The Blighted [Urban fantasy series] 2
Chapter 1 (1)
Amber slammed the door as she got out of the old school Cadillac and tugged the bill of her tattered Ohio state baseball cap.
It was the “all’s go” sign. She was a short, slim 27 year old dark skinned woman with big brown eyes. She was also an accomplished psy sensitive and one of the team’s two scouts.
The other was Roland, a six two wide shouldered white man exited the drivers side seconds later. He was big but had been a private eye in his blight free life.
Amber had been hunting for four years, Roland two. She had been worried about working with him at first. They were all wanted and his size made him stick out. But he had been a good snoop, an was better at disappearing in a crowed then her even with her small size and psychic abilities.
He was ten years her elder, but young looking so they were dressed as a couple on vacation. They both wore small subdued crucifixes with great protective powers.
As they pulled up Amber had done a psy sweep of the area sensing for shadows, psy, and magic. The targets were inside she could feel them.
Her and Roland had been across the street at the family owned dinner having and early breakfast that morning right before sunrise when the creatures had gone in.
They were still there. Four sick and empty blight auras on the second floor, they hadn’t moved.
She also sensed for human presences, there were three. The night shift, one upstairs on the same floor, two down.
She felt sorry for them but if everything went right they would be spared the war.
She wasn’t picking up any psy, or no magic save for Roland’s magic dagger.
That was odd for targets of this nature. She glanced over at the tip of Jasmines S.U.V peaking around the bend 50 or so yards away. She couldn’t feel Jasmine, the Demon slayer was well masked, but she could make out the rest of the team. They were masked also but not well enough to guard against a sensitive of her power.
They were grouped too close together, and giving of too faint a signal to count them, but she could feel them all there in a mass behind the trees.
She glanced across the street at the empty dinner, and the gas station garage next to it.
Where are the people that run those? They should still be open.
Earlier after watching the bloodsuckers get a room her and Roland had finished their meal and driven half a mile down the road and parked pretending to have car trouble. Only returning now to rendezvous with the rest of the team. Maybe they should have stayed closer to monitor the targets movements, but she hadn’t wanted to risk blowing their cover.
"What is it?" Roland was standing behind her but casually watching the hotel.
"Something’s not right, I can’t feel the people that run those" she said nodding across the street.
That was definitely a red flag. “Come on kid, we’re losing light." The sun was going down and you didn’t want to face vampires in the open at night.
Roland hoped it was nothing. Amber was the cautious type. Might have something to do with her being a sensitive. He didn’t mind, it slowed them down sometimes but it saved their a***s considerably more often. Jasmine on the other hand, to say the very lest, wasn‘t. He knew it would take more then that to stop the operation, and rightly so. They were committed. If it was a trap and they didn’t spring it now they would just be caught on the road or in the woods. Both tactically poor places to fight vampires. They’d be on much better ground inside. He tugged on his partners arm to get her moving.
Amber went along grudgingly. She didn’t like it but she trusted Roland’s instincts and he didn’t feel anymore worried then usual. Even though he’d been getting better at controlling his emotions around her so she was never really sure with him anymore.
As they approached the door she felt him tense at the same time she did, likely at the same thought.
Just get the keys.
Their part was almost done. Just get the keys for the strike team, head out with the civies. Get geared up and be ready to reinforce, cover the strike teams retreat, or delay any vampire reinforcements.
Roland walked in first smiling, and picking up in the middle of a conversation that hadn’t existed moments before.
He looked at ease hands loose and ready to grab the glock 9mm with anti vamp rounds tucked in the front of his pants, or the more powerful crucifix tucked in the small of his back.
Amber had a matching glock, and cross. Plus a purse filled with magazines for the pistols, some holy water in perfume bottles, and .32-sime auto loaded with silver in an ankle holster.
Still she felt defenseless and exposed as they crossed the few feet from the front door to the counter.
A white lady Amber guessed to be in her fifties stood behind the counter smiling at them. She hadn’t responded to the crucifixes.
So far so good.
She had read as human, but there were spells and psy techniques that could make blights feel like humans, but a vampire would have responded to the old crosses.
"If you’re looking for a room it’s a good thing you stopped this is the last place for hours."
They needed to get the other person out before they made their move. Roland was already on it.
"Well we might not need a room. We’re looking for a town called Tope, if we’re close enough we’ll just keep on movin."
"Yes ma’am, It’s between Harrisburg and Mill Creak." There is no such place.
"Ooh, I haven’t lived here that long, I’m still learning my way around but I’ve never even heard of Tope.”
"Told ya." Amber chimed in. "We shouldn’t have gotten on 210, but what do I know."
"At least I stopped and asked for directions."
Amber rolled her eyes and gave the lady a knowing look. "So you have no idea where Tope is?"
"No I never heard of it but maybe Harold has." She turned to a small room off to the right. "Harold!"
Harold, gray and balding came out smiling "Yeah dumplin"
"You ever heard of To.."
He didn’t respond to the crucifixes either. This was all they waited to see before making their move.
"Don’t move and don’t scream" Roland said in a serious whisper but with rational eyes.
The crosses came out first just in case but the pistols were out half a hart beat later.
The women let out a surprised oooh as if she’d just touched something she found repulsive and threw herself backward into Harold’s arms.
Harold starred in Roland’s face, just as indignant as frightened. "Just take the money and go no need for violence."
"Shheee." Amber demanded as non threatening as possible. "We don’t want your money.”
"We’re not goin to hurt you, calm down and keep your voice down." Roland said keeping his gun on them, his cross and most of his attention on the stairs.
"Some men came in. Four of them, early this morning, we need their room keys." Amber headed around the counter signaled by a glance from Harold.
Just like she thought, a pistol, .357 and a rack of room keys.
She motioned them back "Just tell me the rooms."
The women mumbled something as they stepped back against the wall "Marshal..."
Amber looked at her.
"Marshal" Harold said "Our son. Visiting from school, he’s up there."
They didn’t have time for this. "Look." Roland let out way more gentle then he thought possible.
If the targets came down now they were in a world of hurt. "We’re not after your son, we’ll send him down before we do what we came to do. We don’t have time to argue all of our lives are in danger."
"If you don’t help us, in a few minutes your son and the rest of us will be dead." Amber knew it was a slight exaggeration. Marshal might live, but if two ancient vamps came down those stairs all of them would be dead before the team could react.
Harold didn’t look convinced but his wife blurted out the rooms. "Just don’t hurt my boy."
"Promise." Roland said.
Amber snatched up the keys, put on her ear bud and throat mic and radioed the team. "Got em."
Nothing from the strike team, the scouts were in, they had been ready for the call or the least sign of trouble. They came out the vehicles almost as one. Flowing like black water in the shadows. Quick, and quite under the dieing light before settling around the front and side doors silent as dew forming.
They wore the standard vampire hunter rig. A long black trench coat over a reinforced ballistic vest. A crucifix running the length of the back and another on each arm from shoulder to elbow. Black hockey helmets, black steel toed boots, mettle knuckled gloves both baring crucifixes at likely melee impact points. Kneepads, and mettle plate, chain mail wrapped, cotton covered collars printed around with crucifixes. They each also wore and old large cross around the neck on a thick chain.
All this made it nearly impossible for a vamp to grab them, keeping some range to their fights. The old crucifixes were so faith charged blood suckers could barley stand to look at them, which made aiming at the hunters problematic, and even offered a level of protection from mental and magic attacks.
Everyone except Jasmine carried a stake thrower. An air powered weapon resembling an over and under double barreled sawed off shot gun.
The weapon took a stock loaded air cartridge good for 12 shots, and could hold 2 mettle centered and tipped wooden stakes. The steal tips designed to penetrate the body armor worn by Unified clans security teams, and were serrated to pin limbs when needed. The weapons range was limited to 40 yards and penetration of armor was only guaranteed at 10, so everyone but the newbies also carried a hk mp5 loaded with anti-vamp rounds.
Large hollow glass tipped bullets filled with holy water. These couldn’t kill vampires but were excellent at wounding them for the stake gun coup-de-gras.
Then there’s the hunter blade. A melee weapon manufactured at sanctuary and issued to all hunters upon completion of training. Silver edged, golden combat knives. These didn’t work on vampires but the silver could kill weres and the gold was bane to Demons and the hellborn.
Extra air cartridges, stakes, and crosses where fitted in inside pockets designed for each and a few hunters carried their own personnel sided arms, talismans, and potions. Vampire hunting teams attracted the most devoutly religious so they carried far less magic then others.
Sara and Calvin were the first in crouched low coming threw the front door mp5s up and ready stake throwers slung. Jasmine came close behind.
Jasmine the Demon Slayer could have been a model if not for her height and the war. A short slight hippy woman of mixed Egyptian Nubian heritage her skin a light rich brown, her hair thick stringy and black was corn rolled with braids that reach the center of her back. Her face classic Egyptian save for her fathers wide nose and full lips. She didn’t wear a helmet or carry the team weapons. She had her own. A Mac 10 with anti-v loud in her left hand, in her right her slayer weapon.
There are many magic weapons in the possession of hunters world wide, but slightly more then a dozen Demon Slayers.
Magic weapons are devastating, much more powerful then even the best made mundane versions with the added bonus of being able to kill blights often with a few bells and whistles thrown in.
Slayer weapons were blessed. Weapons that didn’t derive their power from science or magic, but from faith. They couldn’t deal as much damage to the mortal world as their magic counter parts, but they were unmatched to the harm they do to blights. The creatures can’t even hold one, their flesh withers at a touch. These weapons never rust, dull or wore an offered their wielder unmatched protection from magic and mental attacks.
Her’s is known as the Talon of Horus, a uniquely shaped sword with a dark black bright pearl handle, and humble blade of the rarest quality. She carried it in her left hand, black sheath strapped to her back.
Francis came threw the side door leading the newbie’s, their stake throwers ready, wide eyed trying their best to mimic his easy movements.
Amber presented Jasmine the keys looking nervous.
"What?" Jasmine in a whisper.
"You feel something?"
"Yeah, four shadows and their kid somewhere upstairs..."
Jasmine glanced at the stairs, she’d walked into far more then her share of ambushes, and was starting to get that feeling. She glanced over at her friend with a question on her face.
"That’s it...and that’s the problem...I don’t know...Nothing else, no magic, no psy, no people. There were people across the street when we were here earlier. Now both are closed. The sun hasn’t gone down yet. Why’d they close so early and where did they go? ...I just don’t know... I don’t feel anything and that doesn’t feel right."
Jasmine nodded, it was easy as most strikes, and considering the targets it shouldn’t have been. Vampires only planning faults came from their arrogance. Other then that they’re cautious to the point of clinical paranoia. When you didn’t age, you could afford to be patient.
Which was why Giovanni staying in Harrisburg and sending the elders ahead didn’t make any since. Donavan had figured Giovanni didn’t know they were still on his trail. It was still odd for them, they usually wouldn’t take a chance, why when they could afford to wait.
There was the inner clan squabble in Akron they were headed to squash, but vampires the old especially are cowards. After receiving eternal life nun was in any hurry to give it up, even for fellow clan members. So it was just an odd move, they didn’t have soldiers in Harrisburg but they have a couple dozen regular vamps to use as guards. They could have waited for a security team.
Jasmine looked out the window, it was sunset, she wasn’t immortal, and she couldn’t wait. If it was a trap then they had already sprung it. She damned herself and prayed for her team.
"Ok, slight change of plans. Let’s not stretch ourselves out till we find out what were dealing with. Stay here with the newbies, I’ll take the rest up. If we get in trouble yall take o..."
"No!" Amber didn’t like what she was picking up from her friend, she thought it was a trap too" I’m not leav..."
"Just listen." a harsh whisper, there was zero time for arguing.
"No! Let Roland baby-sit, I’ll..." Way to loud a whisper.
Damit Amber! "You’re not geared up. If this goes south you’ll just be in the way." A near silent hiss.
"Listen to her, we don’t have the time for this Amber." Roland was starting to perspire not taking his eyes off the stairs.
Amber let out a barely audible groan and slammed the keys into Jasmines hands. Jasmine grabbed hers and hugged her.
"If we don’t meet again." Jasmine began
"One of us is in victory." Amber finished squeezing her tight.
Moments later Jasmine, Sara, Calvin, and Francis stood on the second floor each in front of a door holding a key. The plan was simple, let themselves in and stake the targets as they slept, they would do them at the same time just incase one of the blood suckers managed to give an alarm.
Jasmine looked down the hall at her team, looking back at her, and nodded before turning to her door.
There was a sharp intake of breath over the radio. Jasmine put up her hand to stop the raid.
"Jasmine..." Amber’s voice crackled threw the airwaves in a panicked, stunned whisper. At the same instant Jasmines mobile phone began to vibrate in her pocket. That was bad they only used the phones in emergencies. The vampires and cabals owned most of the companies. Everybody that had the number was there except for Donavan, so either he was in trouble or the car alarm was going off.
Before she had time to contemplate what the phone call meant, the answer was provided in a way the caused the young warrior to feel a level of fear she no longer thought herself capable of. A shock went down her spine, as a howl rose outside quickly fallowed by others all around the hotel.
It couldn’t possibly be what it sounded like. Not in those numbers, not working with the vampires. It couldn’t be....
Amber was babbling over the radio. "They blocked me..." A psy block. A psychic more powerful then her had been hiding the ambushers presence. "I can feel...."
Her words were drowned out by the sounds of shattering glass coming from all sides of the first floor. Quickly followed by screams, growls, and gunshots from down there.
Jasmine turned to head for the stairs, but a mental flash obscured her view of the hall. Replacing it with vision of her being crushed by the door she’d been preparing to enter. Knocked from its hinges by the dark force she could feel on the other side.
Instinctively she pivoted away as the door blew outward slamming into the wall.
There crouching, and still four an a half feet tall sat a snarling drooling mass of muscle, fur, and predatory fury.. A freaking werewolf.. They were in no shape or form prepared for this.
She didn’t hesitate; she had survived worse and had every intention of surviving this. In an instant Jasmine focused all of her being deep into herself, finding a reservoir of strength, dipping her consciousness in and demanding more speed.
She jumped back as it swiped at her with a clawed hand paw, and then it pounced. It was a blurred motion that slowed considerably as her psy feed back kicked in making her more agile then it. She dodged flatting herself against the wall taking a claw slash across the vest, an avoiding a burst of stray bullets snapping, and hissing from down the narrow hall.
Jasmine jabbed her sword into the beast’s side as it passed, allowing its momentum to unzip it clear to the flank. It landed badly crashing to the floor howling in agony. She spun the blade in her grip and sunk it hilt deep threw the things back. Immediately she was enveloped in a cloud of odorless, quickly dissipating blood red smoke coming off the creature as it reverted to human.
Another bullet whizzed pass refocusing her attention down the hall.
Sera lay a few paces away arm, and head less. Calvin was coming towards her stepping over a naked corpse reloading his glock. He always carried silver so did Amber, and Roland had a magic dagger. Maybe somebody was still alive on the first floor.
Snarling was coming from a room in-between them. The room behind the one assigned to Francis.
"Check in!" Jasmine called threw the throat mic, moving to help Francis. Nothing, static.
What’s goin on down stairs.
Nothing in Marshals 20 years on earth had prepared him for what was going on. Up unto that moment things had been pretty good for him. He’d grown up in a trailer park but to hard working loving parents. Being handsome blond and a natural athlete school had been a blast. He was good at basketball, excelled in baseball but football turned out to be his gift. It had got him a scholarship, and a ticket out of the hick town he’d grudgingly called home. College had been harder then he’d thought it would be but the challenge was an acceptable price to pay for the world it opened up for him.
Things had also been going good for his parents. They’d been hired as caretakers for this hotel; they loved it, so did he. It was out in the middle of nowhere and peaceful. Before collage he couldn’t wait to get away from them and now found himself looking forward to coming home being worried over by his mom and going hunting with the old man. It always surprised him how things changed.
Like now... Things had changed… from good to...He didn’t know what exactly but it was far far from that. Now he stood in the hotels best room, six foot two, hundred and ninety six pounds of quarter back in Pen state pajama bottoms. But he felt naked, small and weak, hopelessly helpless in the strange new order of the world.
Maybe he’d just gone insane, or was having a flashback from the acid he tried as a kid. Or..
Please lord. Please let this be a dream.
Because Marshals mind just couldn’t get around what he was seeing. He was seeing it, but how could it be real. Moments ago he had been relaxing in the room downloading music. Trying to get to convince himself to turn off his laptop so he could get to sleep. His pops wanted to head out early for some fishing.
There had been a howl; a lot of howls like a pack of wolves had surrounded the hotel. Then glass braking, he’d jumped up planing to check on his parents. That’s when a man that looked to be some kind of Christian swat or something came smashing threw his door. Or more accurately been knocked threw it. That nearly scared the crap out of him, but his sphincter had been paralyzed by what happened next.
What looked to be, what could only be, but what just couldn’t possibly be…A werewolf... Pounced through the doorway pinning the man as he tried to get up.
Blood splashed as its massive jaws snapped down on his arm. Then its eyes shot open in surprise. A heavy whimper escaping from somewhere deep inside it. Before the thing that couldn’t be fell over engulfed by a cloud of dark red smoke.
The man staggered to his feet bleeding heavily pulling a dagger out of the chest of the now dead naked women that lay were the wolf had been.
Must have been a woman the whole time, I must have just…
Then another came threw the door, Marshal flung himself back as far as he could get from the thing. Which was only a pace or two further on his bed huddled in the corner of the room.
He vaguely wondered about his mom and dad, had they made it out? Were they dead? He was about to die...
The thing snarled and crouched. The Christian commando wasted no time; he flipped the knife in his good hand and threw it.
YES!! If Marshal wasn’t so horrified he would have yelled it out loud when the knife sunk into the things eye.
It howled and clawed at the dagger, wisp of smoke coming from its ruined socket. Marshal dared to believe that maybe just maybe he’d live through this. Until the Christian commando slunk over to the same corner he was in pointing a submachine gun at it with a shaking hand.
"Shot...shot..SHOT!" Marshal yelled
The thing turned on them. Marshal’s life didn’t pass before his eyes. He couldn’t see or even think of anything besides those teeth. Not only was he about to die, but it was going to hurt.
The wolf things head tumbled from its shoulders and its body collapsed in a heap billowing smoke. The most beautiful woman he’d ever seen stood over the body dressed like the commando holding a wicked looking sword. Marshal exhaled, he was alive...
What the hell is going on?
He’d find out later, or maybe not, he didn’t care he just had to find his parents.
Jasmine caught the big white kid in pajama bottoms around the waist as he headed for the door. "You don’t want to do that."
"If she’s alive I’ll find her, regardless if you go out there now you’re going to die."
He glanced at the sword put his hands up and took a tentative step back.
"I’m not your problem, you’re free to do what you want, but your parents may already be dead and you will definitely die if you go look for them." She said turning, as Calvin crept in backward pistol trained down the hall.
Francis recovered his hunters’ blade from the disembodied head.
"What the hell..." Marshal mumbled stepping helplessly against the wall.
"Calvin, see what you can do about that arm." Jasmine pointed to Francis.
"Freaking werewolves." Francis moaned flopping down on the bed cradling his mangled arm. "Sera?"
Calvin just shook his head.
"We got to get out of here."
"We’re going to, but if we don’t do something about that bleeding it’s not going to matter to you."
"I got to.." Marshal made a halfhearted play for the door and stopped. "What the hells going on?" looking as lost as he felt.
Jasmine pointed at him "No time, if you want to live stay with them, if not good luck." She turned back to the other two. "I’m going after the rest of the team, when you sto..."
"Come in...Please come in." All three hunters tensed up as the whisper came over their ear bud receivers. It was one of the newbie’s.
"I’m here, who is this?" Jasmine responded.
"Tim..., please." he was crying.
"Where are you?”
"I..I don’t know, in a room under the bed, you got to help me.."
"I’m coming, it sounds quiet down there where’s the rest of the team?"
"They tore.." He broke down in sobs for a second. "..They tore the big guy apart.."
"..And Rico, the stake guns didn’t do s***. Look I don’t want to do this anymore, what was I thi..."
"Tim calm down." She growled at him "I’m coming, where’s Amber?" Jasmine asked heading down the hall.
"I don’t know, we all ran, got split up. Last time I saw her she was with Bev. I don’t know, just please help me I don’t.."
"What room are you...?" She stopped quarter of the way down the stairs. Beverly shot past heading for the front door. Jasmine was about to call her when a werewolf plowed into the newbie from behind.
Jasmine bunched her legs preparing to leap sword first on the things back, when 4...5 more came into view.
This was too much how big was the pack? Only at the blight capital had she seen this many werewolves at once. The clans and cabals would never allow it. Some serious strings had been pulled to put this slaughter together.
She began to ease slowly back up the stairs.
She didn’t make it. Tim’s death cry erupted intimately close over her ear bud. The wolves super sensitive ears prickled as they turned snarling on her.
"Calvin, get Francis out now!!" she prayed her friend was still alive but it was unlikely an even if she was there was nothing Jasmine could do for her. It was time to go...if she could.
They came at her; she back peddled up the stairs nearly useless mac-10 pointed down at them, Talon held limp low and ready.
The first leaped from her right side over the railing. She ducked, jaws larger then Jasmines head snapped closed inches from her face as it sailed by hitting the wall to her left on all fours intending to leap again before its momentum was spent. But she'd predicted the move and her blade was already coming down in a high ark taking the top of the things head off. She followed through with a hundred an eighty degree spin jumping before the smoke rapped body hit the ground landing in a dead run at the top of the stairs.
"Get out! If you can hear this, GET OUT NOW!" She yelled, sprinting around a corner and down the hall.
Francis was leading Calvin and Marshal towards the emergency exit they stopped and looked back.
"RUUNN!!" She flagged them forward turning to meet the attackers she could hear clawing up the stairs behind her. They poured around the corner, snarling, clamoring in animal blood lust. 4…5…8
God help us.
She ran backward firing. Most of the rounds past through barely slowing the thick muscled bodies. Then three caught the lead beast in the head, hollow points destroying half of its k9 skull. It careened into the wall spilling over, tripping up those behind it, and buying her precious few seconds.
She didn’t waste any. Letting the Mac-10 fall to her side she focused deep again catching her breath as mind and body became one.
They were up. Her eyes were closed but she could hear them. Feel them rushing forward, see them in her minds eye, diving towards her.
"YA!" She exhaled sharply. A practiced measured breath with a practiced measured thought and a practiced measured movement. Five foot of wall on either side of her disintegrated, the floor shook and cracked along with most of the bones in the closest wolf as they were all thrown back in a howling tangle of limbs by her chi blast.
Jasmine followed through, focusing deep again, filling her aura with rage, and hate. For a brief second she appeared in the spiritual as one of them.
“YA!” She exhaled and let the energy go. This time nothing around her was disturbed, but a wave of dark chi smashed into the pile of creatures as they tried to get untangled from one another. Knocking them further down the hall trailing blood red smoke.
The wave killed at least one of them and hopefully crippled a few. It would have to do. Dark chi maneuvers, the only psy abilities she had that could kill a were burned up to much of her strength and she didn’t know when there would be time to recharge.
She turned and made for the door. The ones the dark chi wave missed would be completely healed from whatever injury the chi blast had inflicted in seconds. She hoped it would be enough. The angry growls, and heavy renewed footfalls behind her told her it wouldn’t.
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© 2015 Akhet