True Slayers: Reckoning, Part Twenty-Eight

I’m supposedly good at strategy and tactics but I was becoming convinced that I needed to go back to school. I admit, my blood was up – a part of me wanted nothing more than to put Arnie all the way through that vampire – but fortunately my brain showed up for work. I let Myers and Schmidt take the lead and simply followed them.

If I ever get a say in how slayers are trained, not only am I recommending my sister, I’m going to make sure new slayers get serious time with experienced slayers. No wonder Momma was confused – Crystal didn’t have their kind of experience and Momma didn’t remember what starting out felt like. Crystal was better at a lot of the hands on part than I was but she was still a young slayer. Watching the two retiring slayers taught me more than all the running around I’d already been doing.

Which doesn’t make explaining very easy. It’s subtle – it took me a while to figure out what they were doing – little things that add up. Myers slowing down; Schmidt appearing to stumble. Both splitting up despite the increased distance. Little ‘mistakes’ that kept the vampire guessing.

For whatever reason, the vampire wasn’t taking off to parts unknown. It was definitely trying to evade but it wasn’t trying to leave the area. It should have gained altitude but it either couldn’t or wouldn’t. It was barely thirty feet off the ground. It should have sped up but when the slayers appeared to lag a bit it actually slowed down slightly.

Myers and Schmidt seemed to think as one. They were deliberately trying to lull the vampire into a false sense of security – well, relative security, anyway. Myers slowed even more; Schmidt ran faster, this time trying to get ahead of the vampire and its burden.

The vampire seemed to notice. It shifted direction toward Myers and away from Schmidt. Schmidt poured on the speed suddenly, taking the vampire and me by surprise. I fought to keep up as the vampire began to speed up itself. The added speed affected its altitude – it was losing altitude as it gained speed. It was also now in an arc moving slightly toward Myers.

Schmidt seemed heedless of the course – he just kept pouring on the speed. The vampire noticed alright – it was now looking at Schmidt and trying to gain both speed and altitude.

That was when Myers sprang the trap. Suddenly, he was running at full speed. He closed the distance in seconds as the vampire was watching Schmidt. As he closed, the vampire caught sight of him but too late. Myers leapt the twenty feet into the air and brought his sword hilt down hard on the vampire’s spine.

The crack was sickening. All three, slayer, vampire and doppelganger hit the ground but on the the slayer was on his feet. Myers took up a defensive stance. The doppelganger was trapped under the vampire. The vampire was in no condition to get up.

Schmidt and I arrived only a second or so behind them. Schmidt turned to Myers, “Black?”

Myers nodded, “Both.”

“Why?” I commanded the vampire.

“Too heavy.” It misunderstood.

“Why did you take the doppelganger?” I restated.

“Master needs creatures. None of his old ones came.” It answered.

The sound of bones trying to knit themselves back together is a hard one to describe and frankly only a little less disgusting than the doppelganger. But there were too many such sounds – vampires regenerate fast but even they have limits. This one wasn’t making progress.

“Why here?” I thought better of it, “Why where the doppelganger caused the confusion?”

“Bad place, all creatures go away there.” it replied, the voice losing strength.

“Why did you kill the human?”

“Didn’t kill tonight.”

“Three months ago. In the sanctuary.” I clarified.

“Master said kill something from sanctuary if can. I killed IN the sanctuary.”

The pride in its voice only made me want to kill it more. But I had two more questions. “What is your name?”

“I was Dietrich in life. No name in death.” it replied weakly.

“Where is your master?”

“With Mycroft, in the coven.” the vampire pulled itself around to look at me, “Wo du willst nie gehen!

“Lad!” Schmidt snapped.

I already saw it. The vampire had put everything into putting its spine back together. From the jerky motion, it had not succeeded well. It came at me, fangs and claws bared.

I didn’t think. I didn’t have to. The next instant, it was looking me in the eye, no longer able to move with Arnie piercing its chest. I’d drawn the bayonet and resheathed it in the vampire in a single motion. It took an eternity for the vampire to fall.

I watched it as it began to dissolve. In the back of my head, I kept thinking how I should hate this thing – the killer that had taken Mr. J’s life. But all I felt was disgust and a type of sadness – not for Mr. J, but for whomever Dietrich had been. A human soul, he had had a life and a name. Now, his undead body was returning to dust, having been the slave of one who hadn’t even bothered to name him.

When it was over, I picked up Arnie and returning him to his sheathe. I could almost feel his pleasure myself but that was just my imagination. I looked up in time to see Mr. Myers behead the doppelganger as it tried to make a run for it. I won’t describe what that looked like – but I hope to never see another one.

Slowly, my brain started working again. “He’s in the area.” I told no one in particular. “And wants his pets…”

A vicious idea came to me. I called Thompkins.