keeps this site and its author alive.
Stories from the Verse
Verse Three, Chapter One
Chapter 37: Hastings 13
Table of Contents
Previous chapter: Chapter 36, Slade 12
After her martial arts lesson on Thursday morning, Lauren picked up a few things at the store. The rest of the day she pored over her Bible, reviewing the verses she wanted to remember. Then she went to work, and went right to bed when she got home. Her mind wandered a bit at first, but she quoted the scripture aloud to herself, "I will both lie down and sleep", and never saw the sun rise.
She woke in time to see it set, however. Getting enough of a meal to stave off hunger but not so much as to fill her stomach, she prepared for her intended evening. The armor went on under the robe, the blaster and the drill on her belt, the three kau sin ke's for decoration as she always wore them, and the disintegrating staff in her hand. She realized she had not tried it since she arrived in this world; but everything else had worked, and she was confident that this would not let her down.
She telepathically contacted Father James, to be certain he was ready. She said she would do so again when she left The Pit, so he could know of her approach, but that since it might not work he should be watching. He assured her that everything was as they had agreed. Then she contacted Raal to take her to the club.
On the way, she briefed Raal about the situation. She would be working with the hunters tonight, to kill a very powerful vampire known as Jackson. He should stay clear of the fight--it was not yet time to broker an alliance between wolves and men--but she would try to call him if she needed transportation from there. If he did not hear from her again tonight, he would know that she had lost, and moved to another world.
The night was cool as she stepped from the cab. Shaking herself to dispel the gloom which was settling on her, she spread a smile across her face and went inside, ordering her drink as she was brought to Gavin's table.
After the initial pleasantries, she decided it was time to launch her other plan. "I might have some news," she said, loudly enough that those at the surrounding tables could easily overhear, "about that book, The Book of Journeys, you were seeking." Having gotten the attention of several others in the area, she continued. "A colleague of mine is sending me photocopies of some pages of what he thinks might be a translation, probably second century B.C. Latin, although he's looking at a seventh century copy. I told him to send me copies of a few pages, and I'd try to get them authenticated and let him know if you were interested in more."
Gavin replied in a quieter voice, perhaps trying to guide her toward more discretion. "I will be interested in seeing these. Let me send someone by your place later in the week to pick them up."
Lauren didn't bite. "No, I'm never there but to sleep or study, and it is not safe to interrupt me when I am at either of those pursuits as I might strike before I think. I shall find you when I have them, and arrange to meet somewhere--perhaps at one of your churches?" She made the last a question, thinking perhaps Gavin slept in a coffin on one of the properties he owned, and that he would be most vulnerable if she found him there. But he was also adept at not revealing too much.
"That would not be practical. Let me know when you have them, and we'll decide then."
"I shall be interested in seeing them myself. I'm a bit of a skeptic about documents which purport to be that ancient, but if this Book of Journeys is all that is claimed, it should be a very revealing text indeed."
She had said the name twice; she knew the rumor would spread adequately. Now she let the conversation drift as she sipped her wine. Gavin was a master of small talk, complimenting and thanking everyone. He was charming, the sort of person people liked. It was hard to believe this was the inhuman monster plotting to enslave humanity. He just could succeed, Lauren thought, unless someone stops him. Then she excused herself.
"It must be an early night for me; I have more to do than usual."
Leaving the club, she did two things immediately. She contacted Father James, successfully establishing a telepathic link so that he would know what to expect. She also stretched her clairvoyance behind her, picking up Jackson so she would know his movements. They had chosen an alley eight blocks away, partly because it had the sort of layout they wanted, but also because they had contacts so that they could gain access to buildings and fire escapes on either side. Lauren turned down this alley and quickly scanned it for readiness. She saw no one, but preparations had been made. "I'm here," she thought toward the priest; "he's right behind me." She walked down the sidewalk through the dim light.
There under a fire escape was a mark, a candy bar wrapper stuck to the cement with a bit of bubble gum, recognizable but not suspicious. They had chosen this wrapper because it was predominantly white, and so easily spotted. It was only now that she appreciated the irony of the name "PayDay" shining under the streetlight. She passed it, and stood where she could see it, turning to face the entrance. Jackson would soon enter.
It was easier to be patient; she still had the image of Jackson following her in her mind, and could see his approach long before he reached the corner. She announced his arrival telepathically to the priest an instant before the vampire appeared, and then waited as the monster moved slowly toward her, exercising unexpected caution. Then he stopped.
"Jackson," she said, "why are you here?" He did not answer. "You wish to know what happens to me when I leave the club; you're concerned that I might be trouble for your master. Well, come forward." He inched forward; she needed him on that mark. "You will see better if you are closer." It seemed an interminable effort to bring him those few feet; but she waited with patience, and soon he was on the candy bar wrapper.
She glanced up at the fire escape, and with her mind gave a telekinetic push to dislodge the safe balanced on the rail. It plummeted toward him. But he followed her glance, and saw it falling. He stepped to the side. She tried nudging the falling object toward him without slowing its fall, but he kept moving. It struck his shoulder, but he was moving out from under it and so it glanced off. She knew that would have killed a man; it wasn't expected to kill him, but she had hoped for more than she got.
Enraged, he picked up the safe, and hurled it at her. She dove onto the sidewalk, dodging the safe, and rolled back to her feet; but she was off balance with her back toward him, and knew she was vulnerable.
But he didn't spring; he must have heard the car--she heard it--as it sped into the alley. Jake Williams hurtled toward him, and hit Jackson solidly, knocking him farther into the alley. At that moment, several of Father James' friends appeared with various weapons--super water guns filled with holy water, high-powered crossbows loaded with blessed heavy quarrels, and a twelve-gauge shotgun. Jackson was caught in the crossfire. Smoke rose from his burning skin, and he was battered and driven to the wall.
He grabbed a trashcan and hurled it at someone who had emerged onto a second floor fire escape; his accuracy was deadly, and the man collapsed. He began throwing other things at his attackers, whatever he could find. He even pulled crossbow bolts from his body and returned the heads with bullet-like speed. Lauren was amazed at how much damage he could do, at range and unprepared. But it was time for her to add her abilities to the mix.
"It is appointed for men to die once, and after this comes judgment," she shouted. Jackson recoiled in pain, and if possible looked paler. Lauren continued, "And we know that the judgment of God rightly falls upon those who practice such things." Again, the pain was evident.
Father James, his crucifix held before him, moved next to her. She heard him shouting in Latin, and although it was not a language she'd learned, she recognized from high school chorus the words of the Requiem Mass: "God grant you eternal rest, and may perpetual light shine upon you." Apparently the good Father had learned something from Lauren, something about using faith focused through words; it was having the desired effect.
But Jackson continued to fight. Lauren felt several objects deflect off her armor, and Father James was hit and injured by something. The battle was so far fairly even, and they could lose someone before it was over. She could see Jackson looking for an escape route, a way around them and out of the alley; that could not be permitted, for if he warned Gavin, everything was lost. She put both hands on the disintegrator, and turned the tip toward him. Focusing her mind into it for all she was worth, she caught him in the invisible beam, and ripped apart the molecules of his body. He howled with pain and anger, and Lauren thought that even in his weakened state he might withstand her attack. She closed her eyes and put all thought into the strange staff. Then Jackson turned to dust.
The beam had been more potent than she'd expected; part of the wall behind him was destroyed as well. But he was gone. It was time to pick up the pieces.
Father James began assessing injuries. Several of the men were in very bad shape, including two who might not make it as far as a hospital. To make things worse, Jake's borrowed vehicle had careened into the wall after impact, and wasn't going anywhere, and his car was several blocks away so as not to be spotted. But the priest was undaunted. He said to Lauren, "Our faith has always anointed the sick to heal them; most of my brethren expect nothing from it today. But most of my brethren do not believe in vampires, or wizards, or people from another universe coming to fight for us." With that, he began pronouncing the words of the ceremony, producing a small jar of oil from a pocket, and prayed for the sins and the injuries of his companions. Lauren was certain they would recover.
Still, she thought, it wouldn't hurt to get them to a doctor as quickly as possible. She called Raal. He was there in seconds.
"Father," she said, "this is Raal, my driver. I'll explain him later; right now, get your people some help." The most wounded piled into the cab, and sped away. Jake and the others trotted down the street toward his car. Alone in the alley, Lauren thought to take one last look, to be certain she wasn't leaving anything behind.
But she wasn't alone for long. Hearing a noise, she turned to see an enraged Gavin charging toward her from the street. Somehow he knew what she had done. The game was over.
There is a behind-the-writings look at the thoughts, influences, and ideas of this chapter, along with five other sequential chapters of the novel, in mark Joseph "young" web log entry #33: Novel Struggles. Given a moment, this link should take you directly to the section relevant to this chapter.
As to the old stories that have long been here: