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Stories from the Verse
Verse Three, Chapter One
Chapter 56: Hastings 20
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Saturday evening Lauren visited the library. She wanted to find an almanac, and get a clear idea of the best time for her next plan. She was quite startled by her discovery, and immediately went to see Father James.
"We must destroy The Pit on the morning of October seventeenth," she said. "I realized what's been bothering me about it. It isn't just that there are at least thirty vampires working out of it. It's not just because every week dozens of people vanish in the labyrinth below it. Horta is using it to recruit. About a thousand people pass through that club every week, and at least hundreds would eagerly embrace the mockery of eternal life he can offer them. The whole undead ambiance is about that."
"October seventeenth is awfully short notice," the priest replied. "I can't get enough manpower together in time for that."
"You won't need too many. It will be Sunday morning, about two weeks away, and there will be a lunar eclipse starting at about three in the morning and ending at sunrise. While the moon is eclipsed, the werewolves will be at their greatest strength; they will enter the building and destroy those inside. We will provide support, rescuing any humans who flee, killing any ghouls or other evils who attempt to escape."
"You have a plan?"
"I have the beginning of a plan. I intend to burn down the building, raze it to the ground and then some. It stands apart from the adjacent structures, so we should be able to control the blaze. I will do battle with my faith, striking at the vampires from the roof across the street. The wolves will be pleased with the opportunity to destroy their enemies, and any help we can give."
"This sounds like it might work. Let me make a few suggestions. First, I've done a lot of work with the mayor's office and the police department. I'll arrange a special dinner Saturday night to honor the police and fire departments. That will slow down their response to an emergency, because all the brass will have been out late. And I've got this new idea, the Saint George Mission on the Move. It's a lunch wagon and some of those velvet movie theater ropes and folding chairs. I can park it anywhere, set up the ropes, and with a quick consecration ceremony I've got portable holy ground for as long as the church is using it. My people can use it as a base of operations which the vampires can't enter, and meanwhile we'll look like a simple mission outreach, giving soup and coffee to victims and, when they arrive, firemen. At first we will be able to surround the building and sort out the wheat from the chaff, but most of my people will have to fall back to gentler, less obvious combat when the fire trucks arrive--and your wolves will also have to vanish then. Oh, I'll also slow things down another way. A few of the area fire boxes will short, sending false alarms to the station; at the same time there will be a rash of prank alarms, and the night of the fire the alarm boxes within a few blocks will either be broken or shut down for repairs. Oh, and I'll get a radio frequency jammer, too. I'll put it in the lunch wagon. That'll block their cell phones and interfere with the police radios, so anyone who tries to call it in will have to move a block or two away before they can do it."
"Great. Start working on it. I'm going to talk to the wolves, and see if I can reach Bethany--I think she could help us in this, too."
Getting back in the cab, she outlined the plans to Raal. He immediately took her to see Annuda.
Annuda listened carefully, and then had questions.
"What part will the humans play in this?"
"The humans are outnumbered and very vulnerable. They will be supporting you outside the building. If they are as diligent as I hope, no vampire or ghoul will escape to tell the tale, and your part in this will remain secret. And I will be weakening the vampires with my magic, making them easier prey; I count as one of the humans in this. And I'm hoping to find the sorceress Bethany, who is also human, to fight with us."
"And what of Horta?"
Lauren winced. "What do you know about Horta?"
"He is an ancient vampire. Some say he was made before the flood. He is very powerful, and apart from being a vampire is also a wizard of no small skill. You killed Jackson, and you killed Gavin, and that is no small thing. You have proved yourself a worthy ally. But Horta is far more dangerous than they."
"I believe," Lauren said, in part for her own benefit, "that the forces of good working together with the power of Christ will defeat any evil, no matter how old or how strong. We have on our side the One who was before the foundation of the world, and whatever happens to me, He will never be defeated."
Annuda smiled. "We will do this," she said.
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 #39: Character Futures. 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: