NIGHTS OF BLOOD
From the files of Dr. Fritz V. Baugh, GBWC CEO
GBI Case File No. GBWC-2007-25/306
It had started so promisingly for Jesus (pronounced "Hay-zoos") and Rosita. A nice dinner, a movie, and a walk to the park. Next steps would have been some kissing, some making out, maybe even more...
But now the two teenagers were running for their lives.
They ran into an alley, and stopped to catch their breaths. "[Did...did we lose them?]" Rosita said in nervous Spanish.
Jesus listened for a few seconds before answering. "[I don't hear anything...maybe we did. Either that or it'll be like every dumb monster movie and as soon as I said that they'll be right there...]"
"[Good call, Jefe.]" another voice rang out.
The two screamed as one of the young men they were running away from was now, indeed, standing about ten feet away from them.
They turned to run the other way, but three more appeared, blocking the path.
He still had trouble convincing himself sometimes of the reality of the situation. His wife, his love, pregnant. Out of all the things he'd done in his life--and most of them of significance being compacted into the previous four years and four months--and this was the one that awed him most.
Even though, at the same time, impending fatherhood scared him more than fighting Anubis, Gozer, Lucindra, and the Hain Witch. Combined.
Well... he had to admit to himself. It's not like it isn't at least fifty percent my own fault...
There were still so many questions. Whether to stay at GBCentral West or move out on their own. For now, they had decided (with about 90% certainty at this point) they would stay at the former warehouse at Rosecranz and Vista Del Mar Highland, and reconsider the issue in about a year. "Or when we have another kid" Chelsea had joked, which provoked some strange looks between Jeremy and Andy, and them laughing at it just a little too deeply. Chelsea was just as shocked by their reaction. It's like they know something I don't...
He was sitting at a stoplight, waiting for it to turn, when he realized there was a man standing right beside the car, at the crosswalk. Fritz glanced at him, then back toward the light, before sudden realization...
Are that man's eyes glowing?
Four years of instinct took over, and he looked back. His left hand stayed on the steering wheel while his right reached for the cel phone on his belt. But there was no one there. A second ago, he could have sworn someone with glowing eyes was standing there. Now the crosswalk was empty.
You really need your sleep now, Doctor... an etheric voice said, smooth, nonthreatening...compelling...
And for some reason, he found himself completely agreeing with the idea...
The half dozen or so pursuers were now drawing closer. A couple of them were dressed in gang clothes with low-cut baggy pants and bandannas, though a couple were dressed more like 80's punk rockers. One was incongruously wearing a somewhat worn and tattered suit and tie. The last one had a mullet and an Oakland Raiders jacket.
"Man, doesn't anyone speak English anymore, Man?" the one with the mullet said in a whiny voice. "I thought we were in the United States of America, Man..."
"Screams are a universal language, Steve..." the apparent leader, one of the punk rockers, the one who had found the panicked couple first, remarked. "[It ain't her poontang we're interested in, Jefe. Maybe in my old days I would have considered it, though...]" he said to Jesus, blatantly looking the girl up and down.
"[Then...then what do you assholes want with us? We're from the projects...we don't have any money...]" Jesus shouted.
"[You got plenty of what we want, Jefe]" the leader grinned wide. "[Blood]" And when he grinned, his canine teeth showed. Jesus could swear those teeth were unnaturally elongated and pointy.
"I bet Fritz is gonna love that idea." Jeff Nash replied drolly. "As soon as he gets back."
"You're the ninja, Jeff. You're always telling us how badass you are--surely you can protect the whole city all by your freezy lonesome..."
"Hah hah." Jeff chuckled dryly. "Ante up or go fish, Wal-Mart Killer..."
"I thought we were playing Old Maid." Andy retorted.
"I'm winning that too..."
Andy sighed as the phone in his pocket began to ring. It was set to the distinctive ring tone signifying a call transferred from the main outside line, which usually meant a case. "Too frickin' middle of the night for this..." Andy muttered. "Ghostbusters. Like, Totally Ready To Believe You!" he said brightly as he answered the phone.
"It's only 12:15." Jeff joked just loudly enough for Andy to hear, but not go over the phone. "It's still practically daylight."
Andy stuck his tongue out before turning back to the phone. "Detective Fox, hey there. And how are you this...what?" Jeff saw Andy straighten up in the chair. "How long ago?" A pause. "No sign of any violence?" Nodding. "Dr. Nash and I'll be there as quick as we can."
"What is it?" Jeff asked as Andy turned off the phone.
"The detective says they just found Fritter's car sitting at an intersection, completely abandoned."
"Who's on backup tonight?" Andy asked.
"Mick and Aiden." Jeff replied. "I'll go wake them up. You know I love doing that to people."
Andy rolled his eyes, and headed for the garage.
The leader laughed. "[Bingo, Jefe. You and your little chica have some downright scrumptious smelling blood.]"
"[This...this can't be! Vampires aren't real!]" Rosita screamed. "[They're from bad movies and Ann Rice novels!]"
"[And don't forget the bad movies based on Ann Rice novels, right?]" the leader quipped. "Hey, Boys, Chica says vampires aren't real. So what does this mean? We disappear and blow away like farts in the wind or something?"
One of the other punks made a loud, long, flatulent noise. "[Nope, still here...]" The punks shared a loud, hearty guffaw.
"[Now hold still, Jefe...and this won't hurt. As much.]"
Jesus had lost control of his bowels and was, indeed, now peeing himself when they heard footsteps. A voice came out of the darkness. "I hope you have enough of you. You only outnumber them three to one--maybe you should send someone for more help?"
The leader snarled. "If you're trying to be funny, it ain't workin'..."
The one in the suit snorted condescendingly. "Well, the odds are two to one now, aren't they?"
They saw the newcomer backlit from a nearby street lamp, features hidden other than the large coat he was wearing, and an impression of a shaggy, unkempt mop of very dark hair. "You can count. Color me impressed."
"Hey, Man, at least this one can talk a real language." Steve said. "Even if he kinda sounds like Jethro Clampett."
The shaggy man chuckled dryly. "Strangely enough, I wasn't the one who got called that."
"Look, I don't care of you're Jethro Clampett or Larry the Cable Guy. You just turn right around, go back where you came from, and we'll let you live tonight."
"And leave these two to their fate? What do you have in mind? They just food, or does the Clan get bigger?"
The leader hissed. "On the other hand...maybe you know too much to let get away..."
A loud crack shattered the night. The leader went down, a wound spraying blood from his chest.
The punks shrunk back.
"Amazing what a wooden bullet to the heart can do, isn't it?"
Also there were the familiar faces of LAPD detectives Zachary Fox (a virtual dead ringer for the late Jerry Orbach) and the younger, handsomer Vance Dirkman.
When Andy and Mick got out of the car, Dirkman snapped his finger in exaggerated disappointment. "I was hoping they'd send Jennifer..."
"Yeah, yeah, and then you could brag to your friends that you spent the night together..." Fox rolled his eyes.
Jeff Nash was over inspecting the Cruiser. Fox did a double take, looking back and forth between Jeff and the two other Ghostbusters. "Did he come with you?"
"Naw, he used a secret ninja trick to get here." Andy answered. "Freezy Creepy Ninja Teleportation. Saves a bundle on his trips back and forth from New York."
"No frequent flier miles, though, so there is a downside." Jeff added.
"Oh, well, just so I wasn't going crazy..." Fox shook his head.
"Zack, you've been at this job so long I don't see how you couldn't be crazy..." Dirk chuckled.
Jeff had pulled his PKE Meter out. He was studying it intently.
"There anything here?" Mick asked. He was beginning to get an odd feeling about this. An instinct was starting to talk to him.
"There's a slightly elevated level here..." Jeff answered. "Not quite 'I think Fritz was kidnapped by Gozer' but above normal..."
Andy looked in the car. "That stuff on the seat there when you arrived?"
"Yeah." Fox answered. "We took a couple pictures, but hadn't touched it yet--we recognized the gizmo as one of you guys' toys, and were afraid we'd blow ourselves up if we touched it."
Jeff (wearing his work gloves, as he usually did on busts) reached in and retrieved Fritz's discarded PKE Meter. "Nah, it wouldn't blow up. The breakers on the 3.0 are a lot better than the '80's models. It'd just stop detecting and give you an annoying error message." Jeff switched it on and toggled through some screens.
"Anything?" Mick asked.
"It wasn't on." Jeff shook his head.
Andy sighed with mock disgust. "The Professor will be so pissed. His example being wasted like that."
"His cel phone's open, though." Mick noted. The screen had the familiar 555-4292 number on it. "And it looks like he was about to try to call home..."
Also in the seat was Fritz's wallet, and a taser.
"All I know is, we gotta find Fritters quick." Andy shook his head. "No way I'm telling Chelsea about this..."
"I apologize for the rather...abrupt invitation, Doctor." a pleasant, measured voice came from the darkness. "But it was time for us to meet."
There was a light in the room, now. And he realized that though his leg was at an odd angle, he was more or less seated.
He took stock of himself before responding. The familiar heft of his PKE Meter was gone. It didn't feel like his cell phone was in its usual pocket. They either left it behind or have it somewhere else here. They know what they're doing "And do what do I owe this honor for, then?"
A man stepped into the light. Handsome, with slicked-back dark hair and a very expensive suit. The light made it quite clear that the man was unusually pale.
"You are the leader of the Los Angeles branch of the Ghostbusters, of course. Fritz Baugh, age 36, born Evansville, Indiana. No children...yet...though your wife is now expecting."
Fritz's eyes narrowed just a tad. Nothing there that couldn't have been gleaned from press releases or the GBI message board.
It wasn't something that he liked to advertise, and many of his comrades might not have even been aware of it, but he'd spent a few years dealing with the seamier side of life in New Jersey, after academia had turned it's back on him.
"You have me at an advantage--I think that's clear." Fritz finally said carefully. "Now perhaps we can go into why?"
"Do you have any idea who I am, Doctor?"
"You're a vampire." Fritz responded. "Indeed, not just any vampire. I would suspect a highly-ranked vampire. One of the Primogen--or even the Prince himself."
The man was quiet for a few seconds. "Perhaps I should not be so impressed. Your organization makes it its business to be knowledgeable about the children of the night--even if you didn't once have access to one of us yourselves..."
"The late Gen Brown, is that to whom you refer?"
"We did not kill Gen Brown." Fritz said firmly.
The vampire went to the table, and opened a bottle of wine. He slowly poured it into two glasses. "Would you care for a drink, Doctor?"
"I'm not one to decline such hospitality under normal circumstance." Fritz replied. "But I really don't drink...wine. Might you have a Diet Sprite?"
The vampire cocked an eyebrow, a slight smirk crossing his features. "I will see what I can do."
Another fell with a wooden stake through his heart.
"Run, Dammit!!!!" Jesus and Rosita heard their rescuer shout. They did.
"Man, I'm gonna cut you bad, Man!!!" Steve pulled out a switchblade. He swiped at the hunter, but missed.
"Allow me." the one in the suit said. There was a virtual blur of light as he suddenly appeared beside their opponent, and delivered a hard punch to his gut, sending the man flying. "Steve, go get our guests while T-Bone and I deal with this 'hero'. Well, and Ten-Cent too, if he ever figures out how to walk."
"Fuk U, Booker!!!" Ten-Cent cried as he was fighting his baggy pants to get standing again (and losing the fight).
"No problem, Man!!!" Steve said brightly, running in the direction Jesus and Rosita had fled.
"How you like the odds now, Fucker?!" T-Bone asked, uprooting a lamp post.
The hunter said nothing.
"Hey! Slow down, Man!!! I use more blood, I gotta drain more blood from you!!!" Steve shouted, like that would somehow make them stop.
There was a loud crack.
Steve's head exploded in a gory mess.
Another figure jumped from the shadows, even larger than Rosita and Jesus's first defender, and jabbed a stake into Steve's chest, causing the still writhing body to grow still.
Jesus and Rosita didn't even stop to thank him--they just kept running.
"Your guess was very perceptive, Doctor." the vampire finally said. "My name is Julian Luna...and I am, indeed, the Prince of Los Angeles. Gen Brown was known to me--though she was not of my Clan, she was a friend of one of the Primogen. Her loss was a loss to us all."
"On that, we agree." Fritz said.
"I asked you here today because the situation in Los Angeles grows more dangerous by the day." Luna continued, looking at him. "Tell me, Doctor, do you know of the principle of the Masquerade?"
"Yes." Fritz answered. "It's the agreement the vampires made among themselves to keep knowledge that vampires are real from human society. To pose as humans as much as possible."
"Because though we are powerful, we are far outnumbered by you Mortals." Luna nodded. "If they rose against us, they would exterminate us. That is why we are careful."
Luna sipped from his wine. "But things have slowly become more difficult for the Primogen and I to control. First the Settites tried to get their fangs into my city--the cult led by Teth-Apophis. A cult destroyed by the Ghostbusters."
Fritz simply nodded. He hadn't been there, but had read the accounts.
"And then, the movement led by Master Orus, his 'United Darkness'...he struck at both of us, Doctor, in the murder of Gen Brown. And he, in turn, was destroyed with the help of the Ghostbusters."
"We did not actually destroy him." Fritz said carefully.
"Of that I am aware." Luna answered. "The Lupine Nightstalker--one of the banes of my kind."
"We certainly did not enlist his aid." Fritz said. "And he is certainly not at our beck and call."
"I know..." Luna nodded. "But what Teth-Apophis and Orus started is continuing. The lowest castes of my kind--the Anarchs--are becoming bolder. The uptick in crime in Los Angeles of late is not wholly mortally-driven: these Anarchs crave blood, and are becoming sloppier and more careless about how they get it. At this rate, it is only a matter of time before the Masquerade could become compromised."
Fritz set his drink down. "Ghostbusters International is not on a..." he regarded the use of the word carefully "...Jihad, Mister Luna. Members of GBI have fought some powerful entities, and saved the world from destruction totally gratis more than once, but we aren't vigilantes. We're a business. Our main business is simple: we bust ghosts haunting people's houses. If you aren't killing innocents--or at the very least, aren't caught killing innocents--it's of no concern of ours."
"The Founders of our company have had amiable dealings with vampires and werewolves. A former member of my team was Gen Brown's lover--we know the vast majority of your kind wants to live in peace. As long as you don't shatter that peace...as long as you maintain your Masquerade, we will have no reason to interfere with you."
Luna grinned warily. "Enlightened words, Doctor. It does give me some assurance--even knowing your organization counts in it's employ a scion of the rather notorious Belmont and Van Helsing families..."
"He is also on the other side of the continent." Fritz noted. "When truly evil vampires of the likes of Dracula appear, we will battle them."
Luna looked at Fritz. "With luck to us all, the likes of Tepes will never walk our world again."
Luna set down his drink. "There have been rumors, Doctor, that make me suspect that the Anarchs are being driven by more than just Teth-Apophis and Orus's memories. I have brought you here because it has become beyond my ability to find out any more--but then again, I do not have the academic resources one of Ghostbusters International's leaders can draw upon. You do."
"Aid me, Doctor, and I will owe you a boon."
"There is nothing in the GBI by-laws that says I can't accept a vampire as a client."
Luna looked at him again, amusement clearly present on his features. "You parlay with the skill of a Primogen yourself, Doctor."
"I thank you, but I plan to keep breathing for a long time." Fritz responded.
(Author's Note: Ten-Cent's dialog is in chatspeak intentionally, because it makes him sound stupider.)
Truth to tell, things were not going well for the would-be rescuer of Rosita and Jesus.
It seemed like such a good idea at the time... he remarked to himself ruefully. I thought I was ready...had all the equipment I needed. I had to save those two kids from being killed or Embraced...
But I don't have the equipment I used to. No PKE Meter, no proton pack, no...
He barely dodged the lamppost that T-Bone tried to hit him in the head with. "You gonna pay for fraggin' the Boss and Humpty, Lickstick!!!"
Booker--the one in the suit--made another blindingly fast flash of movement, and grabbed him from behind. As the hunter struggled, Ten-Cent moved in and slugged him with his brass knuckles, hard.
"U ass iz mines!!!"
Celerity...Potence...nasty attitudes... the hunter turned prey speculated. Brujah ...they just about have to be...
This time the lamppost connected, Booker's hold disappearing at the last second in another streak of hyper-speed.
He was thrown a good ten feet. He felt bones breaking as he hit the ground...cloudiness at the edge of his senses. Stupid stupid stupid...
I've failed you again, Gen...but at least we will be together very soon...
"What?!" Fox said loudly into his phone. "No, no...keep ahold of them. I got some Ghostbusters right here. No, I'm not kidding--we'll be there in ten minutes."
"What's up?" Mick asked.
"A couple beat cops in South Central were stopped by a couple of panicked teenagers. Kids said they were being chased by vampires."
Mick's posture stiffened. This was what his instincts--his years of fighting the undead, particularly the minions of an especially "fabulous" vampire elder named Valek--were trying to tell him. "This isn't a co-incidence."
"Vampires kidnapped Fritz? That's quite a leap of logic..." Jeff noted.
"It's all we got right now." Andy said. "Call Aidan back at HQ--tell him to get Jason and J outa bed. We may not have a lotta time, because there's not telling what kinda trouble Fritters is in."
At that moment, the very man they were discussing appeared, apparently thrown out of thin air!
It is not yet your time...
"You all right?" Jeff asked.
"Well, the kidnapping/disappearance case is solved." Fox rolled his eyes.
"The situation..." Dirk reminded them.
"We just got Fritters back! We don't even know..." Andy started to protest.
"I'll tell you on the way." Fritz shook his head, adjusting his glasses.
"Mines arm!! U blew off mines arm!!!"
"Who the hell is this...unff!!!"
A cold voice. "You better be worth this."
Kyle felt himself grabbed. Something was poured down his throat.
He was dumped on the ground again...
But realized there was energy surging through his body.
The pain faded away.
He practically sprung to his feet, feeling like he'd had pure, concentrated caffeine dumped into his veins.
The now armless Ten-Cent was being shot in the head by a huge, muscular man wearing a trenchcoat, and carrying an AK-47 assault rifle. He looked like Dolph Lundgren, except with paler skin and a darker buzz cut.
"Get your ass up and fight!!!" the man barked, and Kyle realized he was talking to him. Even more surprising, he realized he could do it.
T-Bone, the one with the superhuman strength, was coming at him again. "I don't know how, but our piggy is up!!! When I kill you, you stay dea..."
He didn't finish the sentence, as Kyle punched his jaw clean off.
Jesus Christ!!! What did I just do?!
He didn't get stuck in contemplation long, as with a speed he knew he shouldn't have, he whipped another stake out of his own coat, and jabbed it into T-Bone's chest. The Brujah went down and didn't move anymore.
Staking them with wood doesn't kill them, but it renders them completely inert
"Very impressive..." Booker snarled. He avoided the newcomer's burst of automatic gunfire, and grabbed him from behind.
There was a loud crack as he snapped the larger man's neck.
"Dolph" just smirked, ever so slightly, at him.
"You'll have to do better than that."
Booker began to shake. He tried to let go of his "victim"--but couldn't, his hands distending like they were stuck on a hot plate.
There was a loud, cracking noise, and Booker screamed. Blood vomited from his mouth, and he fell to the ground, limbs splayed in a very uncomfortable looking configuration.
Kyle recoiled in horrified realization. The man who "saved" me is another vampire!!!
The large man (?) kicked Booker into a dumpster. "Grab the others and throw them in too." he said simply, but forcefully.
Kyle hesitated for a second, but did as he was told.
"Sirens." the man rumbled. "The authorities will be here soon--we have to move quickly."
When the last vampire was thrown into the dumpster, the large man pulled a different weapon out of his trenchcoat. A phosphor flare gun.
Kyle's eyes narrowed. He'd seen the grisly results of the device once before, when Teth-Apophis used one to murder Oscar Wallance's friend Rayven.
The dumpster went up in an inferno. Even knowing that all of those inside were already dead, Kyle felt bile rising in his throat.
"We've got to get moving." the man said. "Unless you want to explain the burning bodies to the police."
"So what in the world happened?" Andy asked. "We were beginning to think you'd been kidnapped by a vampire."
"I was." Fritz answered simply. "I was...forcefully invited to the presence of the Prince of Los Angeles, Julian Luna. Or at least that's who he claims to be. He wanted to talk."
Mick just about choked "Talk?! About what?! He warn you when he's springing the vampire apocalypse on the city or something?"
Fritz took off his glasses and rubbed his eyes. "We've been through this before..." he snapped back a little more forcefully than he usually would have, but it was still the middle of the night and he'd still not had any sleep. "Not every vampire is Dracula or Valek. If Luna wanted me dead, I'd be dead."
"Oh no, you're much more useful to him alive, aren't you?"
"This more of that Shadow Chaser propaganda bullshit?!" Fritz snarled. Jeff and Andy just looked at each other--they didn't see this side of their friend and leader very often. "The only good vampire is a dead vampire?"
"If they're dead they can't stab you in the back and suck out your vital fluids." Mick snarled back. "Or twist your mind into a pretzel."
"We went over this--PK trace is fine..." Jeff pointed out.
"Gen Brown". Fritz continued the argument. "Yeah, she was so pure, concentrated evil Kyle only dated her for two years!"
"And look where it got him!" Mick snapped back.
"Okay, Boss, Mick, time out." Andy finally broke in. "We'll have this out better later, after everyone's had some sleep. But for now...we've got some possible genuinely evil, bloodsucking fiend type vampires to deal with. Can we cool it?"
He and Kyle were on a nearby rooftop. Kyle looked, and did, indeed, see a familiar Ecto-Cruiser pulling up, and four of his former comrades get out of it (though one, Fritz, wasn't wearing his flight suit). The battered car driven by Zack Fox and Vance Dirkman was there, too.
"I knew some Ghostbusters years ago..." the large man rumbled.
"I used to be a Ghostbuster." Kyle said, slightly defiantly.
"I know." the man retorted. "The fact that you are no longer one indicates you have the potential to be something other than a fool. I've been watching you for a little while now, Stevens. You have potential. You know much about the bloodsuckers, and I see the thirst for their blood in your eyes. I don't know what they took from you, but you want to burn them all for it. Good."
Gen... "Wait a damn minute..." Kyle snarled. "You're a vampire!!!"
"That's because once, years ago, I did what you almost did tonight. I made a mistake. I let my guard down at the wrong time and my captor decided to teach me a 'lesson"--by making me one of their own." The man's fist clenched so hard Kyle could almost swear he heard tendons straining. "It's going to take time to show that bastard what a mistake that was, but time is something I have quite a lot of now..."
"You saved me by feeding me your blood." Kyle realized, his anger being tinged by nausea now. "That was the rush of power that let me survive, and heal my injuries." His eyes narrowed. "But now I'm only two steps away from being your slave."
"Then you will just have to be more careful in the future." the large man replied. "The absolute, essential first principle of being a vampire hunter is: never go it alone. There's some ugly stuff brewing in this city...and a Ghostbuster is never going to be able to deal with it. Join me as my partner--not my slave, not my 'childe'--and I'll make you more dangerous to the undead than a comedian dressed like a janitor could ever be."
Jeff was studying his PKE Meter. "There's definitely some PK activity lingering here...and this blood all around is radiating slightly."
"So who do you think the vampires were, then?" Dirkman asked. "The guys who did this, or the schmoes in the dumpster."
"I'm hoping for the latter." Mick admitted.
"Possibly both." Fritz said. "Vampires disagree with each other just like humans do." He shook his head. "Kyle knew all this stuff a lot better than I did."
"It all right if I take a sample or two?" Jeff asked, looking at one of the puddles of blood splattered around the alley.
Dirkman nodded. "Just leave plenty for CSI..."
"I don't think that's going to be a problem." Jeff remarked, pulling out a petri dish and a dabber.
"So what do you really think, Fritters?" Andy asked. "This have anything to do with your 'meeting'...or is this just co-incidence?"
"I wish I knew..." he answered, his brain focusing on the last things Luna said before his memory abruptly shifted him back to the street corner...
"There are two names I have heard. One has been whispered about for the last decade, a figure in the shadows. We can't even be certain he exists, but has been blamed by the rumors for destroying Teth-Apophis's minion Scarab. He has been called 'The Necromancer' "
Fritz mused. "That name sounds familiar...the original Ghostbusters may have encountered someone with that name. I'll check on it. What was the other one?"
"Only a single name--survivors of Orus's cult claim it was in this person or being's name that he instigated his rampage through the vampiric community. In the name of someone..or something...known only as 'Cywong'..."
He thought of his pregnant wife, and felt very very tired...
Ghostbusters West Coast Division Created by Andy Harness and Vincent Belmont
Julian Luna is a bit of an in-joke to the short-lived Vampire TV series, Kindred: The Embraced (though in the show he was the Prince of San Francisco instead of LA)
Thanks to OgreBBQ