10: To Old Friends We Go
Danger had never bothered Michael before. He lived with it in times past; he was it in times past.
But the aura of danger that the ancient vampire had picked off the dead girl Penelope’s body was new. It filled him with a sense of foreboding which he didn’t like at all; and that was why he had come to where he now stood in front of. Charon.
Charon was an underground, highly exclusive, invitations only, high-end nightclub. Located a couple of kilometres just outside West Harbour, the establishment catered to the best of the best from all over Canada; and the whole of America, by extension. Whatever they wanted for entertainment, legal or illegal, the Charon could provide.
But the club’s true prestige didn’t lie in its mortal customers but rather, its immortal ones.
As it turned out, the vampire council from both the Old and New Worlds had approved Charon as a legal hunting ground for the community. Packed with mortals already reeking of sweat, adrenaline, and a host of other stuff that just added to the thrill of the feed, the undead children of the night were always in for a feast at the club.
Of course, the council insisted that none of the mortals ended up dead as that would to attract unnecessary attentions from the authorities; and perhaps even unfriendly supernaturals. All they had to do was pick and feed, the club would take care of the rest.
Personally, Michael found such practice disgusting; and the fact that the so-called vampire council was the one who had proposed and backed it up only made it irk him the more.
The ancient vampire believed that a vampire was a hunter; a supernatural being equipped with all the weapons required to be rightly at the top of the food chain. It was highly insulting that such a powerful creature would prefer to laze around like an overfed bear while paying another to bring their meal to them instead of going out on their own and getting their preys like the true predators they were.
But Michael hadn’t come to Charon that night to criticise its immortal customers. His mission was something altogether different; and so, the moment he walked through the club doors, he ignored the dance floor filled with grooving mortals and immortals and instead turned his attention towards his prize: the back room.
The moment the ancient vampire began to move, spaces automatically opened for him. It was as though all the immortals around knew exactly who he was- which he suspected they might have an idea- and that caused him to smirk in satisfaction. Even the mortals who were ignorant of him stood aside; something in their mind just told them that he was someone they didn’t want to be in the path of.
Easy enough, Michael reached the entrance to the back room where two burly men- both vampires- stood on guard. “This room’s private,” they said immediately they saw him approach. “Access only by the Mistress’ order.”
But the ancient vampire didn’t listen and attempted to pass through anyway, causing them to push him roughly backwards. “Hey, punk, didn’t you hear what we just said?” they said. “Move along.”
Michael smiled; the appearance of his fangs like that of a wolf about to pounce. “You fools,” he said, “you should have moved when you still had the chance.”
Before either one could react, the ancient vampire punched the left guard in the face; the latter responding with a swing of his own. But Michael was already much too aware of the movement and he ducked under the fist just as it came flying by. He caught the fist still in motion and with one press, crushed every one of the guard’s fingers.
Totally stunned and horrified, the injured guard screamed out and held onto his hand as he crumpled to the ground in a heap.
The second guard was still alert though and he immediately went for his gun. Unfortunately, his speed was no match for the ancient vampire’s who zoomed and got a hold of the gun, brought it out and fired it at his thigh; all before he could even bring his hand anywhere near his holster. He went down after the first guard and Michael snapped his neck with only one kick.
By then, the first guard had recovered from his attack and he went at the ancient vampire again with another punch. The latter ducked underneath it once again; and just like the first time, he held and crushed the second fist in his palm. He punched the guard in the chest for good measure and swept his legs from under him with a kick.
Watching the guard hit the ground with a resounding thud, Michael thought to crush the guard’s throat under his feet; and would have too if not that he suddenly heard, “Seriously, Mikael, is this how you treat your old friends?”
The voice belonged to an old woman who looked about sixty years old. She wore a green chiffon gown which she accessorized with gold ornaments from what seemed like different cultures and eras of history from head to toe: jade hairpins from China, Egyptian gold necklace and earrings, gold bracelets that looked something like the ancient Greeks; and other ones that the ancient vampire didn’t want to bring himself to identify.
The woman leaned on a golden cane while she walked; although the more she walked, the more it became obvious that she didn’t actually need it. She was Regina von Strauen, the eight hundred year-old vampire owner of Charon; and also the person Michael had come all the way out of town to see.
“Regina, you and I have been a lot of things, friends isn’t one of them,” the ancient vampire said as he left the guard writhing on the floor to brush roughly past the woman andenter into the back room. “And the name’s Michael now.”
“Come on, Odinson, don’t tell me that you too have adopted that ridiculous system of changing names with the time. You and I know that only stupid vampire sucklings believe that thing is efficient.” Regina entered after him.
“Regina, I couldn’t care less about what you or some vampire suckling believe in, and you know that,” he returned and she rolled her eyes. “I’m not here to confab anyway. I came to get something you’re so adept at providing; information.”
Although not entirely a secret, Regina’s choice to own a nightclub wasn’t just borne out of the desire to find a place to host and feed rich, ready to pay vampires. Her real goal, in fact, was to peddle something that was far more precious in the supernatural world than any other merchandise; knowledge.
A link between the Old World and the New, Regina von Strauen knew everything that was to be known about everything. Just like Michael, she had an impeccable memory; although hers was more intellect-based than age-related. She was a custodian of information for the Old World and the New, a courier in all things information; and owning the most bustling establishment in the supernatural world definitely made that trade a whole lot easier to sustain.
“I want you to tell everything you know about this,” Michael said as he took a seat and poured himself a glass of Scotch before reaching into his jacket pocket to bring out a picture which he threw at Regina and the latter easily caught.
It was the photograph of the murdered girl; the ancient vampire had compelled the M.E. to hand it to him before he left. The picture highlighted everything the ancient vampire had noticed on his visit to the morgue and Regina took it all in as she studied the photograph.
“She was young,” she commented.
“Yes,” Michael replied, “and probably wishing that she hadn’t taken the late night shift that got her killed too. But the girl isn’t the one I want information on.”
And that was when she saw it. “The Minotaur.” She raised her eyebrows at the ancient vampire. “Are you serious about this, Michael?”
“Tell me what you know,” he insisted.
“Okay, if that’s you want,” she replied. “The Minotaur is the nightmare of Europe, a force that ignites fear in the hearts of the supernaturals till this very day. His rampage unstoppable, many believed that he was going to desolate Europe from top to bottom; and some still think that he will. None knew what drove him, none knew what stopped him. His stories were whispered only in the dark of the night for the fear that he might appear.
"But while the entire continent may have been witnesses to this monster of monsters, I happen to be one of a few who can speak his true name-" and she looked up directly into Michael's eyes just then "-Mikael Odinson Holgersen.”