From the Vampire Slayer With Love
The two sworn enemies stopped short when they recognized each other in the moonlight. For a long moment they studied each other across the tombstones, taking each other’s measure.
At last the taller of the two, a huge, lumbering man, spoke in a thickly accented voice. “I thought you were dead.”
“I got better.”
“I heard about that. I thought you died again.”
“I got better again.”
“I will make certain you do not get better when I kill you. Unless you were to abandon your futile opposition to us, we who are destined to rule the world. Hasn’t it ever occurred to you how much more in common we have with each other than with those we serve?”
His opponent gave a grim little smile. “Indeed. You are a great deal like me. Which is why I know better than to allow you to run loose in the world.”
“You won’t last long. Your kind never does. I’ve seen many of you little heroes come and go.”
"We will always keep coming, another in every generation. No matter how many you kill, another of us always rises to send your kind to hell where you belong."
The big man’s face suddenly morphed into that of a fearsomely fanged demon. “I have a suggestion. Let’s skip the repartee bit and get straight to the fight.”
Klaudine the vampire Slayer planted her feet apart and raised her fists in fighting stance, her green eyes gleaming dangerously. “I live to serve.”
They launched themselves at each other. The vampire’s massive bulk could have made him the easy victor if not for his opponent’s acrobatic agility. In a whirlwind of high kicks, she forced him to give ground an inch at a time. After only a few moments, she found an opening, whipped a stake from her sleeve and drove it swiftly into his heart. One second later, he was a pile of dust around her ankles. She shook off her feet briskly and strode out of the cemetery.
Her destination was the local high school. As it was nearly midnight, the school was closed, but she marched right in anyway, pausing only to give a brief but reverent look to the statue of the school’s mascot, a razorback boar.
When she reached the office of the school’s Archaeology Club, the front for the Slayer’s helpers, she didn’t even wait for the door to close behind her before she demanded, “Aaron, is there any word on why the vampires are after that Etruscan talisman?”
Aaron looked up from the pile of antique volumes he was crouched behind and stammered, “There is word. I’m sure of it. It just – hasn’t been written on any pages that I’ve actually personally looked at. So far.”
“Idiot,” Klaudine said automatically. She turned her head sharply to another of her helpers, a nice-looking young man with shaggy blond hair. “Zack. Is it too much to hope that you found anything out?”
As Zack visibly groped for a reply, Aaron blurted, “Didn’t you say you were going to tell her about….” As Zack and Klaudine both looked at him, Zack angrily and Klaudine coldly, he stopped, then went on lamely, “About how dull last night was, and how nothing at all happened, and so there’s nothing that you need to report. At all.”
Klaudine leveled a weary glare on Zack. “This nothing that you didn’t need to tell me about wouldn’t happen to have nothing to do with your newest girlfriend, would it?”
Zack swallowed. “Let me count the negatives in there to see whether the sum is a yes or a no.”
The Slayer folded her arms. “What did this one turn out to be? A werewolf? A black widow? A headless horseman?”
“Is it completely out of the question that a normal girl might be attracted to me?”
The Slayer arched a brow.
“None of the above! …She’s just a siren who uses her singing to lure men to their doom.”
“I told you that seaweed sandwich wasn’t just a health food fad. I’ll take care of her. As for the rest of you, keep looking for information about that talisman. We’re running out of time. Remember that you’re all required to have one extracurricular activity, and if the ‘Archaeology Club’ had to be disbanded, it would be the Alaska Touring Club for all of you.”
She turned on her heel and marched toward the door. With a covert glance at her back, Gerry whispered, “She’s utterly droolworthy… but being called an idiot tends to take people out of the dating mood.”
Barclay looked puzzled. “Hmm, it actually kinda turns me on.”
Gerry stared at him. “I fear you.”
Before the Slayer could reach the door, it swung open and the Watcher came in. “Klaudine!” A smile spread across his corpulent face. “Did you have fun on patrol tonight?”
She treated him to a frosty frown. “Patrolling is not supposed to be ‘fun’. I staked Mischa.”
That gave Twitterswell pause. “Mischa? Are you sure?”
“I’ve fought with Mischa several times; I could hardly be mistaken about his identity.”
“Well – well, this is excellent news! Slayers have been trying to kill Mischa for decades! This calls for a celebration. Take the rest of the week off.”
Klaudine did not move from the spot or crack a smile. “Impossible. The vampires have plans for that talisman, and they’re bound to be unpleasant. I have to be ready to stop them.”
“No wonder they call you the Iron Slayer.”
“‘In every generation there is a Chosen One. She alone will stand against the vampires, the demons, and the forces of darkness.’ I am the Slayer.”
The Watcher put a fatherly hand on her shoulder, then at her glare removed it while it was still intact. “Klaudine, Klaudine. You’re a teenage girl. Young. Pretty. You work too hard! You should be enjoying your youth!”
The Slayer’s green eyes narrowed. “Don’t you have doughnuts to watch?”
Twitterswell’s genial smile did not falter, but something hardened in his eyes. “In that case, if you are so determined to get the talisman back from the vampires, Klaudine, I believe you’re going to need some expert help. And I know just the expert for the job.”
For the first time, the Slayer lost her icy composure. Horror in her eyes, she protested, “No! Not—“
All heads turned to the open window. Just outside a leggy golden-haired vampiress wearing a black leather jacket, black leather miniskirt and precious little else was lounging on the sill. Her gaze boldly looked up and down the Slayer’s lithe form in its tailored suit.
“Oh, look, it’s my gorgeous-babe-shaped friend,” she said irrepressibly.
“Don’t you dare invite her in!” Klaudine told her Watcher desperately.
“Come on in, Doreen,” Twitterswell said happily. With a taunting smile, the vamp swung a leg over the sill and stepped in, eyeing the Slayer, though not in quite the way she eyed most mortals.
“We have no business working with her!” Klaudine insisted with growing alarm. “She’s a vampire! She’s the enemy!”
“She’s different from the others,” the Watcher said complacently. “She has a soul.”
“Don’t worry, my love, I won’t bite you. Unless, of course, you ask me to.”
Klaudine began furiously, “I will not—“
“Remember that the legacy requires that you follow the instructions of your Watcher,” Twitterswell pointed out smugly.
Klaudine fumed wordlessly for a moment before snarling, “Fine! Barclay, Aaron, you’re coming with us, and the rest of you, find something about that damned talisman in those damned books. And as for you,” with a glare at Doreen, “all I need is one step out of line to disregard my Watcher’s orders, so watch yourself, got it? I doubt all that leather would look as good on a pile of dust.”
“Are you saying it looks good on my shapely immortal body, darling? How sweet of you to notice.”
The Slayer marched out without answering, Aaron and Barclay scurrying after. Doreen stood for a minute, head tilted to one side as she contemplated the infuriated Slayer with a prurient little smile.
“Don’t you worry she might stake you?” Gerry hissed, darting a glance to make sure the Slayer couldn’t hear.
“Oh, yeah. The two or three thousand golden opportunities to stake me that she’s passed up, I’m sure were just oversights.”
With that, Doreen gave an irrepressible wink and sauntered after the Slayer into the night.
“Where are we going?” Doreen asked after a few minutes, seeing that neither boy had the nerve to inquire.
“To Lawrence the snitch,” Klaudine replied grimly.
“Oh, goody. It’s always such a refreshing change to beat someone up without drinking his blood.”
“Shut up.” Klaudine reached the door of Monte Carlo, Lawrence’s bar that catered to the undead and otherworldly, and tried the heavy metal door. It was locked, but a peephole opened. “What’s the password?”
For answer, Klaudine stepped back and kicked the door in, knocking over Lawrence with it. She then stepped over the wreckage, knocked the door aside, and hauled Lawrence to his feet by his apricot collar. Her companions followed her in and stood watching, Barclay and Aaron nervously, Doreen admiringly.
“K-Klaudine!” Lawrence pulled his face into a smile. “You look great.”
“What do the vampires want with that Etruscan talisman they just stole from the museum?”
Lawrence looked at her for a minute, calculation in his eyes. Then he offered an ingratiating shrug. “Sorry. Always glad to oblige the Slayer, but I haven’t heard a thing.”
Klaudine looked at him, raising her eyebrows.
“Hey, would I lie to you? Do I look stupid?”
“Oh, don’t tell me, I know this one,” Barclay piped up.
“I suppose he isn’t quite that stupid,” Klaudine conceded reluctantly, loosening her hold. “Let’s go find someone who knows something.”
She turned away and took one step, giving Lawrence time for half a sigh of relief before she gave him a punch that knocked him halfway across the room, right into Doreen’s arms.
Doreen promptly gripped his shoulders. As he struggled uselessly, his slick hair and his loud suit mussed, she wrinkled her nose. “Ewwww, man cooties!” Abruptly her pretty face changed to the demonic vampire face and she bared her teeth, inclining her head toward his neck. “Do you know the only thing men are good for?” she purred.
"Eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!" Lawrence replied.
"I had forgotten,” Klaudine said. ”You are right. He screams like a little girl."
“Okay, okay! Maybe I heard a little!”
“Down, girl,” Klaudine instructed Doreen, who backed off from the man’s neck. “Damn, I used to be the bad cop.”
Still shaking, Lawrence stammered, “It’s not the local vampire gang. These guys are new in town. Even the other vampires hate them. They’re bad news – they kidnapped a few vampires and said they were going to sacrifice them for the common good!”
“Isn’t that always the reason?” Klaudine asked wryly. “So what’s with this sacrifice?”
“I didn’t hear any details—“ Lawrence began.
“You look a little pale, Doreen. Are you hungry?” Klaudine asked.
“Except that their names are Nikita and Josef and they’re trying to raise their leader Vladimir Illyich who’s been in a coma ever since a gypsy put a spell on him centuries ago,” Lawrence went on hastily.
“And the talisman is needed to reverse the spell?”
“That’s what I heard.”
“Where are they?”
“They said something about that old co-op that’s going to be torn down next month.”
“And why do they want to raise this guy?”
“They think he’s going to lead them to take over the world.”
“Can’t they ever come up with something new?” Klaudine asked. “Let’s go.”
“Can I bite him?” Doreen asked in a parody of a wheedling tone.
Klaudine did not turn around. “No. His replacement might be less of a pushover. It’s more efficient this way.”
“Oh, well.” Doreen tossed him aside, letting her face de-vamp, and followed the others out.
They walked to a nearby pay phone, but quickly discovered it was broken. “Is there another one around here?” Aaron asked, looking around.
Scowling, Klaudine turned to Doreen, patted down the pockets of her jacket as the vampiress smirked, and appropriated her cell phone.
“You could have just asked, darling.”
“Was it good for you, too?”
Klaudine punched in Twitterswell’s number without answering. Gerry answered. Klaudine quickly relayed what she had learned from Lawrence, then demanded, “Anything about the talisman?”
“I think so,” Gerry replied nervously. “It’s used in unbinding spells, but it requires undead energy.”
“How does it get it?”
“Well….” Gerry sounded queasy. “You need to drain a vampire of his blood.”
“Fine. We'll just stop the sacrifice.” She hung up.
Barclay was frowning. "Are we really going to save those monsters?"
"Of course not,” Klaudine snapped. “We're going to kill them all."
"I suppose I shouldn't use my knives, then?" Doreen said, assuming an angelic expression that matched her pretty face and large blue eyes better than her black leather or her plunging neckline.
"Of course not. Idiot."
"Knew Gerry would find something. He always does.” "Gerry is a good team member,” Klaudine stated.
"I think he's perfectly splendid,” Doreen cooed, “but I'm amazed that you think so, what with the dresses and all. Isn't he unnatural too?"
"He is alive, a loyal soldier of the light, not an undead abomination like you. His soul is pure."
There were no vehicles near the abandoned co-op, but that only meant the vampires were being cautious. No lights were visible, but then, the windows were all boarded up. It was a perfect place for vampires to hole up.
“Where in the building do you think they’ll be?” Aaron asked as they approached.
“In the basement, probably, like the nightcrawling vermin they are.” Klaudine lifted a booted foot and kicked the front door in. There was no one in sight.
“I resent being called a nightcrawling vermin,” Doreen announced. She tossed her yellow curls. “You know, some humans have called me a fox.”
“Foxes are vermin,” Klaudine pointed out. “This way.”
They followed her to the basement door. “Let me do this one,” Doreen coaxed. “Why on earth have a supernatural thief along if you don’t let her pick locks?”
“Stand back,” Klaudine ordered.
“Darling, I know it makes you feel all macho, but really, there are more subtle ways to do things sometimes.”
Aaron quietly cleared his throat and touched the door. It swung open.
Klaudine had no time to be annoyed; the open door revealed a grisly ritual in progress below. In the center of the room was an open coffin containing an emaciated vampire, its eyes closed and limbs immobile, the stolen talisman resting over his heart. Hanging upside down above him, unconscious, were two of the local vampires, bloodsuckers who had given Klaudine their share of trouble over the last year or so. Their blood was slowly dripping into the coffin from numerous incisions. Gathered around were thirteen vampires wearing gray robes, chanting in some ancient language, their eyes alight with an unholy gleam.
“Aaron, you stay here at the door,” Klaudine whispered. “Stake anyone who tries to escape.”
“What if Barclay tries to escape?” Aaron whispered back with a little grin.
“Then stake him,” she hissed, not smiling back. “The rest of you, after me.”
With that she vaulted over the railing and landed beside the coffin. The chanting stopped abruptly, and in an instant every vampire and human in the room was engaged in fierce battle.
Klaudine, as usual, dispatched the undead right and left with almost insolent ease. Aaron and Barclay defended themselves and not much more. Doreen applied a high kick or two en route to the coffin. Once she laid hands on the talisman, she sprang onto the coffin’s edge and from there back to the head of the stairs, where she posed on the railing, swinging her long legs.
“Oh, bo-oys,” Doreen cooed, holding the talisman aloft. “Missing something?”
Nikita paused on the brink of having Barclay for lunch to look up. “That traitor has the talisman! Get her!”
The four still-living vampires who had been harrying Klaudine all charged towards Doreen. Klaudine paused long enough to knock Nikita over, freeing Barclay, before back-flipping to the foot of the stairs, where she landed just in time to block the vampires from climbing them and briskly dusted all four of them, like dominoes.
“I hope there is room on your dance card for me, Nikita,” she said, pulling out a fresh stake. “All of your comrades appear to have died.”
Nikita snarled. “This isn’t over, Slayer. I will find more undead who are willing to make sacrifices for the common good, and we shall return to unite our kind and throw off the tyranny of humans on this earth!”
Klaudine went for him, but he moved swiftly to one of the numerous tall, dusty stacks of boxes that lined the basement’s walls. He quickly thrust them aside, opened the door they had concealed, and ran into the night. Klaudine hurried after him, but he was gone.
“Typical servant of the common good,” Doreen remarked as Klaudine returned. “He hid the emergency exit from his accomplices.”
“The only good thing about evil demons is that they frequently kill each other and save me the trouble,” Klaudine retorted. “However, better safe than sorry.” She staked Vladimir Illyich and the two now-bloodless vampires who were dangling over his coffin.
“You’re welcome,” Doreen said, smug.
Klaudine ignored her, only snatching the talisman from her as they left the basement.
“Hey, don’t I get a souvenir?”
“It belongs to the museum.”
“Then you owe me. I do expect some kind of compensation for my help.” She tilted her head, a flirtatious smile playing over her glossy red lips. “Why don’t you come to my place after you report and we’ll discuss it?”
“I still have one stake left,” Klaudine remarked.
“You’re no fun,” Doreen pouted.
“I keep telling you that.”
“Do say hello to your Watcher for me, won’t you, darling?” With that, Doreen brushed past Klaudia and vanished in the darkness. Klaudine did not look after her. She was grimly silent on the way back to the school, and Aaron and Barclay were too cowed to speak.
After they reported, Twitterswell rebuked her. “Why didn’t you get Nikita?”
Klaudine stood straighter, squaring her shoulders. "We will, one day. This is a secret war, but the Slayers shall always fight it."
The Watcher gave a slight shake of his head. “I told Doreen that she could keep the talisman as payment.”
The Slayer granted him a frostily disapproving look. “It is stolen property. I took it from her. Gerry, you can return it to the museum tomorrow.” Klaudine reached into her pocket. “Damn! That vamp tramp picked my pocket and stole it back!”
“Resourceful girl, isn’t she?” Twitterswell said approvingly.
Klaudine was gathering her favorite profanities when Zack emerged from the shelves and interrupted. “Klaudine! You’re back!” With a besotted look, he held out a small stack of papers and said proudly, “While you were out slaying, I did your homework for you, Klaudine!"
The entire room winced. Klaudine winced too, but managed to conceal hers more quickly. "I think it is better that I am graded on my own merits, Zack."
The stocky vampire withdrew his fangs from his victim's neck and let the human fall to the ground. He licked the blood from his lips with relish before pulling out a large red handkerchief and mopping his mouth clean.
"Bonhaaaaaam!" James protested. "You're being wasteful! There must be at least half a pint left in that one!"
Bonham grimaced. "Will you pick something and feed? We have to meet Doreen."
"I have picked," James announced with satisfaction. He pointed to an ancient, semi-conscious wino slumped in the corner, one filthy hand still loosely grasping a bottle. "Him! He looks wonderfully miserable...."