Posts Tagged ‘Fanfiction’

The War Veteran

July 27, 2019

In the midst of the Battle for Hogwarts, Henry Redwell had been hit with the Cruciatus curse. He had been one of the many students who took up their wand against the Dark Lord’s army. It had never been his wish to be a fighter, to be in a war but it had been necessary. He still had no doubt that had they not fought back, He Who Must Not Be Named would have slaughtered them all after he had been done with Harry Potter. They had fought for their very survival and they had barely survived. Henry had done his best with what few lessons he knew but the students of Hogwarts were not really trained for such things especially with the meddling of Umbridge and Snape.

Henry’s older brother had been friends with Cedric Diggory and so Henry had met him on holiday several times before entering Hogwarts himself. The Redwell family had always been members of Hufflepuff going back ages and so Redwell had entered that house. His older brother had looked after him until graduation and by then Redwell had his own friends to keep him safe. The Redwells were loyal and so Hufflepuff made sense. They left the courage to Gryffindor, the usual champions against evil. Still, when the truth came out about Harry Potter trying to save Cedric’s life during the Tri-Wizard cup, Henry felt inspired by the story and all of the subsequent stories of Harry and his friends.

All told, Henry Redwell had probably been destined for a Ministry job or to take over the family shop. All of that changed in the Battle for Hogwarts but a lot changed that day for a lot of people. He had been fending off the attack of a death eater when he was hit from behind with the Cruciatus curse. It might have only been a moment or it could have been the hours that it felt like but the pain was excruciating nonetheless. He had been saved by Professor Lupin who took out both Death Eaters. Henry’s future wife Felicity Partridge had pulled him to safety and tended to his wounds the best she could. A smart man would have left it there but Henry Redwell had found his bravery.

Henry spent his remaining years in Hogwarts working toward a new goal. He asked Felicity, a girl with a truly brilliant mind, to tutor him and he poured himself into his studies. His grades saw an immediate improvement and with that momentum, he pushed himself even harder. As he walked the halls of Hogwarts, he would not stand for bullying. When he heard about a problem, he set out to put it right. He tried not to use force if talking worked and soon his friends were following his example. He was no leader but he had started a small trend that helped everybody at Hogwarts. He wondered briefly if this was what Dumbledore’s Army had felt like. He humbly shook that thought away and continued working toward his goal.

When he graduated Hogwarts, he just barely had the grades to become an Auror. Part of his acceptance as an Auror was due to his extracurricular anti-bullying behavior. He had shown that he wanted to be part of the community in a positive way while also protecting that community. He was accepted into a new global task force. The British government had been briefly compromised by the rise of the Dark One. If there had been closer ties within the worldwide wizarding world, aid might have come to England and the Battle at Hogwarts might have been completely different. So much could have been different. This new task force would root out dark wizards and try to stop another Grindelwald or Voldemort from rising to power.

Many people in England wanted to call them The Snake Eaters but thankfully it was agreed that this was a bad call. Having been at Hogwarts, Henry knew that there was still a lot of animosity against the Slytherin House. However, Henry had forgiven most of the ones he knew and the world was starting to warm to the idea of giving second chances to the least complicit snakes of the world. Henry’s compassion led to him getting command of his own squad and he had put one together after a lengthy interview process. He had recruited his own wife, Felicity, as the team medic.

Henry had forbidden the use of any magical methods to coerce captives to give up their wicked friends. Torture or tricks would only create animosity which would make reform all the more difficult. This meant no Veritaserum, no Imperius Curse, and definitely no Cruciatus Curse. Henry had picked a squad with near limitless patience so that they could obtain information purely through conversation. His team armed Henry with all of the knowledge he would need to outthink and connect with the person across the table.

Henry walked into the interrogation room carefully, closing the door slowly behind him. He sat down in front of a young woman with an intricate snake tattoo on her face. They had chased her through Bath, lost her, and then found her again and caught her in Blackpool. Henry took a deep breath and smiled gently at the young woman. He set his folder down in front of him. The woman spat in Henry’s face, the wad of spit hitting where his nose met his right cheek. His file never faltered and he slowly wiped the spit off and opened the folder.

“Now then,” Henry said. “Let’s have a little chat.”

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Snake Skin Pt. 2

July 13, 2019

Mera and Clark walked cautiously into the huge, empty warehouse. It smelled like a renovation site for sure but there was the scent of something wild underneath it all. Their wands did not cast nearly enough light but it gave them a perimeter. Mera watched the rear as Clark watched the front and was, therefore, leading the way. Their wands were at the ready, just as they had been so many times before. Mera knew that whatever was in the warehouse had seen her and Clark. She also knew that Clark must have realized that too. It was a measured decision, though, since neither could fight blind.

As they stepped beyond the light shining from the door, some movement suddenly entered their small circle of light. It was absolutely silent and an absolute blur of motion. Whatever it was, it had claws which stretched out toward the two wizards menacingly. Clark’s wand snapped up and he called out “Protego!” and a blue shield appeared in the air. The claws scraped against the energy of the shield and sounded like knives on steel. The shield flickered and failed but the beast had already disappeared back into the darkness.

“Shit!” Clark muttered. “It’s pretty damn big!”

“Too big for you?” Mera asked. “It’s no bigger than an Erumpet and we’ve taken care of two of those.”

“Not helping,” Clark hissed. “Watch yourself. It’s fast. What is it? You’re the scholar between us.”

“I’m not sure yet,” Mera said. “I need more info than just the claws.”

They kept moving through the darkness. Now that they knew that the creature was a hunter, they could not stay still out in the open. A few yards further and another shape loomed in their light but this time it was at ground level. Mera saw a glimpse of gray and a feline structure and she reacted immediately. She pointed her wand and called out “Reducto!” and the shape crumbled to dust violently.

“Um, Partner,” Clark said. “Did you just disintegrate our target?”

“No,” Mera said. “I had a hunch on what it might be and I was right.”

“Well, then what is it?” Clark asked.

“It’s called a Forge Tiger,” Mera said. “It uses available materials to create statue clones of itself to confuse and corral its prey.”

“Are you telling me we are dealing with an actual copy cat?” Clark asked.

Mera groaned. “Yes. That’s where the term comes from.”

“And why is it not attacking us?” Clark asked.

“My guess is that it’s pouting because we destroyed its statue,” Mera said.

“Then let’s destroy some more,” Clark said.

“You got it,” Mera said.

They started moving again and when they saw a statue, they hit it with a destructive spell and took them apart. Six statues crumbled one by one and the last one looked hastily constructed. As that last statue fell, there was a roar of challenge and desperation. A brilliantly purple tiger leaped out of the darkness, claws out. Clark pointed his wand at it and called out “Manus Fortis!” and a gigantic glowing blue hand reached out and snatched the tiger out of the air.

As Clark lowered the tiger to the ground, Mera pulled out a glass vial. It was a powerful sleeping draught that she had brewed herself as she had learned in the dungeons of Hogwarts. She unstoppered the steel flask and held it up, pointing her wand at it. She called out “Caligo!” and the liquid evaporated into a small cloud. She guided that cloud to the tiger and as soon as the tiger started to breathe it in, it fell asleep. It stopped struggling against Clark’s spell. Clark pointed his wand again and calmly said “Incarcerous” and the beast was suddenly bound in ropes.

“Good job, partner,” Clark said. “Let’s drop the copy cat off and then I owe you a crab cake.”

“I think I deserve two crab cakes,” Mera said with a smile. “and a beer.”

“A beer?” Clark asked. “It’s a deal.”

Mera smiled and thought to herself that maybe snakes can shed their skin. Maybe people can change for the better and then their life does the same. She was living proof. She hoped that her old housemates out there were doing the same. She hoped that they were happy. She hoped that the good times were finally here and that the darkness was well behind and the world was safe. She hoped and sometimes that was enough.

Snake Skin

July 6, 2019

Mera Warren had seen her share of darkness. Her path had been darkness but she turned away from that path and had started to walk toward the light. Though she was widely known as a snake, Slytherin class of 2001, Mera had learned to harness that ambition for the forces of good. She had been young in 1998 when she and her fellow Slytherins had been locked in the dungeons with the rest of her house during the final battle with Voldemort. She had let her fear convince her to go along with the rest when she refused to fight in the battle. It was that and listening to the words of Draco Malfoy and his hangers-on. The older kids had convinced her that they were doing the right thing. When even Dracoy turned away from the dark, it was clear that they had all made the wrong choice.

After Hogwarts reopened, classes resumed but she and the rest were looked down upon by the other three houses. Some of the teachers found it hard to stick up for the students. Many Slytherins transferred to other schools. Mera had not been given that option. Her parents were not that well off and so she had to say goodbye to many of her friends. She had toughed it out. She kept her head down for a while and then little by little, she proved that she could be trusted. She helped Professor McGonogal clean up after class, she visited Hagrid, she tried and eventually succeeded in making friends. Inch by inch, rung by rung, she redeemed herself. Still, when it came time to graduate, she packed up her bags and left England.

She needed a fresh start. She needed to get out from under the cloud of Voldemort’s second reign of terror and the Battle of Hogwarts. There were too many memories even on the streets of London. Mera felt like she must have green scales after all because people seemed to instantly know who she was. In addition, she still harbored that Slytherin ambition. She wanted to be somebody but she did not know who that person was yet. All of her dreams had turned out to be nightmares and it was time to find new dreams. And so, she went to America. She arrived in Baltimore with very few bags and very little direction but a new lightness in her heart.

It was not long before she worked her way into the wizarding world of the East Coast of the United States of America. She got a lot of attention from her accent at first. She had not realized she had one but everybody had a comment. They were nice about it but it made Mera feel self-conscious. Finally, she got a steady job offer. Her skills with fast-casting and even faster thinking had qualified Mera to be a magical bounty hunter of sorts. It was a department inspired by the appearance of Newt Scamander in America in the early 20th century. The department, the US Department of Magical Creatures deputized certain officers to track and safely contain magical creatures in the most humane way possible.

“Hey partner,” Clark Coulson said gently. “You still with me?” He had been her partner for months now and they got along very well.

“Huh?” Mera said. “Sorry. I guess I was swimming in my past again.”

“Well,” Clark said. “We have our assignment. Do you want to get going?”

Mera stretched and shook the tension out of her shoulders. “Where are we going?”

“A warehouse in Canton,” Clark said. He was big and tall, and working class like a construction worker. He would have been a Hufflepuff back in Hogwarts for sure. “Just follow my lead, I know the way.”

Mera nodded and the two of them apparated across town and landed on an out of the way cobblestone street. Mera could see the harbor through a sliver of a gap in some buildings. She had never been too far from the water in her life.

“This is the place?” Mera asked, pointing toward a warehouse clearly in the process of being renovated and repaired. Much of the waterfront area was getting revamped and there was plenty of construction and reconstruction.

“That is the place,” Clark said. “The guy with the key should be here in a minute. Once we’re done, I’ll treat you to something from Fell’s Point. You want a crabcake?”

“That does sound delicious, Clark,” Mera said. “So why wait?” She pointed her wand at the locked door and called out ‘Alohamora!” and the door opened with a deep clicking sound.

“Always so gung ho,” Clark said. “I guess it’s technically not breaking and entering since we’re supposed to be here. Stay behind me.” He started toward the door.

“Excuse you?” Mera said. “Stay behind me.”

“Mera,” Clark said. “Let me be the meat shield. There’s nobody I trust more to watch my back and I’m better at shield charms. You’re better at combat spells. Facts are facts.”

“Well, if you were going to flatter me, you should have led with it,” Mera said with a smile. “Lead the way, meat shield.”

Clark smirked and pushed the door open wider. It was pitch black inside and deadly silent. They both looked at each other and almost said “Lumos!” in unison and the tips of their wands lit up. They stepped into the darkness, their steps echoing on concrete.

Aftershocks: Playthings Pt. 4

October 27, 2018

Aftershocks Playthings

It took a while to find out where the kids were. This time, Lydia had no reservations about Rob doing some hacking. Already having access to a server was not the same as actively hacking into a government computer. Lydia spent her time trying to keep Nancy calm as Rob worked, knowing how much she cared for those children. Also, she knew the way her dad had preyed on children weighed on her and had her wanting to balance out his actions. It was a hard weight for sunny Nancy to carry and Lydia could see that. Also, she knew that Nancy’s freak out had started to wear on Rob’s nerves. How she became team mom, Lydia had no idea.

They arrived at the safehouse not quite as put together as they had been at the toy store. Lydia’s nerves were still jangled from combat, she was getting more battle-hardened but she still had a ways to go. Rob put on a brave face but Lydia was sure she could tell that he was nervous. Still, he was obviously the most composed. In the backseat, Nancy was like a dog begging to be let off of its chain. There was a wildness in her eyes that Lydia could understand but knew that they could not afford to indulge. She took Nancy’s hand in hers and spoke softly.

“Nancy,” she said. “These kids need us but they need us to be strong for them.”

“I’ll be strong for them,” Nancy said. “I’ll tear Charles apart like Ley and Jack.”

Lydia squeezed Nancy’s hand. “Nance, you are scaring me. We got lucky the last two times but this time they have hostages. We have to play it smart.”

Nancy looked helpless.

“You need to keep the monster at bay,” Lydia said. “Unless we absolutely need her. You are not a monster. You’re my happy friend. So let’s go save the day and make those kids happy again.”

Nancy took a deep breath. “Alright,” she said. “I’m with you.” Her voice was shaky but she looked sufficiently calmer.

Rob stepped out of the car and the girls piled out after him as quietly as they could. None of them were exactly stealth experts. At that moment, it really hit Lydia how young they were and how normal fighting demons had become. It was inspiring, frightening, and sad all at the same time. She wished she was reading paperbacks back in her room. She wished Nancy was leading sing-alongs back at camp.

Unfortunately, it was gunfire that snapped Lydia from her revelry and the three of them scrambled to duck back around the car. Rob cursed loudly as the bullets impacted the car but it was lost in the noise. Lydia reached into her bag and grabbed a mirror and held it up to try to see who or what was shooting at them. A bullet grazed the car near her arm and Lydia lowered the mirror. She whispered a few words and waved her hand over the mirror and she remotely viewed their surroundings. There were two cops with rifles aimed at their car.

“We’re not the bad guys!” Lydia yelled out. “We want to protect the kids.”

There was nothing but silence from the cops but they had stopped shooting.

“There is a maniac named Charles who is after the kids,” Lydia said into the night.

Both cops simultaneously tilted their heads back and let out insane cackling laughter. Then they spoke in unison. “The kiddies will be mine just like these two dopes. Either come and submit to me or I’ll pull out your eyes.” They both cackled again in perfect unison.

“Shit,” Rob said. “They’re possessed!”

“What do we do?” Nancy asked, eyes wide.

“We improvise and move forward,” Lydia said. “Sorry, Rob.”

Before Rob could ask what for, Lydia waved her hand and the hood of the car pried itself up and floated in the air. Lydia walked toward the house as the cops shot up the hood. The other two hurried to follow behind Lydia. At the last moment, she waved her hand again and the piece of metal flew into one of the cops. Rob pulled a revolver and shot the other cop in the shoulder. He pulled out a vial and sprinkled liquid onto the cop that Lydia had hit with the metal. There was no reaction.

“They’re gone,” Rob said. “It’s not normal demonic possession.”

Nancy actually growled and her hands sprouted sharp claws. Lydia actually mom armed her, raised her hand and snapped and both cops caught on fire. What had formerly been the cops flailed around but succumbed to the flames. Rob moved to pick the lock on the front door but Nancy lunged forward and dragged those claws down the door, cutting it to pieces. The three of them slipped into the house.

In the living room, the kids were unconscious and tied to the furniture. A little red-headed toy man stood in the middle of it all with a twisted grin on his face. He did not look afraid of the three newcomers. Lydia knew at once what this little man was planning and hoped that he had not succeeded.

“You can’t stop me,” Charles said. It was the same voice that came from the cops. “Their bodies are mine. They will be the start of the Army of Me.”

“No way!” Nancy yelled.

“Yes way!” Charles yelled out. “Do you think I subdued all these kiddos myself?”

As if on cue, toys came out of hiding and attacked. Nancy lunged at Charles, claws out and began to wrestle him. It would have looked comical in any other situation. The other two combatted the rest of the toys, slowly hacking and smashing their way through them. The living room was chaotic with battle and thankfully the kids really were out of it. At one point, Nancy and Charles crashed through a window and outside which was impressive since there were bars on the windows. Rob and Lydia did their best on their own, slowly destroying each toy and it seemed to take forever. Finally, they made sure the kids were safe and headed outside.

They arrived just as Charles got the upper hand, landing on top of a prone Nancy and pulling out a large wicked knife.

“I’ll rip your guts out, kid!” He yelled.

A shot rang out and then two more and Charles went flying from shots from Rob’s revolver. He and Lydia charged forward, covering for Nancy as she tried to recover.

“You little shits!” Charles yelled out. “You’ll never win. Me and the big guy are friends to the end.”

“This is the end,” Lydia said. She snapped her fingers and Charles burst into flames.

His screams were horrible but oddly satisfying. The three of them stood and watched the doll burn. When the screaming stopped, Rob made an anonymous call to the police to come to clear things up. Nancy continued to watch the remains of Charles burn as Lydia and Rob collected the car’s hood and untied the kids. They came and grabbed Nancy and Lydia was satisfied that Charles would continue to burn down to cinders before the police arrived. The three of them left. None of them really wanted to talk about things yet.

Aftershocks: Playthings Pt. 3

October 20, 2018

Aftershocks Playthings

Once again, Lydia insisted on driving, pushing Rob into the passenger seat since he was still a much younger kid. Nancy climbed into the back and made sure everybody buckled up before they started off toward the toy store. Nancy thought about how normally she would have been overjoyed to explore a toy store, even an abandoned one. Now, she knew that this was not going to be fun. It was going to be the gym and the hotel all over again. Beneath the fear was an anger quite unlike her usual happy demeanor. She clung to that anger a little, trying to use it to fight back the fear as she bounced a bit in the backseat of Rob’s big black car. Lydia glanced back at Nancy, a little worried for her best friend.

“So what’s our plan?” Lydia asked. “Go in hot like usual?”

“They’ve already hurt the parents,” Nancy said. “We need to crush them before they go after the kids.”

“Agreed,” Rob said. “Besides, the tactic has worked for us before. I don’t know what their plan is but we have to stop it.”

Nancy nodded. “For the kids,” she said.

“For the kids,” Lydia and Rob agreed. The three of them were still all under the age of eighteen but they did not really feel like kids anymore. Nancy looked over at Rob and wondered about him most of all since he was the youngest but had way more experience fighting these things.

Lydia felt the whole thing was unfair. She and Nancy had been pulled into this because of their shadow-touched pasts. They never chose it, it had been thrust upon them. Lydia was in this because her parents had dragged her to that house and things had gone off the rails. He had nearly married her and would have been unleashed on the world. Nancy’s story was even worse. She was only in the game because that demon had somehow impregnated Nancy’s mom so the process had been started long before her birth. It was maddening but if they could not get away, they both had decided to confront the problem head-on.

The three of them piled out of the car at the toy store and they opened the trunk to get out their weapons. Rob pulled out his silver blade, the one he called an ‘angel blade’ which was curious knowing what they had seen during their first encounter with the boy. Lydia pulled out her sword, an item that always made her feel sufficiently badass. Nancy grabbed the iron fireplace poker that she had taken from their last adventure in the hotel. It had served her pretty well and it was something she was more comfortable using than her own powers. Lydia was ready to use her magic spells. Finally, Rob grabbed a shotgun which Lydia was going to object to but thought better of it. The kid obviously knew what he was doing and they would be fighting sentient toys, not people.

Rob picked the lock on the sliding doors out front which raised some eyebrows with the girls but both of them let it go. The three of them slipped into the store which had shelves of old merchandise. Obviously, that made the three of them tense from what they had seen back at the bunker. They stood in the middle of those aisles and before any of them could comment, the shelves erupted with living toys. The three of them sprung to their defense and all three slashed at the attackers. It was an absolutely ludicrous sight to see three kids smashing and cutting up a whole bunch of toys. Everybody involved was screaming bloody murder and when the dust settled, the floor was littered with stuffing, plastic bits, springs, and all sorts of other parts. The three demon hunters were relatively unscathed. They walked toward the back.

“Where are you, Charles?!” Lydia called out, working at getting her breath back.

“Your plans are over!” Rob yelled.

They walked into the back and they almost ran into a baby doll, a teddy bear, and a jack in the box. The baby doll was smoking a cigarette calmly.

“This is the end of the line, kiddos,” the baby doll said. Its voice certainly sounded like it smoked.

“For you,” Nancy said.

“Charles isn’t here,” the jack in the box said, its voice like nails on a chalkboard. “We have a deal. He gets the kids, we get you.”

“What do you mean he gets the kids?” Nancy asked.

“Enough talk,” the baby doll said. With a growl, the teddy bear grew into a real bear and lunged after the three. Rob, Nancy, and Lydia spread out and the bear ended up chasing Lydia. The others each went after Rob and Nancy. Lydia swiped her sword at the bear, making sure to keep out of its reach the best she could. A couple of times, the bear nearly took her head off. She led it back into the shelves. Each slice with her sword only exposed stuffing under the bear’s fur. She was getting nowhere and she could feel her arms beginning to hurt and her swings started to slow down. Backed into a corner, she waved her hand and called out an incantation and set the bear on fire. As it panicked, it lost interest in Lydia before falling to the concrete and slowly burning away. Lydia leaned against the wall and tried to recover.

The baby doll had chased Nancy through the storeroom. It moved surprisingly fast for something with such little legs but Nancy supposed that demons worked with different rules of physics. She turned and swung the poker at the thing and was startled when the baby doll blocked the shot with a switchblade knife. Nancy thought it must have looked ridiculous as she started to fence with a baby doll. She was never going to look at another doll the same again. After a few moments, she gained an edge over the baby doll. At last, she disarmed the doll, sending the switchblade flying across the room and sticking into the wall. She drove the poker into the doll’s face and, as it shuddered and stopped moving, she worried about the nightmares this might cause.

As for Rob, he squared off with the jack in the box which laughed maniacally, showing off needle-like teeth. After spending some time trying to stab the thing with his angel blade, he gave up and retreated. As the thing laughed in triumph, Rob cocked the shotgun and blew its head off. The laughing abruptly stopped.

“This isn’t over,” Lydia said. “Charles is going after the kids. Where are the kids?”

“They’re all gathered together,” Rob said. “at the social services safe house.”

“Let’s end this then,” Nancy said. “Nobody messes with kids when I’m around.”

Vampire Brain

April 25, 2018

Living in Neptune had never been the most stable thing in the first place. It was a town divided by class warfare, those living in the fabulous 90909 zip code versus everyone else. Like most 09ers, Crystal had lived the high life thanks to her parents both being high-priced lawyers in high demand and a sizeable inheritance from Grandma. She had never wanted for anything in her life. Here parents’ wealth and the wealth of her friends was the eternal wellspring that would always be there. When the Hellmouth had opened in the basement of Caitlin Ford’s mansion, it had changed everything. Vampires were something sparkly in that movie with Robert Pattinson one moment and then they were suddenly real. The town of Neptune had changed. Instead of the haves versus the have-nots, it was humans versus vampires and demons.

Crystal had been at a party at Caitlin’s when it all went down. At the time, Caitlin was attempting to buy her way back into the hearts of Neptune’s finest. She had left a bad taste in everybody’s mouth when she had cheated on her boyfriend with a biker who later turned up beaten to a pulp. When the vampires arrived, they just started ripping through the mansion and feeding off of the wealthy guests. Crystal had been lucky to have been in the spacious backyard when it started. As she ran, she witnessed the infamous Veronica Mars try to fight the vampires and then the whole Sheriff’s office arrived. In the melee, Crystal had been forced to fight which is when she discovered that she had powers of her own. She was recruited by a squad of Buffy Summers’ slayers and taught that she had had potential which was realized when she was exposed to the Hellmouth’s magic. They brought her back to the Neptune Grand which would be a base for the Slayer Army and a refuge for survivors of the vampire attacks.

Although Crystal had become a lieutenant in this new army, she had recently been benched because she had violated the quarantine agreed upon by the Sheriff’s Office and the Slayers. She had let two scientists and some mercenaries in from Seattle. She thought maybe the scientists could help and the Slayers had agreed but she was still grounded for breaking the rules. She had decided to check in on the scientists while she was stuck on guard duty to see if any progress had been made. If they provided new information, maybe she would be allowed back on the front lines where it was not so boring. She took the stairs down from the roof and headed to the makeshift laboratory. The door was open but Crystal knocked on the doorframe. Almost getting killed and combatting the undead had somehow impressed the importance of politeness.

Ravi looked up from scribbling some notes in a journal and smiled at her. “Oh come in,” he said in that British accent “It’s nice of you to check up on us, Crystal.”

“Well,” Crystal said. “I’m excited that you might have news each time I visit.”

Ravi shrugged. “Scientific progress takes time. I know things are desperate what with the gaping doorway to Hell but I can only go so fast.”

Crystal nodded. “Has the vampire body helped? It’s strangely hard to kill one without it bursting into dust and ash so getting one intact like you asked was really hard.”

“It’s been fascinating so far,” Ravi said. “I have been able to figure out a little based on my findings compared to these Watchers journals. I always wished that magic could be real, I guess that kind of backfired.”

“Be careful what you wish for,” Crystal said. She lifted the sheet a bit from the body and tilted her head to the side. “Hey, um, I notice its brain is missing.”

Ravi nodded and swallowed a bite of the sandwich he had been eating. “Yes, well, I dissected it.”

“And then I turned some of it into shish kabob,” a voice from behind Crystal said. She turned to see the pale woman with white hair that she had met before. Except that Olivia, the woman who she had thought was a scientist too, was now in a cage. Olivia smirked at her surprise. “And then I ate them.”

Crystal backed up, making sure she was out of reach. “Why would you do that?” She asked.

Before Liv could answer, Ravi stepped up to stand next to Crystal. He looked unconcerned. “Liv is a Zombie, Crystal.”

“A zombie?” Crystal asked. “Weren’t vampires and demons enough?”

“Zombies aren’t actually like they are in the movies and television,” Ravi said. “For the most part, zombies retain their personalities. Liv is completely harmless.” Liv gave him a questioning look. “Mostly harmless.”

“Then why is she in a cage?” Crystal asked.

“I’m a little drunk on vampire brain,” Liv said. “When I eat somebody’s brains, I can usually access their memories. The problem is that I also temporarily take on their personality too.”

“It’s been worse,” Ravi said. “She was a racist once. Actually twice.”

“The predator part of me only wants to get out and hunt so I volunteered to be put in this cage,” Liv said. “How does Veronica do this all of the time?”

Crystal felt the need to stand up for a fellow Neptune native, somebody she would never have given the time of day to in her old life. “Veronica Mars is a vampire but she has a soul,” she said. “We checked.”

“My working hypotheses,” Ravi said. “is that because Liv is getting this mindset from a vampire without a soul, her soul is not allowed to weigh in.”

“Have you learned anything at least?” Crystal said, looking Liv in the eye.

“I passed some locations of some vampire nests up the chain of command,” Liv said. “I had some visions and this guy got around. Hey, can I ask you something?”

Crystal took another step back and nodded. “Sure.”

“Are you in Major’s squad?” Liv asked.

“Major who?” Crystal asked.

“Major Lilywhite,” Liv said. “Major is his first name. He came in with us but he hasn’t visited in a while. You’re obviously not on the same squad.”

“Sorry,” Crystal said.

“If you see him,” Liv said. “could you tell him I’m looking for him? Also maybe mentioned that I’m a little tied up at the moment and I can’t come to him.”

“Sure,” Crystal said. “I’ll do my best.”

Aftershocks: Ghosts Check In Pt. 4

October 28, 2017

Aftershocks Ghosts

When the three of them opened the door, there was an intense blast of heat. The furnace must have been in overdrive or something. It was like walking into the desert and it took some effort to keep walking down the stairs. Lydia was glad that she had her hair up as usual but she looked with sympathy at Nancy who had long, shapeless hair draped everywhere. Rob pretty much had a crew cut so he was fine. Why was she thinking so much about hair? It must have been the heat that was making her delirious.

“We need to finish this guy off quickly,” Rob said.

“Can’t take the heat, Rob?” Lydia asked with a smirk. Nancy tried to cover her mouth before she started laughing but she failed.

“Quiet,” Rob hissed.

“I think they know we’re coming, Rob,” Nancy said.

“I know,” Rob said. “Maybe I just want you to stop mocking me.” He kicked open the door at the bottom of the stairs. The three of them moved into the room and fanned out.

A man was standing in front of the furnace with his back toward them. The flames made his shadow dance around the room. He slowly turned to expose a manic but determined look on his face. He was stone still and his eyes looked and smile looked devilish.

“It’s over, Jack!” Lydia shouted out.

“I don’t think so kiddo!” Jack said. “Enough is enough, time for you kids to get punished.”

“Come and get it!” Rob shouted.

Jack chuckled and pulled out a bloody axe from behind his back. “Here’s Johnny.” He said softly. He ran toward them, swinging the axe in a wide arc. The kids scattered and readied their weapons again.

The first to attack was Lydia, running at the left side of Jack and thrusting her sword as hard as she could. Jack simply stepped back and swung the axe downward in one movement but when the axe would have hit Lydia’s back, she evaporated into mist and reappeared a few feet away. Jack roared at her, his eyes going blood red.

In the confusion, Nancy swung the iron poker hard at Jack from his right side with a yell of fearfulness that suddenly found courage. This was a demon and if they did not step up to the plate, they would die in a hotel basement and nobody would ever stop Jack. She put all the balled up fear of the day and all the days before into that swing. Unfortunately, Jack sidestepped that one as well. He struck Nancy in the back of the head with the butt of the axe and a bit of blood spattered across the concrete floor as Nancy stumbled into a corner.

Rob pulled out a pistol and fired point blank at Jack. The first two bullets hit Jack in the stomach and he barely flinched even as more blood hit the floor. The next two bullets struck Jack’s chest and he started to laugh. The laughter grew more manic as bullet five hit his cheek, tearing a little bit of it away. The laughter did not die when the sixth bullet hit Jack right in the middle of the forehead. If anything, it got louder.

“Holy shit!” Lydia shouted. “That should have worked right?”

“It was worth a try,” Rob said. “At least it was supposed to slow him down.”

“Man,” Jack said with a sigh. “You kids make me want to drink. Instead, I guess I’ll bash your brains in. That tends to solve problems.”

“You’re not hurting anybody else,” Rob said steadily. He pulled out the silver spike of a blade from his coat again. Jack’s eyes were immediately drawn to the thing.

“I’m supposed to be scared of that thing?” Jack asked. “I know what that is. Don’t know how you got it but I know what it is. Real fancy, boy. You still have to actually hit me with it and none of you have had a bit of luck.” He had a very demonic grin on his face, his eyebrows knitting together.

“Demons will never win,” Rob said. “In the end, demons lose and humans win.”

“Whatever, kid,” Jack said. “I’m not going to let another snot-nosed kid beat me this time.”

“I think we’ve had about enough of you,” Lydia said. “Enough talking, more killing.”

“I agree,” Jack said with a grin.

All of the lights in the basement suddenly went out including the fire in the furnace. There was an ominous silence. Lydia and Rob tensed, holding their weapons in front of them. This must be one of Jack’s tricks. The flame of the furnace restarted and once again cast light in the basement.

Out of the darkness behind Jack, there was suddenly the looming face of Nancy. However, just her face was about ten feet tall, her hair cascading into the shadows. Jack saw the astonished faces of Rob and Lydia but as he turned to see, giant hands floated out of the darkness. Those hands were the size of cars. One grabbed Jack’s right arm and the other grabbed his left arm and held him in place. Jack struggled as hard as he could but the now titanic Nancy was way too strong.

“Now, Rob!” Nancy boomed, fiercely serious eyes looking down at Rob. Rob snapped out of it and ran forward with his weapon and thrust it through Jack’s chest. Jack’s body lit up as if he was a jack o’lantern and a candle had been placed within him. After a moment, the light went out and Jack slumped in Nancy’s grip. The furnace light flickered again and Nancy was suddenly standing next to Lydia and Jack was lying on the floor.

“Is he dead?” Lydia asked.

“He’s dead,” Rob said and took a deep breath.

Nancy looked at Lydia, worry in her eyes but Lydia reached out and took hold of her hand and smiled and Nancy smiled back. Lydia pointed her other hand at Jack’s body and it turned to sand and seemed to blow away in a non-existent wind. They stood there for a long moment before all of them noticed that the furnace was starting to burn brighter and brighter. All of a sudden, ghosts started to descend through the ceiling, sucked into the furnace and seemingly burned up.

“We should probably get out of here, right?” Nancy asked, staring into the fire.

“Yeah,” Rob and Lydia said almost in unison.

“Let’s go then,” Lydia said and she pulled Nancy up the stairs with Rob very close behind. They ran from the basement and through the hallway and the lobby and out through the automatic doors. When the doors closed behind them, there was a harshness and a finality to the sound. There was the huge sound of an explosion from deep inside the hotel and the whole building seemed to go up in flames. After a few seconds, the building was completely gone. Nobody on the street seemed to notice.

“We’ve got a lot more work to do,” Rob said.

“Well,” Lydia said. “I think we’re up to it.” She looked over at Nancy.

Nancy nodded. “More than up for it. This time, it’s the demons’ nightmare.”

Aftershocks: Ghosts Check In Pt. 3

October 21, 2017

Aftershocks Ghosts

The three of them ran as fast as they could, blood sloshing at their ankles and their footfalls splashing as they ran. They ducked through a doorway and Lydia slammed the door behind them. All three of them held the door against the pressure of the flow of blood, breathing hard. They looked around and found that they were in what looked like a small ballroom with tables set up for some kind of party. There was a rolling bar set up in one corner. In the other corner, there was DJ equipment set up.

“What was that?” Nancy asked. She was looking down at her formerly white socks which were now red. Her sneakers were probably ruined.

“It wasn’t cherry kool-aid, that’s for sure,” Rob said.

They slowly eased off of the door and it held by itself. They made their way into the room.

“This place has some really creepy tricks,” Nancy said.

“I’ve heard some nasty things about the place they used to be in. I think it was called the Overlook,” Rob said.

“I don’t think I want to know,” Nancy said.

“So, where is Jack?” Lydia said. She practically yelled it she was so mad.

“He is down below,” A voice from behind the bar said. “doing the devil’s work. He is not to be disturbed.” The man’s name tag read Lloyd and he was dressed like an employee of the hotel.

“Well,” Lydia said. “He’s as good as dead.”

“Yeah,” Nancy said. “We kind of want to talk about this place’s policies on demons and by ‘talk’ we mean stab.”

“I’m afraid that we can’t let that happen,” Lloyd said. “You’ll have to die and we’ll feed you to our new home like all the rest.” As he spoke, several other ghosts faded into view and surrounded the three young demon hunters. The three of them found themselves standing back to back to back, facing the threat.

“Try us, asshole,” Lydia said, practically bearing her teeth in defiance. The ghosts started to move toward the trio.

Nancy swallowed hard and gripped the iron poker tightly. She swung it at the oncoming ghosts and watched them flicker angrily and disappear as the poker passed through them. She kept swinging hard, thrashing around viciously. Rob aimed his shotgun and fired over and over. He wished that he had had time to shake out a salt circle around them to try and hold off the ghosts. He searched his mind for any memories of what his family would have done in this situation. When he ran out of shells, he pulled out a wicked silvery spike and swung that at the ghosts. Its impact made a burning line in each ghost and they flickered and disappeared. For her part, Lydia was also fighting hard. She swung her new sword at each ghost and its steel composition had a similar effect on the ghosts. Her slashes and parries made each ghost flicker and disappear.

After a while, the three of them started to get tired. They kept swinging and getting rid of ghosts but they were starting to notice that ghosts they got rid of earlier were only coming back for more. Lydia had had enough. She dropped her sword and flexed her magical will as she gestured her hand toward Lloyd.

“Back to Hell!” She yelled out. The words somehow sounded amplified and reverberated through the room. The ghosts all suddenly got very still and Lydia closed her fingers one by one. Lloyd’s form trembled and then started to smoke and then it burned up like a piece of paper in the fireplace. She turned to the other ghosts and gestured more widely and they all started to tremble and then burn up. In the silence that followed, she found that she was suddenly sitting in a chair trying to catch her breath. Nancy was kneeling beside her, holding her hand.

“Are you alright?” Nancy asked. Her eyes were wide and glimmered like a puppy dog’s eyes. Nancy was such a good person despite her lineage.

“Yeah,” Lydia said. “Sorry that that took so long to figure out.”

“Don’t apologize!” Nancy said. “That was awesome!”

“It was really impressive,” Rob said.

“Thanks,” Lydia said. “It’s been something I’ve been working on for a while just in case you-know-who comes back someday. I’m just really glad it worked.”

“Where would you even learn something like that?” Rob asked. “My family doesn’t have a lot of good experience with witches.”

“She’s a good witch,” Nancy said. “Like Glynda.”

“Glynda with attitude but only because I was tired of being like Dorothy,” Lydia said. “I learned everything from reading and some coaching from some friendly ghosts. I could let you skim some of my books at some point.”

“Really?” Rob asked.

Lydia nodded. “Ever heard of the Handbook for the Recently Deceased?”

“No,” Rob admitted. “But I would love to see it.”

Lydia smiled. “Ask me about it later, then.”

“So,” Rob said. “Are we ready to go downstairs and deal with Jack?”

“I don’t know,” Nancy said. She almost seemed to shrink into her over-sized sweater as she frowned deeply with worry.

“Come on, Nance,” Lydia said. “We’ve come this far and if we don’t do this, then nobody will. Maybe nobody can.”

“She’s right,” Rob said. “Nobody is going to believe us about the demons. Believe me.”

“Alright,” Nancy said. She sighed and then took a deep breath. “Let’s get this over with.”

Aftershocks: Ghosts Check In Pt. 1

October 7, 2017

Aftershocks Ghosts

Lydia and Nancy decided to skip the Principal’s office since he had phrased it as optional. In fact, as weeks went by, they continued to give the principal’s office a wide berth. It was all too complicated at the moment and they still did not know who to trust. After they had defeated the demon Ley, the two girls hoped that things would calm down and stay calm. So far, they were half right but neither of them believed that it would stay that way for long. Ley had talked about the King of Demons being interested in them and Nancy’s heritage probably made her specifically the target. The two of them tried to do as much normal teenage stuff as they could but it never quite washed away the memories of what had happened in the gym weeks ago.

The normal stuff went out the window when they left their last class of the day and found Rob sitting on the curb, eating a piece of key lime pie. He was wearing the same over-sized trenchcoat but was not openly carrying any weapons this time. In the light of day, the pint-sized monster hunter looked a little funny. However, both of the girls recalled that the boy had powers possibly on par with Nancy’s undefined abilities. He was potentially dangerous but he seemed to be on the side of the angels for now.

“Hey kiddo,” Nancy said. “No car today?”

“I have it stashed away,” Rob said without looking up from the pie. He wiped his mouth with the sleeve of his coat. “I don’t drive it all the time.”

“Smart,” Lydia said with a tiny smirk. “It’s still years before anyone will issue you a license, kid.”

“My name is Rob,” He said. There was no frustration or anger in the words, just a simple reminder of the facts at hand.

“Alright,” Nancy said. She was back to being her usual sunny self but that facade was wearing at the edges in the face of a reminder of a very bad night. “What can we do for you, Rob?”

“Yeah, we actually have homework to do,” Lydia said.

“I wanted to talk to you both after the heat died down,” He said.

“Well, it feels like it’s dead as a doornail now,” Lydia said. “Did you want your sword back?”

“No, that’s alright,” He said. “I just wanted to talk.”

“I’m not sure I’m interested, Rob,” Nancy said. She was hugging herself so hard that Lydia feared her arms might start wrapping around her a few too many times.

“Let’s hear him out, Nance,” Lydia said. “He helped us out. It’s not like we owe him but so far he’s been alright to us.”

“Fine,” Nancy said. “Lead the way.”

Rob stood and tossed an empty pie tin into the garbage and wiped his mouth with his coat again. He led them down the street and into the public park. He led them into the woods where they stood in front of a metal door hidden under a rocky outcropping.

“Nice secret murder dungeon you have here,” Lydia said.

Rob gave her a look. “It’s just one of my mom and dad’s old bunkers. My family likes bunkers.” He shrugged and pulled out a key and unlocked the door. He walked inside, leaving the door open. Nancy and Lydia looked at each other for a moment before going in. How bad could it be? They stepped inside.

The interior of the bunker was actually pretty nice. There were couches and tables and chairs and rugs. When Rob reached over to the light switch, the lights actually came on so he had somehow gotten working electricity in the woods of a public park. Lydia was impressed, Nancy was absolutely confused. Rob kept walking, moving past what looked like a makeshift kitchen with a fridge. He sat down at a table which already had two chairs set up on the opposite side. It was weird to see somebody younger look so professional.

Nancy and Lydia carefully sat down in the chairs opposite Rob. “So tell me what your deal is?” He asked.

“We’re high schoolers,” Lydia said. “I’m not sure what you’re asking.”

“I’m a dream demon’s daughter and she almost married a ghost!” Nancy blurted out.

“Nancy!” Lydia yelped in surprise. “Why did you just tell a stranger that!”

“Almost married a ghost?” Rob asked.

“He was trying to escape the afterlife. It was gross. I’d rather not say his name. Why did I just say that?” Lydia asked.

Rob simply smiled and turned toward Nancy. “A dream demon?”

“He’s really nasty and now I’m afraid I might be a demon too,” Nancy said.

“You’re not. Otherwise, you would be affected by the circle you’re sitting in and not just the truth glyphs that my uncle carved into those chairs. That’s why you spilled the beans,” he said.

“That’s a dirty trick,” Lydia said. Her eyes narrowed.

“My family has a long history of getting crossed by demons and other supernatural surprises,” He said. “If we’re going to work together then I have to know what’s up.”

“Alright,” Lydia said. “I can respect that. So what’s your deal?”

“Yeah!” Nancy said. “We spilled the beans. Your turn.”

“I hunt things that hunt humans just like my family before me,” Rob said. “I’m alone but all the stories I’ve been told say things just work out better together.”

“Together?” Nancy asked. “What do you have in mind?”

“Yeah,” Lydia said. “We’re not agreeing to just anything.”

“After we got rid of Ley together, other problems have started to pop up. There are signs of other demons. The three of us are the ones to shut them down. We have the experience and the power,” he said.

“How do you know so much about demons?” Nancy asked.

“My family studied them. Also, they fought them directly,” He said. “A lot of the ancient demons are dead thanks to my family or people like them. But demons get created every day and some of the new ones have become just as powerful as the old ones. Ley was barely anything compared to these assholes.”

“So who are we going after then?” Lydia asked. “Which nasty thing?”

“They call him Jack,” Rob said. “He’s a demon of madness which makes him a loose cannon. He’s killed a dozen before I noticed but he’ll only get worse.”

“We have to help, Lyds,” Nancy said. She turned to give Lydia her best puppy eyes.

Lydia looked back at her best friend and fellow outcast. With her oversized sweater and her innocent smile, Lydia was weak to all of that. “Fine. We should use our experiences to do good in the world. Where do we find this Jack?”

“I’ve tracked him down to a hotel,” Rob said.

Root of All Darkness

October 15, 2016

“Did we find the bodies yet, Finch?” Shaw asked. Her words were very sudden over the communications network. It made Finch jump a little bit in his chair even though he had ample experience with Sameen Shaw’s abruptness.

“Yes, Ms. Shaw. Mr. Reese and Detective Fusco found the unfortunate victims in a cellar uptown. They had been drained completely of blood. A horrible fate I suppose the machine should have warned us about. And yet it failed to find the threat before we could neutralize it.” Finch said. His words and tone were professional but just underneath the surface he was obviously wracked with emotion.

“So we’re dealing with some kind of vampire. Is it our number? Is our number a vampire?” Shaw asked. Her voice was level so it was hard for Finch to tell if Shaw was being serious. He hoped she was not.

“While the circumstances seem appropriate now that Halloween is coming soon, it is my theory that their blood was used in some back alley transaction. Perhaps some sort of medical facility for criminals.” Finch said. He then paused for a moment. “I fear what the answer may be but where are you, Ms. Shaw?” He had a sudden dread in his voice.

“I’m the only one on the ball, Finch. I’m closing in on our number.” Shaw said. She drew her pistol from its holster.

“Ms. Shaw, please wait for back up. I have a feeling – ” Finch said before getting cut off. There was suddenly only static on the line. Shaw turned off her comm system for the moment and took her earpiece out. It wasn’t standard protocol but the static was irritating.

The underground chambers Shaw was walking through were not all that different from the old subway system she had been forced to stay in while she hid from Samaritan. It made her a little restless at first but she tried to think of all the positive missions she had completed underground. She thought of the tunnels she had protected Genrika in and touched the Order of Lenin medal in her jacket pocket. She tried to distract herself for a moment by counting the flickers in the lights. She quietly cocked her pistol and prepared to enter the next chamber. She kept her gun low, ready for knee caps.

“Hello, Sameen. I thought I turned off his cellphone.” Root said.

“You did. I had a second tracker hidden in his shoe.” Shaw said.

The number, Mark Bozard, was sitting in a chair which he was tied to. His head was slumped forward and he was not moving. Shaw could not see his face but she could guess what was going on and what had happened.

‘You killed him.” Shaw said. It was not a question.

“I thought we didn’t do that anymore. So, why?” Shaw asked. Her gaze was even, completely unjudgemental.

“He killed a lot of people. He had to be put down. You wouldn’t understand.” Root said.

Shaw frowned. “I think I could understand if you let me try.”

Root stepped around the body and got close to Shaw. She reached out to gently stroke Shaw’s cheek with her thumb. “He was a vampire. He was going to keep on killing.” She said. She reached and pulled back the upper lip of Mr. Bozard and showed off his fangs.

“I can believe it,” Shaw said simply.

“You can. Can’t you?” Root asked with a thoroughly amused, flirty smirk.

Shaw allowed herself a slight smile. “You may be crazy but you’ve never lied to me. Not when it counts.”

“I could never lie to you.” Root said with a look that made Sameen turn away for just a moment.

“Why didn’t you tell the team?” Shaw asked. “They would believe you. You have proof.”

“I couldn’t. They might believe me but they wouldn’t understand.” Root said with a sigh.

“Because you’re a vampire too,” Shaw said. Again, it was not a question and was said with absolute certainty. As usual, Shaw’s face betrayed nothing. On the other hand, Root’s eyes widened in surprise and she glanced at Shaw’s pistol. Finally, somebody had managed to surprise the unflappable Root.

“I am.” Root said softly. She looked away quickly, afraid for a moment of what she would see in Sameen’s eyes.

“If I was going to kill you, Root, I would have done it the first time you kidnapped me,” Shaw said.

“Thank you, Sameen,” Root said. “To be fair, I didn’t take any joy from the killing. We have a code that we keep. Killing like he did is forbidden. I’m different, I only feed from blood banks.”

“Tell me about it,” Shaw said softly.

Root smiled. “I can’t say no to you.” She took a deep breath. “When I ran away from home, I was looking for revenge. That didn’t change as I got older. That anger never really goes away. When that vampire found me in that dark place, both literally and figuratively, he offered me power. With my computer skills and my new supernatural powers, I could punish anybody I wanted to. I was on the verge of killing a lot of people.”

“But you didn’t,” Shaw said.

“No. I did kill but it was not the bloodbath I dreamed of. I found the Machine and my world changed. I had to be worthy of her. I changed. When I met Harold, my ‘life’ changed again. I don’t kill like that anymore. I might still have that thirst but I have a duty to the Machine, Harold and you.”

“And me?” Shaw asked with that same hint of a smile.

“Of course. Always you.” Root said. “Any more questions?”

“Not right now. I suppose I can live with this new information.” Shaw said.

“Good. Please don’t tell Harold.” Root said.

“You think they wouldn’t understand?” Shaw asked.

“I think Harold has a particular worldview that he’s not ready to give up”

“I think we can keep this one secret from him,” Shaw said.

“Just this one?” Root asked. She looked into Sameen’s eyes.

Sameen Shaw smiled slightly.


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