Creepless in Seattle

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Chapter Eight: Hungry Mary

Seattle

Willaim, Kenji, and Gavin walked into the business building. The lobby was massive, almost monumental. Strange, twisting sculptures rose up in the midst of cascades of water, and they were surrounded by trees from various parts of the world. Gavin pushed the mirrored sunglasses up on his face. Unlike the others, Gavin Beithier was completely blind; however, his preternatural senses made up for that in other ways.

"This place is right on top of a graveyard," Gavin said.

William looked at Kenji. "Is he always like this? This weird, I mean?"

"Weird?" Kenji echoed. "He's..." the man looked around before whispering in the wolf's ear. William's eyes widened, and he gasped.

"Wait, really?" He said. The werewolf peered at Gavin momentarily and shook his head. "Who knew? Dirk is full of surprises."

Kenji nodded. "He's made some odd friends, I grant, but he's got a good heart."

"Wait." William held up a hand. "Do those guards smell funny to you?"

"Funny how..." Suddenly, Gavin's nose twitched.

Kenji noticed. "What's wrong, guys?"

"Vampires," William whispered. "And if I can smell them, they can definitely smell me." He noticed one of the guards speaking into his earpiece. "I think we just got made."

"Calm down," Kenji whispered.

Gavin's ears twitched. "He's saying that there are monsters in the foyer. Us, by the way."

"That's creepy, y'know," William pointed out.

"So?" Kenji asked. "Be glad he's on our side. I've fought this guy before, and it's hard." Seeing the werewolf's skepticism, the other man nodded. "The truth is that we'll be glad of him if it gets ugly." Kenji walked to the receptionist's desk and looked at the young woman there. "We'd like to see Mr. Stone, please." The woman looked at them.

"Mr. Stone is a very busy man, gentlemen, and judging by the looks of your outfits, you aren't exactly here to make him a business deal." She lowered her glasses. "So get lost."

Kenji folded his arms. "Okay, now that's just rude." He leaned over the desk. "I know that most of you here are vampires. I know that your business here is a front. And, to top everything else off, I know what you're involved in. Now, I've got my father, Raijin, on speed dial here. He's got a direct line to the families, and he's perfectly willing to throw you under the bus. Now, I might be an idiot, but knowing how reliant you are on the families' business, I think you wouldn't want that. So in a rather obtuse way, yes, I do want to make a business proposition. I propose to keep you in business."

The young woman looked at him, dumbfounded. "I..." she stopped talking, unsure of what to say.

"Look, humor him," William said. "He can be really bitter if you don't give him what he wants."

She keyed her intercom. "Mr. Stone? Yes, I'm sorry, but there are some gentlemen here to see you. From the families, sir. Yes, sir, I'll send them right up." She pointed toward the elevator. "He's on the twelfth floor. The bellman will know to show you up." They walked to the elevator, and the man inside pressed the button. As it went up, Gavin tried to concentrate on noises outside. The noise of the pulleys and the carriage sliding in its tracks made it hard to determine what was going on outside. However, he could pick out a few sounds.

One woman talking to another about the man that she wanted to bed, another man talking to his wife on the phone, since she was worried he might be overworking himself. The lawyer talking to his employer about the fact that he didn't think that the case would go his way given the evidence.

He shook his head, sighing. Nothing. All that work, honing his hearing and gifts, and nothing to show for what I tried to do.

William's hand on his shoulder startled him out of his introspection. "You good?" The werewolf asked. Gavin nodded.

"Just not used to tight spaces," he said, idly massaging a scar on his cheek. "They give me the creeps." The elevator door dinged, and they found themselves in a darkened hallway, lit dimly by crimson wall lights.

"He's right at the end of the hall," the bellman told them. Hesitantly, they started down the hall. Gavin sniffed the air, and he noticed that he smelled ozone.

"Kenji," he whispered. "Calm down, please. Don't get excited; it's just a conversation. You know, with a vampire tycoon who might be a primal. No pressure."

"I'm a primal," William whispered.

Gavin looked at him with sightless eyes and obvious interest. "Oh really? Well, that does improve our odds." They kept walking, and the ozone level in the air kept lessening, which meant Kenji was not going to explode, either metaphorically or literally. Gavin fancied neither alternative. The doors opened-by themselves- and inside, the room was dark as well. The chair in the center of the room spun around, and a man in a black suit and red tie turned to face them. His white hair was neatly slicked back, and his fingers were steepled.

"Welcome, gentlemen." He smiled. "I've been waiting."

Apartment

"So that's your plan?" Dirk asked, incredulous. "Consult me as a private investigator? If you're already breaking the law, we'll both be fugitives. I'm more than comfortable killing anything under the sun, or out of it, but the federal government? Seriously?"

"Got a better idea?" Lucas challenged.

Dirk rolled his eyes. "Y'know, not getting arrested usually puts a smile on my face."

"You're gonna need a better plan. You can't just show up here and expect to kill whoever you please," Lionel pointed out.

"I know," Dirk said softly.

Lucas shook his head. "Then why disagree? You need our knowledge of the law, and we need to know how to put these things down long enough to cuff them."

'That's just it," Dirk exploded. "You can't cuff some of them! Some of these things can't be reasoned with, and they can't be stopped except by putting them six feet under. I appreciate that you want to walk the straight and narrow, but the straight and narrow is sometimes the curvature of the shell you put between Nosferatu's eyes."

"You can't do that unless you have no other choice," Lionel pointed out.

"And you can't always make that judgment," Lucas added. "Look, I haven't known you as long as some people have, clearly, but it seems to me like you have some scary obsessive tendencies. And even if you didn't, I'd still worry about giving any one man that kind of power, because men aren't infallible."

Dirk sighed. "Okay, fine. But there are three kinds of creature we kill upon positive ID. No questions asked. Clear?" They nodded. "Wendigo, Aswang, and Ruursa. Ruursa are basically werebears. Anyway, in the interest of pooling resources..." Dirk tossed Locklear's book on the desk. "Here's the list of names. Some I know, but others I don't. And that particular problem has been scratching in the back of my mind."

"There are government officials on this list," Lucas murmured. "My former boss is on here. Why?"

"We don't know," Dirk confessed.

Lionel shook his head. "And I thought this boy here was the idiot. Now I think you're the moron."

"Cut me some slack," the hunter growled, clenching his fists. "The guy who had this list was a mentally-unhinged hunter-turned-monster. He works for The Order of Purity, a...fringe group of the Roman Catholic Church that's basically a monster-slaying society. I don't know who they were targeting or why, but I know they're up against the Liberatum for some reason. How they're connected, or what's really going on, I don't know."

"So these names," Lionel said. "Where'd you start?"

Dirk pointed to the list. "The first two. We figured we'd check them out and go from there."

"And the status of 'checking them out'?" Lionel asked.

"In process," Dirk replied. Suddenly, his phone beeped. "Oh, there's an update right now."

University

Alestair looked at the young woman in front of him. "So...you said you specialize in cultured spider science?"

"Cultural anthropology," Janice Walther replied. "With a subspecialization in cultural mythology."

"And how long have you taught here?" Ruby asked.

"A number of years," Janice told them. "Why do you care?"

Alestair looked at Ruby for a moment before turning again to face Janice. "We were looking to fill in a few blanks about a friend of ours, Jameson Locklear. Do you know him?"

"Doesn't ring a bell," the teacher replied. "Why?"

"Just curious," Alestair said.

Ruby noticed a strange mask on the wall in her office. "That's an interesting piece," she said, pointing. "Where's it from?"

"Africa," the woman replied. "It was a gift from a local tribe I worked with for several years. They used it to conceal their faces in a ritual they believed warded off flying demons. The creatures, they said, flew in on the east and south wind. They would descend on the villages and feed for days, consuming small creatures, children, what and whoever they could carry off." She shook her head. "A load of drivel, if you ask me, but then you don't do away with centuries of culture with a few words."

"I agree," Ruby said. Then, she looked thoughtful. "So you said you didn't know Jameson Locklear." She held up a photo of him. "But does this man look familiar?"

The teacher peered at the photo, then nodded. "Yes. He sold me a few pieces from all over the world. I was surprised, since a lot of them seemed a little incredible. He expressed particular interest in Eastern European legends. Nature spirits, of all things, seemed to be his area of expertise. Tragic, really, about his collection being destroyed."

"What?" Ruby asked.

"He placed a call to my phone yesterday," the teacher replied. "He said that his entire collection was destroyed in a freak lightning fire. That's a huge loss of history. The art world will be the worse for it."

Ruby nodded. "Indeed. Thank you for your time." And she and Alestair stepped out of the agent's office.

Seattle

Daniel Stone's Office

William's hands clenched at his sides. He could smell the death on Stone, and from all the evidence, Stone was likely a pureblood vampire. Which meant that William was at risk.

"Expecting us." Kenji repeated, confused. "Expecting us for what, exactly?"

"Why, to seek answers about Jameson Locklear's list, of course," Stone said, as though it could not be clearer.

Gavin folded his arms. "How do you know jack squat about that list?"

"Locklear's favorite weapon was the flamethrower. He liked heavy metal music, wore mostly studded black leather, and he was one of the most vicious Brawler hunters to ever walk the earth. To be fair, if he were any less subtle, he would have been wearing a sign that said, 'I hate everything'." Stone raised an eyebrow derisively. "Explain again how this guy is hard to figure out, because I'm missing it."

"No need to be sarcastic," Kenji sighed. "Look, why does Locklear have this list? It's a bunch of names, but this book is in some kind of code. Otherwise, the gibberish isn't anything more than the ravings of a madman."

"Oh, it's more," Stone assured them, smiling.

William's eyes went from normal coloration to yellow. "Okay, I'm starting to tire of these riddles, bloodsucker. Why is your name on this list, and what do you have to do with the Liberatum?" Stone waved his hand.

"Please," he said, snorting sardonically. "The Liberatum and their leader are nothing more than a gaggle of idealistic, misguided fools. You work with the hunter van Helsing, yes?"

"What's it matter?" The wolf asked.

"Tell you what," Stone said, leaning back and resting his feet on his carved oak desk, "I'll give you everything you need. The names and faces from the Liberatum. Though I doubt that there's much correlation between the list you have and the Liberatum's."

"What?" Kenji asked. "How can you be sure?"

The vampire laughed. "Are you asking how I know? I'm one of the wealthiest men in the world, and my net worth alone makes the werewolves howl themselves to sleep at night. If I put it all in silver, they'd have a heart attack just seeing that much in one place. I have nigh infinite resources at my fingertips, to say nothing of the span of my influence." He looked off to the left, sighing. "And it was good, until two years ago, when they showed up. You want to know who the Liberatum serve? I only have a name, not a face. Do with it what you will; I care not. His name is Emile Graymalkin, and his last known whereabouts were in Romania, but he's since moved on. Where to, anyone's guess."

"Wonderful," Kenji murmured. "So what's our plan?"

"Wipe them out," Stone said. "It's not rocket science, is it?" He looked thoughtful. "Well, I hope not, because otherwise, you'll never manage."

"What about the list?" William persisted.

Stone sighed. "It's a list of enemies of the Order. Locklear wanted to take a look at the people who had run afoul of the church and determine who among them would help his cause."

"His cause?" Gavin asked. "He was a murdering racist."

"Exactly," The vampire said. "So he was working to do that." He swept his arm all over the room. "Can you imagine? This world we've built? The world van Helsing has tried to give us. We're not perfect, but this could be a chance, and I won't-I can't-let some starry-eyed revolutionary ne'er-do-well ruin the path to the peace we've never had."

"So why does the Order hate you?" William asked. "No offense, but you hardly seem worth their time."

Stone shrugged. "How should I know? They don't exactly explain all their prejudices to me. Look, I have power and money, and those make me a threat to the Order. In truth, I've undercut the families, the Order, and the Liberatum to keep creature-kind and humanity moving forward on the path to a mutually recognized and lasting peace. And that ruins one of the Order's selling points, so understandably they'd like to knock me off."

"I see," Kenji said. "Any other parting words of wisdom?"

"Be careful," Stone advised, getting up from his chair and sliding a phone toward them. "In this game, few people are who they pretend to be. Most people are in it for themselves, and you'll be hard-pressed to tell the good from the bad. Call me if you have any questions related to the families. I'm not the world's leading expert, but I'll help if I can."

William nodded. "Thanks for your time, and I'm sorry for not exactly being friendly to start."

"I wouldn't worry about it," Stone replied, waving his hand as though to swat the thought out of the air. "Relax. If the worst you do after thousands of years of prejudice and discrimination is snap at me, we're golden." He pointed to the door. "Now get moving. You're wasting time with me; I've done all I can for you."

"Thank you again," Kenji said. And they left his office.

"What'd you think?" Kenji asked them on the way back through the lobby.

William shook his head. "I don't like it. He said that we couldn't trust anyone, but it seemed like he was asking us to trust him. A little oxymoronic, don't you think?"

"I agree," Gavin murmured. "He said not to trust anyone, but I definitely don't trust him. It seems to me like he could very easily play both sides were he so inclined. And I have to ask if he is, because his position and the opportunity it poses would be very difficult to pass up for an ambitious fellow like him."

"The question is, what do we do if he is playing both sides?" Kenji asked.

"Well, seems like an obvious choice," William said. "We tell Dirk, Dirk acts or doesn't, and he kills the bloodsucker. Isn't that his thing?" And that was when the entire front of the building vaporized in a scorching wave of heat and force.

Seattle

Apartment

Dirk looked at his phone, dumbfounded. "Oh, crap. Crap crap crap."

"What is it?" Lionel asked. "What's gotcher pants in a bunch?"

"There was an explosion at Stone Consolidated, where my friends were," Dirk said. He sighed, rubbing his forehead with two fingers. "Look, I'm really sorry to cut this short, but they're going to need help, if it's who I think it is."

"Let me come with you," Lucas said. Dirk considered this for a moment, then nodded.

"No harm in that," he said thoughtfully. "Though you're going to need silver bullets."

The FBI agent held up a magazine. The bullet on top shone with a strange pale light. "One hundred percent pure silver. That do?"

"It'll have to," Dirk replied, grabbing his bag. "Come on."

Stone Consolidated Building

Kenji rolled to his feet, electricity burning paths up and down his arms. He could see, somewhere through the smoke, figures outlined in dim shades of black and grey.

The security officers, or those standing, drew their weapons and moved into the smoke. Suddenly, gunfire erupted, and bullets tore through them. First one, then two, then five of them fell.

William spun to cover, frantically trying to find the figures in the midst of the smoke. If they're killing vamps with those bullets, then it's likely silver. Won't kill me. Then again, it'd be a pain to heal for days. Best to not get shot. He sighed, and then picked one figure out. Over the sting of gunpowder and the metallic odor of blood, William smelled something else: decaying flesh. More pronounced than a vampire, but not quite to the level of a Wendigo. Aswang. The wolf sprang from cover, his form changing as he did. He went from a rather lithe young man to a towering, snarling eight-foot mass of fur and fangs. The Aswang looked up, surprised, for a mere second before the werewolf's clawed paws came down. William's razor-sharp claws slashed the creature to fleshy ribbons, and he howled in fury as he snapped the Aswang's neck.

One of the men turned, raising his gun to fire at William, but a blast of electricity cut short the attack. The man jerked and twitched, and Kenji lunged, his body changing from physical to ethereal as he did. In one instant, he was a flesh-and-blood human, the next a spectral panther, electricity crackling around him as he pounced on the man he had shocked. There was an explosion of blue light, and the man crumpled to the ground as Kenji passed straight through him.

The security forces returned fire, their own silver bullets cutting through their targets. One, two, three of the attackers went down, but still others survived. And that was when Gavin stepped in.

The first warning that any of them had was a rush of wind. Then a blur tore through them. Of the two dozen men outside, most. Two of them dropped to their knees, decapitated. Another crumpled as some unseen force tore his midsection apart, and a fourth suddenly found himself impaled on a length of re-bar. Gavin suddenly appeared behind them, wings outspread. Not gossamer-thin fairy wings, but long, scaly, batlike wings that spread behind him and crackled with electricity, looking for all the world like a stormcloud. One of the men turned to face him, changing form his human form to a Ruursa. He charged at Gavin, who narrowly managed to move out of the way. As he did, his bloodied hands morphed from human to clawed appendages with green scales that overlapped them like armor. Their initial meeting sent out a shockwave like a clap of thunder, and the two tumbled away in a tangle of fur, claws, and flapping wings.

The security forces were shooting more regularly, now that the smoke had cleared. This caused the attackers to find cover, but this hardly helped matters. William grabbed a vampire from cover, yanking him over the crumbled wall he was hiding behind, and screamed in rage as he tore the unfortunate creature apart.

Kenji, still in spectral form, shot through another of the henchmen, killing him in the same burst of electrical energy.

One of the henchmen, different from the rest, hefted a rocket launcher and aimed it at William. The werewolf froze, for the first time really assessing the threat in front of him. While he had faced such weapons before, he knew very well that the launcher could easily blow him apart. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw another of the men raising a large sniper rifle.

"Will," Ariadne's voice came through the communicator. "Will, listen, that's a Barrett M82. That gun will cave in just about anyone's chest. You do no want to get hit, and dodging will be difficult. Where do they get their gear from?"

"Some paramilitary group for jerks." Dirk's voice came over the communicator. Suddenly, they heard two loud, piercing gunshots. Not the pop of a nine-millimeter handgun, but a weapon barking like a hungry dog. Both men suddenly went down, and the crimson trails of blood that followed told William they had been shot. He also heard a nine-millimeter firing, and he saw a federal agent carrying a handgun aiming at the vampires. That's odd, William thought. It looks like-no, smells like silver. Who told a fed to use silver ammo?

"What are you using?" Ariadne asked. "That was brutal."

Dirk snorted. "Heckler and Koch PSG1 with special silver ammunition. Apparently, that did the trick."

"Can you help them?" Ariadne asked.

"Sure thing," Dirk responded. "Hey, Will, leave one of them alive, okay?"

The wolf snarled. "Are you concerned for these monsters?"

"No," Dirk snapped. Two more shots rang out, and two more henchmen went down. Kenji tore through another, and a bellow from where Gavin and the Ruursa had been fighting, followed by a wet crunch, told him that the bear had met its end. "I just find it easier to interrogate living targets, you know?"

Gavin burst from where he had been fighting, tearing into a vampire in his rage as he did. William took part in this as well, but he noticed that the numbers of the attackers were rapidly dwindling. Suddenly, they heard Dirk yell. One of the monsters went down, as the federal agent nailed him directly between the eye with a silver-jacket round.

"Find cover!" Dirk yelled. "Find cover now!" Suddenly, one of the security men dropped to his knees, a fist-size hole punched in his chest.

"They've got snipers!" Gavin yelled, ducking behind a concrete wall. William hunched down behind a shattered pillar, his eyes darting out to get a glimpse of his targets. However, he could see nothing, and shortly cursed and gave up.

Kenji suddenly materialized in human form behind a low concrete wall that had once been part of the sculpture in the middle, before it was decimated by gunfire.

"Okay, what do we do?" He asked.

"Wait," Dirk growled. His gun cracked. "I'll..." It fired again. "Take..." and again. "Care..." Another. "Of..." And the last shot. "...them." He sighed. "Okay, that's all..." Suddenly, they heard another shot, and he swore.

William keyed his communicator. "Are you all right?" He asked. "Dirk? Answer me, blast you."

"I'm fine," Dirk said. "But he barely missed me, and the wound's healing slow for some reason." He swore again. "Never mind." Dirk's gun fired one more time. "Got him. Should be everyone. Any survivors?"

"A few," Kenji responded, looking out.

Dirk sighed. "Think you can snatch one?"

"Sure," William said. "Stone was pretty understanding, and he said he wants us to kill the Liberatum and all of their leaders. We'll give you the skinny on the way back. Any preference?"

Dirk thought for a moment before answering. "Do me a favor and grab someone we can easily torture. If we want answers, we're probably not going to get them without using a sledgehammer."

"Can we not torture them?" Lucas' voice came across the communicator. "That's kind of a big deal."

Dirk sighed. "So's not getting answers. Given the choice, I'm fine with hurting some monster's delicate feelings. Along with his delicate bits."

Apartment

Alestair pulled the bag off their captive's head, and he blinked. "A...vampire. All the creatures you could've picked, it's a vamp." He shrugged. "Well, at least you made it easy."

"So that's it. Torture." Ruby folded her arms, looking at Dirk. "A word, sweetie, if you don't mind?" Dirk and Ruby stepped out of the room, the witch unloaded on her now-husband.

"Dirk, how can you condone this?" She murmured. "They might be insane, but you can't just go and slaughter them like animals. Nor can you carve on them every time you want to get information and one of them proves intractable. Hypnotic suggestion would be more effective, and if he's a vampire, he'd be susceptible. It'd be easy."

Dirk folded his arms. "Look, the spells drain you. Al told me you were working your mojo for your entire conversation with the professor."

"I'm not a shrinking violet," she protested, her tattooed arms beginning to glow with green light. "Dirk, you know that! I can handle it, and that you're not willing to trust me is pretty sad."

"Like I trusted you with Oberon?" Dirk asked.

Ruby stepped back, and her wounded expression tore at Dirk's heart. "Really, Dirk? I thought we were past holding petty grudges. Do you really not trust me at all?"

"Ruby..." Dirk looked down. "Look, I'm sorry." He folded his hands. "I'm afraid, Ruby, after what he did to you...it scares me. We've got something good here, and I don't want the fact that we're trying to stop this thing getting you hurt or killed."

She sighed. "Dirk, how do you think I feel? I've watched you get ripped apart, impaled, burned alive, crushed, and harmed more ways than I can count. Do you really think that's easy on me? I watch you throw yourself at danger on the daily, and I don't complain. So please trust me, okay? We're a team now, so at least give its better half a little credit."

"But..." Dirk hesitated. "What if we lose?"

"We won't," Ruby said. "What can't the two of us do together?" She patted his shoulder. "Now come on. We've got a vampire to interrogate."

She walked over to the bloodsucker's chair, tapping her wand idly on her thigh. "Well, this is going to be fun." The witch looked the vampire in the eye. "So, how are we feeling?"

"You witch," he growled.

"You have no idea," Ruby replied, smirking. "Now this is how this is going to go. I'm going to ask questions, and if you don't answer, I'm going to take over your mind and make you answer. Are we clear?"

The vampire strained against the silver chains lashing him to the chair, but between direct, strong sunlight and his restraints, he was no more threatening than a declawed kitten. "I'll kill you!" he growled. "And even if I don't, my friends will slaughter you all tonight."

"Hm. Interesting." Ruby grabbed him by the forehead. "But that wasn't the question I asked, nor the one I wanted answered." Her tattoos glowed green, and the vampire jerked backward, his body twitching crazily. As he fell backward, Ruby pulled away, gasping in pain. "Oh, boy. You're a tough one." She put both hands on his temples and the tattoos glowed again. "But I'm not going to abide it." The energy flowed into his brain again, and Ruby screamed in agony as memories flooded her own mind. After several seconds, she fell back. Dirk gently pulled her away from the chair and onto a couch, where she lay down.

"Are you okay?" He asked. "What'd you see?"

She gasped, massaging her temples. "Listen to me, Dirk. How long until sundown?"

"Two hours. Why?" Alestair asked.

"Vampires," She replied, sitting up slowly. "Hundreds, maybe thousands. They're going to descend on the city after sundown and tear the place apart. The order came from a vampire named..." Ruby focused for a moment, and then answered. "Katherine McCallen."

Dirk swore. "McCallen is one of the strongest vampires I've ever fought. She's a very powerful creature. From what I know, she's a primal, which means that beating her won't be easy. If she's really leading this whole fiasco, beating them will be a nightmare. There aren't many primals left, but if they're following her..."

"Where will they be?" Gavin asked.

She shook her head. "I can't tell. It looks like they're going to be targeting a neighborhood to the southeast...maybe a few blocks? There's a building down there, a museum, or maybe a historical society. It's important, but I don't know why."

"We have to stop them," Dirk muttered.

"There's so few of us," Luther protested. "How are we supposed to cover all that ground? We need a plan."

"I have one," Dirk replied.

Ruby stared at him. "To stop several hundred vampires."

"How's that sunburst grenade work?" He asked. "It's a component, but not the only thing, no."

"Are we not going to talk about how I just watched you magically torture somebody?" Lucas' voice was angry. "In case you've forgotten, I'm a cop, and that's a crime." He looked around, shocked to see them all impassive. "Does no one have a problem with this?"

"Should we?" Luther spoke for the first time.

The federal agent looked at him. "And who are you?"

"Well, that's funny," Luther said, his eyes going from their normal brown coloration to a liquid, chilling blue, without pupils or irises. "Though a what might be closer to the truth. Anyway, there's not a whole lot I can do about what Dirk here has done, and I know it's uncomfortable. But understand that these people are fanatics. I hate watching this; don't get me wrong, it's disgusting. But the fact is that even one hundred vampires can do a lot of damage in a single night. And because of that, we can't afford to sit and wait."

"But the law-" Lucas began. Luther snorted.

"The law?" He echoed. "The law? Please. What are cops going to do? They don't have stakes, they don't have silver...and what they do have is only going to make the vamps angrier. Like it or not, we're the best solution that the city has right now. And as much as I hate to admit it, the torture is necessary to get the knowledge we need to act accordingly."

The FBI agent looked at Dirk. "So you've done this before?"

The hunter sighed, rubbing his forehead. "Unfortunately. The truth is that doing what we do means a lot of violence, and sometimes violence we're not comfortable with. So yeah, if you're in, you better accept that this is going to be messy. I've killed a lot of people hunting, and odds on I'm going to kill a lot more. Can you stomach that?"

"I..." Lucas looked at the vampire, who was snarling and snapping at those around him. His eyes suddenly went hard. "That's not a person. It's a monster." Dirk nodded, drawing a long knife.

"Anyone need the vampire alive?" They all shook their heads. With a snap of his wrist, the blade buried itself in the creature's heart. He grunted, and then his body went limp as his eyes rolled back. "All right. Now, let's go kill us some bloodsuckers."

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