika, really seeming to mean business. One of them held a dagger, and that one dropped suddenly with the sound of gunfire. From the middle of the room, Dae managed to fire off another shot before a man from the circle grabbed her and started choking her out.
Erika tried to get to Dae, but a cultist kicked her into a vending machine. She shattered through the glass and the bottles of coke barrelled out around her.
Across the lobby, Dae was still getting choked, and firing wildly with her pistol. Rachel tried to get to Dae but she was stopped by four cultists who surrounded her. She flashed away with her cane, slashing around at each of them in turn so fast that Erika couldn’t really even see what was happening before they all dropped.
The two Erika was fighting came in at her, and she grabbed two coke bottles tight in her fists, holding them by the neck and swinging them like stubby clubs. She slapped the one cultist away, pushing back the second, and he stepped on a bottle to fall flat on his back. The first pulled out a knife of his own and came at her with it.
Erika slapped the knife away with one bottle, slapping the man in the face with the other, than slapping him in the face with the first bottle and going back and forth with that a few times. Finally he got his knife up to block, it cutting through the one bottle, but she only pointed the open end towards him, and the shook up beverage exploded all over his face blinding him. The next blow that came to his head wasn’t from a bottle but from her foot, and he went down with little likelyhood of getting back up.
“We have to stop them from completing the ritual,” Rachel yelled to Erika.
“On it,” Erika yelled back, throwing her bottle at the cultist choking Dae. He loosened a little for her to take a deep breath, and Rachel slipped across the lobby to grab the man by his left leg and arm, and throw him barreling into the circle of only eight standing men. He barreled one cultist over like a bowling ball would a bowling pin, and another couple cultists shared a look. Two of them broke off and ran for the garden.
*
Tanya only just made it to the garden when two cultists moved in to block her off. From the looks of it, they were hoping to get past her to her father.
“If you wanna get to him,” she mumbled, blocking their path on the bridge over the stream, “You’re gonna have to go through me.” She could barely finish her sentence before one tackled her off the bridge to roll along the grass and back to her feet.
The other cultist came at her with fists raining down. She brought her arms up and blocked one heavy hitting punch that hurt even through her padding. The next blow got through her arms and struck her firmly across the jaw.  The first cultist swung a blow towards her torso she also couldn’t block but it was thankfully absorbed by her chest pads. She blocked a couple more punches, but a couple more got through, each one seeming to collide with her face. One more hit, she could feel a tooth knocked loose. Could taste the blood in her mouth. Another took out her nose. They were both quite large under those robes, and more than able to make short work of Tanya. One of the cultists bodychecked her into a tree trunk so hard she felt a rib crack.
The other Cultist grabbed her over the first and flung her across the garden to land heavily back on the path.
“Stay down,” one of the cultists said, stepping over her to continue on to her father. “We’re not here for you.”
“We’ll you’ve got me now” Tanya said, getting up while the man tried to step over her, and sweeping him off his feet to smack his head hard against the path. “You’re just gonna have to deal with me,” she growled, spitting blood and ducking her head to football charge the second cultist and tackle him over the bridge onto the grass. She swung a couple punches, one that got through but the second not so much.
He blocked her swing and punched her padding, the fist getting through enough for her to taste blood again as it impacted against her wounded ribs.
“Your bat!” suddenly Melissa yelled, barreling into the other cultist now crossing the bridge to help his friend. Tanya caught the bat and swung it to collide with the nearest cultist’s skull.
The cultist Melissa plowed into only stumbled slightly, and came at Tanya, but the school president bunted him easily in the face, bringing her bat around to clock the first attacker for the second time across his jaw. He went down and she spun the bat in her hand, hitting the only standing cultist in the head taking him down.
Finally it was just Tanya left standing, blood dripping from both her bat and her lip.
“Uh,” Melissa moaned, pointing to the lobby where three men Rachel had already beat up were getting back to their feet and coming to join the party in the garden. “We should get out of here.” Tanya was still breathing heavy, her side burning with every breath.
“Yeah,” Tanya agreed with her. Retreat was probably the best strategy. She grabbed the handles on Melissa’s chair and wheeled her through the hallway back towards her father’s office.
“In here!” her father yelled to them. Tanya looked back to see one of the cultists she’d put down had gotten up, and there were now four hot on their tail.
Tanya brought Melissa’s wheelchair through the door and around the corner to where her father seemed to be hiding. As she was clear of the door he hit a button on a remote control in his hand and the turret he’d been working on whirred to life. It fired off what must have been fifty bullets at least, cutting down the four cultists in a bloody swathe of destruction.
“Oh my god,” Tanya exclaimed, watching the madness. “You murdered them!”
“Calm down, my dear,” her father insisted of her. “Under legal jurisdiction I believe they would refer to this as self-defence.” He frowned at her. “I suppose you were unsuccessful at your mission. Even as they get ever closer to succeeding at theirs.”
Tanya frowned back, but like a deeper more angry frown. “I’m working on it.”
Suddenly all the lights went out as all the glass in the building went opaque black and plunged everyone into darkness deeper than even the ‘night’ Mayor Dixon had created in his office.
“They’ve hacked into the mainframe,” Tanya’s father said, stumbling to his desk so that Tanya could see him against the soft glow of his laptop.
“Ya think?”
“I might be able to reverse the damage from here,” he said, typing away at his computer. “I’m just going to need you to grant me some time.”
Tanya looked at the door, or at least in the direction she was pretty sure she remembered the door being, and held her bat ready. “How are you in a fight?” She asked Melissa.
She could feel Melissa shrug in her wheelchair. “I’m a yellowbelt in Tae Kwon Doe.”
Tanya looked down at Melissa in surprise. “That’s better than me,” she told the woman impressed. “When they come through that door, you lead the charge.”
*
“Don’t you guys know I can see better like this?” Rachel asked, pressing up against Erika’s back. They were surrounded now by at least eight men, all making a circle around the two girls while one man continued to chant. He seemed to be pulling on a wire that led trailing past them to behind the front desk.
The eight guys reached for something on their faces, and suddenly there was a loud buzzing as eight pairs of green eyes lit up in the dark. They had night vision.
“Aww,” Erika said from against Rachel’s back. “They all have cute glow-y things I can see.” The eight men also lit up their stun batons. “And not so cute glow-y things.”
The men came at the two teenage girls, bringing with them the fury of god. One man swung at Erika heavily with his baton and Erika was only just able to block it with her arm just under the electrified end. She punched him and kicked out at another man coming at her, but that cultist caught her foot. There was a breeze as Rachel slipped past her to jab the man with her cane so hard that he fell back five feet.
Erika’s foot now freed, she turned to where Rachel had just come from, kicking a cultist as hard and fast as she could to his night vision goggles. Three more pairs of green eyes came at her, and Erika grabbed Rachel, throwing the vampire at the group of three as she turned to fight the one Rachel had just been sparring with.
Erika spun as the attacking cultist jabbed his baton at her, catching his weapon under her armpit and dragging herself to the ground but taking him with her. She punched the man in the head as hard as she could, getting his baton free and jabbing it up in time to catch a second cultist as he came in on her. The second cultist dropped on top of her, pinning her in a sort of cultist sandwich.
Erika looked up to see Rachel take out the three Erika had thrown her into, and then use her cane to parry aside a fourth cultist’s stun baton. They traded parries back and forth, before Rachel drew her blade from the cane and slashed the man across the chest.
All the while, the final remaining cultist continued to chant, and he pressed the electrical wire to the chest of keys as he spoke his final words. Rachel slipped to him as he pulled out a dagger, moving as if to cut her. He changed direction suddenly and, to her surprise, he cut his own throat instead. Rachel startled back as the cultist leaned forward over the chest of keys. As his blood hit the electrical wire there was a loud but invisible explosion of energy that sent Rachel soaring over the railing to the entrance below, and Erika tumbling into the front desk. The man who had slit his throat was immediately vaporized.
*     *     *
“The sign up form for student council elections is just going around now,” The teacher said as he handed the clipboard to the person closest to his desk. “Obviously as Tanya isn’t here.” The teacher droned on, “She won’t be applicable for re-election so it’s open to anyone.”
Alice frowned and with great restraint she allowed the clipboard to be handed past her.
“But I had a speech prepared,” Deisha complained from the back of the class. “I thought we were going to be posting sign ups in the hall where everyone can hear me!”
Alice watched the teacher mope behind his desk. “Well things change, Deisha.” Mr. Martin had never brought much energy to his classes.
“I’m still giving my speech,” Bilal said, getting up from his desk. “If you vote me for Student council president, I promise you that we’ll finally have properly funded sporting events, and we’ll stream live events of games like the Toronto Raptors,” he paused to glance dramatically around the room, “Maybe they’ll even make the championships this year.”
Deisha laughed from her corner of the classroom and all her girlfriends laughed along with her. “Student council president doesn’t give you control over the Toronto Raptors,” Deisha poked fun at him.
“Maybe not,” Bilal argued, his momentum halted by Deisha’s interruption. “But if we stand up we can have a better school, free from the tyranny of the popular kids.”
“That was a good speech,” Deisha said, getting up so that Bilal would have to sit down. “I mean it wasn’t, but I’m trying to be gracious.” She smiled at her friends. “I do agree with Bilal that it’s about time the reign of Tanya comes to an end.” She fished a bag of chocolates from her knapsack and started handing them around the room. “But if you vote for me,” she told the classroom, “I have the resources to make this school a better place.”
“In my utopia,” Deisha told the students, “You’ll have all the studying aids you’ll need to pass every test. Every dance will be the best dance you’ve ever seen in your life, and everyone will have a date to prom, even the nerds!” There was cheering throughout the classroom.
“Admit it,” Alice said, looking over her shoulder at Bilal who was the only teen in their row still seated. “She won this one.”
“Yeah,” Mr. Martin interrupted their aside conversation with his dry sarcasm, “A room of thirty in a school of a thousand.”
Suddenly Danny McGreed burst through the door. “There’s something crazy happening at City Hall,” the goth teenager told the classroom. He spotted the empty desks and smiled. “Rachel’s not here,” he deduced. “I bet she’s involved. They say there’s fighting.” Alice wasn’t quite sure when Danny had become such a Rachel fan.
“Alright,” Mr. Martin told the goth bully. “There’ll be no more of that.”
Alice knew Tanya was in the middle of it. “Mr. Martin,” she called out to her teacher. “I need to go.”
“Now?” Mr. Martin asked with surprise. “I was just about to start my lesson.”
“I was given a chance today,” Alice said, finding herself giving a speech like Bilal and Deisha. “I could have stood with my friends, but I chose school instead. I chose to abandon my best friends to the real world while I live in this fake one. But no more. I’m going to city hall to stand with my friends. Bilal, are you coming with me?”
Bilal started to get up.
“They say there’s been gunshots,” one student said, reading a news bulletin on their phone. “And an explosion.”
“Naw I think I’ll stay,” Bilal said, settling back into his seat.
*     *     *
One officer outside City hall had been just about to pull on the handle when suddenly all the lights went out. He looked at the second officer closest to him.
“Did you do that?” the other officer asked. The first officer tried to pull on the door. It was locked. He shrugged.
*
“They’ve drained all the power to every active battery in a five hundred foot radius,” the mayor explained to his daughter as he flipped his laptop upside down and pulled something from its base. He replaced it with something else he’d grabbed from his desk, fumbling in the dark. She was pretty sure his desk had fallen with a loud thud when the power went out.
Suddenly his laptop turned back on, the screen emitting from her father’s hands. “I had a spare battery,” he told them, “but I’m going to have to reset the primary generator and plug into the system through a hardline.”
“Okay?” Tanya said, barely able to follow along. “What does that mean?”
“It means you’ll have to get me to the basement,” the mayor translated.
Tanya raised her bat and took a step into the dark towards where she was pretty sure the door would be. “Why didn’t you say so?” she said. “Come on.”
Her father handed Melissa his laptop. “You hold this, my dear,” he said to his assistant. “I’ll push you.” Tanya stepped into the hallway, with her father wheeling Melissa close behind. It seemed somewhat quiet, and Tanya took a couple cautious steps forward.
Two green lights lit up in the dark, and one of the cultists charged for Tanya. Melissa opened the laptop in her hands, and hit the brightness button pushing the screen to max and shining it in the cultist’s face. The man shied away, screaming in pain, and Tanya swung her bat left, knocking him across the skull. She bunted him in the face, then swung her bat right, knocking him to the ground.
“Come on,” she told the group, hoping that would be the last one in their way. Her ribs hurt with every movement she made, particularly with each swing of the bat.
*
Erika stirred, and rose to her feet, even as a glass panel above her head shattered, raining glass down upon her. She shielded herself, and stumbled forward, spotting the chest of keys in the center of the circle. Whatever they were trying to do, it was to those keys. She spotted someone else getting up, one of the few cultists still conscious, and they both made a beeline straight for the chest.
They met over the center of the lobby, and Erika blocked a punch from the man, trading a flurry of blows with him. She was growing tired, and didn’t have the same stamina as a vampire. It was still enough to take out the man she was fighting however, blocking a kick from him with one of her own. Suddenly a scurry of movement, and it seemed another cultist had snatched the chest out from under her. It was impossible to see in the damned dark.
There was a roar, as Erika heard Rachel jump to the railing near her. “They’ve got the keys!” Erika yelled, and Rachel must have been able to see the man in the dark because Erika could sense the vampire slip across the room, cutting someone down in a flurry of violence.
The man Erika was fighting punched her as she was distracted, and lit up a stun baton.
“Really?” Erika muttered. “Don’t you guys know how to fight fair?” Her abilities flashed a warning, and she just managed to block his strike at her, striking out with her palm to catch him in the throat. Near her Rachel almost managed to grab the chest of keys, but two cultists managed to grab her and throw her into the front desk, pounding her stomach with punches.
Erika knocked her man into one of the men attacking Rachel, pulling the third man off her and smacking his head into the table as Rachel disposed of the first two.
“I’ve got the keys,” Rachel’s mom said from somewhere in the dark.
“But who has you?” came a male voice and the sound of a dagger unsheathing. Green glowing eyes hovered around near where Erika assumed Rachel’s mom stood holding the chest. Suddenly there was a breeze past Erika as Rachel appeared by her mother’s side, tackling the threatening cultist to the ground.
“Don’t leave me in suspense,” Erika could hear the vampire tell the cultist. “Who?” There was a crack as the vampire connected the man’s skull with the ground.
“Oof!” Rachel’s mother said in the dark. “Someone took the chest.”
Erika moved where she thought the cultist was headed, blocking him off at the nearest door. Her entire vision went red as the man smacked her across the face with the chest. Keys sloshed all over the floor, even as the cultist fumbled in his pockets for something. Pulling out a key different and yet very similar to all the others, he slid the key into the door and opened it. Shovelling as many strewn keys into his robes as he could, the cultist stepped through the doorway and closed the door in Erika’s face.
“Rude,” Erika said, opening the door to find nothing but an empty closet, a broom handle falling over to knock against a mop bucket.
“Uh,” Erika said loudly to Rachel. “He just disappeared.”
*
They made it to the bottom of the ramp behind the front desk, and mayor Dixon wheeled Melissa into a corner. The basement seemed to be a quiet dark room full of machinery and large computer banks. Everything sat cold and dead, disabled machines that did little more now than fuel Tanya’s claustrophobia.
“I’m going to need that,” Dixon told his secretary, grabbing the laptop from her lap and placing it on something big. He crossed the room, and dropped a switch. “Even though all the capacitors are drained,” he explained to them as he worked, “the solar panels are still bringing in energy. I just need to reset the capacitors so that they start accepting that energy again… ah hah. I’m picking up a charge.”
He took a long usb looking cable, plugging it from his laptop to the large main computer.
“You ready?” he asked the two women with him, reaching past Melissa to the switch he’d only just lowered. “I raise the switch and we have power again.”
“What are you waiting for?” Tanya asked. “Christmas? Do it!”
He lifted the switch… and a whole lot of nothing happened. It was still suffocatingly dark.
“That’s it?” Tanya asked bemused.
“It worked,” the mayor said slowly. Tanya felt his hand on her shoulder, and he led her gaze to one of the large blocky computer terminals. It had a single glowing yellow light. “The mainframe is ready to reboot.”
“And how long before I’m allowed to see again?” Tanya asked, not too hopeful.
“Right,” her father said, typing away at his keyboard. “With the basic OS coming up all I have to do is rewrite the code for the chroma gradient from scratch, which thankfully I can recite it all easily off the top of my head. I did program it all the first time of course.”
More lights started to come to life on the main computer terminal that her father had hooked his laptop to. The little lights illuminated the complete darkness around them, some light getting to areas completely untouched by her father’s screen. She could even make out some color, like the brown of the wall beside her.
“There,” the mayor said, finishing the code he was working on. All the glass walls around the building suddenly went transparent again, allowing the sun to stream in and illuminate everything with light once more. Along with the light came the realization that the brown wall beside Tanya was really the robe of a cultist trying to blend into the shadows. There was another one, hidden stealthily between two machines.
As the cultists were revealed, they stepped forward with stun batons charged and ready. “Oh crap,” Tanya muttered, raising her bat to defend herself.
“Remember,” the one cultist with a Spanish accent said to the other. “The boss wants the mayor alive.” With that the Spanish accented one stabbed his stun baton at Tanya’s father, electrocuting him. The mayor doubled over, backing away from his laptop as the cultist jabbed him again, and the other moved in to attack Tanya.
Tanya batted the first cultist’s stun baton aside, raising her bat to block an attack from the second cultist. She swung her bat back and forth, blocking left and then right as the cultists both moved in on her with their weapons moving in for a clean hit. One stun rod got through, zapping her between her pads with enough volts to knock her unconscious. Managing to bat the stick aside, she tried to shake off the electricity even as her muscles spasmed and the other cultist managed to get a hard blow on her face. The electrodes of the stun baton just grazed her cheek, cutting her and burning her skin as it sparked past.
She grabbed at her cheek as her father managed to draw something from under his suit jacket. There was a gunshot, and the Spanish cultist went down with a shot to his leg. Dixon raised his gun and fired on the second cultist, killing him dead.
“You have a gun now?” Tanya asked in surprise. This was the day for surprises.
“No,” her father insisted, despite the evidence to the contrary. He pulled a second pistol from under his jacket. “I have two.”
There was a laugh from the ground at Tanya’s feet. It was the cultist who liked to talk.
“It won’t do you any good,” the Spanish speaking cultist said with a laugh. “It’s too late. We can already come and go as we please. There’s no way you can stop us now.”
“What’s he talking about?” Tanya yelled at her father. A door opened on the other side of the basement, even though the only door down there led to the empty water heater room. The area was a dead end.
“He’s here!” the cultist yelled across the room, three cultists came around the machinery and charged at Tanya.
“You’ve got to be kidding me!” Tanya protested, losing her will to fight. She held her bat up to block a stun baton from the nearest cultist, pushing him into one of the computer terminals and getting her bat up around his neck. Behind her back, her father shot down the other two cultists. Tanya finished knocking hers unconscious as Melissa wheeled towards the ramp back upstairs.
“We really need to get out of here,” Melissa yelled at them, already pushing her wheels up the ramp as fast as they would go, and Tanya wasn’t about to argue.
*
Christopher Dalish stepped through the door into the basement of Joseph Dixon’s extravagant city hall. There was a noise around the corner, and he followed two of his men to where a number of his cultists had been gunned down.
Dalish sighed, his iron chainmail breastplate clinking with the rise and fall of his chest. “What happened Louise?”
The Spanish lieutenant was desperately applying pressure to a gunshot in his leg, propped up against a glowing computer terminal. “He’s got three teenage girls protecting him,” Louise said with a cough.
“You’ve got to be kidding me.”
“They’re like amazons!” Louise insisted. “There’s the vampire like we predicted, but she has friends.”
“Teenage friends,” Dalish repeated in his gruff thick Australian accent.  Louise nodded pleadingly, but pleading would do him no good. Dalish pulled his sword from its sheath and brought it to Louise’s neck. “You’ve faailed for the laast time, Louise.”
“And yet he succeeded at the task we assigned him,” came a woman’s voice from the doorway. She was tall and butch, with long brown hair hidden under her brown hood. Strapped to her back was her large trusty broad sword, passed down to her from her father. It was the largest sword Christopher Dalish had ever seen, but the size of her blade alone didn’t make her his second in command. It was her ruthlessness and cunning.
And yet in this case she was pleading mercy. “Maybe don’t kill him quite yet.”
Christopher Dalish looked to one of his robed soldiers still standing. “Take Louise to our doctors,” he ordered the man with distain, turning his back on both of them.
“Let me take on the vampire,” his second said. The woman grabbed at the handle of the large sword on her back. “I’ll crush her tiny body into dust.”
Dalish frowned at the large muscular woman. “That little Asian teenager is beyond you, Patricia,” he said, not at all meaning any disrespect. “We already have a contingency for her. Did you pay the man?”
Patricia nodded. “Should we let him on the field?”
“Come” Dalish told her, heading back for the closet door. He slid a key into the handle, and turned the long knob. “Let us release the hounds together.”
*
A cultist swung his stun club at Erika, and thanks to her abilities she was just able to dodge it. The club smashed into the front desk, and Erika pinned it there, kicking the man in the head so hard his face rebounded off the front desk and he dropped to the floor. Where he once stood, three more took his place.
Erika jumped on top of the table, kicking another cultist in the face and kicking the stun baton the first cultist had dropped into her hand. She sparked it to life and thrust it into the crowd as Rachel jumped onto the table to join her. Hana had taken to cowering behind it, and so far she’d been left largely alone.
“They’re multiplying,” Rachel said, and she wasn’t exaggerating. There seemed to be far more than twenty now, and they were swarming the desk.
A cultist jumped onto the table with them, swinging a medieval lance at her. It seemed their weapons were getting more extravagant too. He thrust the lance and she knocked it aside with her stun baton, kicking him off the table into a number of his buddies clamouring to get up behind him.
“I feel like I’m in a Mortal Kombat movie,” Erika muttered to Rachel, jabbing her baton into the crowd of cultists. She got one, but another managed to grab her weapon and pull it free. “Fine keep it.”
A cultist jumped onto the table beside Rachel, kicking at her head, but she went low sweeping his feet and knocking him off the table. “What I want to know,” Rachel said as three cultists managed to get on the table at once, one on each side and one in between them. “Why are they always wearing robes?” Rachel asked Erika. “Don’t people ever want to dress themselves before challenging us in ‘mortal combat’?” The cultist on Rachel’s side came at her with a sword, and she blocked it, swinging with her other arm to keep the second guy distracted. Erika tried to roundhouse kick her attacker, but her ducked under her foot.
Using her momentum she swung around and kicked the middle guy square in the chest. He flew off the table as Rachel got distracted blocking a heavy blow from her attacker. Slipping behind him, she slashed him in the leg and he fell off the table. Erika’s vision swooned red with warning as the final cultist came in from behind her, grabbing her in a bear hug.
As she struggled with the man and his attempts to throw her off the table into the crowd of his friends, she spotted Tanya come up the ramp from behind them, Melissa and the mayor still with her. A couple cultists came at them, but the mayor shot them down with what looked like dual Berettas before they could even get close.
She wanted some.
“He’s got a secret!” Tanya said, swinging her bat and fighting through the crowd to get to behind the front desk. She held the crowd back with her bat as they encroached from the side, but most the crowd were pushing in from the front. “There’s something he hasn’t told us about their ritual.”
“Trust me,” Rachel’s mother said to her as they joined her behind the desk. “There’s plenty he probably hasn’t told you.”
Rachel spotted Erika’s plight, and looked to help but Erika shook her head. “I got this,” she yelled to the vampire, throwing her head back to break his nose. “You just figure that out.”
Rachel slashed at a cultist trying to get over the table at the mayor. Someone jabbed a stun baton at her, and she stepped on it, stabbing his hand into the desk. “What do those keys do?” Rachel asked, pulling her sword free.
“Well,” the Mayor said, straightening his jacket, “As I said, though magic has been wiped from the world, magical artifacts still exist that retain some of the magical energy necessary to accomplish amazing things.”
Tanya blocked an axe with her bat, the blade digging into the metal, and leaving quite the indent. “We really don’t have time for another powerpoint presentation, dad.”
The cultist Erika was still struggling to get loose from produced a dagger and tried to stab her in the chest with it, still wrapped around her in a bear hug from behind. Erika managed to catch the dagger, but she was exhausted, and he was stronger than her.
Another cultist jumped onto Erika’s side of the table, she no longer able to stay vigilant in keeping them off, but Melissa threw a laptop at him knocking him over.
 “The Tempus cult stumbled upon keys with the ability to open doors to all kinds of different places around the world,” the mayor explained to them, finally getting to the point as he reloaded his pistols. “They slide a specific key into any door, and it’ll open inside the white house, or outside the Eifel tower.” He fired at the cultist coming at his daughter with an axe before he could strike again.
“The worst part is,” he continued, “is that they’ve learned how to imbue more keys with any location they wish.” And now it seemed they could come and go from city hall at will.
“That explains where all their re-enforcements keep coming from,” Tanya reasoned, jabbing her damaged bat at someone’s face.
Erika’s vision flashed a warning for her, a firearms warning. It wasn’t possible for a gun to be in the same room with her without her knowing exactly what it was, how many bullets it had, and where they were hiding it. Benefits of her government granted Synesthesia.
The gun was at a door as far from the garden and escalators as could be. On her side.
“Let’s split up,” Erika told Rachel, still struggling with her guy. His dagger was almost piercing the skin between her breasts. “I’ll take the twenty on the right.” With that she let the man lean her over the edge of the table, dropping backwards with him into a crowd of his men. She crushed him and a couple of his buddies, rolling free and punching out to the right to catch a cultist in the groin.
The cultist doubled over in pain, dropping his dagger which she caught and stabbed it around to the left, taking a cultist in the chest. Still crouched, she swept out with her leg, tripping three of the intruders, and stood up in time to dodge a particularly ugly fucker with a hammer.
His hammer smashed into the glass floor, and as the pane of glass shattered beneath her feet, Erika jumped onto the ugly robed man’s hammer, jumping off it and kicking off his shoulders to jump clear over a cultist with nunchucks to catch the firearm-ed man as he was just closing the door behind him. What she saw through the door looked like a large armoury of weapons, and it was filled with more re-enforcements.
Erika grabbed the gun from the surprised man’s hands, dipping him almost as if they were in a tango. “Aww, for me?” she asked, admiring the Mac 10. It was a handheld uzi-styled sub machine gun. “You shouldn’t have,” she said, pistol whipping him in the face. Bringing the gun up, she swept it around and feathered the trigger, spraying her gun seemingly wildly across the room. But it wasn’t wildly, and every single bullet found a different target. By the time her chamber clicked empty, most the room dropped to the ground either dead or incapacitated.
Rachel dropped off the table. “Holy shit,” she said in surprise. A cultist came at her with a sword. Rachel swung left, blocking his attack, and swung right with an attack of her own. He blocked her sword but didn’t see her cane coming, and she clocked him across the head, knocking him unconscious.
Erika’s vision flashed, and she turned to the door she’d previously chased a cultist to with the chest of keys. It was a similar maintenance closet to the one she was standing near, but on the other side of the lobby. It was standing open now, and an older man strode through clapping. He had a robe like the others, but wore a chainmail vest over his robes, and had a sword at his waist. His skin was weathered, but yet he seemed youthful in his movement.
“Bravo,” he said loudly, his voice anything but youthful. It was rough like gravel, possibly vaguely Australian. “You really are a bunch of li’le killers, aren’t you.”
He was flanked by two others. One was a very large woman, tall and muscular, with an only larger sword strapped to her back. The other one was the only person they’d seen not in a brown robe.
He was a man in his thirties, short black hair and Japanese features, wearing a traditional looking Samurai suit of armour, not that Erika had any clue what a traditional Samurai suit of armour would look like. His was red and black, and missing the helmet she would have expected to see. He held in his hand a katana similar to the one their leader had at his belt, though the Japanese man’s sword seemed older and more worn.
Behind them, more robed men came pouring out the door, six at least. They seemed to pair up, and under their robes Erika could see guns, many different kinds of guns. They came apparently very well armed. In their hands however, just the same stun clubs as most the others. Their leader really wanted the mayor alive.
“His name is Christopher Dalish,” Dixon said from behind the front desk. “He’s the leader of their cult.”
“We figured that part out already, dad.”
“Can we help you?” Rachel asked the man casually. Everyone around them just watched, waiting.
“His sword blocks bullets,” Hana told Tanya.
“That seems physically impossible,” Tanya said back, their voices carrying across the lobby.
Dalish raised his hand, and his faceless soldiers stopped advancing. Dalish stepped ahead of them, apparently to give himself room to pace dramatically while he monologued. “You swore on National TeeVee that you’d never killed a human being before, Missus Lin Smith” he told Rachel, “And now you’ve murdered so many of my men.”
“The law calls it self-defence!” Tanya yelled at Dalish.
“A lot has changed since that interview,” Rachel said slowly, holding her sword ready even though Dalish hadn’t even drawn his.
“Has it?” Dalish asked in his rough gravelly voice. “Or are you less in control of the vampire than you thought.”
“Hey,” Erika said to Dalish, stepping forward. The large woman behind their leader gave Erika a fierce glance that made her shiver. “She wasn’t speaking for me.” Erika tried to ignore the large woman, and she closed the distance between her and Rachel. “I’ve killed plenty of people. I don’t even feel bad. Doesn’t make me a monster.”
“You’re not allowed to hang out with my daughter anymore,” Hana yelled from the front desk.
Erika rolled her eyes at Rachel’s mom. “I’m leaving town. Relax.”
“How do you know so much about me?” Rachel asked Dalish. “My name even.”
The samurai broke formation, circling Rachel opposite of Dalish. Erika tried to get in his path, but the large woman blocked her path, drawing her big ass sword.
“As soon as I was told,” the samurai spoke in a smooth thick accent, “that our blades would inevitably cross, I began learning all I could about you from afar. Biding my time until I might be given the chance to add your power to my own.” He swung his sword swiftly through the air, taking an aggressive stance.
“Slow down there, Soul caliber,” Rachel told him. “You’re giving me anxiety.”
“As for me,” Dalish said opposite of the samurai, “I suppose your mother never told you of our prior entanglement.”
Rachel didn’t look away from Dalish. “We don’t talk much.”
“Family squabble?” He looked from her to her mother, but Rachel’s gaze never waivered.
“It’s not—“ Rachel said, stopping herself from getting distracted. “We just believe distance makes the heart grow fonder.”
 “Family will always be our downfall.” Dalish continued, smiling almost seemingly more to himself. “Mine are all dead. It’s a weakness I’ll never have again. Just one of many weaknesses I have spent these long decades expunging myself of, until finally I can truly say, standing here before you, that I’m the perfect specimen of a man.”
Rachel shrugged. “You’re not really my type,” she said. “Too old.”
Erika piqued in from behind the large woman, “And I’m all the way gay, so you might just be in the wrong room.”
“We could probably find a bigger sample size,” Rachel told him. “You wanna table this?”
Dalish pulled his blade from its sheath, the weapon ringing loudly. “Our feud cannot be tabled Mrs. Lin Smith. Once Satoru has been paid to kill someone, it is within his code not to stop until he has completed his mission.” He grinned. “I’m afraid you and him are going to have to fight.”
“What if I don’t want to fight him,” Rachel said, turning and kicking the samurai in the chest where he was expecting her to come at him with her sword. He fell back only a couple feet, despite her kick looking like she’d put all her strength behind it.
She spun back towards Dalish, her sword swinging down on him. He brought his up, and their swords clashed with a flash of sparks. Erika tried to get past the large woman and help her friend, but the butch cultist shoved her back. “Hey!” Erika complained.
Rachel swung high, but Dalish parried her. She swung low and again a parry. He swung at her left side and she locked her blade with him, shifting her weight to her other foot as he tried to make her lose her grip.
Suddenly the samurai grabbed her by the neck, lifting her up and roaring loudly as his bright white sharp teeth extended. Rachel struggled against his grip, even as Dalish moved to impale her. She only just swatted his blade aside, and in Satoru’s anger, the samurai vampire discarded Rachel through the second story of the city hall out towards the protesters.
“Rachel!” her mother screamed after her.
The samurai roared, brandishing his sword aggressively, and Erika had the odd feeling like they were in trouble.
“We should run,” the mayor told Tanya.
“He’s right!” Erika yelled at them as the women raised her large sword. “I’ll handle them, just get the mayor back to his office!”
Her vision flashed a warning, and she dodged to the left as the woman swung down with her sword. Backing away from the huge cultist, two of her nameless lackeys pressed in front of her, coming after Erika with electric prods raised. She slid in between their attacks, grabbing one cultist by the collar and head-butting him.
Reaching into his robes, she pulled two pistols free and kicked away from him to get a clear shot at Dalish. He seemed intent on chasing after Tanya.
“Handle us?” the large woman said, swinging her sword at Erika. Erika twisted her body aside, keeping one gun trained on the cult leader, and was just about to pull the trigger when a nameless cultist knocked her gun aside with his club.
The cultist got in front of her, stabbing her with his stun baton as she tried to aim over his shoulder. Her shot went wide, and she shot the cultist in the gut, swinging past him to get another shot on the cult leader. Her vision flashed warnings again, and she turned in time to see the large woman bringing her large sword on Erika.
Erika unloaded both her pistols on the large woman, the female cultist blocking every shot with the flat of her blade. The large shiny metal didn’t even dent, the bullets flattening against the sword and falling off.
“That’s a nice sword,” Erika complimented her.
“Thanks cutie,” the woman said, smiling a disturbingly twisted smile. “I can’t wait to run you through with it.”
She slashed at Erika with a large lazy horizontal swing that Erika was only just able to roll away from. Firing a few more shots at the woman, she saw the vampire head for the garden after the leader. She wasn’t doing a great job of keeping them distracted. Turning away from the very real threat to her life, Erika fired the last of her shots at the vampire, getting his attention.
Throwing her pistols aside, empty as they were, she sidestepped an attack from the large woman coming at her from behind, turning and landing multiple punches on the lady’s arm, shoulder, and face. Each punch felt like it was punching cement. Twisting under a slash from the samurai vampire, she tried landing some punches on him but they were just as ineffectual.
Erika dodged another slash from the Samurai, but allowed a swing from the female cultist to connect, the flat of the blade smacking her in the chest and knocking her back a number of feet. A faceless cultist came at her with a stun baton, but she just broke his arm, taking it from him and stabbing it into the large woman’s leg. If she even noticed, she didn’t make any sign of it. The woman swung her massive sword low, a move that could have cut Erika’s legs clean at the knee, but Erika jumped as high as she could.
To her surprise, the woman changed the direction of her sword, bringing it up and knocking Erika free from her controlled momentum. Tumbling through the air, she couldn’t defend herself from the kick the samurai planted firmly into her chest, which sent her careening over the front desk into the glass wall. The wall cracked on impact, along with something in her back.
She got up slowly, gasping for breath and hurt. She may have been a little outmatched.
The samurai looked like he was going to advance, when suddenly he stopped and turned, raising his sword in defence. Suddenly Rachel appeared, pressing her sword against his and roaring a vampire roar of her own.
“That’s an impressive skill that only very few vampires have been able to acquire,” he told her, with respect in his voice. “How old are you?”
“Sixteen,” she told him defiantly, and he laughed.
“Years?” he asked, laughing heavily. Rachel swung her sword at him and they parried blades once, twice, thrice.
“You’re very impressive,” he told her as their blades clashed. “I’d sooner take you on as my protégé than kill you.”
“That’s not going to happen,” Rachel said, swinging her blade at his again and again, turning suddenly to kick his blade aside. She spun in a circle and slashed at him before he could bring his blade up again. He raised his arm instead, and the blade embedded deep into his forearm.
“That’s too bad,” the vampire told Rachel solemnly.
“Pick it up,” the female cultist told Erika, tossing her a sword one of the other cultists had left behind.
“Swords aren’t really my style,” Erika argued.
“Pick it up!” The cultist repeated. “And fight me like a woman!”
*
Tanya stumbled through the garden, pushing her father ahead of her. Turning, she was just able to block Dalish’s sword as he came at them faster than she was expecting. He forced her bat out of her hand, and scoffed at her as she backed away from him into her father’s office.
“You should know little Miss Dixon,” Dalish said, stepping into the office after her. Her father was cowering behind his large once again hovering desk. “I am for real. I didn’t come here intending to fail.” He placed his sword against Tanya’s neck and gave the mayor a look. “Now are you ready to come with me, or do I have to slice up your pretty little daughter right before your eyes.”
“I’m not out yet,” Tanya said, grabbing the large floating desk in the center of the room and lifting it off its base. All the items on the desk slid off as she turned it on its side. For its size, the desk was surprisingly light, and Tanya swung it as hard as she could, knocking Dalish off his feet. As she swung a second time, her father dived for the pyramid base of his desk and started fiddling with some kind of panel.
Tanya brought the desk down a third time, but this time Dalish effortlessly swatted the metal slab aside.
“You’re simply delaying the inevitable,” Dalish warned Tanya.
“Actually she gave me time to increase the yield on this magnetic base,” the mayor told Dalish proudly. “What’s that chainmail made out of? Iron?”
“Shit,” Dalish said as he was getting back to his feet. Suddenly the glow of the base intensified, and Dalish was yanked off his feet to thud heavily against what used to be a simple desk.
“How long will that hold him?” Tanya asked her father, surprised he’d actually come through with something.
Dalish stabbed his sword into the machine, cutting a line through its mechanics.
“Not long,” Dixon told his daughter. “We should run.” They were starting to run out of places they could run to. Where was there to run to, when their enemy could step through any door at any time?
They stepped back into the hall, and a cultist jabbed Tanya with his electric baton. Tanya spasmed from the electricity, pain rolling up her side. She swatted the club aside, but the cultist smashed her face into the glass door of her father’s office so hard that the glass cracked and her vision swooned.
Tanya tried to swing a punch, but she was still off balance from the shock, and it was hardly the strongest punch she’d ever thrown. The cultist smashed her skull into the door again, and this time the crack came from between her ears along with a strange sloshing of liquid. She touched her finger to her nose, she was bleeding, and tried not to think about any permanent brain damage as she tackled the cultist to the ground. She struck the man in the head twice with her fists, careful not to fall over as dizziness overtook her, and she grabbed at his discarded electric prod.
She stabbed it into him, electricity coursing through him, and through her on top of him, and they convulsed together until he passed out.
She flopped over, pain searing through her veins. She was ready to pass out herself, but her father tried his best to get her on her feet anyway.
Tanya spotted the crack in the door that had been made by her head, and she suddenly had an idea. “We have to break all the doors,” she said groggily.
Her father startled, “Do you know how much each glass frame cost me?”
“We can stop their never-ending re-enforcements,” Tanya insisted, pulling away from her dad and limping to the end of the hallway. There were three other offices, besides his, and she went to each door in turn, winding up and smashing every door with her heavy electric rod she stole from the cultist. Finally she stopped at her father’s office, looking through the door to see that Dalish had disappeared, likely back to his hideout to resurface in the lobby where he assumed they’d left to.
Her father took a moment to take in his name, and the occupation of mayor typed underneath. With a nod from him, Tanya smashed her stick through the door, the glass shattering loudly to the ground.
“We have to tell the others,” Tanya told him.
*
Erika backed away as the large cultist swung her massive sword dangerously close. A cultist ran past her, swinging a baton at Erika’s head. She dodged under it, punching the man in the ribs, chest, and jaw in rapid succession before dodging back as the large woman made another wide swing and took her own man out for the count.
“Stop running away cutie,” the large woman said in her deep voice. “Show me what you got.”
“I think you’re being hard on yourself,” Erika joked, nimbly and subtly stepping over a hole in the floor a previous cultist had made with their hammer. “Use some make up, lose about two hundred pounds, you could look just like me.” She positioned herself just right.
As expected, the woman furiously came barreling towards Erika in a straight line, raising her sword to cleave the teenager in two. The woman wasn’t, however, watching her step, and she fell straight through the hole in the floor, disappearing underneath the building.
“You know,” Erika said to no one. “I almost feel bad.”
That just left the vampire. Rachel was engaging him in the center of the lobby, their swords ringing as each parried the other’s attacks.
“Sloppy,” the samurai said to Rachel. She slashed at him, shifting her weight as he blocked her blade, and kicking out at his side. He blocked the kick easily, apparently learning her tactics as they fought. “Who trained you?”
“It’s a long story,” Rachel said, stepping back and taking up a more defensive stance.
“I figured it out!” Erika heard Tanya’s voice ring out from the garden as she limped back into the lobby. “We have to break all the doors!” With her yell, Tanya limped to a large potted plant, grabbing it by the stem and swinging it with all her might into the maintenance closet on her side. The door shattered.
“I’ve got the one in the basement,” Melissa yelled, and the mayor followed after her as Erika finally clued in. She turned to the maintenance closet on her side as the door was opening.
It was Dalish.
Erika did a forward roll to the door, trying to kick it closed, but Dalish got his foot in to block it. Jumping up, the nineteen year old tomboy punched at Dalish, but the cult leader blocked her jab. He sent out a jab of his own, but she was more than able to bring up her arm and block it in time. Not that the punch didn’t still hurt.
She kicked at him, but he blocked her foot just as easily. And then another punch. He thrust his fist at her face, and she ducked her shoulder just under it, punching him in the jaw. He barely seemed to feel it. Grabbing his chainmail, she headbutted him only to seemingly do more damage to herself.
“Wanna try that twice?” Dalish asked, grabbing her and head-butting her back. His forehead was like a sledgehammer and he broke her nose with one hit.
Woozily Erika planted both her feet against his chest and kicked off him as hard as she could. She hit the floor heavier than she’d intended, but he stumbled back a couple feet. It was enough. She kicked the glass door with all her strength, and it slammed so heavily that it shattered in the frame.
Erika decided to stay on the ground for a moment, comfortable as she caught her breath. Everything hurt, and her body was screaming for her to stay down. On top of that, blood was flowing from her nose to her mouth. She could taste it.
The ringing of sword on sword brought her back to reality, as Rachel still fought for her life against the samurai vampire. Erika forced herself up, desperate to help her friend. Tanya apparently had the same idea, abandoning her quest to instead move in on the Samurai’s back. Erika saw the school president pick up an electric prod, and she did the same.
Rachel slipped with her powers to behind the samurai, but he effortless swung his sword back behind him, catching her blade on his. Stepping to the side, he swung and blocked with his blade just right to catch all three of their weapons as they all struck at once.
“Now,” he tsked, “Three on one is not very honourable.” His blade went into a flurry of motion as the three moved in on him, going high and low, hitting at him from every angle. He slapped away their attacks as if they were nothing.
Erika jabbed her club at him, and he blocked with his sword on its very end, the blade catching between the two electrodes. Rachel raised her sword high for a devastating slash, but the samurai got his sword free and slashed Rachel across the tendons of her arm. Rachel dropped her sword, blood spattering to the ground as she screamed in pain.
Angrily Tanya swung at the vampire with her electric prod, but the samurai effortlessly blocked her attack and guided her rod towards her foot, electrocuting her before punching her with the hilt of his sword and sending her body like a ragdoll straight through the front desk.
He swung a kick at Erika that it was obvious he assumed would connect, but she dodged under it, jabbing up with her baton. The vampire stepped on her weapon, kneeing her in the face with his other leg and slashing her across her breast before she could recover. The blade sliced easily through her jacket, and even more easily through her skin, not cutting deep, but distracting her enough to stumble back. The vampire gave her one more effortless shove, and she toppled over the glass railing falling two stories to the hard glass floor in front of the building’s entrance.
Erika hit the floor so hard it took her breath away and cracked something in her spine. It hurt to even try to move, and with the oxygen violently expunged from her lungs her vision was starting to swoon. All she could do was watch as the samurai lifted Rachel up by her neck and snap it.
“Rachel!” Erika could hear Mrs. Lin scream from somewhere far away.
Slinging the teen vampire over his shoulder, the samurai jumped over the same railing Erika had just stumbled over, dropping the same distance and landing effortlessly on his feet. Erika tried to reach for him, but she was powerless to even raise her arm.
“Rachel!” Tanya yelled, limping down the escalator after the vampire. He turned away from her and made for the front door, sliding a key into the lock while police on the other side drew guns against him.
“Put down the girl,” Erika could hear the line of cops yell from the other side of the glass. The samurai simply smiled at them, and opened the glass door to a sight that was vividly not a line of cops. Instead it was the same cave like underground armoury she’d seen earlier.
“Rachel! No!” Tanya yelled after him. The samurai stepped through the doorway, even as Tanya reached the bottom of the stairs and broke into a hobbled run. He slammed the door behind him, the glass shattering in the frame just as Tanya dived at it, the school president falling through the doorway into a pile of glass in front of a line-up of cops in the bright sunny afternoon.
*
Tanya didn’t even see the cops at first, the glass of the door digging into her palms as she grasped at what was left of her girlfriend. Everyone, the cops, the protesters, the reporters, all stood in silence. They were watching, waiting for her to say something.
Tanya could hear footsteps running up the stairs of city hall, and the person who leaned over Tanya had familiar red hair. “I came,” Alice told Tanya. “I’m sorry I didn’t come sooner. But I’m here for you. Whatever you need.”
“She gone,” Tanya said, and Alice looked at her confused.
“Who’s gone?”
“Rachel,” Tanya answered her question. “She’s gone and I don’t know what to do.” Tanya couldn’t help but cry, tears streaming down her face at the thought of what they would do to her friend. At the thought of possibly never seeing her friend again. Alice embraced her.
“Were they after the mayor?” A reporter finally asked. “Is the mayor alright.”
“Yes,” Tanya said, wiping at her eyes. “They were for the mayor. Another of his personal problems that he’s now made the city’s problem. My friend is gone because of him, and since being elected my father has done nothing but make this city a more dangerous place to live.”
“So what do we do?” A woman asked in the crowd. “How do we feel safe again? Who can we trust to stop this from happening in our city?”
Tanya stood up, tears streaming openly down her face. “Vote for me. I hereby announce my application to oppose my father in this year’s election for mayor of the municipality of Oakville.” She looked over her shoulder at where her father was just coming down the escalator.
“If you have any more questions, you can direct them to my assistant Alice,” Tanya said as the reporters pushed to the front of the crowd and went wild to speak over each other. Tanya turned her back on them and stepped back into city hall, yelling over her shoulder, “May the best Dixon win.”
Next Time on Urban Fantasy @ www.patreon.com/99geek
Chapter 7: They’ve got Rachel, and Tanya won’t sleep until she gets her girlfriend back. But who will go farther for their vampire lover? Tanya? Or Ian?
Next Month: Dakotah Slade Paranormal/Detective at www.patreon.com/99geek June 2018
Chapter 1: Is spontaneous combustion real? It’s a question Dakotah Slade might find herself asking more than once as she teams up with inexperienced and over-his-head Detective Anderson. When he can’t even trust his own force, is Dakotah the only one he can trust?
July 2018: The Aldonn Chronicles Chapter 6
August 2018: Adrift Homeless Chapter 6