Chapter Four: Dropping the Hammer
Dirk carefully picked the lock on the door, pushing it inward carefully. Alestair followed him in, pistol drawn.
"See anything?" He whispered.
"No," Dirk replied. "It's dark. How am I supposed to see anything?"
The vampire rolled his eyes. "You see almost as well as I do," he said softly. They moved from the common area into his living space, they saw a reloading bench and several weapons.
"He's here." Dirk looked around. "I can feel it."
"I can smell it," Alestair amended, wrinkling his nose. Then it happened. Even had Alestair been aware of his presence, he could not have moved fast enough. Dirk, however, who was closer, could, and he put his hand over the .45 handgun. he managed to jerk the weapon away from the other man just before the weapon sent a round through the vampire's skull.
Locklear swore, discarding the weapon and pulling a shotgun from a holster on his hip. Dirk smacked the weapon to the side as it fired, and he punched the other hunter in the face. It was neither a powerful nor well-placed blow, more designed to buy space and time than anything else.
Richard fell backward, his eyes blazing with hatred as blood spurted from his nose. "I'll make you pay for that," he snarled.
"Put up or shut up," Dirk retorted. And battle was joined. Richard's hands suddenly seemed to take on a life of their own, and his skin rippled and burst as thorny plant-like growths shot from his limbs and toward Dirk and Alestair. The vampire rolled to the side.
Getting spitted is not on my agenda, he thought. That's worth a good staking for sure. Probably by design.
For his part, Dirk went straight on the offense. He barely felt the thorns rip through his shoulder and right arm as he rushed his erstwhile friend. More thorns tore into his flesh, but he ignored them. He raised the revolver, once he was point-blank, and fired straight into his opponent's shoulder. Richard fell back, shocked to feel sudden, sharp pain in his arm.
"What the..." he stared, his blackened eyes suddenly wide with shock. "Im-impossible," he stammered. "That...it can't be...." his hands morphed back into human limbs, and he staggered.
Dirk thumbed the hammer back again. "It is. And the next one goes in your bark-shielded heart. I won't ask twice. Stand. Down. Now."
"You'll never stop them," Richard said. "Even if I help you. You don't have the spine, and the intelligence in almost indecipherable."
"If you could figure it out, I'm sure I could," Dirk said, sighing dramatically. "Still." His left arm snapped forward, and a large dart flew into Locklear's neck. "We need you alive for the moment. So you'll be coming with us." He picked up the body and groaned. "Trees are heavy," he stated, rather obviously, sighing as he carried Locklear's unconscious body.
Alestair looked back at his apartment. "I should probably grab everything I can get my hands on," he murmured. Laptops, drives, pieces of paper all went into the large duffel he had left just outside the door. As Dirk looked around, his face creased with thoughtful lines.
"We can't walk out the front door," he said softly. "Thor? If you would?" Suddenly, their bodies started to glow.
"Oh no," Alestair said, feeling sick. Thor's teleportation ability always played havoc with his innards. "Please not this..." And they vanished in a flash of light, followed by the distant roll of thunder.
2 days later
"Hey." Douglas gently shook Lucas' shoulder. "You awake, tough guy?" The FBI agent wok up, shaking his head.
"What-what happened?" He asked, his words slurred from grogginess. "I fell asleep on the job, didn't I?"
"Take a night off," Douglas said, his voice surprisingly gentle. "Go home. Get some decent sleep."
The agent shook his head. "We have to finish the job. Come on, we can-"
"No." Douglas insisted this time, a hard edge coming into his voice. "You need rest. And I'm going to insist. One day of no cases, no work, just relaxing. then you can come back. I won't let you back in here until you do."
Lucas sighed. "Fine. I'll call you the day after tomorrow."
"Get up," he instructed, sounding far more maternal than he would have ever preferred to be described. "Now go on. Go get some decent sleep."
"On it," Lucas sighed. And he got up and stumbled out of the station.
Richard Locklear was jarred awake by a savage blow to his jaw. "Get up, you savage," Dirk growled. "Now it's time you answer some questions."
"Go pound salt," Locklear snapped.
Dirk looked pensive, and then he picked up an iron hammer on the table. "Actually," he said, cracking it across Locklear's jaw, "I'd rather pound you." He swung the hammer again, this time driving the spiked back end into Locklear's thigh. "So let me outline this for you, since you clearly don't understand how this works. You make me angry, I make you die. We have your intel, which, despite what you say, I've found quite useful. However, I'd rather not kill you if I can avoid a murder."
Locklear laughed, sending a bubble of blood and spit through his lips. "Well, guess you're screwed, then." Dirk sighed.
"Let me," Alestair said softly. And he eased Dirk aside. He stepped away from the other hunter and nodded to someone else in the room, but Locklear could not turn to see who it was. then, he felt a needle stick in his arm. "Truth serum. My system will..." Suddenly, he screamed in shock and pain as every inch of hem felt like it was burning. "NO!" He yelled. "What'd you do to me?" Locklear raged. "And why?"
"We're curing your chimerism," Dirk replied. "And fixing some things besides."
Locklear struggled against his bonds, yelling in frustration and pain. "You took it from me? You? You bastard. You're everything I am, and worse. What gives you the right to do what you did to me? You have powers just like me. In fact, better than mine ever were. So why should you strip them away from me? I fought for them. I bled for them. Please." Locklear had gone from raging to sobbing now. "I need them. Please..."
"No," Dirk said. "You never needed them. Your pursuit of power corrupted you, and you can blame the powers, blame the strength-enhancing drugs, blame whatever you see fit, but remember you're responsible. You chose to do this, and so became a monster worse than anything you tried to destroy."
Locklear's eyes narrowed to slits. "Get bent. You did bad things too." Thor came into view, and Locklear's eyes narrowed. "God blood. That's how you purged it. You sly animal."
Thor shrugged. "Actually, you can thank someone else for the idea. Dirk just found a way to stabilize the mixture. Anyway, in case you haven't noticed, you're mortal now, which means we can kill you."
"And that's supposed to scare me?" He asked.
"Maybe not," Dirk said. "But it also means you feel pain like a normal man." He produced a long, ugly looking knife from his coat. "And believe me when I say you don't want me to start in on you now."
Locklear snorted. "Bite me."
"You'd taste like crap," Alestair put in. "After all, you're basically recycled Leshi. Maybe tofu. If you tasted that good."
"You're going to have to come up with something better," he snapped. Dirk gestured to the others.
"We need to talk." He gestured to the others, and they went into a nearby room.
"What are we doing?" Alestair asked. "I, personally, think we're just wasting time when we should be wasting him. He has nothing and he knows it. This is just a play for time until he can work us over."
Dirk looked at Alestair. "Is that you or your desire to take revenge talking? This seems like it's deeply, viciously personal."
"You know it is!" Alestair raged. "You know he turned my family over, Dirk. You know what he's done to so many on both sides, and all to save himself. He deserves weed-whacking, and you know it. Let me take the blade if you won't do it. But let's take him out of play."
"We can't," Dirk whispered. "I can't."
"Because you're a hero." Alestair reached for the blade on the table. "I know that, Dirk. I understand." He sighed, looking down at the wicked dagger. "But you've known for a while now that I'm not, and I never will be."
Dirk shook his head, standing between his friend and the door. "I can't let you give up on yourself. Killing him won't bring them back."
"It'll keep him from killing anyone else," Thor pointed out. "But I have to agree. It's not your place to kill him." He walked into the room and raised his hands. Richard glared defiantly at him.
"I'll see you in hell," Richard spat.
Thor shrugged. "I don't think you will, actually." And fired a burst of energy straight into his skull. "But I'm touched you want to spend eternity together." He turned to the others. "Now, what about those files?"
"Been through them," Dirk said. "He was running down leads on these people. Apparently, he's pieced together that they're organized and stretched across several continents, but more than that, he apparently doesn't know. However, there are several agents in the city he's been kind enough to name for us."
"Are we really going to carry out his hit list?" Alestair questioned bitterly. "He's killed dozens of innocent people.
Dirk took out his revolver and began cleaning the weapon. "True, but some of these I already know are criminals. I'm willing to stake out the others, but I don't see any reason we can't interrogate them. The body, though, will be a problem," he said, looking at where Locklear's corpse was. Or rather, where it should have been. The body was gone, as were his shotguns, and window was open to the street. "Oh no."
"I told you I should've handled it," Alestair snapped angrily, pounding the table.
"We need to go after him," Thor said.
Dirk shook his head. "Divide and conquer. Thor, you're on Locklear. You're more skilled than I or Alestair would be at apprehending him. Alestair, I need you to find the local leaders and make sure we're not already causing trouble. I'm going to start after the names on the list. Non-lethals, of course."
Alestair slammed his fist into the table. "Again with the non-lethals. They deserve to die, and you know it. Why shouldn't you kill them?"
"It's not our place," Dirk stubbornly insisted. "If they want them executed, that's their decision. It isn't your life to take, and I'd rather burn in hell than let you wreak havoc just because you're angry and want revenge on them."
"Of course I want revenge," Alestair said. "They took my humanity, my family, and everything I cared about, back when I could still feel to care. So why shouldn't I do the same?"
Dirk sighed. "You want our children fighting this war? Our granchildren? Because in seeing revenge on these people, you're just going to perpetuate that vicious cycle. I can't let that happen, Al. I won't. I care too much to doom humanity forever. And that's why I'm going nonlethal." He looked at his arm critically, as if looking for unseen flaws.. "Guess that'll have to do."
Seattle Police Station
"We have him on recording," Lucas said, his voice extremely soft. "But the apartment that he rented under the assumed name he used was empty. There were signs of a fight, along with several bullet holes, but nothing else. Except for traces of more of that weird slime that we found with the traces of oak from before. And we found something different this time, too."
Douglas looked up. "And what was that?"
"Human DNA," Lucas said. "Two of them. One has a lot of traces of bacteria, almost like the tissue's gone necrotic. And the other one, well, there's platelets on top of platelets. This guy, whoever he is, regenerates like you wouldn't believe. It's human DNA, but I can't explain what I'm seeing."
Douglas looked at the results. "So this guy bleeds essence of redwood, one of his attackers is dead, and the other one's indestructible. How is any of this even possible?"
"I don't know," he said. "But I think the normal might be out of the realm of possibility now. We should be careful, but I think that there's no longer a rational explanation for what's happening."
"So they're what," Lucas scoffed. "Monsters?"
Douglas sighed. "Remember the video footage? I think that might not be too ridiculous."
"So we're gonna call the Ghostbusters?" The FBI agent whispered. "This job keeps getting..." His phone buzzed. "What the..." He almost dropped it. "I just got a cease and desist order from the governor of the state."
"Can he do that?" Douglas asked.
Lucas shrugged. "I think he just did."
"Will you listen?" At that, Lucas flashed a wide grin. Even young as he was, Douglas looked at him, interested. He looks like Daniel, he realized. Sounds like him, too.
"Of course I won't. Some things I just have to do. And this is one of them."
Douglas nodded. "Would you like to discuss this over drinks tonight?"
"Be my pleasure," Lucas replied.