"I’m going to plead with you, do not cross us. Because if you do, the survivors will write about what we do here for 10,000 years.”
-Gen. James "Mad Dog" Mattis
Bismark led her new friends through the sewers that she claimed led to her old home. They had all had a day and a half of rest and preparation. Before sundown the team had approached Bismark for the information on how to get to her coven and what resistance to expect, calling it ‘her first rent payment’. She happily agreed and led them to, and into, a sewer entrance.
“Bismark,” Israel broke the relative silence, “I believe it only fair that you pay for any and all dry cleaning that has to happen as a result of us going through a god damn sewer!”
“Yeah, that sound fair,” Bismark cheerily replied, oblivious to the scorn behind Israel’s words, “But I have, like, no money,”
“We’ll take it from your future paychecks,” Tristan joked,
“That implies Saren pays any of us,” Joseph interjected,
“I pay you guys-,”
Saren scowled at him before turning to Bismark,
“How much further is it?” She asked, “While annoying, my favorite malcontent makes a decent point about the filth,”
“Just a bit further,” Bismark assured roughly three seconds before coming to a hall with a black metal door at the end of it, “Well…here’s home,”
Saren walked past her and threw the door open with all the tactical savvy of a drunk lumberjack, strutting inside with her sword and pistol drawn.
“Right then,” She turned back to her team, “If it moves, you kill it. You kill something big; you get the bounty for it. Sound good?”
They all nodded and looked around at their surroundings. It was barely more than an abandoned sewage plant with tattered, filth incrusted carpets lining the floors and stairs along with old, rusted, oil lamps dimly illuminating the interior. One door was atop a set of stairs with another on ground level.
Saren took Bismark through the lower of the two and gestured to the upper door, telling the boys to go through it as she left.
After splitting up, the boys drew their respective pistols and moved slowly and purposefully through the door and through the halls. The various room and halls all had the same décor in crude mockery of high society that the entrance had.
They came to a fork and went left, finding another door. Inside the door were countless corpses. Corpses of humans, animals, and things that were a familiar, vile, stitched together amalgamation of both.
“Wendigos,” Israel identified, “These fuckers are trying to make wendigos,”
“They ain’t just trying,” Joseph pointed to an empty space in the line of corpses. In place of a wendigo there was a picture of the same wendigo they killed when they were all first introduced to the life of hunting. It seemed so long ago for them. They all visibly shuddered before speeding through the room.
They found themselves in a massive antechamber, or at least the closest a filth encrusted cave can get to one. Full-plate armor made of scrap metal and faded portraits framed in rotting wood decorated the sides of the room. At the end of the chamber was a metal gate, the kind that would have been seen at a medieval castle. They moved slowly, pistols poised to blast the head off of anything that came at them. Joseph attempted to lift the gate open but recoiled when he felt that there was a high amount of silver in the metal. Seeing the room as a dead end, they turned around and began to head back out but someone was standing in the doorway of the exit, wearing a billowing black robe and a white Venetian doctor mask. They shared a moment of realization, that it was Bismark’s younger sister standing in the doorway, the one that sent the letter, Elvira Dego.
“Fuck!” Tristan shouted, already firing his pistol and missing his now beside him target.
“You are a dense one, aren’t you?” she said, with a voice like shattering glass.
Tristan turned, pointing The Macedonian at his target, but as he began to pull the trigger again she vanished and his pistol was now pointed at Israel. He was about to shout something before he felt what he could only guess was a boot impacting with the back of his head. He hit the ground as Joseph lunged, swinging his sword in a great wide arc through the black robe.
“Ha!” Joseph called, “Get fucked you-,” Joseph fell over, one of the swords from the suits of plate jutting out of the center of his back. The blade was not silver but it had pierced his spine and paralyzed him.
Elvira adjusted her mask as she stood above Joseph’s half paralyzed, half trying to writhe into a position to swing his sword again body. Elvira’s outfit was a mix of Victorian fashion and modern convenience, black lace with a corset and red piping. Without the robe to hide it, Israel and Tristan could see her pale blonde hair, done in a tight bun, in stark contrast to Bismark’s vibrant red.
“Hmm,” She scoffed, kicking Joseph in the side, “Animal,”
Israel and Tristan opened fire, finally breaking from their respective stupors. Elvira moved through the bullets with the care and precision of a ballet dancer. Within seconds she was pinning Tristan against a wall with her hand around his throat. She began to laugh as her grip tightened.
Israel extended his hand and grimaced. The light from the nearest oil lamp grew brighter, brighter than an oil lamp could naturally get. It then burst in a vibrant orange explosion, throwing Elvira and Tristan across the room. Before Tristan could stand and recover from the magical blast, Elvira had already darted to the door.
“I don’t have time for this,” she announced as the gate at the other end of the room opened, “It’s feeding time, anyway,”
Out of the gate came a black furred beast draped in silver chains with the muzzle of a wolf. Larger than Commodus, but far more bestial than any creature the team had seen yet. It was a feral werewolf.
“Holy fuck,” Israel barely whispered in shock.
Tristan swung his shooting arm towards the door only to find Elvira was gone.
“Help…me…you…assholes,” Joseph growled. Tristan leapt forward and wrenched the sword free from Joseph’s back, only to be thrown across the room by a backhand from the feral. As the beast began to rear back to charge, Joseph had already slammed his forehead into its nose, knocking it back as he stood and began to fully change. Grey-brown fur sprouted on his hands and cheeks, his frame grew and threatened to tear his clothing and finally his face distended into the continence of a wolf.
He barreled into his opponent, taking them both to the ground. Joseph gripped the chains that stringently protected his prey and threw them across the room, letting him claw and rend the feral to his heart’s content.
“We have to go,” Israel called to Tristan, “The vamp’s getting away. We have to hurry,”
“What about Joseph?” Tristan asked as the wolves roared and threw themselves at each other again.
“He’s having fun,” Israel quietly stated as he walked to the door.
Tristan nodded and grabbed a length of silver chain as he scrambled to followed suit.
They ran down the halls, hoping that they were going in the same direction as Elvira. They ran past the entrance hall, in the direction that Saren and Bismark had first gone.
Saren and Bismark lazily moved through the halls of the hideout. Bismark told Saren that The Countess, her mother, was typically sleeping at this time of day and so long as they moved quickly they could kill her and leave before any problems occurred. They had few hopes that their plan would go smoothly.
Bismark froze and stared at a door in the middle of the hall.
“This is Elvira’s room,” she said, “She should be back here any time now,”
Saren stared at her for a moment,
“You want one of the-?”
Saren handed her a small object that she quickly slid into her pocket,
“Catch up when you’re done,”
Bismark nodded and entered the room. Elvira lived a Spartan life. Her room had a bed, a dresser, a hook for her robe and little else, sans a picture of herself and Bismark on a shelf above her bed. Bismark slowly walked to the picture and picked it up, remembering when they took it.
It was years prior, the first time they were allowed to work together on a mission for their mother, they were to hunt down a rival vampire that could have caused trouble. They took the picture after setting his lair on fire, with him inside it.
Bismark heard a sharp gasp behind her. She quickly put the photo down and turned to see Elvira taking off her mask to reveal her bright, beaming smile and golden yellow eyes.
“Beatrix!” she called before rushing to embrace her sister.
“How’s it going, little sister?” Bismark happily hugged her smaller sister back. The resemblance between the two was noticeable. Despite the small height difference, eyes, and Elvira’s slightly sharper features, it was clear they were family.
“I thought something had happened to you,” Elvira said, breaking the hug, “Your jacket is ruined,”
“Heh,” Bismark was still wearing the jacket that had been shredded by the shotgun blast, “Yeah,”
“What’s going on?” Elvira asked “The message you sent me a few days ago said that you had dealt with the targets,”
“Well,” Bismark hated lying to her sister, “I did,”
“But I just saw them when I went to feed the wolf,” Elvira said, confused, “If you dealt with them-,”
“Yeah,” Bismark technically did not lie, in that she had made a deal with them, “About that,”
“Wha-,” Elvira was confused, “What do you mean?”
“Elvira,” Bismark said, as she turn to face her sister again, “I want you to leave, now,”
“Beatrix, what are you talking about?”
“If you don’t leave now they’re going to kill you and I can’t stop them,” Bismark snapped.
Elvira was stunned before she came to a realization,
“You’re working with them,” Elvira said, stepping back. Bismark only nodded, “Beatrix, how could you?” Elvira began breathing heavily, “What…what possible reason could you have to do this?”
“What reason?” Bismark bit back, “I have plenty of reasons covering my back,” she gestured behind her with her thumb, “Our bitch mother made you give me some of them, if you remember,”
“How dare you?” Elvira said, “Mother has given you literally everything you have and you spit on her by plotting against her,”
“You really don’t understand, do you?” Bismark was fighting back the urge to shout,
“Our mother doesn’t give a fuck about either of us!” she lost that fight,
“Beatrix, of course she cares-,”
“Stop calling me that!” she roared at her sister, “I hate that name! That stupid fucking name she gave me. You’re right, she did give me everything I have, and I hate all of it!” she lashed out at a wall, leaving a deep imprint of her fist.
“Is that…,” Elvira whimpered, “Is that why you dye your hair?”
Bismark slowly ran her fingers through her hair, exposing the natural blonde roots in her red hair.
“Elvira,” Bismark stared her sister dead in the eyes, “This is the only chance you’re getting. Leave. Go off somewhere and…,” she stopped speaking when Elvira wrapped her arms around her and began bawling.
“I’m-,” she choked through her tears, “I’m not going anywhere,”
Bismark returned her sister’s embrace, biting back her own tears.
“I’m sorry,” Bismark said.
Elvira gasped as she felt something impact and stab its way into her back. As she fell she felt it slide out and before her vision faded she saw her sister, tears running down her face with a blood soaked wooden stake in her hand.
“Beatrix,” she whispered as it all went black.
Saren slowly prowled through an empty hallway, her pistol drawn and leveled, toward the only door she hadn’t checked in this part of the hideout. She was deep in enemy territory and alone. The boys where on the other side of the hideout and Bismark was doing god knows what in her sister’s room.
When she opened the door she found exactly what she was looking for. A coffin, placed on top of a stone stairway, surrounded by burning sconces. All she had to do was walk to it, open the lid, and drive her stake into The Countess’ heart.
Saren silently cursed the cliché of the coffin that The Countess went with. Vampires don’t need coffins, just so long as they are away from sunlight. She thought it pretentious that her target would have a coffin to begin with. This was one of the reasons she hated vampires.
Saren slowly walked up the steps. She pulled a wooden stake out of her pocket, having bought several. She wrung it in her hand, anticipating the look on The Countess’ face as she feels the stake enter her black heart. She smiled to herself as she forced the lid of the coffin open. Her smile wavered as she saw her target.
The Countess was a stereotype, wearing fine clothing, pale skin, and reeking of blood. Saren raised her arm and brought it down with all the force she could muster but she was stopped, the tip of the stake an inch above The Countess. When she looked she saw The Countess’ hand lightly wrapped around her wrist with The Countess herself expressionlessly staring at her with her blood red eyes. With a small thrust of the wrist, Saren was tossed into the air and fell onto the middle of the stairway, falling down the rest of the stairs.
The Countess rose from her coffin with the elegance of a swan. When Saren stood and gazed at The Countess she thought of her as Bismark’s mirror opposite. In place of Bismark’s vibrant short red hair, punk outfit, happy disposition, and massive smile, The Countess had long pale blond hair, a slim Victorian dress, a cold demeanor, and a face completely without expression or emotion. The only differences between their faces were the light contouring of age under The Countess’ eyes and cheeks, things that not even vampirism can truly get rid of.
“Who are you?” The Countess asked in a dull monotone, “Aside from one of many humans to creep like rats into my home,”
“The one who’s going to make a necklace out of your teeth,” Saren called, full of bravado.
“That does not answer my question,” The Countess retorted, slowly walking down the stairs,
“Ah,” The Countess said, never breaking her monotone, “You are an astoundingly difficult hunter to kill. I’ve sent a wendigo, laid a trap at that worthless farm, lured those werewolves into my territory, sent my daughters, and even called in favors to get a leviathan placed in that lake you trained your neophytes at. I am honestly surprised you’re not dead,”
“I’ll survive this too,”
Saren was already in action, lunging forward with the stake, knowing The Countess would dodge to her right. Saren spun as she drew her sword and swung at The Countess, the tip of the blade digging across her cheek. The Countess’ face was a constant mask of indifference as she ran her finger across the cut. Saren did not openly react to the sight of the bloody cut closing as The Countess ran her finger along it, but silently cursed how little damage she did.
“That has not happened in some time,” The Countess remarked, “While you might be entertaining, if I’m going to be killing those other fools I smell, then I do not have the time to deal with you,”
Growing tired of her voice, Saren rushed forward, thrusting her sword at the vampire’s chest. She felt something suddenly hit her abdomen and she lost her breath. When she looked down she saw the pommel of her sword had struck her solar plexus with The Countess holding the blade between her index and pointer fingers. The Countess began walking forward, pushing Saren back with the sword. Saren was pushed through an archway into a new room. The Countess gave a final push, knocking Saren back into the dark room before walking back into the coffin room and shutting the door, locking it with a loud click.
Saren regained her composure just in time to see that she was surrounded. The room was full to the brim with vampire thralls, humans whose minds have been permanently crippled by a vampire and used as slave labor. Some wielded butcher knives and cleavers, others had their arms removed and replaced with various blades and blunt instruments. They began bearing down on Saren, slowly shuffling toward her with malicious intent. Saren stood tall, cracked her neck, and settled into her stance. This was going to be a long job.
“Fuck all y’all!”
“That was Saren,” Israel and Tristan stopped in their tracks when they heard their leader shouting one of her favorite war-cries.
“Odds are she needs our help?” Israel asked Tristan,
They would have rushed to the origin of the shout if the path was not recently blocked, by an open door and a vampire countess wielding a basket hilted sword.
Joseph roared and brought down the silver infused gate onto the head of the feral werewolf, driving the spike into its face. As the beast twitched and died, Joseph began to revert to human form and slumped against a wall, exhausted. He grimaced at the myriad of cuts, scraps, and bruises that, while quickly fading, he felt covering him. The only pain that did not fade was in his hands where he gripped the gate. Burns that looked as though he had placed his hands on a hot stove throbbed before they too began to slowly fade away.
“Fuck,” he wheezed, running his, now clawless, fingers through his hair, “Hope everyone else is having as much fun,”
Israel parried a slow stab from The Countess and caught the pommel of her sword in his gut, dropping him to his knee. The Countess spun and danced away as Tristan shot his pistol at her, removing the magazine and slamming in another. Israel extended his hand and grimaced, focusing on the lamp nearest The Countess, its light shining brighter with each second. The Countess eyed the lamp then turned to Israel. She pulled a wheel-lock pistol out of her dress and fired, grazing Israel’s shoulder. When Israel re-extended his hand the light did not grow brighter.
“What the hell?”
“Magic is fickle,” Israel raised his blade to defend himself but with a single kick it was broken and Israel himself caught the kick in his chest, “As is what negates it,”
The kick knocked Israel against a wall, a loud snap sounding off his arm breaking. The Countess calmly walked toward Israel but was thrown to the floor with a shotgun blast, her sword clattering against the ground. Tristan triumphantly stood holding Commodus’ shotgun, smoke wafting from the second barrel.
“Gotcha bitch!” Tristan smiled as wide as he did when he blew Bismark away in the same manner.
The Countess, staggered to her feet, the shredded meat of her side stitching itself back together. Her face finally shifted from her bored emotionless gaze to pure anger and hatred.
“You have ceased being entertaining,” she waved her arm and a door opened, “Die,”
Tristan expected something to come out of the door and attack him, but nothing came.
“Where,” The Countess’ face flashed a look of panic before reverting to anger, “Where are my thralls?”
“Oh yeah,” Saren swaggered out of the door, covered in blood, “About that,”
“You insignificant-!” The Countess began roaring but was interrupted with another shotgun blast knocking her further back. Tristan had reloaded. He fired again, but The Countess had gone, disappearing in a small black shimmer into her coffin room.
Tristan cursed, running to Israel along with Saren,
“Dude,” Tristan tried getting his attention, “Are you alright?”
“I got wood, man,” Israel coughed and grinned, “Why do I have wood?” he lowered his head, falling unconscious.
“He’ll be fine,” Saren slumped down next to him, “Well go on, you have a vampire to kill,”
“What?” Tristan gasped, “What are you talking about? Come help me,”
“I just killed at least two-hundred vampire thralls,” Saren shook her head, “I doubt I could stand back up even if I wanted to,”
“And I’m supposed to kill a pissed off vampire bitch?”
“You’re supposed to kill a pissed off vampire bitch that you blasted twice with a shotgun,” Saren smiled, “You have all you need to kill that her, now scoot,”
Tristan rolled his eyes and did as he was told, following The Countess into the coffin room.
Tristan slid the last two of his shells into the shotgun, silently cursing how much kick the monster of a gun had. Firing it three times caused his arms and shoulders to burn to the bone, he hoped that all he had to do was put something sharp into The Countess’ heart and be done with it with minimal effort.
Tristan found The Countess draped across her coffin, coughing and bleeding profusely.
“You…” The Countess glared at Tristan, “Insects,” she rose to her feet, “I am Countess Meredith Toreador Dego, I have survived three hundred years and I will last a thousand more! I will not be undone by a paltry mortal like you!”
“You talk too much,” Tristan fired both barrels, swearing under his breath at the strain. His shot blew the coffin apart, blasting splinters across the room. Countess Dego moved like shadow, moving under the shotgun and wrapping her hand around Tristan’s neck.
“Die!” she roared before gasping. Tristan had shoved his sword into her stomach. He pushed with all the effort he could muster, shoving her back and off his blade. Tristan pressed his advantage and swung high, aiming for her neck. The Countess moved back and charged. She drove her nails into Tristan’s shoulder and rushed back out of his swinging range before he could respond. Tristan could tell a pattern was forming and he had to break it before he was drained like a juice box.
He grabbed the silver chain on his belt and whipped it forward, surprising Countess Dego and striking her across the face with the end of the chain. Tristan wrapped the chain around the hilt of his sword and threw it. He swung the chain blade as wildly as he could, taking inspiration from a video game weapon of similar design. The Countess was trained to counter fighting styles, but this mad flailing was unpredictable and could not be so easily countered. With a final swing, The Countess’ arm came off and she was thrown against the broken remains of her coffin.
Tristan panted with exhaustion, seeing his victory.
“Ha!” he huffed, “Gotcha bitch,”
“Oh,” The Countess responded, panting just as heavily, “Have you?”
Tristan knew something was coming so he gritted his teeth and got back into a stance with his sword-chain. The Countess rose to her feet, every part of her becoming off color, to a sickly brown yellow. Her hair grew wiry and completely white, while her abdomen bloated. Her one remaining hand elongated and gained webbing between her fingers. The Countess was a Winged Shekab vampire.
The Shekab made a gurgling noise and spat a torrent of brackish yellow liquid that caught fire on whatever it came in contact with. Tristan threw himself behind the stone pedestal that held the now broken coffin. He took aim and fired with his pistol, but almost panicked when he saw the bullets bounce off her skin as if they were pebbles against concrete. He completely panicked when he saw the monster now staring straight at him and rearing back to spit again.
Tristan scrambled to his feet, running from the foul ichor that sprayed where he once was. He swore again when he realized he dropped his sword before he dashed for cover. He saw his sword across the room, with the silver chain running between him and it. The chain had been hit with the ichor and was now intensely burning along its middle. Tristan saw an opportunity.
Tristan moved as fast as he could to his sword and threw it above The Countess’ neck, wrapping the chain around her shoulder. He again ran to his sword, grabbing it and the other end of the chain. Both ends squarely in hand he began to move his arms in tandem, in and out. The burning chain began sawing its way into The Countess’ collar.
The Countess roared and tried to throw Tristan’s chain off of her, but with only a single arm and Tristan’s speed overmatching her now bloated and sluggish frame, she could do little to stop the chain from digging its way deeper until it finally bit into and shredded her heart. With adrenaline clouding his mind, Tristan did not stop sawing the chain when The Countess stopped struggling. He continued until the chain tore all the way through and out the back of the brutalized corpse, the momentum making him fall backwards.
With the adrenaline finally dissipating in his bloodstream Tristan stood and admired his handy work. The brutalized and eviscerated corpse of The Countess was distributed around the room. Tristan gathered his no longer on fire chain, pistol, and sword and left the room with a spring in his step.
Tristan walked out of the coffin room and found Saren and Joseph idly chatting as Israel used The Countess’ fallen sword for support to stand, having claimed it for his own. Tristan grabbed the wheel-lock pistol that negated Israel’s magic, figuring that such a weapon could be useful.
“Hey guys,” Tristan triumphantly called to get everyone’s attention, a massive grin on his face. “Guess who just killed what,”
He was met with various hollers of praise and back pats from his fellows as he described the sawing of the vampire. He realized that Bismark was not among them and none of the others had seen her since splitting up. They found her sitting in the entrance hall, twirling her pistol on her finger.
“Please tell me one of you killed that heinous bitch that calls herself my mother,”
Tristan raised his hand, grinning again. Bismark almost took him to the floor with how fiercely she embraced him.
“It was in a fucking metal way too,” Israel added in, “Bisection with a burning chain,”
Bismark made a delighted squealing noise as she hugged Tristan even harder. She muttered praises over and over, completely overjoyed to know her lifelong tormenter died in immense pain.
“Congratulations,” Joseph sarcastically said, “Your mother died screaming,”
Bismark began giggling as she finally let Tristan go and began dancing in delight before hugging Israel, then Joseph, then Saren in sequence. Tears of joy were forming in her eyes.
“Thank you,” she said, “Thank you all so much,”
“Well, everyone,” Saren strode out in front of her team to address them, “Let’s all go home,”