Published by Quintin Fortune at Shakespir
Copyright 2015 Quintin Fortune
Shakespir Edition, License Notes
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‘VM-004,’ an electronic voice announced. ‘Grey. Lady.’
Lady Grey appeared in the middle of a rune-covered circle. She slipped the phone back into her coat as she stepped out of the circle and looked around the grand setup known as The Foyer. Rooms lined the large space with a grand staircase sitting at the back. Among the columns hung the banner of Venatores Mali: a silver ring with three prongs sticking up. The banner itself was black, just like everything else in this order.
“Lady Grey,” a woman’s voice called out. She looked up from under her wide-brim hat to see a Chinese woman with long black hair walking down the grand staircase holding a tablet. She wore her familiar hunter green sweater and skinny black jeans. “Just going over the image you sent us.”
“And,” she hissed. She bit back on her spite for Genia Lee, the woman standing before her. It was aggravating that this girl outranked her. Just because the leader and her;
“And,” she said, interrupting her thoughts. “This appears to be a piece of a much larger puzzle.”
“We’re not sure,” Genia answered, looking over the the image on her pad. “They’re a series of vampiric runes that speak of an ‘Order of Blood’.”
“Who are they?”
Genia looked up at Grey. “Not sure. I’ll run it through the Akashic and get back to you on it.”
Lady Grey walked away up the grand staircase. “You do that,” he grumbled. “I’m going to rest up.”
Lady Grey sat in her darkened quarters, whiskey in hand, staring into nothingness. She didn’t sleep much anymore. When fighting nightmares goes from being in your head to being in the real world, sleep just doesn’t work. The only option left was to pass out drunk and wake up when she was called back into the hellish battle. He told her it was a war worth fighting.
She was done with war, but it felt like war wasn’t done with her. She closed her eyes, only to see fire and ash. She heard screams and gunfire. The booze made it all look just like a murky dream.
‘Grey’ someone’ else’s voice echoed in her head. She awoke from her drunken stupor. ‘Wake up’ the voice commanded. It took her mind a moment to realize WHO was talking in her head.
“Yes sir,” she groaned.
It was a dark, unnatural voice. A voice that could strike fear in the devil himself. It was the leader of Venatores Mali.
Before she had time to regain her composure, her mind was bombarded with information. Numbers, figures, images, paragraphs. After a minute, the information stopped.
“Ever heard of a ‘dossier’,” Grey grumbled.
‘The teleport is ready,’ the voice replied.
Lady Grey gulped down some aspirin before grabbing her rifle and heading out.
The teleportation flashed faded from Lady Grey’s eyes. As they adjusted, she took in the dark, musty ruins of a once great temple. It was once a place dedicated to the Order of Blood, a cult that worshiped vampires. The temple and the Order were hidden deep within a cave in a location that was lost to time. At least it was before Grey found the vampiric runes that spelled out the coordinates.
She scanned the darkness. It was quiet here. Very quiet. Which meant…
‘I’m being watched,’ she noted, looking up at the high ceiling. The darkness covered up any hints of movement.
She started walking towards her objective. The flood of information included a layout of the temple and where any obstacles might be. With their leader’s precise calculations and plans, she knew exactly where she was going without any need of a light source.
The rustling in the darkness was faint at first, but quickly scurried up behind her. The noise ran past her feet and continued off into the ruins. ‘Damn rodents,’ she mentally complained. She continued on her journey, careful not to trip on anything that might give away her position. The pitch blackness did nothing to help her. She took the number of steps that the instructions in her head told her to, then took a left. A few meters down, then a right.
She stopped. Her goal laid just behind these giant doors that she couldn’t even see. She ran her gloves hands over the intricate stone carvings on the doors. Detained designs? Pictorial history? She wasn’t getting anything from the markings. She pushed, but the doors didn’t budge. She leaned on it and pushed harder. The sound of stone sliding against stone was faintly heard.
She pulled back, then slammed onto the door with all her might. It started to slowly open.
With one last push, Lady Grey found the ancient library of Myricron. The span of the library was huge. The darkness made it seem infinite. The smell of long-forgotten books filled her nose. The feeling of knowledge tinged her mind. Certain people would be enraptured by a place like this. She was not one of those people.
She continued to the podium that contained the one book she was sent here for. The Tome of Blood. A book that contained the secrets of turning mortals into vampires. The smell of something else suddenly filled her nose. The smell of dried skin and desperate hunger.
She snorted the smell out. Several creatures scurried around and above her. These were definitely bigger than rats. One suddenly smelled very close. It hissed something in a long forgotten tongue, but Grey presumed it wasn’t anything pleasant.
Slowly, she pulled out her rifle as the creature started to sniff her. “Back off,” she growled just before slamming the butt of the rifle into the creature’s abdomen. She spun around and fired off a shot. The flash from the muzzle temporarily blinded her, and she hoped it did the same to whatever was surrounding her.
There were screeches in the darkness, echoing off the stone shelves. She began to fire in several directions. Screams of pain came as a response. Something tried to come up behind her, but she whirled around and fired off a shot at the target. The sound of a head exploding responded.
She knew she didn’t have enough bullets for this battle. There was only one way to get out of this. She pulled a flash grenade from her coat and lobbed it up in the air. She shielded herself from the flash as the creatures that were trying to attack her screamed in agony.
Lady Grey took the moment and rushed to the podium that held the Tomb of Blood, grabbing it just as the vampires were about to fall upon her. There was a flash.
Lady Grey stood inside the bronze teleportation ring, clutching the book for dear life.
‘Grey. You have returned,’ his voice reverberated in her mind. It wasn’t a very comforting tone.
“Yes sir,” she confirmed. “With package in tow.”
“Well done,” Genia’s voice greeted. She stood next to the console that operated the teleportation system. Genia walked up and held out her hand, waiting politely for Grey.
“There were vampires in there,” she remarked.
“We know,” Genia replied, still holding her hand out.
“I was in total darkness with vampires,” Grey stated.
“We would not have put you in a situation you couldn’t have handled,” Genia answered.
Grey shoved the book into Genia’s hand. “You’re all heart,” she growled.
The sunlight burned through Lady Grey’s eyelids. She strained to open them. Her back ached. The couch was no longer comfortable to pass out on. Through bleary eyes she spotted a light flashing among the empty bottles of beer. The light came from a device no bigger than an ear bud.
The Mente Parlare, a device that allowed non-telepathic people to communicate telepathically. The color of the light indicated which frequency it needed to be on. Purple was for team communications, and each Hunter had a color assigned to them. The light was blinking yellow, which meant…
‘What Frank,’ she mentally growled after she crammed the device into her ear.
‘Hello to you too, Beautiful,’ a charming voice replied. ‘This is your eight a.m. wake-up call.’
Grey looked at her phone. ‘It’s after ten, idiot.’
‘No, this is the eight a.m. wake-up that you were too passed out drunk to answer.’
She rubbed her forehead, trying to ignore the growing hangover. ‘What do you want?’
‘Not me. Orders from higher up.’
Grey tried to drain the last few drops of beer out of a bottle, but failed. ‘And higher up can’t tell me this because…?’
‘Genia’s taking care of the day-to-day business and ‘he’s’…well…preoccupied.’
She tried another bottle. Still nothing. ‘So what do they want?’
‘Need you to head over to ZioTech and pick up some gear. Boss said it would help you with where this assignment is taking you.’
She openly sighed. ‘Fine. I’ll get a shower and be over there as soon as I can.’
‘Awesome. I’ll let Austin know you’ll be there in a few hours.’
She plucked the earpiece out of her ear. “Asshole,” she griped. “It’s not going to take me that long to get ready.”
Lady Grey searched the floor-wide room for a young bald black man. “Needle in a haystack,” she said under her breath. She pushed her way through the crowd of scientist, people that looked for ways to meld magic and technology. The world knew it as OcculTech. From the corner of her eye, she saw someone messing with a metal gauntlet. A fireball shot out of the palm, blasting a hole in the wall.
A few sirens went off as several scientists ran with fire extinguishers. Grey continued walking, unfazed by the sudden outburst.
An Indian woman no taller than five feet stepped directly in front of her. “Lady Grey,” she addressed. “Doctor Myles is waiting for you.” She glared at Grey from over the top of her large glasses, judging her for being late.
A short trip through the chaos brought them to the man she was looking for. A bald black man was looking over a large box that had glass on each of the sides. Inside the box was what looked like a swirling galaxy. “Doctor,” the assistant announced.
He turned away from his work, “Ah, Grey. Frank told me you would be here about this time.”
‘I’m going to kill him’, she noted. “Orders from higher up,” she said to him. “Said you had something for me.
“You have always been a ‘strictly business’ type,” he noted. “Let me just finish up with this and we’ll head over to R&D.”
“What is that,” Grey asked, nodding towards the box.
“Glad you asked,” he said, patting the box.“We have actually made some improvement in the field of PR.”
“What’s PR,” she asked.
“Pocket Reality. We can hold an infinite amount of things with only the tap of an app.”
Grey gave him a questioning look.
“A demonstration,” he suggested. He grabbed the clipboard out of his assistant’s hands and placed it on the table. Pulling out his phone, he tapped it a few times and aimed the camera at the clipboard. When the camera clicked as if taking a picture, a beam shot out and the clipboard disappeared.
Lady Grey was taken back by the display.
“Now for part two,” Austin said. He pushed another button, and the beam shot back out. This time, a small purple imp came with it, trying to eat the clipboard. A few scientists near by started to panic. The imp hissed at them, ready to attack.
Grey quickly pulled a hand rifle out of her coat and blasted the creature to bits.
Austin picked up the remains of the clipboard and handed it back to his shocked, covered-in-imp-bits assistant. “We may have a few more tests to run, Ashra,” he stated.
Ashra simply nodded.
Lady Grey followed Dr. Myles to the Weapons Research room. The walls were covered with prototypes of both offensive and defensive devices. Guns. Grenades. Swords. Shields. Some even looked like they would be more at home in a spy film. She picked up a pen sitting on one of the racks.
“Careful with that,” Austin warned. “It’s a Dimensional Splitter. Can cut a hole in reality itself.”
Grey gently put the pen back.
“These are what you’re here for,” he commented from behind a counter. He pulled out a box with a hinged lid. He lifted it to reveal twelve rifle shells. Each one had a small clear tip.
Lady Grey lifted one out to analyze it. “What is it?”
“It’s a special UV-tipped bullet,” he explained. “It’s engineered to activate once it makes contact with anyone of vampiric blood.”
“How,” she questioned.
“The blood acts as a chemical trigger. Once blood hits the tip, a UV pulse sets out from it and destroy the part of the vampire’s body. Hit the heart or head, and it’s instant death.”
“What if I hit any other part of the body,” she asked, looking over another bullet.
“Then it just leaves a nasty wound that will never heal,” Austin explained. “It won’t kill them, but they will be in excruciating pain for the rest of their unlife.”
She placed the bullet back in the case and closed it. “I’ll keep that in mind,” she remarked as she took the case.
Lady Grey stepped out of the shower. Hunting worked up more of a sweat than she expected. She wiped the fog off the mirror to find her skull face staring back. A full face tattoo might not let her ever blend in with society, but it also hid the burnt, blasted remains of a face underneath. A face, a life, she lost in the war. She closed her eyes, and the face of one of her soldiers sat there, looking back. Spittle of blood covered his mouth.
“They came out of nowhere, sir,” he struggled to say.
The scene unraveled as if it was still happening. The rest of her unit was scattered among the desert sands. The fire from the Humvee lit up the night sky. There were sounds of gunfire and screeching surrounding them.
“Hold on,” Grey ordered the soldier.
“Tell my wife…” he started, but never finished.
Grey dropped the body once she caught a glimpse of one of the creatures. It was tall and thin with white skin and bat-like features. It screeched at Grey as she readied her rifle. It lunged at her…
‘Grey.’ His voice broke through the flashback.
She blinked. She found herself back in the bathroom, naked in more ways than one. ‘Sir,’ she mentally answered.
‘We have a situation,’ he explained. ‘The Tome of Blood has gone missing.’
She blinked in confusion. ‘How?’
‘I do not know. All I do know is the tracer enchantment I placed on it has it at the church you originally found the runes at.’
She quickly threw her clothes on. ‘Ready the transport,’ she said. ‘I’ll head them off myself.’
Lady Grey examined the building. Police tape draped over the front. She slipped through and was greeted with the lingering smell of dust and gunpowder. The morning sunlight barely broke through the stained windows. The turned over pews and dusty remains of the creatures she fought a few days ago still remained on the floor. ‘Creatures must have been the guard dogs,’ she noted.
There came a rustling of wings somewhere above her. She looked up from under her large hat to see one of the bat-like creatures that she encountered several years ago. It circled over her before lading on the pulpit. The skin shifted and turned into a more human form. A form she remembered all too well.
“Ethan,” Grey questioned as one of the creatures returned to his human form.
He paced across the front of the pulpit, not taking his eyes off her. Those cold, empty eyes. The eyes of a predator. The same eyes she was watching him with.
“You abandoned us,” he growled. “Left us to die at the hands of those monsters.”
“You became one,” she replied.
“No, I’m not the monster here.” Ethan returned to his bat-like form. “Not compared to you, Hunter.” More of the creatures descended around her. She pulled out her rifle and loaded the special bullets that she received. One of the vampires tried to slash at her, but she pulled back and shot down the attacker. The bullet slammed into the creature’s shoulder. A hole grew out of the impact area. Within moments, the hole completely disintegrated the shoulder, causing the attacker’s arm to fall off.
She swung around to fire off a few shots at another attacker. One hit the creature in the stomach and the other crashed into his head. The body crumpled onto the grounds. Ethan leapt at Lady Grey, trying to catch her off-guard. She quickly dodged the attack and fired off a few shots. One hit his leg, one hit the chest, and the third broke through his arm.
He stumbled to the ground, then stood and tried to attack her again. He managed to slash away at her just as she fired another bullet into his stomach.
Ethan flipped over and laid upon the alter, withering in agony as his body shifted between man and monster. Grey walked up, rifle at the ready. “I forgive you,” he sputtered.
She ended his suffering.
After a long moment of silence, she continued into the deeper parts of the church. The musty basement seemed older than the rest of the building. There were echoes of a conversation. She came closer to it, catching the tail end of it. “Take it back to your master,” a dusty, regal voice commanded. “It seems I have company.”
Grey turned the corner to find the same creature that converted her unit a decade ago. “You and I have some unfinished business,” she hissed.
The creature nodded. “We do, but not today.” He got up and stretched his wings. “You and your master have more important matters to attend to.”
Grey aimed her gun at the creature’s heart. “Like what?”
“There is going to be,” he started, motioning as if he was trying to remember something. “What is it? Ah, yes. Hell on Earth.”
Grey fired. The creature quickly turned to dust as the bullet flew through. He solidified as it struck the stone wall behind him.
“It has been fun catching up,” the creature mused. “But I must be off. I don’t care to be here when everything comes to fruition.” He turned to dust again and seeped into the cracks of the floor.
Lady Grey found herself alone with the creature’s two human pets. They snarled at her. She made quick work of them.
She tapped the Mente Parlare. ‘Sir. Target has escaped.’
There was a long pause. ‘Understood,’ he replied. ‘Return to base.’