True Slayers: Reckoning, Part Thirty

It’s a good thing I love that guy – I’m supposed to be telling this part!

It also helps when he’s telling me to do things that make no sense at all. I climbed up on the roof and was coming over the edge as Tresmayne came out of the attic. I nodded and headed for the front of the building.

Some things just look fake. Roland is not the kind of guy that yells at anyone – let alone in the middle of the street. Mrs. Schmidt doesn’t yell – I’d never heard her raise her voice before. But there they were, screaming at each other with the entire neighborhood watching. It looked as contrived as it was.

But watching the show was not my job – finding out who else might be watching was. Tresmayne transformed and once my heart stopped pounding, I followed him to the roof of Roland’s building.

Yes, I’ve seen werewolves transform before – but never a traditional. Yikes! Slayer or not, that is just frightening! Anyway, we went around the whole block then the adjacent block. We hit every roof for three blocks either side of ours – both sides of the street. If Vinnie was around, he wasn’t on a roof top.

He’d have to be concealed – otherwise we’d have sensed him. Or at least Tresmayne would have. He had to be either in an alley looking out, blended into the crowd or in one of the buildings. Tresmayne and I had eliminated rooftops.

James and Mr. Myers had eliminated alleyways in the same fashion Tresmayne and I had eliminated rooftops. Ayami and Mr. Schmidt went through the crowd with the same result. If Vinnie was here, he was watching from a window. But whose?

 

True Slayers: Reckoning, Part Twenty-Nine

We started back while I was still talking to Thompkins. It took me forty-five minutes to work it out with him. Partially because I was being extra cautious and mostly because I scared the crap out of him when I suggested it.

I doubted that the vampire or the doppelganger had had a chance to let Vinnie know they had seen me – for that matter, they may not have known who I was. I should have asked. Well, should of’s aren’t worth much. I figured a better than 70% chance that my secret was still safe. If not, I doubted Vinnie would hang around – he didn’t strike me as the sort that acts rashly. Of course, seeing as he was backed into a corner, that assessment might not hold.

That’s the problem with strategy – unless you happen to really be God you don’t know all the facts and you sure as heck don’t know all the other player’s moves. It comes down to a game of calculated risks and some wise guy is hiding parts of the equation. I didn’t know for certain what Vinnie knew or even what he was likely to do. So far, he’d played about as expected – once I knew enough to have expectations, that is. Tonight was not what I had thought would happen – it was third down on my list – but it wasn’t utterly unexpected, either.

The vampire had confirmed my suspicion – if Vinnie did show, it would be to try to reclaim some of his lost forces. Which meant he was both desperate and convinced I wasn’t around. That was fine as far as it went – but now I wanted him to show his ugly mug. I wanted to out him in a way that would make staying out of my neighborhood his top priority for the foreseeable future. I had an idea that might work but not enough information to be sure it would work.

And Thompkins was right – it could get dicey even with so many slayers available. I wasn’t the danged target – the creatures were. It wasn’t my skin that would be so close to the blade. That alone almost made me reconsider.

But Vinnie wasn’t finished yet – and if he got another shot later on, dicey wouldn’t describe how bad he was likely to get. No, he was a danger to the creatures I was steward for, my family, my friends and just about everything I cared about. Stopping him now could put an end to that threat – failing to stop him could only make it worse.

Now, the question was could we make it work?

Off the phone, I started discussing it with Myers and Schmidt. Schmidt was all in; Myers a bit more reserved. Both had questions and suggestions that helped me a lot. By the time we were two blocks from my building, we had a workable plan.

From the roof top, I could see Chambers in the street arguing with Mrs. Schmidt. Good thing we had a plan, seeing as they had started without us.

It had taken us a long while but my bet was that Vinnie was still focused on Chambers. He had to know the vampire and doppelganger were gone but again, I was betting on his desperation winning over common sense. Vinnie is a user – he needs people or creatures to use. Without them, he is nothing – I figured his buffer needed refilling in the worst way. If so, with a creature so tantalizingly close, Vinnie would probably hang around for another shot.

Schmidt and Myers took off for their respective positions. They weren’t gone a second when the phone vibrated.

“PG?”

“Hey, Jack, I think there are two vampires – that modern and maybe the pseudo-traditional.” Crystal’s voice told me.

“The pseudo is dead. We’re about to try something – could you give me all you got as fast as possible?” I replied.

“Sure, they noticed the vampires but neither got close to the building. There’s at least four more creatures – unknown type – in the area. Not counting the doppelganger – Finley noticed it when it ran off. The creatures other than the vampires seem to be moving into the area and going toward Roland’s building, not yours. That was all I got.”

“Good work. Catch up to Tresmayne. I want you two…”

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.

 

 

True Slayers: Reckoning, Part Twenty-Seven

No, we were not home in bed when Crystal called. Granted, I’d only been chasing monsters around roof tops for a couple months but I kinda thought I’d gotten the hang of it. That was right up until I tried to keep up with two retiring slayers.

I’d followed Mr. Schmidt. He’s further along in his retirement – keeps assuring me that his powers aren’t what they used to be. Good for me – I’d have never kept up if he’d been in top form. It wasn’t just the running around – he added dodges and twists that at first made no sense but as I kept watching, it became obvious that he knew exactly where this thing was and exactly how to make it show itself.

Don’t ask for a detailed explanation – it won’t help. A slayer’s world is one of reason and intuition – and Mr. Schmidt had intuition down to a science. He and Mr. Myers hadn’t actually discussed a battle plan but they clearly didn’t need to. They automatically began a pincer movement that forced the doppleganger into the open.

Dopplegangers often take the form of someone you know – but this one was in its natural and anything but pretty form. Had I not been a slayer myself, I probably would have had to stop and throw up both from the appearance and the smell. It didn’t smell dead – more like week old baby formula. I have eight brothers and sisters younger than I am so yes, I do know what that smells like. Add a couple rotten eggs and produce the mess on an industrial scale and you get an idea of how bad this thing smelled. Dinner stayed where it belonged but under protest.

It looked worse. It gave new meaning to the term ‘skin crawling’. It’s skin seemed to do just exactly that. It was like it was covered in a moving blanket of flesh that just didn’t want to stay still. It was disorienting to watch and supper registered a couple more complaints about remaining in my stomach.

Not all creatures are inhumanely fast, so the books claim. Evidently, it’s just the ones that come to New York to mess with me. The doppleganger was racing away from us like it should have been in the Indy 500 – I’m pretty sure it would have won. We were pacing it but not closing. At first I thought that the other men simply couldn’t but I was wrong. They weren’t waiting for it to wear itself out – they were waiting for it to run out of roof top.

That didn’t take long. Walking, it takes me an hour to cover that distance on foot – we’d been running less than fifteen minutes. But it finally reached Carson’s Dairy Supply – that’s the name of the last building of more than three stories. It’s been empty my entire life. Beyond it is a parking lot and a lot of empty lots from the city demolishing the run down neighborhood that use to be there. Lots of empty space – not what a creature fleeing three slayers wants to see.

“Imitate your master.” I told it. I’d like to say I wasn’t huffing and puffing as I spoke but I’d be lying.

The doppleganger changed into a man. I’d seen pictures that James had found – but this didn’t match any of those, which wasn’t a surprise. Dopplegangers can only imitate humans so the fact that it changed meant it wasn’t considering Mycroft the vampire its master. That was good on two counts – I now had a good idea what Vinnie looked like and I don’t think dinner would have stayed put much longer had it stayed in its natural form.

Mr. Myers saw it first, “Look out!”

I turned just in time to see something large fly past me. I took a swing at it with the only thing I had – Arnie, still in his sheathe. It connected but with the leg – I did get a rather satisfying yelp from the thing.

Myers and Schmidt both moved but none of us were close enough. It swooped down enough to grab the doppleganger then took off over the parking lot. The three of us went racing after them. Mr. Schmidt was kind enough to translate the cursing from German for us without undue detail. Evidently, I’d taken a hunk out of its leg because the vampire was audibly cursing as it flew.

I hadn’t forgotten that the vampire that killed Mr. J had spoken German. A vampire rescuing one of Vinnie’s pets – it had to be the same one. I didn’t know yet if it was the one called Mycroft and I didn’t care. For three strategic reasons and one very personal reason I had no intention of letting those things escape.  I hopped off a three story building like I was hopping a turn style and kept running.

True Slayers: Reckoning, Part Twenty-Six

Mr. Schmidt shook his head, “A moment, lad. Myers, old chap, let’s dispatch that doppleganger, shall we?”

Mr. Myers slapped his palm to his face, “Of course – I hadn’t fought one in ages. You’re right.”

“Doppleganger?” Jack asked.

I was banging my own forehead, “Yes, that has to be it.”

“Anyone plan to fill me in?” Jack asked, his patience beginning to wear.

“Certainly lad. One of the powers of a doppleganger is to fill the air with confusion. It’s rare for them to use it in such a large area – must be pretty near its limit by now – but it makes it possible for a doppleganger to fool almost anyone.” Mr. Schmidt explained.

Mr. Myers was drawing his sword, “We need to get it. You go on in – Schmidt and I can handle this better than you kids. No offense.”

Jack shrugged, “None taken. Go ahead, we’ll… Wait.”

The four of us, counting Ayami, stood there staring at him for more than a minute. Jack seemed to be working something out in his head so we let him.

Then he abruptly turned to Ayami, “Why did you go out?”

“You called, did you not?” Ayami answered. “Ayami… I mean I sensed the call and came but no one was there. Then I sensed the other master and hid as you commanded. Long time pass and Mr. Schmidt come.”

“I didn’t call you.” Jack told her. He looked at Mr. Schmidt, “The confusion?”

He, Mr. Myers and I all nodded in unison. Mr. Schmidt answered, “Undoubtedly so.  She confused his call for yours.”

Jack was on his phone instantly, “Thompkins? Did you sense any … When?.. Who did you… You did? Was that why?… Yes…. No, that’s exactly right. Stay where you are – I’m going to send Ayami so call Lisa and have her come over…. Good…. Bye.”

Jack turned to us, “Thompkins and Chambers had the same experience but they knew I wanted them to stay in so they called instead – that was what woke me up. Ayami, I want you to go stay in my apartment – my sister will be there. You two can sleep in my bed. You are not to leave there unless I personally tell you to – no summoning, I’ll speak to you face to face, got it?”

Ayami smiled, “Yes, understand. Ayami… I go.” And go she did, transforming and dashing for the fire escape instantly.

Jack turned to Mr. Schmidt, “I want to go with you – there has got to be more to it than that.” He turned to me, “I want you to wake the steel brigade – can you do that on the run or?”

I shook my head, “I’ll need to go touch more than a few since it’s been a few days.”

Jack nodded, “Get as much as you can – something else is going on and we need information.”

I nodded, “Will do.”

He looked at me a little funny. I smiled, “You prefer ‘aye, aye, captain’?”

“Just checking.” He turned to the other men and they took off toward the west.

“Mistress?” Tresmayne stood there looking at me expectantly.

“Hmm, oh, he didn’t say what you were to do…”

“No, Mistress, I already know my duty is here. But ‘aye, aye, captain’?”

I laughed, “He wasn’t sure if he’d asked or commanded – he asked – and a girl has to give her guy a hard time once in a while.” I turned toward the fire escape, “Especially when she gets the boring jobs. That ginsu is going to want to talk all night!”

I started re-awakening the various blades on my way down. I held off conversing with Finley as that required more concentration if I wasn’t going to go get him. Samantha was bubbly as always – she was helping with the awakenings. And that silly ginsu really did want to talk my ear off.

Down one side of the building and up the other, it took about a half hour to get everyone awake. I sat on the north side fire escape, near the roof, trying to sort the cacophony out. It took a lot longer to straighten out what blade saw what – they were being asked for new information. No creature had gotten close to the building besides Ayami, who was allowed so they had ignored her. I’d already known that – Finley would have been hollering had a creature or familiar come too close. But you always need a frame of reference with blades – it’s not like they can check their watches or anything.

The awakening was necessary to get the new information – what had they noticed besides Ayami. Thankfully, blades aren’t subject to creature powers that aren’t specific to weapons (yes, there are a crazy number of weird rules to this stuff – which is much worse when you have to learn them, I assure you!). Unfortunately, more than twenty blades talking through Samantha and Finley were more than a little confusing without the doppelganger’s help.

It took more than two hours to sort it all out. You’d think sword singing would be easy but it’s not. It’s one of the most difficult powers – you’re talking to inanimate objects that really don’t reason. Heck, they really don’t talk, either – it’s just impossible to explain what a sword’s communication is actually like. Twenty of them at once isn’t just confusing – it’s exhausting.

I finally finished and pulled out my phone. If they were done with that doppelganger and back in bed, there was going to be heck to pay!

 

 

True Slayers: Reckoning, Part Twenty-Five

“Where is she?” Mr. Schmidt asked before I even cleared the final jump to my roof.

“In bed. I assume… Drat, I woke up here, I didn’t see her…” I was too busy running to the door to worry about my lousy English skills.

Mr. Schmidt was right behind me. I tore down the stair and ran headlong into my bedroom. Ayami wasn’t there. I almost ran over Mr. Schmidt coming back out.

“She’s gone.” I was still running, now for the ground floor.

“I felt her earlier.” Mr. Schmidt told my back as we dashed for the front door.

I was speed dialing. Jack answered and I told him. He used a word I didn’t know he knew. I was inclined to use the same word as we raced across the street and hit the fire escape on Jack’s building.

I know – it’s just totally weird. I had no sense of Ayami and evidently, neither did Mr. Schmidt but both of us were instinctively running for that roof top. It’s one of the annoying things about being a slayer that fortunately doesn’t happen often – sometimes your senses are way ahead of your brain. Nothing in my brain said check Jack’s roof yet every nerve in my body was screaming to get up there faster. I poured on the speed, flashing inhumanly fast up that fire escape.

We weren’t the first up there. Tresmayne was already bounding across the roof. I had no sense of what he was after but I wasn’t moving slow enough to think, anyway. I went after him with Mr. Schmidt on my heels.

I had it a second later – werewolf. Gwen was in my hand and I had every intention of using her. But for the moment, I was lagging behind Tresmayne.

It’s hard to describe to a normal person what it’s like to run faster than anything should be able to. Things around you seem unnaturally slow – but the thing you are chasing seems unnaturally fast. Footing gets careful, almost thoughtful consideration at a rate that defies belief – I couldn’t think about what I was chasing but I knew where every footfall would go. That is a necessary part of the ability – no point being super fast if you are gonna trip over your own feet. But it’s also very different from what you would think.

I was running as fast as I could – faster than I’d ever pushed myself before. Leaping from roof top to roof top at insane speeds, concentrating on Tresmayne’s tail and my own footing. There was no way to think about anything else. We had gone seven blocks before I realized Mr. Schmidt wasn’t behind me any longer. I didn’t stop – he was retiring, I knew his powers were in the beginnings of retreat. It was no surprise he couldn’t keep this up – and I had a werewolf to kill.

Tresmayne made a huge leap, getting ahead of the werewolf for the first time. He turned, facing the enemy. It was my first look at the pseudo-traditional we had been chasing. Big and ugly, it skidded to a stop. Evidently, it had enough sense to not want to fight an ancient traditional. Pity it hadn’t had enough sense to avoid irate slayers.

I was on it. Gwen drew blood but I pulled her back. Now my brain was back in the game – we needed information, not dead werewolf. It whirled toward me but Tresmayne was already leaping on it. Instantly, he forced the smaller wolf to the ground.

Tresmayne still had it by the throat. I didn’t need instruction – I was grabbing its ugly mouth and forcing the lips open. It works best for the Mistress but a slayer can see new blood, too. There was none. Praise God, it hadn’t killed her.

“We need…” I had started to speak when I sensed a slayer behind me.

Jack walked up. Slayers have unbelievably good night vision but I couldn’t read his face. I’d never seen him truly furious – I assumed that was what I was seeing now.

“What color?” Jack asked coldly.

Tresmayne dropped the werewolf as I stepped back. “Black, no question.”

“Blooded?”

Tresmayne nodded his huge head, “Aye, no new blood, I don’t believe.”

“I didn’t see any.” I reported stiffly.

“Good.” Jack took hold of the werewolf’s head, “Your lucky day – state your name…”

 

Five minutes later, Jack had a new pet and had dispatched it to fetch whoever had sent it here. It insisted it hadn’t even seen a cat – it was supposed to drop concealment and run but it hadn’t even gotten the chance. It was just a decoy – it was using standard concealment. Not very well, Tresmayne had sensed it and evidently, so had Mr. Schmidt and I. I watched it run off, mentally shushing Gwen who was not at all happy she didn’t get the kill.

We trudged back to Jack’s roof. I could already tell I’d be paying tomorrow for that run but if I’d had the slightest sensation of Ayami, I’d have been doing it again. Mr. Myers met us and Jack gave him the update.

“Roland? James?” he asked.

“Inside – under my command.” Jack used another word I’d never heard him say before, “I should have…”

“We should have.” Mr. Schmidt chimed in, hopping off the fire escape onto the roof. “Look….”

He pulled out a pathetic looking black and white cat. I was scooping her up instantly, “Ayami!”

“Mew?”

Jack caught up, “Let her transform, Pretty Girl.”

Feeling sheepish, I dropped her. An instant later, she was in human form.

“So sorry! No mean to go out!” Ayami started apologizing to us all.

Jack shook his head, “Don’t worry about it. It’s not your fault. Come on inside, we’ll get you some dry clothes and you can tell us what happened.”

I noticed that she was drenched for the first time but another thought took over my tongue, “The wolf you sent?”

Jack shook his head, “He won’t be back for a while, if at all.”

 

 

True Slayers: Reckoning, Part Twenty-Four

“Careful what you wish for.” Daddy admonished me after I’d told him about my misgivings. He was very understanding – he always is unless Auburn wins the Iron Bowl. He added that tidbit as I was climbing the stairs to go to bed.

Ayami was already in bed – she’d helped Mr. Scarlotti fix the furnace and a million other things. I think it was the closest to heaven she’d ever been – that gal loves to fix things! She probably would have still been helping with a hot water line but Jack finally sent both his father and our werecat to bed around nine.

Now, how that got started, I couldn’t say. I’d been in a funk most of the day. We went for groceries and Mr. Scarlotti and two of his sons were pulling I don’t know what out of that basement window as we came back. We went over and spoke and Ayami stayed to go ask Jack something. Next thing I knew, Jack called to let Mama know that Ayami had joined the repair crew. She came home for supper and the work was all she chatted about. It’s a shame she is going to Korea – I think she’s just been adopted by the Scarlotti’s.

I finished my devotional and threw covers over my head. I’d done nothing all day and was worn out. Daddy had teased me about it but I really felt drained. In fact, I was asleep as soon as I hit the pillow.

And then I was awake and on the roof. Sleepwalking is a nice ability but it can be disconcerting if you don’t remember what woke you. It took me a minute before I knew why I was up there – vampire.

Really? Weird, why now? I texted Jack as I tried to get a bearing on where the thing actually was. He texted back that it felt like it was on his side of the street. Weird, felt closer to me, which I let him know.

Mr. Myers broke in that it was to the south. South? Jack thought east. The more we compared notes, the weirder it got. I thought vampire; Mr. Myers was sure werewolf; Jack thought something else.

I felt Tresmayne hit the roof top – mostly because he wasn’t playing and dropped his concealment to a huge degree. Okay, we all knew exactly where he was so none of us were unable to sense – Jack had thought up that experiment. But we were still getting divergent feelings about the various creatures we sensed.

Tresmayne went after the thing to the east. I went north and Mr. Myers to the south. I went six blocks and the sensation just stopped. I assumed it had entered concealment but it really didn’t feel quite like that. More like I was out of range.

I texted Jack again as I turned back. By this time Tresmayne had returned empty handed and Mr. Myers was on his way back as well. This was past weird.

As I got close to home, I saw someone on our roof. Not a creature – I couldn’t sense a creature. A person, definitely. I was mid text and closing when I finally felt the sensation of a slayer – Mr. Schmidt. I finished the text and ran the rest of the way.

 

 

True Slayers: Reckoning, Part Twenty-Three

This would be why Jack is better at the planning stuff than I am. I felt like there should be a climax – something should happen. I mean, something I could see. Jack’s theory was the something should happen that got results. He’s right, of course, but my version is more fun.

Also, James mentioned that he and Roland had hidden their tracks pretty carefully – another part of why it took them so long. If they did their jobs well – which of course, they did – then Vinnie shouldn’t’ have a clue as to why his stuff was being outed like that. Jack didn’t want him to know – he didn’t want Vinnie to have an opportunity to retaliate.

On the other hand, this had worked way better than anyone dreamed – Vinnie had his hands full staying out of police custody. The Mistress notified Jack that there were five warrants in three different jurisdictions – and she expected more to come.

To be fair, we couldn’t have known – we didn’t know that much about Vinnie until pretty late in the game. But it seems obvious now – a creep like that still needs to make a living. Vinnie made his living treating other people pretty much the way he treated creatures. An extortion racket using creatures as his muscle. The Mistress said it was very well done – Vinnie used creatures to command creatures – he only had to personally meet the creature once. And he made sure to stay out of the areas where he had his bands working. He was never at risk – but the innocent creatures he used were.

That, however, wasn’t good enough – hey, there are only so many vampires available and evidently, Vinnie had expensive tastes. While he had some impressive command capabilities there are limits to how complex the commands can be – and when Vinnie got greedy he found that he needed to be available to adjust plans as needed. Cell phones convey words – not the command power to enforce those words. What that added up to were some normal people got a look at Vinnie during some of his more complicated shakedowns while he was perfecting those – and those nice people were more than willing to swear out warrants.

Vinnie was very much on the run. Jack doubted Vinnie would be able to figure out who had done this and he certainly wouldn’t be worried about retaliation for quite some time. But Jack didn’t like taking chances – especially with Roland since Vinnie knew he was a programmer. So, tracks were covered and every effort made to keep that tidbit of information a mystery.

Which meant a nice, quiet New York day – no battles, no creatures, not so much as a fuss – nothing on the street where Vinnie had caused so much pain. I couldn’t decide if I should be happy or sad about it. Vinnie was getting his – but knocking him upside the head would have been satisfying, too.

That, of course, is the rub – his weapon might have been unconventional but Vinnie had committed murder – he had murdered Mr. Jenkins just as surely as if he’d used a gun. But you can’t very well go to court with a vampire as murder weapon – or heck, with any mention of vampires at all. That wasn’t fair – Mr. Jenkins deserved justice – but there was no way to get it for him.

Yeah, I know what you’re thinking but I”m a slayer, not a murderess. Killing soulless creatures when necessary is one thing; killing human beings is altogether another. I’d gleefully punch the creep out – and it wouldn’t bother me at all for the guy to get the death penalty – but I’m not judge or jury and sure as heck not executioner. Becoming evil just makes more evil – no, not going there.

Jack, I’m glad to say, felt the same way. Okay, he’s actually opposed to the death penalty but he’s not so sure any longer. But the important part – we’re not killers – he got that straight out of the starting gate. And I suppose there is a kind of justice in that Vinnie lost the life he was used to living – but I still felt bad that we didn’t get more for Mr. Jenkins.

Eventually, I’d have to tell Arnie – and I wasn’t looking forward to that at all. He’s a blade and no, not really a person, but still, I felt like we were letting him down. Vinnie was human – that vampire was NOT. It was fair game but we had no way to find it. Nothing that wouldn’t tip off Vinnie to our involvement, at least according to Jack.

I went out on the roof to think. I was tired of watching the drama unfold online – it seemed so impersonal, so remote and removed from all that had happened. I knew Jack had the right idea – I’d known when he told me before he explained it all. But it still seemed wrong. Slaying renegade creatures is our duty – and a vampire that had targeted and killed a man should top the list.

But I didn’t have the brains to reconcile that – if Jack couldn’t, I sure wasn’t going to. Ayami came and sat beside me which gave me an excuse to talk girl stuff and stop thinking about all of this. We had just finished debating how important cuteness was in a relationship – very not – when Daddy sent me a text.

Okay, this was just silly – I mean, seriously, who would know or care – but I’d promised I’d do it Jack’s way. I went down about ten blocks via the roof tops – I have to admit, roof tops are danged convenient compared to black top like back home – and then descended to the street level. Daddy picked me up with Ayami in the car and we three went to see a movie then stopped for ice cream afterwards. Four hours later, Daddy deposited us girls on the sidewalk and I was officially home from my non-existent trip.

Well, now only Jack was in hiding. Jack was due home Wednesday – it wouldn’t be the production that getting him out of the house had been. Officially, his convalescence would be over and life would continue. We were almost finished. Almost all done – Vinnie wouldn’t be sending creatures after anyone for a very long time to come – almost all over.

But it didn’t feel right.

True Slayers: Reckoning, Part Twenty-Two

Okay, so I do know what I expected – a lot more ‘bang’. I expected something to happen – okay, something that I’d notice to happen. Obviously, a lot had been happening but it was all online. My Thyspace page lit up like a Christmas tree with all the shares and warnings. Every creature or slayer online now knew about Vinnie – a whole lot about Vinnie. And they were making darn sure that everyone on the planet knew, too.

Jack did do one brilliant thing – which of course I didn’t know until later. He made sure the Mistress knew what we were about to do – two days ahead. The computer duo offered to set up some buffers for her but she had people for just such emergencies. As a result, her pages already had automated responses set up letting everyone know that she was aware of the situation. Good thing – she had thousands of hits within minutes of the first news going out – James is still drooling over her server because it was able to stay up.

The normal web lit up as well – intimidation wasn’t something Vinnie had limited to creatures. Just like on the slayer side, not only did the news go out but people he had victimized began to recognize him. Complaints were flying to both sets of IP providers – and the normal side had complaints going to the police as well.

But if you walked out on the stoop, it was just a normal day in New York. Passersby going to wherever they were bound. Kids playing on the sidewalk. People sitting outside enjoying the nice weather and each other’s company. Just an average nice day – you’d never have known about the nuclear blast that was happening online.

True Slayers: Reckoning, Part Twenty-One

B-O-R-I-N-G. Boring… Booooooring.

I didn’t get to see Jack much and he was busy with the computer genius’ so I didn’t get to talk to him much, either. Kimberly joined the extended PJ party – the three of us were feeling guilty for not inviting her to begin with. But now conversation was limited to girl talk – all Kimberly knew about Ayami was that she was special. Kagome wasn’t yet ready to break the news to her best friend – she had my go ahead for my part once she did decide to tell Kimberly.

And nothing happened. No critters, no subterfuge, no extended planning meetings – nothing. Because Roland had had some good ideas Jack had delayed the social media blitz until James and Roland were ready.

The only point of debate was whether or not Vinnie now knew that Tresmayne was still in the area. Tresmayne doubted it – the vampire had fled while he was still in human form and mostly concealed. It would have been lucky to identify him as a werewolf – he didn’t think it had had time to identify what kind let alone who. Jack said it didn’t matter – even if he knew, it was just as likely that Jack had sent Tresmayne back for something as it was that Jack was himself here – from Vinnie’s POV.

It was, of course, possible Vinnie had guessed the whole thing by now – after all, he’d lost all his ‘assets’. Jack didn’t care if he had or not – the uncertainty was enough to keep him guessing. Saturday was the big day – and Vinnie was unlikely to make a move with no intel that quickly. Jack thought the vampire on our roof was a desperation play to get intelligence on the neighborhood. If so, it just got him maybe a werewolf that might be Tresmayne – Jack said he would not act on so little information and doubted Vinnie would, either. Nope, right now, we were just making the jerk really nervous – and Jack was fine with that.

So was I – except that with nothing going on it was BORING! Kagome got us a pic of Jason (really handsome, no wonder she kept him to herself!) and Kimberly brought us up to speed on her fiance Aaron. With no further boy news, we girls were down to discussing classes and wholesale retailers. I did get a really good deal on a cute little purse with a tip from Kimberly.

Both Kimberly and Kagome had plans for Saturday. They both went back to Kimberly’s home on Friday and Ayami stayed on with us for the weekend. So now it was boring and only us two girls. I invited Donna and Lisa over Friday night. They ate with us and we watched some comedy DVD’s that Donna brought. Donna is in between guys so Lisa updated us on James and she and I repeated my update on Jack and I. The DVD’s were better than the conversation – some old TV show with a guy named Tim Conway. It was hysterical.

Saturday morning, Jack called early. Just when I was getting used to not waking up until the alarm went off. Operation Airing Out was a go. That wasn’t how Jack put it – Roland had named the silly thing but I didn’t find out until later. Ayami was already waking when I got off the phone. Boredom was over – now the fun would start.

I’m not sure what I expected. Well, I expected something but not really what happened. For the first five hours, that was a lot of nothing. On Jack’s side of the street, a lot was happening. Roland and James had mounted quite an attack. They had systematically located every social media account Vinnie had under all five of the alias’ they had found. More than sixty accounts, James told me later. They lodged thousands of complaints, resulting in the shut down of almost every account while the site owners started sorting things out.

The reason they could lodge so many was that Vinnie had been doing this kind of thing a lot longer than we’d imagined. While I was bored senseless, Roland and James had contacted hundreds of other creatures worldwide who had been used and discarded by Vinnie over the years. Roland had written several security programs to protect the identities from Vinnie – that had also taken a lot of time. He and James lodged their own complaints as well. James deliberately left Ayami out – she would be going overseas next year and wouldn’t be where Jack could easily protect her if Vinnie sought revenge.

But that was only the beginning. Using dummy accounts James and Roland launched their own campaign. Hundreds of posts over all the platforms they could manage warning about Vinnie and what he’d been doing. They set up a website with all of Vinnie’s information – his name, alias’, usernames – everything but his home address and that only because he didn’t seem to have one.

Then they got really creative. The initial things had been on creature and slayer sites – but Vinnie’s misdeeds weren’t limited to those. More complaints were lodged, this time in the regular media. Ten of his accounts were shut down in minutes. And a similar blitz was conducted in the regular media as well. James and Roland had been extremely thorough.