Metanie let out a long, agitated sigh, then turned to scold Jason.
The window behind her shattered, and a dark shape flew through.
Hunter smashed a chair over the shape.
When the confusion resolved slightly and the shape became clear, the group gathered around it. It had pale, pasty skin, and bloodshot, sunken eyes. Its canines had elongated into long fangs, and it growled and roared at them like a feral beast.
“A vampire,” Jason growled.
“A vampire?” Metanie repeated. “Like, those things that attacked us in the mall?!”
“Those were weaponized by the Counting House project,” Jason shook his head. “This is just the garden-variety.”
“I thought vampires could only come in if they were invited!” Metanie shouted fearfully.
“Really? I didn’t think that,” Hunter replied. He had produced a small religious symbol from his pocket, and was holding it up in the direction of the vampire, which recoiled in horror.
“Oh, what, and those things work?” Metanie snapped.
Hunter backed the vampire carefully into a corner, holding up his icon fiercely and forcefully.
“This is just a symbol, it has no inherent power,” Hunter explained. “Meanwhile, the power it symbolizes is very real.”
“Well, how do you kill a vampire?” Metanie scowled. “Fire? Holly water?”
Jason moved up behind Hunter and began unloading his side-arm into the demon.
“Several ounces of metal administered at high velocity?” Lily suggested.
The creature howled in pain and shoved past Hunter and Jason.
But Hunter was on it, catching hold of its tattered jacket, and using it’s momentum to heave it back out the window.
“How about a hundred-and-eighty-foot fall onto a hard surface?” Hunter grinned. “That’ll kill anything.”
“Not that,” Jason sighed as he peered out the window. “Hunter, there’s a vampire loose on Bur’I.”
“Man,” Hunter complained. “I was looking forward to movie night, too.”
“Are we goin’ vampire huntin’?” Lily asked hopefully.
“No,” Jason stated as he opened a cabinet and began sifting through it. “The term ‘hunting’ implies the possibility of failure, Hunter and I are going vampire-killing.”
Jason produced a crude amulet from the cupboard and tossed it to Hunter.
“What’s THAT??” Lily pointed.
The amulet contained a perfectly round, blood-red ruby held inside a knotted leather cord.
“A Day Stone,” Hunter explained. “Vampire Hunters invented them during the Mage Wars to help weed out their quarry.”
“There’s a gem called the Night Stone,” Jason continued. “A powerful artifact invented by a vampire sorcerer, for use by vampires. Holding it would increase a vampire’s power a hundred-fold, so you can bet every vampire in the known worlds is seeking it.”
“The Day Stone imitates the Night Stone,” Hunter said. “Vampires are drawn to it, once activated. It’s basically used like a lightning rod, to make sure any vampires attack only whoever has the stone. You girls stay here; it’ll be safer the further you get from him and me.”
“So I guess now you break out the wooden stakes and holy water?” Metanie rolled her eyes.
“No, I was thinking we’d get the automatic weapons and the napalm,” Hunter replied. “Jason?”
“A vampire’s ability to regenerate is directly related to how recently it’s fed,” Jason shook his head. “In a city this size, he could have been gorging himself for weeks without arousing suspicion. I don’t think we’ll be able to come up with enough firepower to take him down. Our best bet will be to lure him into the open somewhere, then paint a target for Origin.”
Hunter stopped and glared darkly at Jason.
“You put one of those in orbit?!” he snarled. “Around your own planet?!”
“It’s not active,” Jason rolled his eyes. “At least the targeting parameters aren’t. Look, right now it’s just a weapon rigged to a painter, it’s totally safe.”
“Origin?” Metanie asked.
“Later,” Hunter held up the gem and it began to glow. “Let’s get killin’!”
* * *
Hunter strolled casually out into the open field, a long coat pulled tightly around him, despite the summer heat.
Footsteps pounded along the dry grass, and Hunter turned, and with an underhanded toss, threw the Sun Stone into the hands of a very confused vampire.
He also threw back his coat and raised his automatic rifle, spewing out a song of hot metal.
But it was little more than a distraction.
A pale blue light formed a circle around the stunned demon.
And then it exploded.
* * *
Hunter found his Sun Stone on the edge of the smoking crater, and turned to Jason.
“That wasn’t a bad idea, really,” he admitted. “Though I still think we could have done without the giant space gun.”
A massive explosion cut Jason off, and they both turned towards the rising fireball over the industrial district.
“You IDIOT!” Hunter howled.
“Now that’s not fair!” Jason defended. “You have no reason to believe that was my fault.”
“Did you shut down Origin?” Hunter demanded.
Scowling, Jason dug into his pocket and produced a remote.
“I programmed it to only fire the single volley,” he snapped. “And then shut… down.”
“You idiot,” Hunter repeated.
“It’s ignoring my shutdown commands,” Jason shook his head.
A thunder clap drew their attention, and Hunter and Jason turned to watch as a pale blue beam shattered through the clouds and finished off the industrial district.
“I’m in trouble,” Jason gulped.