"...they will perceive the Esoteric truths and comprehend their Creator's wisdom as is the capacity of man. As it is written." (Isaiah 11:9)
ACT I: Chaos
BOOK I: A Necessary Evil
Prologue: Prelude to Disaster
Tuesday, August 29, 2023 - 8:47pm, PDT
San Francisco, California...
Karla Anne Howard slid off the lap of an unconscious man sprawled out across a sofa. She fluffed her skirt then tugged at the hem to free it of wrinkles. She snatched up her underwear and pulled them up her legs.
Her vibrant green eyes panned across the apartment then stopped on her unconscious tryst sleeping on the couch. She brought a carnation-colored tube of lipstick to her lips, a grin tugged at the corner of her mouth.
Karla reached for her handbag, shouldered it, and walked into the nearby bathroom. She fumbled for a light switch. With a sigh of content, she placed her handbag on the counter and inspected herself in the reflection.
"You've still got it, girl," she murmured with a Cheshire smile. She lowered her gaze, drinking in her curvaceous teenaged reflection, and teased her hair.
The man on the sofa opened an eye, struggling to stay awake. “How old are you?”
Karla grinned and stepped from the bathroom. “You talking in your sleep, lover?”
“How…how old are you?”
“Let’s just say…in the Middle Ages I looked the perfect age for breeding or marriage, but the modern day treats girls a little differently, don’t they?”
“How old?” he asked again, groggy.
Karla offered him a playful grin. “Barely legal. That’s what I tell all my paramours. Now get some rest.”
“Can hardly keep my eyes open…”
Her grin evolved into a confident smile. “Yeah, sex with me does that to people like you. It’s a necessary evil, sweetheart.” She stepped back into the bathroom and ran her fingers back through her canary locks. The blond tugged at her V-neck collar. Satisfied it lined up with the canyon of cleavage she displayed, she leaned forward and kissed the mirror, leaving a pink hued imprint.
She retrieved perfume from her purse and spritzed it beneath the hem of her skirt. She stretched then exhaled a sigh of content. “Thanks again for the fun. I’ll see myself out, sweetheart.”
Karla gathered her belongings, shouldered her handbag and lifted her left hand. Her palm incandesced with a soft glow that matched her painted lips and lacquered nails. Her emerald eyes rolled upwards and her lashes flitted rapidly. She drew in a sharp breath…
In the blink of an eye she disappeared.
Seconds later, Karla reappeared in an alley just outside of the apartment building. She exhaled hard then rubbed her face and glanced up at the fourth story window high above. Again, she stretched then sighed in a measure of relief.
A dumpster sat in her path, two feet in front of her.
She scrunched her nose then waved her hand at the heavy metal container. It scraped along the pavement until flush against the alley wall.
She smoothed the lay of her clothes again, withdrew a small tablet computer from her handbag and thumbed the screen to life.
Karla sauntered down the street, picking up from where she left off in a novel. The words on the screen drew her into the storyline. Her lips formed voiceless words. ‘The incubus stepped from the corner by the window. Her eyes widened, startled, and she cried out, muffled against her palms.’
A muffled cry brought Karla’s attention back from the story. She looked around and eased the tablet back into her handbag. “Was that real?” she whispered.
She glanced at the clear cellphone wrapped around her wrist. It hung loose from her forearm like a bangle.
Something halfway down a nearby alley caught her attention – the sound crying. She crossed the street and approached the mouth of the alley.
Two men pinned a woman to a brick wall. Karla clenched her teeth and set off down the alley. "Hey! Dickheads! Leave her alone."
One of the men turned around and pointed a gun back at Karla. “Oh, you walked down the wrong backstreet tonight, bitch. You should'a minded your own business.” He brought his left hand up to the top of the weapon and pulled back on the slide, chambering a round and cocking the hammer back. “Obviously you need one of us to tame that smart little mouth of yours.”
Karla narrowed her gaze.
Fifteen feet ahead of her, the two men stood in front of a woman with the front of her blouse un-tucked. Mascara ran down her cheeks.
“She’s got one of those Apple watch things, that’s gotta be worth some coin,” said the accomplice.
The gunman’s eyes lowered then lifted. With a confident tone, he said, “Get it from her.”
Karla held her wrist up, showing that the phone was a bit loose on her wrist. “Does this look like one of those stupid Apple snap-wraps to you?”
“Again with the smart little mouth,” said the man with the pistol. “Let me show you what it takes to humble a girl like you – I’m going to wreck you like the World Trade Center.”
With a huff of indignation, Karla waved her left hand. The man's gun jerked up from his grip and struck his jaw.
The force of the strike threw him from his feet. He glanced off the alley wall and flopped down onto the ground and rolled two times. His body stopped in the middle of the alley, sprawled out on the concrete, motionless.
She stepped over him and approached the other man who, at a glance, appeared unarmed.
Karla narrowed her eyes again and set her purse down. She gestured towards the young woman against the wall then hooked her thumb back. "Take a hike, sister. I'll handle these two dumbasses." Karla held her hand up towards the other man, "But not you. You stay put until she's gone."
The woman left the alley, sobbing and embarrassed.
Karla cracked her knuckles. "Let's make this quick. I have an appointment to keep." She pursed her carnation painted lips. The remaining man returned her smirk.
Her eyes lowered and she took a moment to inspect her manicured, lacquered nails. They shined in the illumination of a streetlight by the mouth of the otherwise dark alley. She ran her fingers back through her blond locks and tucked an errant strand behind her right ear.
A grin tugged at the corner of her lips, eyes gleamed with mirth and delight. “This…is going to be fun.”
"Who the hell are you, kid?" he asked. "You're like…fifteen years old – how do you think you can come down here and…"
"You blind? Didn't you just see what I did to your friend?"
He glanced at the guy on the ground. The man cut his eyes back at Karla. "He obviously tripped."
Karla sighed in frustration. “Newsflash, I’m actually a demon.” She reached for the weapon and it scooted across the concrete then flew up into her palm. The man's eyes widened with shock.
The blond demon drew her hand away from the weapon. However, the pistol remained aloft, floating in place as though suspended by strings. Like a puppeteer, she wiggled her fingers; the slide of the handgun detached from the pistol. The magazine slid from the butt of the handle. A round levitated from the chamber and floated above the gun. A rail, a spring and the barrel moved away from the core frame of the Beretta.
"All these parts just to make a more efficient killing device. I don’t know about you but I find this technology fascinating, don’t you?"
"Lady, please." His pleading tone cracked like an adolescent boy. "Please."
He spoke in a hushed tone. "Please…please don't kill me."
"Oh, I'm not a sadistic pervert like you." She paused and smiled once more. "I take that back. I'm definitely perverted; just not sadistic." Karla cut her gaze to the left, quick to notice the other man getting to his feet behind her.
She watched the other man’s shadow on the wall; the silhouette doubled over. He picked up a piece of wood and lifted it high.
She took a step towards the man in front of her. In response, he pressed his back against the wall. Her grin broadened to a genuine smile, delighted by his fear. She whispered mockingly, "You're friend must be so strong; he can pick up a busted piece of a skid."
“Lady, please,” he repeated.
She kept her eyes on the shadow, which moved across the wall. "Pay close attention, because I’m going to make an example out of him."
She thrust her left hand towards the mouth of the alley, palm held outwards. The forty-caliber round, suspended above the hovering gun, suddenly changed direction. With a mere thought, inertia powered the bullet. It flew to the left and struck the body approaching from behind.
The man stopped in his tracks and released the wood board. It clattered on the concrete. He dropped to his knees with an empty accusing glare. The fatally wounded attacker keeled over to the right, a groan of breath forced its way out of his lungs. Silence.
She pointed at the dead body. "See your friend? See the blood gushing out of his head? Look at him." She reached her left hand forward and took the accomplice by his greasy hair. "I said LOOK at him!" Karla forced him away from the wall so that he faced the body in the middle of the alley.
His lower lip trembled. Words failed him.
"I once dropped a gallon of milk at the supermarket. It broke on the floor. I remember watching the milk gush across the tiles, filling in the grout like a dairy flood. See him bleeding out? See him?"
"Y-yes," he replied, his voice barely above a whisper.
Karla leaned close and sneered. "Apparently a person's head holds a lot more blood than a jug does milk." She released the man's hair. He turned away, cowering against the wall. The corner of Karla's mouth tugged into a grin once more. "Control your hormones. And stop bullying women, else you're next." She lowered her right hand. The pieces of the floating Beretta clattered to the pavement.
The succubus glanced at her cellphone on her wrist with a wanton sigh. "I don’t have time for your drama tonight." She casually waved her left hand. The man against the wall fell over from an unseen force. She placed the kitten heel of her shoe against his forehead. "If I see you misbehaving again, I'll drive this stiletto through your eye, pal. Capicé?"
“I’ll change, I’m sorry! If you let me live, I’ll change, I swear to Christ. I’ll go to church. I’ll be different.”
“Church?!” Karla bellowed with amusement. “Did you only say that because I told you that I’m a demon? And more to the point, did you hear yourself? You swore to Christ then, with the same breath said you’re going to church. That’s rubbish.”
“Why…how can demons exist?”
“We’re a necessary evil, douchebag. You got something else smart-mouthed you want to add?”
“I…I’m sorry, I just…”
“Oh shut up. I want you to stay right here until I leave. Make sure you give it a few minutes because if I see you again, I’ll assume you’re following me. And then we’ll really have problems.” She glanced at the time on her cellphone again. “And it’s not a goddamn Apple watch. I’m not ‘classy’ enough to spend that kind of cash, thank you very much.”
He lifted his hands defensively, palms out, but said nothing.
Karla picked up her handbag and stepped over the dead body. It vanished from beneath her. She continued into the darkness of the alley. The man watched as she seemingly disappeared into the gloom.
She emerged at the far end of the alley, turned the corner and continued walking. She glanced about herself furtively, then, in the blink of an eye, disappeared once more. Karla reappeared at the end of the block and sauntered out into the street.
The demon removed her tablet from her handbag again and logged into her Facebook page and began thumbing an update. She finished the post, switched back to the e-reader app and picked up where she left off in her novel.
She turned the corner at an intersection then groused under her breath, “That's not how a real vampire would talk. And you’re killing me with this incubus guy coming to her in her dreams. I mean, seriously – dreams? Did this author get her source material on incubi from the Dark Ages?”
Karla’s eyes continued to the bottom of the screen then she thumbed the side, flipping to the next digital page. “Still. Gotta admit, it’s a better love story than Twilight. Then again so were Larry and Balki.” She thumbed to the next page. “Or Mork and Min—”
The ring of a cell phone startled her. She put the tablet back into her handbag and withdrew designer sunglasses then put them over her eyes. A Bluetooth pairing logo flashed in the corner of the lenses, pairing to the clear cell phone wrapped around her wrist. She tilted her head up sharply, cleared her throat and said, “Okay, Glass; answer call.”
The Google Glass headset displayed a brand name in the white tinted shades. A bone-induction speaker, built into each arm of the frame, pressed against the skin behind her ears. A soft chirp played and the phone connected to the caller.
She answered with a practiced semi-stoic tone. "Vinnie's Vibrators – we put the buzz in the fuzz – Vinnie speaking, how can I help you?"
"Karla? Are you ever serious?"
She smiled, recognizing the voice. "Methos! Well now, it’s been months since you’ve last talked to me. I figured you were avoiding me.”
“I…I’m sorry, Karla, but that’s exactly what I was doing.”
“Mmhmm. So…off topic – who was the best sitcom romance couple?”
“Just answer the question. Jesus.”
“Ralph and Alice.”
“Oh, yeah, I suppose I forgot about the Honeymooners. I was going to go with Mork and Mindy.”
“Karla, I’m not calling you just to chit-chat.”
“Okay, fine. To what do I owe the honor?" Live video feed from his webcam appeared in the lenses of her sunglasses.
“I saw you updated your Facebook page.”
“Yeah? I’ve been posting there since July of 2013, hon. Usually, I post photographs of things that amuse me, like stupid cats and hysterical memes,” she said, pronouncing the word to rhyme with ‘themes.’
“Yes, but your user name is ‘Karla The Succubus.’ Not exactly hiding as per the rules of the Esoteric Council. Anyhow, you just posted that you attacked a rapist in a back alley? That’s disconcerting.”
She sighed and shook her head. “I cleaned up after myself okay? I teleported the body into the concrete beneath the alley. God. Anyways, people think the Facebook page is just a humor site.”
“Well, you're not exactly on good terms with anyone else in our so-called community, Karla. You use your abilities in public and you have a blatant disregard for authority. Not to mention everyone in this sect thinks you're overly promiscuous.”
Karla balked. She gazed through the image of his face, held her left wrist up and smirked at the camera lens of the wrist-phone. She furrowed a brow, barely seen through the shades, making eye contact with the man on the other line.
He met her eyes, looking directly at the camera lens from his end of the conversation.
After the brief stare down she smiled. "Methos…you know I'm a succubus. A bonafide ‘sex demon.’ Darling, I kind of need sex to stay young looking. If I age physically, it’ll probably be a rapid event due to my age. If I start looking old, I can’t get laid. And then I die. We’ve been over this. Besides, I'm proud of my proclivities."
The man on the other end of the line sighed. "People need to eat food to live, yet some people are gluttons who gorge themselves every chance they get.”
“What’cha trying to say? I’m fat?”
“Figuratively, yes, you could go on a sexual diet, Karla. You don't need that much sex to stay immortal."
“Immortal,” she scoffed with a roll of her eyes. "Anyhow, you sure used to like fooling around with me."
"Karla…" Methos cringed in the display of her tinted lenses.
“How’d you get the name Methos anyhow? That’s a TV show character created in 1995. Yet you’ve used that name for as long as I’ve known you.”
He sighed. “Your friend, Nathanial Carrington, thought of it when I met him in 1906.”
“Oh yeah? Well the character is the oldest immortal in the franchise. That makes me wonder if…”
“Stop.” Methos rubbed his temples. “Can we get back on topic, Karla? You’re out of control, feeding on everyone you meet.”
“Yeah? So? What’s your point?”
“You’ve been acting this way since the beginning of the millennium. Ever since Marcus died.”
“Hey!” She lifted her wrist and glared at the camera lens on her wrist-phone. “Don’t you dare bring up his name.”
"I didn’t realize that was still a sore issue for you."
“And for the record, succubae and incubi are not immortal. I just aged better than my peers.”
“Karla, you’re over three centuries older than the next oldest succubus. You are immortal. Stop living like you’re going to die any day now. For all we know, you won’t age if you stop feeding.”
“Not willing to risk that. Besides, who would give up what they enjoy most?”
He shook his head. “This cavalier attitude towards life will land you in someone’s crosshairs one day.”
“Anyway, you said you’ve been avoiding me, Methos – now you’re calling out of the blue. What do I owe the honor?” She cut her gaze forward, looking through his image in the sunglasses. Karla drew a finger across the phone on her wrist, opening up a Google Maps application.
With her right hand, she gestured on the phone to partition the display in her shades, putting his face on one side and the map overlay on the other. The succubus continued down the street and arched her brows expectantly at the camera lens on her wrist. “Well?”
“There was a meeting called by the Grand Justiciar of North America…”
“I hate that guy. He acts like he owns every supernatural being alive. Moving on…I know about the meeting, I was invited. I'm already on my way but I’m running a little late. Why would you call me about a stupid meeting set up by a stupid judge? That’s a bit out of character for some mathematician who is avoiding the town rebel – what's going on?”
“Wait, you were invited? Karla…”
“What? What’s the big deal?”
“I just learned about it tonight from one of my sources. The Justiciar called multiple meetings across the city all at the same time. He’s invited every member of the Esoteric Community in the tri-county area. That doesn’t strike you as odd?”
“What strikes me as odd is that the Grand Justiciar would schedule so many meetings at the same time. There's no way that Reinhardt St. Leonard can be in all those places at the same time.”
Methos tilted his head and folded his arms. She could tell he was sitting on a sofa hunched over a laptop or possibly a tablet with a stand.
He cleared his throat and said, “Karla, he's one of three documented people in the whole world that possesses the ability of astral projection. Of course he can be in so many places at the same time. The only thing I don't understand is…”
Karla cut in overtop and asked his question for him. “…Why I’m invited to a meeting when the Esoteric Council hates my guts?”
“I was going to say I don’t understand why the council would sanction having every supernatural person off the street at the same time. But you bring up a good question: After all, the sect refers to you as a 'pariah'. They typically wouldn't want anything to do with you.”
“I know. It’s because of my tussle with the CIA.”
“Which you’ve yet to explain.”
She frowned then shrugged. “I heard they had a file on my father.”
“I need that to figure out how to find him. So I broke in and interrogated the head of the archives department. It turns out Hoover was the one who had a file on my father. So there it is. Maybe I’ll break into the FBI next. Who’s the guy who replaced Muller? I can’t remember his name.”
“Karla…please don’t say those kinds of things on the phone. You’ve probably PRISM-flagged the conversation now.”
“Fine. We can talk about it later. So what’s got you so hot and bothered about some dumb…‘party’ I’m going to, anyhow?”
He picked up whatever device he was using to hold the conversation and shifted his weight. Karla saw the background change behind him. He cleared his throat to keep her attention and said, “So I looked into it further – turns out that there are meetings scheduled all across the globe, just a few days apart. Every person of our kind that I can account for has been invited through an encrypted Internet server and routed to a meeting point nearest to his or her home based on their IP address. Unsanctioned speakeasies were created just for tonight’s event. Why would anyone want to have every one of us across the globe off the street at nearly the same time? Most of the ones in America and Canada are scheduled tonight. Mexico and South America, too.”
Karla drew quiet. "Okay, when you word it like that…it sounds suspicious. I thought you said you called me because you saw my Facebook update?"
“Karla, everyone else I've called has stopped answering their phone. Then I saw your status update so I called. I was relieved to hear you answer.”
“Uh huh. So you think something happened to these other friends of yours? Say, why aren’t you going to one of these dumb meetings?”
“Steven and I weren't invited. Your friend Nathaniel wasn't invited and had no clue about the meetings. He would be concerned to hear you were invited but not him. Seems he still holds you in high regard.”
The succubus smiled inwardly. “Nathaniel Carrington is an old man now. He probably forgot to check his email or something. Nobody in the community would ‘forget’ to invite him to something important. They treat him with more respect than they give to you because he was the flipping hero of Tunguska.”
“Karla…He checked his email. He wasn’t invited. Think about what you’re saying – the bureaucrats treat Nathan, myself, and Steven with the utmost respect. Yet none of us were invited. Either someone doesn’t want us involved, or we’re being sheltered.”
“Or ignored all together.”
“Karla, just hurry. I have a bad feeling about this.”
She frowned and turned, following the Google Maps display in her sunglasses. “Now you’re starting to worry me.”
“I've decided I'm going to change my identity soon. You should change your last name as well, Karla.”
“I’m sentimental about using ‘Howard.’ You know how I felt about Marcus. Anyway, why’d we ever stop talking, Methos? Remember when you took me under your wing as a pupil? I miss those days. You treated me with a lot of respect. What happened?”
“Karla, you are very intelligent, and you were a great student. If you could be just a little more responsible with your abilities, I’d be very happy to associate with you again. You’ve caused the E.C. a great deal of headache and stress and money trying to cover up some of the things you’ve done in the past – like that stint with the CIA.”
“Point made. So… Are we friends again?”
“Unofficially, yes. But officially, no – being associated with you would tarnish my creditability with the sect.”
Karla rolled her eyes. “The ‘august body of the Esoteric Council’ can kiss my tight, white, curvy ass. Did’ja get that, NSA? You still listening?”
“Karla…this is what I’m talking about! Just…” He sighed. “Don’t mention me to anyone else, okay?”
She smirked. “Yeah, yeah, we wouldn’t want people to judge you for being friends with the psycho slut demon. God forbid your reputation is ‘tarnished’ babe.” She cleared her throat then said, "Okay, Glass! End call." The Google Glass display went dark in the lenses then immediately cleared. The left lens showed her GPS position adjacent to a checkered flag on the map.
She eased the shades from over her eyes and dropped them back into her purse. “Responsible with my abilities he says…yeah right.” She began counting the alleys, looking for the obscure address.
Chapter -1- Fashionably Late
Tuesday August 29, 9:12pm San Francisco, California…
Karla opened her purse. With her other hand, she tucked flaxen bangs back behind her ear and waved her palm over the top of the handbag. A fashionable pair of flats exchanged places with the heels she wore, making it difficult to close the purse. She wiggled her toes in the new pair of shoes then sighed long and loud to calm her nerves.
An unmarked door greeted her halfway down a dark alley. She placed her hands at the bottom of her blouse and gave a gentle tug to free it of wrinkles. Her fingers closed over the hem of her black knee-length skirt and she gave another slight tug. She ran her fingers back through her hair then licked her lips. “Better to be fashionably late anyways, I always say.”
It took only a moment to apply a fresh coating of lip-gloss. Satisfied, she opened the door and stepped within, leaving her handbag on the wood tile floor.
Inside the building, eight motionless people lay strewn across the floor around a mahogany table. Wooden chairs lay on their sides adjacent to the bodies.
Karla ground her teeth together. "Methos was right. Dammit."
Without warning, a body flew into the main room and crashed into the wooden table. A black mass covered the man's throat, which matched the black fatigues and gear vest he wore. The man kicked his legs wildly, reaching to the strange shade-like object around his neck.
A well-dressed gentleman casually strolled in from a nearby hallway. He turned to Karla and offered a smile. "Splendid; for a moment I worried they’d killed us all."
She blinked with incomprehension.
“I surmise by the moue of disgust that doth mar thy delicate porcelain visage, you find such wanton gore as distasteful as I. My apologies – I wished not to bare thee witness to such a scene, young lady.”
She arched her brows at his odd speech pattern. She shook her head and motioned to the dead bodies around the table. "What the hell is going on here?"
The gentleman spoke slowly, as if trying to choose his wording carefully. “This mercenary and his brethren…colleagues…attacked our meeting without provocation.” He waved his hand. The shadows cast on the floor under the table came out from beneath. They wrapped around the attacker’s arms and legs and lifted him up evenly on all sides.
Karla’s brows furrowed, “You control shadows, huh?” Her thoughts turned to Natalia Kincade briefly. “I knew a woman who could do that. So, what did I miss?”
The suit-clad gentleman approached and told her, “I have subdued four of his ilk in the back room. These men in the black garb…their actions, their doctrine is unacceptable. They seek to slay us for reasons I cannot fathom.”
“Their orders are to kill us? Big deal. I’ve been hunted before. No sweat.”
“Quite so, but their orders are an anathema. An affront of…”
“Okay, stop.” Karla cut her gaze to the soldier suspended by living tendrils of shadow. Her eyes flit back to the man in the suit. "I'm Karla Anne Howard, by the way." She folded her arms beneath the swell of her ample bosom and approached the suspended soldier. “Hey, dickhead, I've already seen my share of blood tonight. I was supposed to meet with these people that you've killed.” She paused, frowned then glanced back over her shoulder at the suited man. “How'd his team pull it off anyhow? We're talking elite supernatural people…some who have lived twice as long as an average person. What happened?”
The gentleman adjusted his tie then approached Karla. “Thou mayest call…” He paused, licked his lips and cleared his throat. “I mean to say I am Donovan Loupe,” he said, pronouncing his last name like, 'loop,' adding, “with an 'e' on the end. I believe they enlisted the aid of someone with an intimate understanding of supernatural society members. When’st the doors flew open, I recessed into the shadows beneath the table. As I said, their orders are an anathema; there is deeply rooted peace between the world governments and the Esoteric Courts.”
“You’re killing me here, Donovan. An anathema, for Chri’sake.” Again, she shook her head and then shrugged. “Okay,” she said then cleared her throat. “Now tell me…how’d this all go down?”
He eyed her for a moment. “Ending a sentence with a preposition? Truly you rape the English language.”
“Speak for yourself, Ren Fest.”
Donovan reached his hand out. A tentacle of shade brought the remains of a flashbang grenade and placed the metal container in his palm. "I will do my best to speak so that thou may best understand mine tongue.”
“Yeah. You do that. So, fill me in,” she said with a smirk, purposefully ending her statement with another preposition.
He frowned in frustration.
“Go on,” she said, doing it again.
“Thou art incorrigible.”
“C’mon, you can do it in modern English. You just open your mouth and sound comes out.”
Donovan eyed her then sighed. “I saw this device come in through the window. It did skite across the floor.”
“Skittered,” she corrected.
“Indeed. Needless to say, I recognized such. I shifted into my tenebrous form; a sniper round passed through mine body. Several other shots rang out in unison. The others did not suffer. Death was instant for them.” He offered her a wan smile. “Luck is with thee this night.”
“Yeah, I guess there’s something to be said for being fashionably late, huh?”
“Quite so. Meanwhile, I attacked the team that killed the eight other sect representatives." Donovan dropped the flashbang shell and waved his hand at the mercenary. A thin layer of shade peeled back from the soldier's mouth. “Who sent thee? And speak of thy orders.”
“Aris Falcon,” the man replied from within the cocoon of tangible shadow. “Command wants ten dead freaks. I know all about you people. You manipulate the rest of the world with your God damned powers. You types own the Rothschild and Rockefeller families; some of you are behind the ebb and tide of everything from religion to money to political power. If you ask me, it was people like you who allowed things like Nine-Eleven to happen, you filthy mother fu-”
Donovan replaced the strip of shade over the man's face again. “Heavens me.” He turned to Karla and tilted his head. He spoke calmly, as though thinking about his wording before speaking each line. “They're quite delusional, if not blindly vexed. I was under the assumption that the world rid itself of these puerile crusaders by the start of the industrial age.”
Karla sighed. “Puerile? Really? You can’t just say ‘dumb’ or ‘childish’ huh? You gotta speak above everyone around you?”
“I…” he eyed her for a moment. “I assure you that wasn’t my intent.”
“I’m giving you grief, babe. One day you’ll thank me for taking my time to help you get away from that anachronistic tongue. See? I can do big words too. There’s a time and a place for it. Right now, though…” She motioned with a delicately manicured hand for Donovan to allow the mercenary to speak once more. “Hi again, darling. So…Aris Falcon, huh? I knew a man named Aris once. Smart guy. So…who is this boss of yours, 'Falcon' and why did he order an attack? Furthermore, how'd he know about tonight’s meeting?”
Loupe peeled back the strip of shadow from the soldier's face.
“He's a scientist who is funded by private sectors; backed by multiple governments around the globe. He studies freaks like you on the genetic level and he's going to kill all of you.”
Karla swore under her breath.
“I said F’ing hil-laddiad.” She tucked a lock of blond behind her left ear followed by a softly spoken string of cusswords.
Donovan furrowed a brow and glanced at her again. “Such a vituperative outburst, young lady?”
She cut her sea-green gaze over at Donovan. “Who even talks like that…vituperative outburst - really?”
Donovan shook his head with a sigh and adjusted his tie once more.
She grinned then continued, “Anyway…c'mon, babe. Don't you know anything about cliché stories with 'good' facing off against 'evil,' and all that nonsense? Haven't you read books? Watched cinemas or televised programs?”
He shook his head after each question.
Karla groaned. “Haven't you listened to fictional radio stories? Anything?”
“Speak thy point, Miss Howard.”
Karla offered a dull glare. “He just told us everything we wanted to know. Either he's lying or he thinks we're going to die soon, which means he has backup. When his team doesn't report in, the so-called Calvary will come crashing through the doors with serious firepower. That's how this crap works.”
“Then we should leave now so we can warn the sects about this Falcon fellow.” Donovan adjusted the knot of his tie yet again then brought his right hand to his left forearm, standing with regal posture.
Karla watched him toy with a cufflink then she glanced back at the mercenary. “Okay mister…since you're so confident that you're going to kill us, where can I find this guy Aris Falcon?”
“Go to hell, bitch.”
She rolled her eyes. “Oh boy. This guy is a trip. Donovan was it? We should leave immediately. Forget about this loser and we'll roll out.”
“I wholeheartedly agree we should leave.”
The door at the opposite side of the table blew inwards. The wooden door skittered across its spine then slammed into the table. Karla and Donovan glanced up where the empty hinge plates swayed free in the doorframe. An obscuring miasma of fog rolled into the room. Karla narrowed her gaze. “Mist? Seriously? That's cliché, too. Who are these morons?”
“Miss Howard, I believe that is smoke from the discharge used to blast open the…”
Ten soldiers dashed into the room. Two of them held metallic cylinders with a small blue flame at the tip.
“Great, who are these asshats?”
Donovan closed his hand into a fist. “By His blood! We’re outnumbered – they have flamethrowers.” He clenched his fist tightly. Donovan’s shadow cocoon crushed the mercenary at the center of the room. “We must withdrawal!” The tar-like shade muffled the brief scream then the body dropped to the floor.
Donovan sprinted for the back hall and held both hands up. A wall of shadow came from beneath the table at the center of the room, blocking the men that poured in through the front door.
The back door, leading to the alley, flew open. The doorknob lodged itself into the wall. Five more men dashed in with silenced submachine guns. Their flash-suppressed barrels bucked with a spray of rounds.
Karla's palms illuminated with a soft carnation hue. The incoming bullets came to a midair stop in front of her aloft hand. She paused to examine the floating ammunition. “Nine millimeter? You think you’re going to stop someone like me with something like this?”
She waved her hand outward and the rounds telekinetically flew back in the direction from which they came. The bullets connected with the armored vests of the gunmen. The five attackers crashed to the floor with one clutching at his throat. Blood bubbled up between his fingers and ran down the front of his black uniform.
“Thou wouldst stay and engage them?” Donovan asked from the hallway. “We should make haste!”
“Now I'm pissed off,” she snapped in return. “Go warn whoever. I'll take care of this.”
“You’re quite the mercurial maiden, aren’t you?” Donovan turned about in the hall, facing the main room. “There are too many. Come; we can worry upon them anon. They're trained to fight our kind.” He clenched both hands, reinforcing the wall of shadow that blocked the attackers at the front entrance.
“Trained to fight me? Yeah, I've heard that before.” A roar of sound caused Karla to glance towards the front of the room. Flames punched through the wall of shadow. “Mercurial huh? You’re a trip. And I’m not going anywhere. Like I said, they’ve pissed me off.”
“Aye, thou art mercurial. Whimsical, impulsive, inconsistent…”
She rubbed her hands together, watching as the flames forced their way through the wall of shadow. Sweat beaded up on his forehead, trying to keep the wall intact. She glanced back at the black wall. “Yeah, yeah. Capricious, erratic, quicksilver. Enough with the thesaurus. I know what it means, babe. I’ve been called much worse at much higher volumes. Women are fickle – that’s nothing new, love.”
“Thou art a succubus, correct? I know not of thine weakness, but mine is flame.” He turned to the two men with the flamethrowers and tensed his arms. His knuckles turned white. Shadows rose up from beneath the men and stifled the front of the flamethrowers. He tensed his body and narrowed his gaze then ground his teeth together.
“I told you I’ve got this covered.”
“I’m not the sort of man to leave a lady’s side during such a confrontation. Retreat wouldst be in kind, but I shall not abandon thee if thy heart’s wish is to stay.” A line of tension marred his forehead.
“Well, look at you. A stout spine.” Karla looked him over. “You're struggling, shadow man?”
Donovan spoke as if under the duress of heavy weights. “’Tis not quite as easy as cutting oxygen from around a candle, Miss Howard!” Sweat trickled down the side of his face. The flames continued to melt a hole at the center of the shadow wall, forcing their way through the barrier.
Karla sighed and rolled her eyes. “We don't have time for this drama.” She waved her left hand and both flamethrowers disappeared, along with the ski masks worn by the attackers.
The cylindrical weapons reappeared jutting out of the men who once wielded them. The two men fell to the floor, twitching briefly. “What a shame, having to kill handsome men.”
Karla's body disappeared from besides Donovan Loupe.
She reappeared at the center of the remaining eight men and thrust her palm into the nearest attacker. Her strike, amplified by telekinesis, sent the man into two more, which bowled over all three.
The demoness smiled at another mercenary. With a playful wink, she reached to the right and touched a single lacquered fingernail against the barrel of his pistol. “Oh, and you're just a doll-face, sweetie. Sorry, but this will hurt.” The chambered bullet exploded from the back of his gun and pierced the gunman's body armor. He dropped to his knees, favoring his gut. Karla reached down and patted his cheek. “You're adorable, so I decided to spare your face, sweetness.”
A soft pink glow started at her chest, muted by the fabric of her blouse. Her arms, forearms and palms incandesced to match – she tensed up then grimaced. She thrust both her hands out in two directions and discharged the stored telekinetic energy outwards.
The remaining four men blasted backwards into the far left and far right walls becoming embedded within. “I don't have time for this mess. I mean…they brought flamethrowers? Really? Overkill, if you ask me.”
Donovan drew a handkerchief from the breast pocket of his blazer. “They assumed me to be the last man standing.” He pressed the folded cloth against his forehead. “They doth knew mine weakness. Had they turned this room into a structure fire, I wouldst nay escape nor would I be able to stifle said flames. I know not how they intended to deal with thee.”
Karla furrowed a single brow at him in regard to how easily he switched between archaic and modern speaking. “The flashbang,” she replied. “I can't control objects and I can’t defend myself if I can't see. My abilities of teleportation and telekinesis may be focused through my arms and hands but without my sight, it’s pretty useless.”
“Again, thou art lucky to be late because such was their opening maneuver.” Donovan adjusted his tie again. “NOW will you leave?”
“God, enough with the archaic talk. It’s annoying, Ren Fest.”
“Canst we now leave? I beseech thee.”
“You can beseech and implore all you want. Just say please; Christ.”
“I crave thy indulgence; I neither think nor speak clearly when anxious.” He looked around at the surrounding wreckage, sighed, then simply said, “Please?”
She smirked in reply then walked back through the section with the wooden table, the dead supernatural people, and into the rear room with the alley entrance.
The men who came in through the side door earlier were still slumped in front of the doorframe. “Are you boys going to fight to your deaths, too? Or can you send a message to Aris Falcon for me?” She perused her fingernails to hide the fact she was tensing her forearm. Her eyes lifted from her lacquered nails – their ski masks disappeared, showing their faces.
The man who'd taken a bullet in the throat appeared dead. The other four looked up from trying to resuscitate him. The one closest to Karla pulled a handgun and pointed it at her. She grimaced. “I'm disappointed, boys.” The succubus tensed her right hand, again causing her palm to glow briefly.
One of the bullets in the magazine shot from the handle of the weapon. It burst from the gunman's gloved hand and raced towards Karla then stopped in midair and turned about. She caught it between her thumb and forefinger then flicked it aside carelessly. The man's shout of pain came simultaneous to the round bouncing across the floor.
One of the soldiers quickly pulled his teammate's hand aside and started to wrap overtop his glove with a cloth.
The other two stood up quickly, hands outstretched and empty. “Whoa, wait, said one of them, “Just tell us your message.”
“Christ,” said the other, coming to his feet, “You…look like you're a kid.” He licked his lips apprehensively then added, “I, uh, think my sixteen year old daughter might actually be older than you.”
“I look younger than I am,” Karla said, eating up the compliment with a smile. “Now…” She tilted her head. “Tell your boss that Karla Howard is going to find him and telekinetically drive every-single-one of his teeth up into his skull.” She pressed her hands together and cracked her knuckles. The display offered a lackluster result, a mere three pops from her fingers.
The one getting his hand wrapped glared up at her from where he sat on the floor. “We don't take orders from you, witch.”
“Oh, how about that,” she sneered in reply. “Your intel sucks, too. I'm not a witch, dumbass. I'm a female demon. Get your facts straight. A succubus. I live on the excretions of sex. Did your jerkoff boss, Falcon, really send you guys in to fight people you know nothing about?” She cut her eyes over at Donovan and saw him cringe from the way she spoke. Her gaze panned back to the men on the floor.
The injured man getting his hand wrapped clenched his teeth in anger. He jumped up, used his free hand to pull another gun, and fired it.
Without warning, he disappeared along with everyone in the doorway. His bullet struck a wall at the back of the room.
“I put them on the rooftop two buildings over.” Karla picked up her designer handbag from the floor adjacent to the door and shouldered it. She turned back to Donovan with a smile. “Mister Loupe, I admire your ability to control shadows but…my dear gentleman, you were just saved by a girl.”
“Indeed I was. Know that I am grateful for it. I'm going to follow them.”
“I'll assume the shadow of one of them and stay underfoot to track his whereabouts. When I’ve learned something, I shall find you and let you know where this Aris Falcon character is located.”
She shook her head and held a hand out. “No, no, wait. Don't go. C'mon, I've seen this cheesy B-movie already. This is how it'll work: They report to the boss on a webcam or over an encrypted cellphone from a secure area. They won't meet him in person; lowlife types like this don't do that sort of thing in this day and age. Plus there're middlemen to manage the gap that Falcon will put between himself and his lackeys. Don't even waste your time. It’s easier to draw them out.”
“Just relax.” She approached Donovan and reached for his tie then adjusted it for him. “And stop playing with your Windsor. You're not coping well with this attack. Just calm down.”
He nodded and motioned for her to follow. “We need to locate this man and find out why he's attacking supernatural people.” He headed into the hallway at the far end of the room and opened a door to a bathroom. Donovan approached a sink then thrust his hands beneath it.
Karla watched the way he washed his hands, pushing his thumbs into his palms as if trying to wash off unseen caked-in grime. He reached for the soap dispenser, drenched his hands in the frothy foam liquid and lathered it over his skin.
“Did it bother you to kill that mercenary?” she asked.
His expression dimmed and his voice lowered. “It's not the first life I've taken,” he replied, adding, “I should have let him live but I couldn’t fight men coming through the door and still restrain the one adjacent to us. I made a snap decision.”
“Your wording is getting better.” Her statement went ignored. She frowned again. “Listen, it was a smart move. If you focused on holding those other guys at bay, the detainee would have got free and attacked because he would have seen that you were distracted by fighting off the flamethrowers. You made the right call.”
“Nay. I detest killing. It makes me feel…unwholesome, tarnished, and sullied on the deepest level.”
“Listen, Mister Loupe, take it from a sex demon…when you kill in self-defense, you're not 'defiling your soul'. I can ‘taste’ the difference. Self-preservation is at the core of human instinct. People will fight to preserve everything from their own life, to their reputation, to their family and heritage. People fight to preserve their beliefs, honor, and their…”
“Cease thy banter!” he snapped then frowned. “My apologies. I didn't mean to raise my voice to you, and you're certainly too much of a lady to be surrounded by all this death.”
Karla offered a brilliant smile. “Well aren't you just a sweetheart. I'm delighted anyone would think I am too much of a lady for anything.”
“Thou art; it’s apparent in the way you take pride in your appearance.”
“I'm attractive, sure, but that's a genetic trait that helps me survive. Beyond fashion and primping, there’s nothing ladylike about me. Christ, you should see me eat. It’s not very becoming. Trust me, babe, my appearance is all genetics.”
Donovan continued to scrub his hands under the water. “I am not sure I follow.”
“If I go a week without sex, oral or penetration, I become sick. If a succubus goes two weeks, she will start to age and, ultimately, die. I feed on something found in sexual secretion; gender doesn't matter, just the juice. Maybe it’s life energy, I don’t know how it works.”
“I…am not sure how the genetics of your appearance is a factor?”
“I'm a succubus and that's how we're designed. If I was ugly and I couldn't get laid…I would die. So physical beauty is a genetic trait to help me live.”
He leered at her momentarily. “Exactly how does one gain sustenance from bodily fluids?”
“I don't know the science behind the magic,” she retorted. “I just know that my kind needs it to live or we die. Yes, I eat actual food too. Look, you're obviously uncomfortable with this topic. Let's talk about getting out of here and finding a way to protect ourselves in the future, Mister Loupe.”
“Just…Donovan,” he said. “Where art thou headed this eventide?”
“I have a house in San Leandro. Where are you headed, Donovan?”
“I live in San Francisco. We do not know the extent of their intelligence files. It would be best if we did not return to our customary places of residence, nor other habitual places of dwelling tonight.”
Karla licked her lips with a devious grin. “Fine. You're right. Let's get a hotel so we can watch each other's back. We'll need to weigh our options then we'll need to contact one of the other sects and spread the word about this guy, Falcon.” She noted the way he eyed her and smiled brilliantly in return. “Come now, I won't hurt you. Hell, I might just give you the most gorgeous sleep you've ever had, though.”
“I'm not interested.”
Karla offered a playful grin. “In women or in me?”
“In thee. You look too young for my taste.”
“Yet I was born in the Stuart era. I emigrated from Wales to America in 1632.” She linked her arm into his and, with but a thought, she teleported them into the alley outside. They began walking together. “Donovan, stay near so I can protect you. Do not go to any other supernatural people tonight.”
She rested her head on his shoulder. “Because if these men are attacking multiple people from multiple sects all at the same time, you might be walking in on another attack. Just lay low until tomorrow. I've seen this sort of thing before. When the village wants to flush out every witch in town, they attack every suspect on the same night at the same time. They deputize a bunch of young, strong, trustworthy boys. They kick in ten doors at the same time and have an enormous public burning.”
“Then I surmise the hotel is our only option.”
A smile spread across her lips. “Exactly.” She eyed him. Her smile broadened. “I'm older than you, aren't I?”
“Actually, yes. I was born in 1805 to wealthy parents vacationing through Prague.”
“Georgian era, huh? Mmm, I remember those days.” Her smile changed to a sly grin and her eyes sparkled with the mirth of fond memories. “But, to be honest, some of my best times were in the Victorian era. Anyway. Go on,” she goaded.
“It is my understanding that my parents died in a house fire when I was attending Oxford. I finished my final year in Cambridge then I moved to Massachusetts in America and, with many others during the Gold Rush, came out to California when a travel caravan presented itself. Interesting. Most supernatural people age normally. It's rare to find someone ageless like myself.”
“A succubus stops showing physical signs of aging halfway through adolescence. Puberty is strange for my kind,” she explained. “I suppose I appear somewhere between fourteen and fifteen years old, albeit a little over-developed in the chest, yes? When's the last time you've experienced the comforts of a woman?”
“We've only just met,” he replied. “It seems trite to speak of such things to a woman, regardless.” He paused.
She folded her arms and arched her brows.
Donovan sighed. “Three years.”
Karla's smile broadened. “You poor dear.” She clapped her hands and rubbed them together. “Although you might be wrong about going to a habitual place. Because if these guys are good enough to track us to these meetings then they’re good enough to track you and me. So maybe we should go to a place where we have a lot of options. Just trust me, I’ve got an idea.”
“I, myself, am out of options. Due your age, I have to assume you are an expert at self preservation, so I trust you.”
“You know…I have a friend who thinks it’s damned odd that these meetings are all scheduled at the same time. He says it’s a red flag to pull every supernatural off the streets at the same time and put them into groups. You’ve got to admit, it’s pretty damn peculiar and it’s not the Esoteric Council’s standard operating procedure.”
“Let us get through this night together and then we can analyze such. I was not aware that other meetings were called throughout the city. But if such is the case, we should find the next one and warn them that our speakeasy was attacked.”
“And lead those ‘Men in Black’ to another target? I don’t care for the supernatural community or it’s governing body but I’m not about to get involved in something that could cause more drama for the council or for me. Plus, if they are attacking all the meetings in one night, then we could be walking in on another attack, like I said earlier.”
“Very well. We ride out the storm this evening and lay low until morning.”
Karla patted his back affectionately. “Now you’re talking. Hold tight, I’m going to take us across town; my way can’t be directly followed. Don’t get excited, Air Karla is perfectly safe. Now, prepare for takeoff.” They disappeared together.
Half an hour later August 29, 2023 Millbrae, California…
Karla casually inserted the keycard then pulled it back out and opened the door.
"Can you not simply teleport us inside the hotel room?" asked Donovan. He glanced back over the railing behind him and scanned the ‘L’ shaped hotel from where he stood at the far end of the second floor.
"And what if something was out of place in there?" Karla gestured him inside then followed him in and shut the door. "I'd hate for one of us to re-materialize just on the other side of that door with a chair sticking out of our knee. Oh, I can see it now…The Chronicle would claim that the Navy Yard was 'degaussing' a ship in the bay and a sailor's leg wound up half-embedded in a Millbrae hotel chair. No thank you."
Donovan eyed her suspiciously. "I'm not sure I follow the joke."
She sighed with a roll of her eyes. "The Philadelphia Experiment? The USS Eldridge? Project Rainbow?"
He shook his head then shrugged his shoulders.
Karla offered a pleasant smile. "It's okay. Everyone else was focused on the war at the time; it became pop culture after the book hit the shelves decades later."
“I… Very well.”
She locked the doorknob and the deadbolt then walked to the bathroom and crossed her fingers, adding, "I swear I had nothing to do with that Naval incident, by the way." Karla reached for the bathroom door then changed her mind and left it open. She approached the mirror, touched up her hair with her hands then removed her blouse.
Donovan looked around the hotel room and quirked a brow. "One bed?"
Karla furrowed her brows in a similar fashion with a matching smirk. "One bed." She turned back to the mirror and reached behind herself. She unclasped each hook of her bra then placed it on the sink counter and brought her hands up to gently rub and scratch her nails underneath her breasts then over the top. "Keep an eye across the way. If the 'men in black' show up knocking on the door at the far end we'll know they're trying to track us."
"You rented one room across the way on credit card and this one in cash?"
Karla smirked and shook her head. "I don’t have that kind of money. I’m friends with the boy at the front desk. I told him I’m ducking an obsessed ex-boyfriend. He rented me this room and closed my normal room out in my name in the computer." She shimmied her body out of her skirt then kicked it up and put it on the bathroom counter with her bra and blouse. "Donovan, I sleep in the nude, dear. That doesn't bother you, does it?"
"I'm not shy of women, Miss Howard."
"Please, just Karla. I'm glad you're okay with this." She slipped from her panties then gathered her clothing into her arms and walked past him. She laid out her clothes neatly on a nearby recliner then snapped her fingers. Donovan's blazer, dress shirt and dress pants appeared on an adjacent lounge chair, laid out neatly with his tie draped over the backrest. "Oh, cute! Boxer-briefs! Isn't that adorable!"
He eyed her again, moving alongside the mattress towards his clothes. "They're just underwear, Karla. And I do not sleep in a state of undress."
"But cute none-the-less," she said with a smile. She approached him then placed her palms on his chest and gave a gentle shove.
He dropped onto the mattress, propped up on one elbow. "I'm not quite sure this is going to work out. I'm not accustomed to a woman being so forward."
She gazed down at him. Her bangs slid forward, partially obscuring her left eye. With a coquettish smile, Karla placed her left hand on his chest, trailing her fingertips downwards over his washboard stomach.
"If you like the coy, demure female…well, I suppose I can play that way, too. I know a man sometimes likes to be the one to chase, to feel like he has control of the situation. But I'm starving."
"Karla, thy obstinate forwardness is overwhelming. Thy concupiscence is..."
“Shut up with renaissance festival talk. Besides, you know you like it.”
“I find this situation…” He frowned, looking up at her. “Tis awkward.”
"Oh, sweetheart, I'm not asking you to have sex with me," she told him. "If you wanted to, that would be fine. I just…want a taste." She dropped down to her knees at the edge of the bed, and moved on all fours until she was between his ankles then she placed her palms on his thighs and closed her teeth over the front of his boxers, giving a playful tug on them. She spoke in a muffled tone over the fabric. "Just…a taste. You'll let me, won't you?"
Ten minutes later…
"We think the last two are holed up together." The man handed the binoculars to a woman in her mid-twenties.
She ran her fingers back through her vibrant blue hair then took the binoculars and gazed through them. "I sense the presence of two people with abilities. What makes you think they are the two supernaturals that escaped from Grid Seven? Is this the room the demoness uses for most of her trysts?"
“Yes, Miss Monroe. We’ve never tracked her to her residence but we know she uses this room quite often. In fact, she's never rented any other room at this hotel.”
“There’s no denying what I sense – there are two people there with abilities.” Krys Monroe gazed into the binoculars again and counted the cars in the parking lot.
“We think the shadow master is with her,” said the mercenary squad leader. He adjusted the black flack by giving a tug at the left side. “We checked the jewelry shop he owns but he isn't there. Do you want us to call Volunteer 606?”
Krys looked back from the binoculars and said, "George, how long have you worked for me?”
“Four months, Miss Monroe.”
“Have you ever known me to call those whack jobs? They're the worst firefighters in the city. They let the fire get out of control then it takes half the city's emergency response teams to contain it.”
George Zukis frowned. He rubbed his forehead where his ski mask was bunched up above his brows. "Miss Monroe, that's their job. They burn down buildings to kill supernatural beings for religious reasons or something. They've done this longer than our team and they're good at it. Other than the Pentagon's rumored supernatural studies division and ghost hunter groups like TAPS, no one else even believes in the ‘paranormal.’ And that’s not to mention these supernatural beings. Asking for help from any other group would be a waste of time.”
“We don’t need help,” Krys snapped.
“Ma’am, with all due respect, these two killed three squads. The assigned hunting party, and two backup hunting packs. Volunteer 606 is the only group that knows how to handle these goddamn…freaks.”
Krys narrowed her gaze. “I can sense people with abilities. That means I’m a freak too.”
“George, you said you trust me. I told you that it goes both ways. You’re going to be my head of security when my new nightclub opens. We’re practically business partners. What’s wrong with you tonight?”
“I’ve never seen three squads killed like that. Look, I just don’t want anyone else getting killed by these…persons of interest."
Krys Monroe lowered the binoculars then handed them back to the squad leader. "Do you see how many cars are parked there, George? Aris Falcon is not paying us to kill everyone in Millbrae. If that sort of thing were traced back to him it would cause his funding to be pulled. We're discrete. We go in, we shoot them with silenced weapons, or we lure them somewhere quiet. We use a flamethrower on the jewelry store's owner, directly, then pull back and call the fire department. The real fire department. Fire is a last resort. Only if he changes and we can't attack him. If he's not in his shadow form, he can be shot to death."
Zukis opened a channel on his digital radio and said, "Shoot to kill orders. Fire is a last resort, and only if he goes non-corporeal. Move into your assigned patterns and hold your positions until further notice. We want to try and catch them sleeping. S-two, do you have thermal?"
Seconds later, the radio beeped then a voice came over the speaker. "The air conditioning unit beneath the window is putting off significant heat. I cannot tell if the Prince and Princess are in the castle. But thermal shows what looks like candles lit behind the door. I assume they’re set up on the dresser. S-one and S-three have cross coverage of the door and window. We're ready to proceed at your order."
"Copy," said George to the mercenary. He turned to Monroe and told her, “We have three snipers on the door. We'd have to stun the targets and move in quickly. We also have two more snipers covering the lot just in case the girl tries to teleport.”
“She can teleport? I thought you said she could catch bullets? On that note, how will snipers make a difference?”
“She won't hear the shots fired, nor will she see where the rounds are coming from. The three guys who survived her attack said she teleported them onto a rooftop across the street. They also said she was able to stop their bullets because she appeared ready for them. We’re using high velocity rounds and flash supressors to give our side the edge.”
"Okay, it will have to do," said Monroe. She folded her arms then announced, "I'm going to stop by the rental office and ask the boy at the desk if he's rented that room. If he refuses to answer, we'll use Primealine on the door, which will disorient whoever is inside. We'll rush in, identify them and shoot them with tranquilizer darts. If they're our targets I want you to behead them to be safe."
“With all due respect, ma’am, I know how to do this job and I know the procedures. My squad knows to behead these people and burn the remains because any one of them could be a healer-class.”
“I work with more squads than yours, George. I’m used to having to explain myself to the ones who aren’t quite as competent. Ready your team.” Krys slipped out of the passenger seat of the black GMC Yukon and walked across the street. She opened the door to the lobby and stepped inside.
The squad leader brought his radio back to his lips and said, "All units stand by."
Karla Howard dropped back onto the mattress adjacent to Donovan. She turned her head to face him and smiled at the sound of his deep breathing. Her eyes lowered then lifted, drinking in his masculine figure followed by a sigh of content.
She lifted her legs up into the air and kicked them back and forth, dazzled by the rush of the sexual high. She crossed her legs, tightly pressing her thighs together, then arched her back and curled her toes. The succubus licked her lips as if to try and consume the last vestiges of his offering.
She ran her hands up through her hair then sighed again. "I'm going to be hyper all night, now. Talk about pent up. Damn, boy." She paused, listening to his deep breathing. Karla sat up then quickly darted across the hotel room and into the bathroom. "Maybe I'll put the ole hair up and go for a jog." She licked her lips one last time then stretched. She ran her fingers through her hair, again, this time shoving it up into a sloppy bun.
The hotel shook. She stumbled and put her hands against the nearest wall, with her other on the bathroom sink. A fine layer of plaster dust fell from the stucco ceiling. She moved into the doorway of the bathroom but perked her ears at the sound of a distant 'pop!'
"Wait just a minute. That's not a goddamn earthquake," she groused then disappeared.
Karla rematerialized by the window and peered out across the way. Several black uniforms dashed into the room she typically rented as habit, across the way. "Oh those bastards." She turned back to the bed where Donovan slept. Karla snapped her fingers and the clothes that were laid out on the recliner appeared draped across his body.
The succubus teleported each article of her own clothing into her hands. She used telekinesis to stretch out the fabric then teleported each object onto her body. She adjusted the lay of the cloth. Finally, she pulled her panties up her legs, beneath the skirt then readjusted the hem with a smirk.
"I'm going to…" The blonde trailed off into a string of softly spoken curse words. She slipped her feet into her flats then blinked out of the room.
The succubus appeared on the second floor balcony, overlooking the operation then disappeared again. Having memorized the layout of the hotel room, she reappeared in the bathroom of the room breeched by the mercenary team.
She stormed out of the dark bathroom and stomped her foot into the nearest mercenary's gut. The demoness supercharged her kick with the full power of telekinesis, sending the man straight through a wall, into the adjacent suite. Somewhere in the background, she heard alarmed shouting but ignored it. From her blind spot, a gun moved into position level with her face. She heard the hammer click.
With a sneer, she closed her left hand into a fist. The gunner's weapon pointed up against the bottom side of his chin. He strained in an attempt to redirect the weapon but the overpowering force behind its movement kept the weapon beneath his jaw. At the last second, he jerked his head away just as the pistol fired. He cried out in surprise, deafened by the discharge.
Karla jerked her hand from left to right, telekinetically pistol-whipping the gunman. He spun like a top, crashing into a flat panel television mounted to the wall across from the bed. The candles she planted in advance went flying to the floor, extinguished, but splattering hot wax. The gunner flailed about, burned by the hot liquid.
She drew her foot back and kicked the bed. It lurched up and sailed into two other men by the door, pinning them to the wall. They dropped to the floor, atop the mattress, dazed. Howard opened her arms, throwing the two mercenaries in opposite directions. They each struck the facing wall and flopped unceremoniously to the carpeted floor, motionless.
With a firmly set jawline, Karla stepped outside and opened her fists while tensing her body. A thin shimmering aura surrounded the demon's form. Three high caliber rounds struck the force bubble that she created around herself. The rounds froze solid, held in place by the semi-unseen dome. She glowered at the rifle ammunition. Each round turned about then she threw her arms outwards, sending all three bullets back in the direction from which they came.
At the top of the block, a large black SUV peeled out, heading for the main road. Karla teleported across the street, then teleported again, putting herself in the backseat of the vehicle. She reached around the driver from behind and covered his face with her arms. She then used her telekinetic control to mash down the accelerator pedal. "WHY are you after me?"
Krys Monroe, in the passenger seat, pulled at the door handle but the door was held shut by an unseen force. The blue-haired woman quickly reached for her seatbelt and pulled it over herself. "You're goddamn crazy!"
Blaring horns screamed past the SUV. It shook furiously, hopped the curb and cut across the grass island. The GMC Yukon shook again, dropping down into the street. It tore across incoming traffic. "Last chance, bitch," sneered Karla. "Why are you after me?"
Krys Monroe gave one last tug on the door handle but nothing happened. “Because Aris Falcon wants to eliminate most of you freaks that have no use to him. You people are in his way.”
“Well, that guy is definitely on my shit list. If you don’t start talking, you’ll be on my list, too.”
“I only do as I’m told.” She pulled a photograph out of her chest pocket. The girl in the photo looked similar to Krys Monroe but with natural auburn hair. “Good bye, Andrea. I love you.” She relaxed her body, ready for impact.
Karla used her telekinesis to guide the SUV towards a parked Exxon tanker truck sitting in front of a fast food restaurant. “Why would he eliminate supernaturals? And why only select ones?”
“You’ve got it backwards,” Krys said in a calm tone, eyes shut. “Only select ones get to live.” A chime came from the dashboard due to the driver not wearing his seatbelt.
“Why? You better hurry lady, you’ve got less than ten seconds before we hit that fuel truck.”
"I'm ready to die. Doctor Falcon will avenge me."
“Doctor Aris Falcon?” Karla blinked. The other man named Aris, a man she knew in her past, was also a doctor. “Y’know…Aris isn’t a very common name.”
Krys opened her eyes, saw the Exxon truck directly ahead and took a deep breath.
All at once, Krys Monroe found herself sitting on a curb on the side of the road. She looked up just in time to see the SUV slam into the fuel truck. She covered her face, expecting an explosion.
The back end of the Yukon lifted then dropped to the pavement, the front end crushed downwards, curling beneath the SUV. The sound of shattering glass followed. Krys glanced up again then blinked at the large tear in the side of the Exxon truck.
Karla placed her hand on the back of Krys's neck. "Huh. That was anti-climatic. I guess it was empty. Your driver is still dead, though. He wasn't wearing his seatbelt. Tch, tch, tch. Now, tell me what I want to know or I will drop that truck right on your head."
"I'm doing what Falcon told me to do. You and all your precious little friends are going to die. Most of them should be gone by now, anyways."
The blonde snorted with laughter. "They're not my friends. Most of the supernatural society hates my guts. I'm a ‘pariah.’ Know why? Because I don't give a crap about their stupid privacy rules. I don't care about their drama, their stupid little secret handshake…any of it."
“You are a pariah. There’s a reason why your own people hate you.”
“Hey, don’t act like you know me, lady.”
“I know enough, Karla Anne Chintzy.”
“Wow, my old cognomen. Newsflash, dumbass. I changed my last name twenty-four years ago.”
“People like you stand in the way of what Aris Falcon wishes to do. So, phase one of his plan is to wipe you people out. Now kill me or get lost, cunt.”
Karla moved around the side of the blue-haired woman and gawked at her. "Are you kidding me? Are you effing kidding me? I just saved your life from being mangled to hell in a car accident, and you're calling me a cunt?" She ran her fingers back through her hair, which dropped from the sloppy bun, spilling down her shoulders. "That's hot. Say it again. But say it like you mean it this time."
"You're not going to gross me out. I'm already on the team, Miss Chintzy. Now kill me or get lost."
"First of all," Karla laughed, "What the hell is up with everyone calling me 'miss' tonight? Second of all, I just told you I changed my last name in 1999, moron. I don't know where your intelligence is coming from but it sucks donkey dicks, honey. Last but not least, I want you alive to tell your boss I can't die."
"Listen, honey. You can die. If my teams don't kill you then Falcon will do it, personally. But I sure hope he doesn't have to, because I want to be the one to cut your pretty little throat. This is personal, now. I’m notorious about holding grudges."
Silvery peals of laughter bubbled up from the succubus. With a shake of her head, she shoved a wave of blond back with her left hand. "You failed. Your boy-toys failed. Let me show you just how miserable their attempt really was." Karla glanced to the left, along the highway.
“You bore me.”
Karla pushed back the sleeves of her blouse. "Nothing up this sleeve! And nothing's up this one, either!" Suddenly two men appeared, lying in the middle of the street, their arms outstretched as if holding a rifle. A split second later, a tractor-trailer hit both men, killing the two snipers. The eighteen-wheeler swerved, hitting the brakes and came to a stop. Karla teleported both broken bodies away then lowered to one knee adjacent to Krys Monroe. "I'm wired tonight. Don't toy with me, sister."
Monroe drew her radio up and spoke into it. “Whoever is left, fall back and maintain radio silence.” She lifted the radio then slammed it on the concrete. “Good luck figuring out the frequency.”
Karla stood up and glared down at Monroe. “If you’re not going to tell me where I can find Aris, that’s fine. I don’t need you, but the offer still exists. Either you just tell me, or I’ll just have you drawn in quartered telekinetically.”
"Your threats don't scare me, and you're certainly not the most powerful supernatural my teams have killed tonight alone."
Karla held her hands up, mock trembling in faux fear. "Oh, have mercy, you've killed my peers; you're so awesome!" She placed her fingertip against Krys Monroe's forehead. "Last chance, babe. Where's Aris Falcon and I'll settle this myself." Karla leaned forward, tapping her feet in an off-time rhythm on the pavement.
Krys shifted her rump on the curb and glowered up at Karla. "He'll find you and rip your head off. Shame, too… you have a pretty face. I wonder would it would look like on a pike."
The demoness chuckled. "You're twisted. I've known some butch-ass bitches in my time but you're…"
Krys and Karla glanced back at the voice of Donovan. He appeared tired and somewhat disheveled. The succubus sighed. "Oh go back to bed, Donovan. You look exhausted after all I put you through." A grin tugged at the right corner of her mouth.
Monroe lowered her voice and mumbled, "Jezebel."
Karla flinched. “Now…there’s one I haven’t heard since…” She trailed off, trying to remember when last she heard the term. She remembered hearing it but not when, where or who said it. “Wow. I’m drawing blank.”
“It means whore.”
“I know what it means. Besides…” Karla leaned close and quietly replied, "Whores get paid, dipshit. I'm a connoisseur."
"Connoisseur, huh? Drop the 'con' part; you're just a sewer." Krys ground her teeth together. "Slut."
“Do you even hear how stupid you sound?” Monroe muttered, watching the man across the highway.
“Not half as stupid as you look, fatty.”
"You are so immature, and I'm only a hundred thirty pounds you cum dumpster."
“Your insults suck, ya’ dumb twat.”
“Oh I’m the dumb one? You have no idea who you’re going up against.”
Karla folded her arms and glanced back at Donovan. He made his way across the first of many lanes. She turned her gaze back to Monroe. “If you knew anything about the people you were hunting, you'd know that I feed on sex. Names like ‘slut, whore’ and ‘cum dumpster’ don’t bother me. And yet people under your employ thought I was a witch, which is way off the mark. Guess you are the one who has no idea who you’re going up against. Now shut up and don't embarrass yourself in front of my gentleman friend when he gets over here.”
Krys ground her molars together. "Did it hurt when you fell from the whore-tree and banged every guy on the way down?"
Karla smirked. "Whores get paid by the job, I just told you that," she murmured in a discrete tone as Donovan approached the two. Karla trailed off from her dialogue with Monroe and, with a bright smile, gestured towards her. "Lookie what I got, Donnie boy."
Donovan cut his gaze from left to right, eyeing both women. "Karla, it seems you've destroyed part of the hotel and caused a string of destruction that cuts a swath clear across the street. No doubt the police are en route."
"And! I caught the bad guy," said Howard, preening. "T'dah!"
"Go to hell," murmured Monroe. She glanced up from where she sat on the curb, grimaced at Donovan then turned back to Karla. "You're a disgusting excuse of a woman who sleeps with people she doesn't even know. It's overpowered people like you that need to be killed. Not just because you're in our way but also because you're a danger to society. Freak."
Karla kicked Krys in the hip with the side of her foot. "You're acting like a total douche in front of my new friend," she murmured to Krys. She cleared her throat then spoke aloud to Donovan, "Don't mind her. She's angry because she lost. You want to go grab some coffee? You look tired."
"I am tired. Exhausted. But this woman isn't exactly wrong. You're a danger to the public if you're going to fling people about like fodder." He glanced back at the truck driver whose jackknifed rig sat in the middle of the set of lanes closest to the group. Cars continued to drive around it in the shoulder. Donovan sighed. "What did you do to the truck?"
“He, uh, probably thinks he had a blowout and hit the brakes,” Karla replied. “That’s what happens when you hit two speed bumps at fifty miles an hour.”
Karla shrugged. “Look, Donovan, I know I'm a little out there but my methods have worked for longer than you've been alive. I get a little silly after I feed. It's akin to doing gorilla fingers and drinking a pack of Jolt Cola…or Redbull, since that's what's popular these days. You know what I mean."
Donovan sighed. "Karla, I see the good in you. I see you want to help, but your methods are on the verge of being obnoxious. You're a beautiful young lady, well…figuratively, since you're twice my age, but you're capable of so much more. You really should live up to your potential. Flinging vehicles into one another, causing tractor-trailers to jackknife, and leaving the bodies of mercenaries in your wake… Karla, that is not helping things. You're bringing a spotlight to San Francisco. I need to lie low for a while. I'll speak to the other sects. You should keep your head down as well."
Monroe scoffed. “Other sects.” Her words went ignored.
Karla replied with a mock pout. "Fine, fine. Do me a favor and do your little trick and keep an eye on our friend here, please?"
His eyes narrowed slightly. "I shall. But the police will be here at any moment. We shouldn't be here for questioning."
"Oh fine. Spoil-sport." Karla waved her hand. The trio disappeared. All three of them reappeared on the roof of a nearby Jack In The Box, overlooking the SUV and Exxon truck. Karla put her fists on her hips. "I was kinda' surprised the Valdez didn't blow up, down there in the parking lot." She turned back to Krys and Donovan. "Okay, I want you," she said to Monroe, "To tell that dude, Aris Falcon, that he's scorned the wrong chick. He tried to kill me twice now. Obviously we’re searching for one another. If I find him first he's going to die." She cut her eyes to Donovan. "Thanks for the snack earlier. Go get a good night's sleep. Sorry all the commotion woke you up."
Monroe got to her feet and reached for her Glock. "You wait, whore. If I go free now, I'll personally come looking for you."
Karla groaned, annoyed. She teleported the handgun into her own hand, pointed it at Monroe, and then pulled the trigger. It bucked in her palm. The bullet winged Krys' lower thigh, inches above her knee.
Krys went to the rooftop with a cry of pain. Karla threw the weapon off the side of the roof then leaned over Monroe, watching the twenty-something woman hold her leg in pain. “Tis only a flesh wound!” The succubus grinned. “If I was a better shot, you’d never walk again. How about you stay out of the field next time a job comes along, huh? Next time, you may not be so lucky.”
Donovan balled his hands into fists. "Karla, cowboy justice is going to bring down the wrath of the Chief Justiciar. You can't go flaunting your abilities with every breath because it attracts attention!" He shook his head and said, "Stay out of the tabloids, please. I don't know how I haven't read about you up to this point but please keep your head down."
"Oh stop grousing. I'm having fun for a change," the succubus replied with a brilliant smile. She turned back to Krys and said, "Donovan said to let you go. Today is your lucky day. Or not." The blonde demoness walked to the edge of the rooftop and smiled. Karla's palm glowed. Krys Monroe disappeared. "Serves her right."
Loupe sighed once more in frustration. "What did you do with her?"
"I teleported her into our room with one of the guns from the parking lot. She wounded. She's not going anywhere without leaving a trail of blood. The cops will find her and arrest her for questioning, then process her. You can track her if you want. Thanks again for earlier. I appreciate your understanding. Sorry about the mess. I know you take this whole 'secret society' crap seriously and all. Where can I find you if I gather any information about this Aris Falcon character?"
“I am not quite convinced you and I would benefit from such a partnership. Perhaps it would be best if I speak to the local sect leaders. A coterie of our ilk wouldst…”
“It’s just…you display no fealty to the Esoteric Council, or their laws prohibiting exposure of our abilities.”
“Yeah? Where are they? Shouldn’t they be here to stop this crap? These people are mowing down supernaturals. She said they’re targeting our kind. So where is the sect at? Why aren’t they stopping this? Hell, maybe they’re as dead as the other eight sobs back in that warehouse – did you ever think of that? C’mon, we’re a team, now. Where can I find you if we need to exchange information, hmm?”
He offered a sigh of defeat. “I doubt they would be toppled in a single night.”
Karla waved her hand in a semi-circle. Donovan adjusted his tie in frustration. “I own a jewelry shop.” He reached into his pocket and withdrew a business card.
“I noticed you switch between modern and archaic speak. And I’m not talking about how people spoke in the 19th century. Some of the things you say make you sound like you predate the 1800’s by at least two hundred years. I’d know. So, what’s the deal? Can you speak modern or not?”
Donovan eyed her. “I do try at times. I was raised by my father, who spoke in such a way during my youth. I picked up on it. He thought it would be best to try and adapt and so he sent me off to receive a proper education. And then he and my mother were killed in an attack by a religious society who thinks anyone with abilities is an abomination. At first I thought these attackers may have been part of that group, but now I see this new outfit has a different method for fighting our kind. They’re more militaristic.”
“Listen to you, babe. You’re doing good with speaking in a modern fashion.”
“I am trying.”
“Good. I’m going to need you to work on it until it’s second nature. You’re going to attract attention.” She grinned, adding, “I’ll stop flinging bad guys around and slamming cars into each other if you can talk normal for me.”
“It comes out when I do not think upon it. When frustrated, when anxious.”
“Better, Donnie boy. You’ve almost got it.”
“I…am sorry. It…it will not happen again.”
“Don’t make promises you can’t keep just yet, sweetums. Just work on it. You’ll get better. See you soon.”
“No, trust me. I will see you later. Gut feeling. Woman’s intuition. I might be fickle, but I trust my gut. Later, babe.”
"See thee anon. Stay out of trouble.”
She glared at him then folded her arms. "Nobody says ‘anon’ anymore. This is what I’m talking about. Anyways, we’ll see about the trouble bit." She lifted her hand and captured an errant lock of platinum then drew it back. A smile crossed her lips. "Donovan, if you find out where this Falcon character is operating out of…let me know. And do your best to reply in modern lexicon, huh?"
"We'll be in touch," he replied.
Donovan approached an air conditioning unit set into the roof and moved around to the west side of it then dropped into the shadow cast by a light on the east side of the building.
With a sigh, she stretched then licked her lips. The strawberry-flavored lip-gloss had long-since disappeared. She withdrew a small tube from her handbag and reapplied it to her lips. "Hmm, I could go home and post a bunch of funny pictures to my Facebook page, or I could go out and find some Cali-boys looking to party. Decisions…"
Karla glanced at the wrap-around cellphone on her left wrist. "The night is still young and the bars are still packed." The succubus held her hand out to the left; her palm incandesced with a light carnation glow. An expensive handbag appeared and she closed her fingers over the handle then shouldered the strap. "Ah, right where I left it. Good." Karla clapped her hands together, rubbed them furiously, and then disappeared.
14 June 2013 at 20:27:27 MDT
(obviously, I'll fill in the links as I get'em posted, written, etc)
Chapter 1, Act1, Book1 of an enormous series about supernatural beings in the modern world. Some cussing, some adult situations and mild sexual themes. Act 1 is three books. Act 2 is equally as large. Act 3 is growing day by day. And now I'm working on a Prequel set in 1999.
This book starts it all off, set in 2023. This is for Sci-Fa lovers. Most chapters will have a picture that depicts part of the scene. However the one I selected for the first chapter is of Rufus, and he won't be introduced until Chapter 8. But he makes for a cool cover piece. Enjoy! Feedback is wonderful. Be as nice or harsh as you like; I'm a bigboy and I can handle whatever you dish out. (I love haters! haha)
Because this is the first chapter of the story, I will tag EVERYTHING that will happen IN the story, so you know what to expect with the rest of the series.