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Stories from the Verse
For Better or Verse
Chapter 94: Hastings 124
Table of Contents
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As the wounded vampire sprang from the desktop, Lauren fell into her backward roll and grabbed it, and slammed its head into the filing cabinet. It was a good thing Bethany had magicked the office door, as there was almost as much commotion in the hall of people attempting to break into the room as the battle raised within it. Before the dazed politician could recover, Bethany started her magical blade, and Lauren timed her own mentally-generated ones to meet it in the middle–the middle being the neck of the monster. There was a solid crunch, the thump of a head hitting the floor, and then a pile of dust.
Bethany was catching her breath. "The portal," Lauren gasped, and the girl turned and pronounced her spell, creating the mist into which the pair vanished.
This was now the fourth major official they had ambushed. In Australia, they had hit the Prime Minister in an alley; the beast had a habit of feeding on transients late at night which made him vulnerable. The mayor of San Francisco, their second target, had been their first hit on one in its office. Although killing the Prime Minister of England at his home had been a very difficult battle, Lauren had insisted that they not make the mistake of pointing to England as the place they didn't strike. Now the Washington office of the Secretary of Defense would, they hoped, prove they were able to do this.
It was a slow process requiring a lot of preparation. Each target had been studied remotely, watching their movements, examining security precautions, creating plans and contingencies. They chose their victims quite carefully, aiming for younger vampires who had endeared themselves with the party sufficiently that they held important positions, and favoring those who were not known to practice magic. They did not think themselves ready for Tubrok himself. Practicing on less powerful adversaries had indeed reminded them how very difficult it was to kill something already dead. The vampires had, in one way, helped them in their task. Not wishing to appear vulnerable, they had stifled any publicity surrounding the disappearances of their people, attributing the first to a traffic accident, the second as a quiet retirement, the third as an amicable resignation. That meant that the majority of Tubrok's support people weren't being told that there was a danger (and indeed, it was not certain whether he had fully recognized the danger himself). Thus no additional precautions were being taken.
On the other hand, despite Bethany's power and confidence, Lauren knew they were going to need allies before they faced Tubrok; they were going to need help to deal with many of those not nearly as powerful as The Beast himself, as they had come to call him, who were older, tougher, and more resourceful. This one had been old, perhaps as old as Jackson had been when Lauren destroyed him, but like Jackson had only his brutal strength on which to rely. They were going to have to fight tougher ones, and they were not going to be able to beat them all on their own. They would have to find a way to claim their kills, to let the enemies of the vampires know that it was time to rise against them. Lauren and Bethany might be the spearhead of the campaign, but they needed to raise an army, a force swelling behind them to sweep corruption out of office and into the graves where it belonged. The cracks in Tubrok's armor had to start showing. People had to know that these horrors which ruled and preyed on them were not invincible, that they could be stopped despite their power.
This was the reason for targeting a cabinet member, and particularly the Secretary of Defense. His job was, in a sense, a formality at this point; with the entire world under the thumb of the one party, the only powers against which any defense needed to be raised were those in command. On the other hand, there was good evidence that the militaries of the world were being used as thugs to control unrest and quash opposition, and that made this role significant in Tubrok's support structure. Perhaps this one could not be hushed or covered; perhaps people would start to know that someone was making a blow for the freedom of humanity.
The mist cleared outside Cowtown, and after a short walk across the field, they took another leap to Grand Central Station, then around the world to Sydney, and on to five other rather busy locations before returning home. Lauren was confident that Tubrok couldn't find her; but they were not certain he couldn't follow the traces of teleport paths. Thus their attacks were always launched from a different point on the globe, and there were multiple stops on the way in and out, chosen as points frequently traveled by those who still walked the mist, so that it would be more difficult to identify which trail was theirs. They also took turns opening the path, in case someone had the skill to recognize the work of the same wizard. By the time they reached Wandborough, they were both quite tired. Bethany called the bedroom into existence, and they barely took time to tend their wounds before collapsing on their mattresses. Tomorrow would be soon enough to assess their victory.
There is a behind-the-writings look at the thoughts, influences, and ideas of this chapter, along with ten other sequential chapters of this novel, in mark Joseph "young" web log entry #198: Verser Trials. Given a moment, this link should take you directly to the section relevant to this chapter. It may contain spoilers of upcoming chapters.
As to the old stories that have long been here: