In the meeting room, the squad I’ve put together to go to Romania gathers, and we start equipping ourselves with everything we need to fight vampires. We’ve got a big pile of anti-vampire weaponry on the table.
On one wall, a big screen displays a map of the area around Bran Castle, with a red circle representing the radius of the wards which, by now, we know are keeping us from blipping directly to the castle.
Besides me, the squad consists of Henry, Carmilla, Rex, Reggae, Mortis, Victor, Dave, Robert, Slayer, Glenn and two more individuals, one of whom is currently retrieving the other one.
Henry, Carmilla, Rex, Dave, Robert and Slayer are all keeping their distance from the silver, and Henry and Carmilla both have a generous amount of VapoRub on their upper lips, because the smell of the garlic would otherwise make them nauseous.
I chose team members who aren’t at risk of being turned, because they’ve already been turned into undead. Or, in Rex’s case, honorary undead. Or in Dave, Robert and Slayer’s case, because they’ve been turned into half-demons.
You can’t be a half-demon and a vampire, right?
In Victor’s case, it’s because he’s immortal, but to be sure, I asked him if he can be turned.
He said “I’ve never been dumb enough to let the bastards try.”
That’s good enough for me.
And the case of the last two members of the squad, they can’t be turned, because they weren’t human in the first place.
So the only two people on the squad at risk of being turned are me and Glenn.
I think it’s a stupid idea for me to go, but I just can’t stand the idea of staying at home while my friends are out there fighting for me.
Whatever has awakened inside me won’t allow me to stay at home.
I have to do this.
I have to pay the price.
If I want to be the best…
I have to be the best.
I have to take this challenge head-on.
If I hide at home, while my friends go out and fight on my behalf, then I’ll be the worst.
A king who won’t defend his own kingdom is a shitty king.
Prometheus blips in with Alpha and Hope.
Prometheus has blipper tech built-in, by the way. We offered Alpha that upgrade, but he said no for now.
Hope will be staying at the School while Alpha assists us, which he was all too happy to do, even though he has a lot on his plate.
Alpha carefully places Hope in the table, and turns to me.
“Prommy filled me in, Cal. Goddamn vampires? Really? Let’s get this over with, so I can get back to my day job.”
“I’m sorry to drag you into this, Alpha.”
Alpha waves off my concerns.
“Dude, I get it. You need people who can’t be turned for this, and those bloodsuckers will probably just chip a tooth if they try to bite me or Prommy.”
“You think they’d try?”
“They were stupid enough to piss you off.”
Prometheus watches Victor do something with a utility knife and a big pile of bullets.
“What are you doing, Vic?”
Victor pauses to look up at Prometheus.
“Carving crosses into the tips. I learned that trick from a guy I once met in El Rey, a few years ago. Name’s on the tip of my tongue, but he told me it works great on vampires. You guys know that place in Mexico where they found the red Omega Drive? The brothel filled with vampire bones?”
We all nod.
“He survived that shit. He said it was a fucking catastrophe. Only him and one other person made it out alive. Some girl. Dunno what happened to her afterwards, but apparently they killed her family. And the brother of the guy I met. They were fighting vampires from dusk till dawn.”
“Yikes. I heard from Annie and Nanny that the vampires you get down there are nasty sons of bitches.”
“Oh yeah. But surprisingly frail. And they don’t just burn in sunlight, they fucking explode.”
“So crosses work for anyone? Because, no offence, Vic, but you don’t look like a man of faith.”
“Ha! Not really. If I’m praying to God, I’m telling Him to stay out of my way.”
But it’s Henry who answers the question.
“Any religious symbol that existed when the vampire was born will work on them, and only if they’re evil, or enthralled by an evil vampire. So we should bring a bunch of different symbols besides crosses. We’ll need some of those Jewish star things, and those moon and star things the Muslims use too.”
“And some older religious symbols, as well. That’s one thing I’ve got in common with vampires: you can never be sure just how old they really are. But vampirism’s only been around for a thousand years, give or take, so crosses will probably be enough.”
I pat my bag of holding.
“I’ve got room in here for a bunch of different symbols. I’m nowhere near this baby’s max capacity. I love this thing.”
Robert smiles at me, obviously happy that I enjoy his gift so much.
“It was worth every penny, Cal. I know that, as your father-in-law, I should despise you, but you’re a good guy, and you’ve always been good to my daughter too, from what Judy tells me. And that makes me happy, Cal.”
“Thanks, Rob. I’m happy that you’re happy.”
Alpha walks over and helps VIctor carve crosses into bullets as well.
Alpha won’t need any anti-vampire weaponry, because Hans already equipped him with that kind of stuff, back when Hans was building him.
Hans, madman that he was, wanted to kill everyone.
Father Matthew, a priest from a nearby church, is blessing buckets of water, and some of our human team members are using the freshly made holy water to fill squirt guns, glass flasks, and… condoms.
Victor suggested the last one. He said the guy he met in El Rey gave him that tip too, along with another tip that had something to do with a shotgun and a baseball bat.
Apparently the guy also rigged up some kind of vampire killing machine with a jackhammer and a wooden stake, but we can’t lug something like that around.
Henry, who seemingly took up whittling as a hobby to pass the time, is carving wooden stakes, and wearing a bulletproof vest, in case one of the stakes slips.
I mean, his battle suit would block it, but he wants to be sure that he doesn’t accidentally stake himself. I can understand that.
Glenn’s helping him with that, and telling Henry the story of how Ianos murdered Glenn’s master, cursed Glenn, and broke Grandleon.
Glenn is using his sword to carve the stakes.
The stakes that are done are soaking in a big bowl filled with a mixture of holy water and garlic juice, to make them extra deadly to vampires.
The ones Henry is making aren’t being soaked, so that he can use them.
The battle suits come with gloves, but as I said, Henry wants to be sure. Holy water doesn’t harm good vampires either, but the garlic’s still a problem.
I feel sorry for him and Carmilla. They’ve got so many weaknesses.
Meanwhile, Carmilla, Mortis and Slayer have introduced themselves to Hope, and are now explaining what exactly they are.
“Cawmiwwa am vam-piyah. Nowmawwy, we dwink booboo-joos, but dat nu am pwobwem fow Henwy an Cawmiwwa anee-mowe.”
Hope is curious.
“Wai am dat nu pwobwem?”
“Miss Vaw am make speciaw fayke booboo-joos fow vam-piyahs, su dey nu nee num hoomins ow fwuffies nu mowe. But, sadwy, sum dummeh vam-piyahs nu seem tu get da point, su dat am wai we aww am hewe.”
Mortis nods slowly and carefully, because even though Deston explained that the two zombies don’t need to worry about bits of them falling off, Mortis still doesn’t want to risk his head breaking off and rolling across the room.
“An Mowtis am zum-bee. Dat am sumwum wu gu foweba sweepies, an den get back upsies. Am cuz of ebiw hoomin magic cawwed nek-woh-man-see.”
Reggae nods too, while he puts together wooden crosses.
With his zombie strength, he can just push the nails in with his thumb.
“We don’t know anything about who we are, though. Or rather, who we were. All we’re really sure of is that we’re from Jamaica.”
Hope looks up at the rasta zombie.
“Whewe am Jah-may-kuh?”
“Somewhere south of Florida, and that’s all I can tell you. I haven’t really had the time for a geography lesson.”
Then Mortis starts telling Hope the story of how he and Reggae got to Florida.
Eventually, we’re all ready to go. We’re all fully equipped. We thank Father Matthew for his help, he leaves, and Judy comes in and takes Hope out of the room.
Nanny’s at my place, looking after baby Quin and our fluffies.
I stand next to the screen, and everyone forms a line in front of me.
I point to the red circle.
“Alright, everyone. We can’t blip straight to the place, so instead…”
I point a city just outside the circle.
“…we’ll be blipping here, instead. From there, we’ll make our way to the castle.”
Victor raises his hand.
“Are we gonna sneak in, Cal?”
“Hell no. We’ll kick in the front door and overwhelm those sons of bitches. We’ve wasted enough time. We can’t afford to find another way in.”
Victor smirks too.
“Sounds good to me. I think they want us to come. And if they want us…”
“They’ll get us. Alright, anyone who doesn’t have a blipper, hold onto someone who does.”
Everyone does so.
“You all ready?”
Everyone replies in unison.
“Okay, vampire killers! Let’s kill some fuckin’ vampires!”
In the throne room of Bran Castle, Harley, back in humanoid form, kneels before the Fiendlord, the corpses of the several fluffies she drained as soon as she got back strewn across the room.
Behind her, the rest of the vampires have lined up.
There’s a lot more vampires now.
Ianos is beaming, and between two long, thin, pale fingers, he holds a small ball that glows yellow-white like the sun.
He speaks to his vampiric “daughter”, the young girl he personally sired. He reaches down and gently ruffles her hair.
“Excellent work, sweet Harley. You made it home with time to spare. And now…”
He laughs in his deep, rich voice.
“We can make some more of these things.”