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Generated: Aug 10, 2019 9:50 PM
Post last updated: Mar 13, 2019 2:42 AM
tough guy talk
spike makes a wish and everyone ends up in 1860s london
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It is not actually true that Spike has never been so angry in his life. Spike has lived a pretty long time, and he's spent a whole lot of it angry. Still, by any objective measurement, he's really pretty furious. He is at this point fantasizing about killing the slayer and her bodyguard very, very slowly.

He's mad enough to talk about it, too, the next time the government bastards send someone in. It's a dainty little lady in uniform, who looks very sympathetically at his injuries and asks him about how he's feeling. He screams and curses at her for a bit, but eventually he's able to talk himself down to what merely very furious conversation.

"What is it you wish would happen?" asks the girl, after he doesn't know how long of this. If he were more in top of things he would probably realize that this is a slightly weird way to phrase the question, but he isn't, so he doesn't.

"What do I wish? I wish I'd run into Karen and her pretty boy bodyguard back in England, back when Dru was at her best. See how he likes being cut into ribbons, right after I torture his slayer to death in front of him."

"Done," says the girl, who he now realizes is a demon, and suddenly his situation is looking very different.

Permalink Eye

 

Karen wasn't super expecting her night to get even weirder, given that it's already escalated from 'parent teacher night' to 'parent teacher night that I have to attend' to 'single combat with a super vampire' to 'getting her ass handed to her by a super vampire' to 'researching an additional super vampire who was driven to insanity and who gets visions of the future' to 'realizing that Alex was deeply and seriously afraid for her life tonight'. But that was an error, see, because things are always going to get weirder, forever and always. Case in point, she and Alex are now standing in an alley looking out at a bunch of people who look like they just stepped out of a Sherlock Holmes adventure.

Because I guess that wasn't anywhere close to enough excitement for one night, she sends, without thinking too hard about the fact that Alex is wearing different clothes. It's not like this is actually the weirdest thing going on right now.

Permalink Eye

He's been wandering this continent. It has people, but not many of them; they're easy to avoid, if you try, and you don't even have to try very hard. He hasn't run into one in centuries. They haven't changed, Pityo says. They still die all the time.

 

Suddenly he is somewhere else. 

 

It's ugly, because it's a human city. It smells, because it's a human city. The air is going to kill them all - maybe not, something else will get them first, but he for one can feel it trying to settle in his lungs. They've lit absolutely everything on fire, or something. This fucking species.

 

He'll just leave, then.

 

 

Permalink Eye

....she'll follow?

Hey! Hey, what's the plan here?

Permalink Eye

...nearby human contemplating how badly her week was going was thinking at him, then. 

He turns around to look at her.

That's not how he thought humans looked but whatever. 

What do you want?

Permalink Eye

I - mostly want to figure out why we're suddenly on the set of a movie adaptation of Oliver Twist, that seems like a bad thing?

Permalink Eye

Oh, did you randomly appear here too? I agree it's hideous, I'm leaving, I guess I can't stop you from following me.

He turns back around and looks up at the stars. (They're unfamiliar). 

Actually I could. Won't, though.

Permalink Eye

 

 

Do you not remember who I am?

Permalink Eye

I have never met you. He walks faster.

Permalink Eye

Well that's just great. 

She is not actually going to have any trouble keeping up with him, though some people are maybe gonna start looking at them funny. 

Listen, uh - my name's Karen Teller, and I'm the vampire slayer, and uh - you're Tyelcormo and you're Quendi and you can't read English and you have a brother who looks like this - image of Michael - and, uh, I don't actually super know how to convince you that we've met before but I really really think we should be sticking together, given all of the - everything.

Also she's pretty scared and she has no idea what's happening and she's all bruised up right now and she's really trying pretty hard not to just, like, panic.

Permalink Eye

Yeah, being a human would really suck, 'cause of how they live places like this and die constantly. He's focused on getting out of the city. What's a vampire slayer? What's English? 

Permalink Eye

Teenage girl with a magical destiny to - oh man, do you not know English, either? You must be - OK, I guess if we're in the - eighteenth or nineteenth century, I can't tell for sure, maybe you didn't know English at this point in your life - it's the language I speak and the language the people around us are speaking. I guess I can translate for you when we need to talk to people. Um, right, but the vampire slayer is a teenage girl with supernaturally gifted strength and speed and combat prowess who, uh, fights vampires and other evil stuff, and it's really dangerous so mostly they all die really fast, but I was kind of hoping that I'd make it at least a few years because you were - kind of helping me not die and stuff.

Permalink Eye

Okay. Well, I don't really do that these days.

Permalink Eye

OK, well - OK. 

She's crying, because she's kind of out of ability to cope with this particular night, but she's crying in that really lowkey way where a bunch of tears stream down her face and nothing else happens, at least as long as she doesn't have to use her voice. This is better than most other ways that this could be shaking out.

I still think we should stick together. Whatever brought us here is probably - we could still be in serious danger, it's not a good idea to be going off alone. Also you apparently don't speak English.

Permalink Eye

I'm not going to interact with the humans. I can barely even walk through this place. I'm going out to where they haven't fucked anything up yet and there's air. Already said I wouldn't stop you following.

Permalink Eye

Fine.

She's not really sure if she's gonna be able to live, out wherever it is that they're going, or whether she'd even be able to live here - she has no idea what people are willing to hire Korean women to do in - London, this seems like it's maybe London, from the accents and the stench. But she doesn't have a whole lot of better options and isn't confident that she can find Alex again if she doesn't follow, so she cradles her worse injuries and wipes her tears on the back of her sleeve and keeps following. 

 

Where were you before?

Permalink Eye

Lovely mountain range without any humans. He sends it. It's not familiar; it is pretty.

Permalink Eye

S'nice. Can't have been anywhere around here, I think we're in London. Wouldn't be shocked by a weird part of New York, I guess. No mountains, though.

Permalink Eye

I'll find them eventually. The world's round these days.

Permalink Eye

Isn't it usually?

Permalink Eye

No.

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- I mean I feel like there was that whole thing with Columbus sailing the ocean blue, going from Europe to the new world and stuff? Pretty sure it's been round for - well, I mean, I kinda think it's been round forever, but even if it hasn't, it's not like this happened yesterday.

Permalink Eye

I haven't really been keeping track but I think it was a lot of human lives ago.

Permalink Eye

This Alex is way less comforting to have around than 1997 Alex.

 

I guess you did say you didn't like humans.

Permalink Eye

I sure did.

Permalink Eye

 

Well, fine. S'not important anyway. 

It is devastatingly important. But she's not gonna go off on her own - that would not be trying her very best to stay alive - and she's not gonna let Alex get killed by whatever's targeting them, either. So that's that.

She follows him out of the city. It's a big city, but eventually they do hit something that starts to look a little more like countryside.

Permalink Eye

He relaxes noticeably once they're clear of the city. He still doesn't talk to her. 

Permalink Eye

 

We gonna stop, like, before we hit Scotland?

Permalink Eye

I dunno where Scotland is but if stopping was the plan you picked the wrong person to follow around. 

Permalink Eye

She is so tired. She's already been beaten up and already stayed up at least twenty-four hours by now. She's not sure that ignoring this is a viable plan, but complaining about it doesn't seem super viable either, so she guesses that that's what she's doing for now.

 

You realize that you're on an island, right?

Permalink Eye

Why d'you think that?

Permalink Eye

'Cause we're in England, judging from the accents and the bits of conversation I caught back in town, and England is an island. I'm not sure exactly how big it is, but at some point you're gonna hit water.

Permalink Eye

He comes to a halt. Why am I invested in your survival, exactly?

Permalink Eye

 

'Cause - 'cause completely ignoring the judgement of your future self, who has for some reason spent the last year training me how to do stuff - I think that we're still in danger from whatever brought us here, and I think I have a slightly better idea what's going on than you do, and if I hadn't literally ten hours ago been almost killed then I'd be able to watch your back if anything attacked you, which it probably will, given past experience, and you don't speak English and I think it's pretty hard to gain passage on a boat to anywhere that isn't an island if you don't speak the language. And - probably I'll think of other things later but it's hard right now because of - literally everything about this situation.

Permalink Eye

What do you think brought us here?

Permalink Eye

I - don't know, exactly, but my gut says it's probably related to the being beaten up ten hours ago. That was by a vampire who - wow, I'm stupid, a vampire who was turned in the late 1800s in England, and whose partner was turned in 1860, also in England, which is I think about when and where we are. I'd have to grab a newspaper to be sure. I don't think it's a coincidence, though.

Permalink Eye

 

All right, tell me about vampires.

Permalink Eye

She takes a deep breath. Doesn't cry.

Vampires are humans who have been killed and possessed by demons. They drink human or animal blood, though usually they go for humans because it's tastier and they're almost universally evil. They can be killed by beheading them, staking them through the heart with a piece of wood, exposing them to sunlight or fire, or by submerging them in holy water. They are otherwise immortal. They can't enter human residences without an invitation; Quendi don't count. They are immune to mind reading. I've killed ninety-seven and have captured - I think six of them, now.

Permalink Eye

And I've never heard of them because -

Permalink Eye

 

Well, you don't pay attention to humans, so.

Permalink Eye

- yeah, all right.

 

I'll kill things for you, if they're really out there. I just - don't want you getting attached.

Permalink Eye

 

Kind of late for that. You're sort of the only person I've ever met who wasn't just poofed out of existence. Other than maybe this one dog, I guess. But I can - it's whatever. You don't owe me anything just 'cause your future self made decisions.

Permalink Eye

Haven't got any idea why, is the thing. It's not like I was thinking, you know, if only there were magic demon-fighting girls, then I'd have everything I wanted.

Permalink Eye

Well. I needed help killing stuff and not getting killed, and you're really good at it. It worked out pretty well. You - you liked it, I think, teaching me to kill stuff and teaching other kids how not to get killed during your day job. You were a gym teacher, you taught self-defense. You were really really good at it.

Permalink Eye

Well, yeah. He starts walking again, but towards the nearest trees instead of straight away from the city. That doesn't - that doesn't really explain why.

Permalink Eye

Oh, thank God. She follows.

I dunno. 

 

We were talking about why we did anything we did, once, and you said - I don't remember exactly. You said you tried ignoring all of the world's problems for a long time, and it sucked, and it was better to do something. 

Permalink Eye

We tried fixing all the world's problems for a long time and that sucked, too. 

He pulls out a knife and starts cutting down a sapling, singing to himself in Quenya.

Permalink Eye

I dunno, then. Maybe you got bored.

She pokes at herself and lifts her shirt up some and tries to reassess the overall level of damage she's dealing with, given that there are apparently not going to be any beds or days off in her near future. 

Walking didn't help, but I think I should still patch up in a day or two, as long as I get to sleep a normal amount for once.

Permalink Eye

You can sleep. What hit you?

Permalink Eye

Vampire. Really strong one. A bunch of them attacked us both when we were in different locations. You took out a bunch of yours, but I got locked in a room with a dozen of them and the leader challenged me to single combat. Didn't go so great. Went worse for him than for me, though, some other people ended up taking him out and getting him to a government facility. I think you - I dunno. You left to question him and then you came back and told me not to die.

Permalink Eye

He's whittling this tree into a longbow. You heal faster than most humans?

Permalink Eye

Yeah. Comes with the being magical and superpowered. More durable, too, but don't count on it too much, I can still die. Most of us die in the first year.

Permalink Eye

I am absolutely expecting you to die, don't worry.

Permalink Eye

Cool, cool. I did tell you I'd try my very best not to, like, six hours ago, though, so I'm gonna go ahead and try not to make it easy for anyone.

Permalink Eye

Sure.

Permalink Eye

She sits down with her back to a tree. Also to him. She's just about out of emotional processing power, and this tree doesn't seem super qualified to protect her from situations that are going to require more of it, but it's about the only other thing she has right now. She makes sure her waterfalls are up.

She thinks she might miss Alex more than she has ever missed anyone in her entire life right now. She also misses Azalea. She cuts herself off there, because she can't actually afford to have more of a breakdown about, like, the mailman or someone. But she thinks about Alex - thinks about how he'd tell her that this was utter and complete bullshit, and he's sorry she has to deal with it and he's sorry he can't protect her from it, and she's handling it - passably, at least, probably. Or if he wouldn't tell her this stuff, then he would probably still be pretty supportive of her thinking he would, for the sake of clinging to the pieces of her fraying sanity, because she's had a really really really terrible night, and everyone she knows is sort of effectively dead right now, except that they're worse than dead, because she's probably going to end up altering the timeline enough that a bunch of them won't be able to come into existence, which means they're not in heaven and that if she doesn't reverse this whole thing then she can't ever see them again, not ever.

She wipes her tears away with the back of her hand. She bites her hand, not because this seems super likely to help, but because her brain produces the thought that she should try this. It does help, a little bit. Makes her hand hurt more and her heart hurt a little bit less. She doesn't bite hard enough to break the skin, though, so it can only help a little bit. After that she prays, asking for strength and guidance and wisdom. She tries to scoop all of the awful out of herself and offer it up to God, because at least He's probably big enough to handle it.

 

Can you stand watch for like eight hours? And wake me up if you decide to stop doing that before I wake up?

Permalink Eye

Do I fuck around that much even in the future when I like you?

Permalink Eye

No.

I don't want to make assumptions.

Permalink Eye

Get some sleep. I can look after you until you die and kill attacking demons, it's not that big of a deal.

Permalink Eye

OK. Thank you.

- uh, you don't have to make me a bow when you're done with that one, but I'll be more useful if you do. Just. In the interest of sharing information.

 

 

Permalink Eye

I don't actually know how to make one with a draw weight humans can handle.

Permalink Eye

I'm a lot stronger than I look. You might wanna scale it down a little, since I'm shorter than you, but I'm not actually weaker.

Permalink Eye

Okay.

Permalink Eye

OK. Thanks.

 

And she lies down in the grass and makes a pillow out of one arm and tries very hard to get some rest. 

No one comes by in the next nine hours or so. At some point the sun comes up.

Permalink Eye

He has two bows with no string, which he'll have to kill an animal for, and some spears to make that go faster. He's singing to himself and sharpening his knife.

Permalink Eye

Eventually Karen wakes up and stares off into space for a bit, remembering where she is and marshaling her emotional resources until she can engage with any aspect of her current situation at all.

 

OK. I think I should obtain a newspaper somehow, assuming you have not been paying super close attention to the passage of the Gregorian calendar; I wanna know what year it is. I think I should figure out how to make money, since I am not actually confident that I can survive out in the middle of nowhere forever. I guess as a subset of that I might have to figure out what I can do in this time period as a - maybe I can pass for male in this time period without getting in trouble, I don't know. No idea what East Asians are and are not allowed to do, other than that nobody seemed to be objecting to my existence. I think I should - start brainstorming anything in the direction of going home, assuming there even exists a home to go back to now. Should simultaneously work on figuring out why we were dragged here. I will at some point need to eat something.

Permalink Eye

I can catch us something to eat. Surviving away from society's not that hard, really, and if we steer clear of humans it won't matter what they'd let you do. I guess it might make it harder to identify how you were dragged here.

Permalink Eye

Yeah, if nothing else I'm gonna need to tap into the network of people who know about mystical stuff, I'm not gonna get anywhere on that front on my own. Plus - I mean if I am stuck here, then I figure I have some kind of duty to protect people from whatever nasty stuff is hiding in London, and the nasties that go around causing problems mostly go where the people are.

Permalink Eye

I can't live in that city. 

Permalink Eye

...yeah.

We should have a meeting place or something, so I can find you again when I've figured some stuff out. I - may or may not be able to find a random bunch of trees again. Leaning towards not. But I guess as long as I'm within forty miles or so I can get you over osanwë, maybe that's enough?

Permalink Eye

I dunno what a mile is but if you're in the city I won't be able to hear you from here.

Permalink Eye

...you think? OK, well - maybe if you were closer to a road or something. I could probably follow a road.

Permalink Eye

Why don't you at least wait until you've recovered to go back into the city. Or, if you want to help people, some of them live in little villages that aren't anywhere near as bad as the cities.

Permalink Eye

Honestly I mostly really want to know what year it is. I can't make good predictions about what anything is gonna be like until I have things narrowed down to less than two entire centuries.

- I guess there's always the 'risk looking like a crazy person' option where you find some people and go up and ask them, though.

Permalink Eye

If you tell me what a newspaper looks like I can get closer and find someone holding one.

Permalink Eye

Like this. Image.

Permalink Eye

All right. You wanna do that today or wait until you're all better?

Permalink Eye

 

Kind of want to do it now, but it's probably smarter to wait a day. Not like I could immediately do much with the information.

Permalink Eye

Okay. 

Permalink Eye

She flops back onto the grass.

 

I guess I should think about whether to go to the Watcher's Council at some point. They're supposed to be based in London, we could probably find them if we wanted to.

Permalink Eye

Who's that?

Permalink Eye

The people who usually train and deploy slayers. We decided not to go to them - us in the future, I mean - because they have this habit of murdering them when they turn eighteen. For obvious reasons I am sort of hesitant to go to them, but I am a slayer, and they do know a lot about mystical things, and it's possibly the fastest way to figure out what resources there are in this time period. Or it might get me killed.

Permalink Eye

Wait a sec, you're not eighteen? What point in the human life is eighteen?

Permalink Eye

Approximately the beginning of adulthood, or considered to be so in my century. I'm sixteen. Given the time period I don't think most other people'll care. It's not like they have child labor laws anyway.

Permalink Eye

Wow.

Permalink Eye

I am trying my best here.

Permalink Eye

I'm not mad at you, kid. I'm kind of unimpressed that in the future I got you - tangled up in all of this - but I assume someone had a reason to tell me to do that.

Permalink Eye

Oh, you didn't. Slayers just get magically activated as teenagers. I - sort of got lost in the shuffle and nobody came by to train me, but I figured out the slayer thing on my own anyway, and - I told your brother about the fact that I was fighting vampires to save people, and he said I should have someone to keep stuff from killing me and to teach me how to do the superheroics, like, at all safely, and you showed up like a week later, and - I'd be doing this stuff either way, but it's better like this, with someone else to keep me from - I think I'd be dead a couple times over if not for you. So it's better. For me, anyway. Plus, even if I hadn't gotten myself killed in action without you, the council found out about me about a month ago, and - I sort of prefer the combat instructor who isn't planning to kill me in two years.

Permalink Eye

How'd you run into my brother?

Permalink Eye

He's a Catholic priest. I, being Catholic, occasionally interact with priests. 'Specially when I have to talk about really weird monster stuff with someone who can't turn around and send me to a mental institution for it.

Permalink Eye

Kiddo, you need to give more context when you say things. What's a Catholic, what's a priest, what's a mental institution...

Permalink Eye

Sorry, right. Uh, Catholicism is a religion, the largest branch of Christianity - the, um, the religion that goes with those buildings that have steeples with crosses at the top. - oh, that's another thing about vampires, they get burned by crosses if they come into contact with them. Priests are religious - Catholic religious workers, I guess, they give sermons and conduct services and baptize babies and marry people and, relevantly, hear confessions, which is this thing where you say everything really bad you've done and ask for forgiveness, and the priest absolves you and gives you advice and stuff on how to be better. They're not allowed to tell anyone about anything they hear in confession, so it's - safer, than some things, when you really need to ask for advice and really need to not be punished for doing that.

Mental institutions are places where people end up if they have mental problems that mean that they can't take care of themselves or are a danger to themselves or others. They're - not the worst place ever, but they're not good places, I hear nobody takes you seriously in them or gives you stuff you want, and if you're involuntarily committed then you're not allowed to leave. I think in this time period they're probably a lot worse than they are in mine, I know they used to chain people up and beat them and lock them in unsanitary cells and stuff. Strong preference not to end up in one.

Permalink Eye

Great. Okay. That's not what Macalaurë is doing right now. I don't know when he starts.

Permalink Eye

Well. - oh, wait, I do know that, he graduated from seminary in 1975. Uh, you learned about vampires in the seventies, too, maybe those were related.

Permalink Eye

Probably. Vampires sound more interesting than most of the other problems we knew humans had.

Permalink Eye

That's - a word for them, yeah.what exactly are you guys doing at this point? Other than hanging out in the mountains. Unless that's just the only thing you guys have been doing.

Permalink Eye

Pretty much just that. Can't live around humans.

Permalink Eye

How come?

Permalink Eye

Their cities are too ugly and loud and smell terrible and there's something in the air from all the coal they're burning - gets into your lungs - I assume it does that to you all, too, but maybe you die of something else before it kills you.

Permalink Eye

No, no, people died of that too. And of lots of other things. Maybe I won't end up getting murdered by vampires at all. You seem like you do OK in my time period, but I guess in my time period we have, uh, sanitation and stuff.

Permalink Eye

Oh, if humans eventually get better and are possible to live around that'd explain why we end up actually doing things.

Permalink Eye

Yeah. We do more OK when we're not struggling to live in our own filth, I guess. - I really should figure out if people in this century know about handwashing, as long as I'm stepping on butterflies anyway. I should think about whether I have any other brilliant future advances to pass along to people, but germ theory is the easy one.

Permalink Eye

And that is....

Permalink Eye

Oh, um, for a long time people were really unclear on how infectious diseases were transmitted? But it's because there are these little tiny alive things that are too small to see, and they're in water and food and lots of other things, and if you eat the wrong ones you end up getting sick. The real magic bullet on that front is vaccination - you can become immune to infectious diseases that are caused by viruses if you're exposed to dead ones, so that your body figures out how to recognize and fight them before it has to deal with the real thing. But the other important thing is sanitation - if people aren't exposed to rotting matter, and if they wash their hands with soap and water before they eat and after they go to the bathroom and after they handle dirty stuff, and if they boil water before drinking it or treat it with chemicals that kill the little alive things, that brings sickness rates way down.

Permalink Eye

Huh. Yeah, that seems important for people to know.

Permalink Eye

Luckily, I am sixteen-year-old Korean girl with an American accent and no legal identity or provable education. So, you know, like, pretty much the person who the existing medical establishment is least likely to take at all seriously under any circumstances.

Permalink Eye

Well then, fuck 'em, they can keep dying if they'd rather.

Permalink Eye

- nah. I'll think of something, if I'm stuck here. Maybe I should think of it anyway, I could probably do more good here than at home. I dunno if I'm a good enough person to not even try to go back, and if major events are locked in place somehow then it might be useless anyway, but - I should think about it.

Permalink Eye

I mean, if you wanna. But they're all going to die pretty soon no matter what you teach them.

Permalink Eye

 

I think it's actually way better when a huge percentage of babies don't die in the first couple years of life. And when one in six women don't die in childbirth. And when people don't have to go around being afraid that any random thing might kill them. It's - you can't fix everything. But you gotta fix the pieces you can reach, or nothing ever gets any better at all.

Permalink Eye

I guess you've seen what the cities are like once they learn some more stuff.

Permalink Eye

They're all right. I mean, they have supernaturally strong evil murderers stalking the streets attempting to prey on the innocent, but they're - they're better.

Permalink Eye

Well, that's something.

Permalink Eye

Yeah.

 

I'd miss everyone, though. If I could go back and I didn't. Also the having equal rights and vaccines and internet and stuff, but mostly the people.

Permalink Eye

Well, Macalaure's around somewhere though I will have to - bizarrely bitter laughter - learn how to make a oceanworthy boat.

Permalink Eye

It'd probably be faster to earn some money and buy passage on an existing one, though the stench on one might be pretty bad. My dog's around somewhere in the world, too, but I have basically no idea where. ...I guess Zeke is, too, though I again have no idea where and would probably be morally obligated to kill him if I found him.

Permalink Eye

And Zeke is....

Permalink Eye

Vampire. Weirdly chill one, but not weirdly chill enough to not be murderous by default. He, uh, found me after I was activated and gave me a crash course in vampire lore and promised not to kill anyone else in exchange for me not killing him. He's a really good friend, now, a lot better than you'd think he would be. Another person I would probably have died without, probably before I ever met you.

Permalink Eye

Humans can say 'probably would have died without' about all of their friends and half their acquaintances, probably.

He puts his knife away. Okay. Are you up for going with me while I get dinner or would you rather stay here?

Permalink Eye

Yeah, I can stick with you. I don't actually know how to hunt or anything right now, but I assume you have that covered.

Permalink Eye

It's easier than killing demons. Or it will be once we have the bows. With spears I guess it's a bit harder. 

Permalink Eye

I dunno, demons mostly attack you and animals mostly run away. But you're the expert.

Permalink Eye

Well, see, you just follow them when they run away.

Permalink Eye

'S probably easier not to lose track of them if you can read their minds. And if you have Quendi senses.

Permalink Eye

I guess. Humans do successfully hunt, though.

He finds some deer and starts jogging.

Permalink Eye

She follows. She's not really that badly hurt, under all the bruising - she's sore, but she doesn't think she's doing any more damage to herself. She watches him. She fully intends to learn, whether he intends to teach her anything or not.

Permalink Eye

There really, actually, isn't that much to it. He follows the deer; they sprint off, but rarely out of sight; they're never hard to find again. They're faster sprinters than he is but much slower over any kind of distance. Eventually he catches up with one and slits its throat with his knife. 

Humans can eat meat if it's cooked, right?

Permalink Eye

Yeah. Cooking it kills the parasites and stuff.

Permalink Eye

He skins the deer, and shows her which tendons make good bowstrings and how to extract them, and does that, and then sings a fire into being and cooks them some dinner. I mostly eat plants, or birds, on my own, because this is going to be a bit too much for us.

Permalink Eye

She pays attention. It makes her, like, twenty percent less horrifically miserable about how she's never gonna see her Alex again.

Yeah. Birds are fine. Lots of plants are, too. And I can probably find... something edible in town, once I have money.

Permalink Eye

Are there any other towns? Since we might have been brought to this one by things that want to kill us?

Permalink Eye

Sure. I don't have a handy high-resolution map of the British Isles in my head - Scotland's to the north of us and Wales is to the west of us, Ireland's further to the west across some water, America's way further west across a lot more water, France is to the south across the channel, that's about all I know for directions - but yeah, there are towns. London's the biggest one, though, by a lot, and it's the first place I'd look for information on the mystical. Maybe Oxford or Cambridge after that, for my next very rough guesses, I know they at least have extensive libraries there. Council's in London, though, and - even if I don't fess up to being a slayer, there might be other ways to work with them - they're at least maybe less hostile to the idea that Asians might ever know anything than the average person around here - and they might be the only people around who have the info I need.

Permalink Eye

Ugh. Okay. And you can't invite them to meet you somewhere else?

Permalink Eye

- I mean I can try, but it's not like I have their telephone number. And I'm sort of still a sixteen year old Korean girl here, trying to get the attention of notoriously stuck-up English academic types. - I guess you probably don't know about England. England is currently lowkey trying to take over the entire known world. They may be gaining or losing territory right now, I'm not sure, depends on the century. - my point is that, uh, I think the council knows enough about international mystical nonsense to maybe think it's worth talking to me, but I don't know that they want to go out of their way for it. Also not really sure I want to call that much attention to myself, given the propensity for murder, I might just - do whatever the equivalent is of getting hired as a janitor and striking up some casual conversations and paging through their library.

Permalink Eye

Korean's the reason you look weird?

Permalink Eye

I don't look weird! I look Korean. My ancestors are from a different part of the world way to the east of here, and travel's not good yet so there aren't very many people from that area in this area. There're more Asians than there are white people, though, if you count everybody in the whole world. I personally am from America, though, which is way to the west of here.

Permalink Eye

Didn't mean it in a bad way. I obviously think you're pretty if we meet once I've had time to get used to humans. 

He traces a map in the dirt with Quenya labels, frowning at it.

Permalink Eye

 

- wait, what?

Permalink Eye

Hmmm?

Oxford, Cambridge, London, Korea, Americas. This is a very limited map.

Permalink Eye

I - don't know why I'm supposed to think that's obvious. Uh - but I can add more stuff to your map. France is down here, Germany by France, Spain on the other side - here, I'll just send you a map. She sends several pieces of a world map that get fuzzy in the areas that Karen doesn't happen to remember super well. It's gonna be rough. And it's modern - um, it matches how things were in the 1990s, I don't know exactly which countries exist in this time period. But it's better than nothing.

Permalink Eye

Yeah, I don't usually keep track of the countries since they change so much. He adds them anyway.

Permalink Eye

I'm from here. California. Only I don't think it's a state yet whenever we are. Any idea where Macalaurë is right now?

Permalink Eye

On the same continent as me which was... probably this one? I don't know where exactly.

Permalink Eye

That's not a ton to go off of, but I guess you'll find him, eventually. Assuming he's not very inconveniently moving around.

Permalink Eye

I don't have to get all that close to let him know I'm trying to find him, and after that it'll be no trouble.

Permalink Eye

How close?

Permalink Eye

Dunno. Not quite half the continent. Maybe a third of it?

Permalink Eye

Oh, OK. That makes it easier. Maybe it won't be so hard, then. It'll take a bit, but I guess you have time.

Permalink Eye

I'm not really in a hurry, yeah.

Permalink Eye

Well. I guess - you can work on figuring out boats. However that works. I guess I have - something resembling stuff to do in the meantime.

Permalink Eye

Have fun, I guess.

Permalink Eye

Yeah. 

You still good to figure out what year it is? I think my ignorance is probably bothering me more than my injuries at this point.

Permalink Eye

Yeah, but we'll have to get closer to the city.

Permalink Eye

Yeah. I'm mostly OK now, but we can wait until tomorrow if you want.

Permalink Eye

You're the one time matters to.

Permalink Eye

...I guess. Let's go now, then.

Permalink Eye

He puts out the fire with handfuls of dirt, examines it a minute, then turns unhappily toward the city.

Permalink Eye

She follows. People start staring at them when they get into more populated areas. She supposes they do look kind of weird. Luckily, she's really much too done with everything to care about this. It doesn't take very long to run into someone reading a newspaper. 

Permalink Eye

It's incomprehensible to him but he'll bounce it to her.

Permalink Eye

April 12th, 1860. A hundred and fifteen years before Macalaurë becomes a priest, a hundred and thirty-six before we're supposed to meet.

 

Well. Slavery's legal in America for another five years, and next year they're going to start the bloodiest war in the nation's history, but I guess there are worse times to -

- this is the year Drusilla is turned.

Permalink Eye

Who's that?

Permalink Eye

Sorry. Girlfriend of the vampire who beat me up.

Permalink Eye

None of this makes any sense, you know.

Permalink Eye

I didn't say it did. Nothing that's happened to me since I was called has made - any sense is perhaps overstating it, but not by very much. We live on a portal to hell, normally, and it makes a bunch of ridiculous nonsense happen all the time. Our record most bullshit event we've had to deal with was the time that this little kid fell into a coma and started astral projecting and somehow caused the nightmares of everyone in town to start manifesting, which among other things led to you and Macalaurë having to kill a bunch of people for this hallucinatory dream silmaril, including an interlude where you guys offered a demon some babies to eat if it would give it back to you. Also you shot me and I came back as a vampire and then I had to save the city by climbing this suddenly-appearing snowy mountain barefoot and then explaining to this kid that missing a ball while playing kiddie league baseball is not really the sort of thing you should give up on life over.

So yeah, at this point I kind of skip the 'this is pretty bullshit' step, but yeah, I agree, this is pretty bullshit.

Permalink Eye

But you think this vampire that tried to kill you had something to do with it.

Permalink Eye

Yeah. It's way too coincidental otherwise, and random time travel is in fact pretty high on the bullshit scale. Don't know how he fits into this, but he must.

I - think there's a decent chance that Drusilla isn't actually dead yet? And I - kind of feel like we should be trying to find her and prevent the vampire who kills her from torturing her to death, though I am not immediately sure how.

Permalink Eye

Why her in particular?

Permalink Eye

Just because - it feels like if you fight an evil person who's working with a different evil person who's been tortured into insanity, and then you get thrown back in time to just before the person is tortured into insanity, then - you should be considering that maybe you were somehow thrown back to this point in particular because you're supposed to stop it? 

Plus, like, according to the books we have, Drusilla is a seer who gets visions of the future, and - I don't know if that's actually directly relevant to time travel, but it feels like the sort of thing that might be, you know?

Permalink Eye

Does she have superpowers too or will we have to carry her everywhere?

Permalink Eye

...well, that depends on whether we get to her in time to prevent her from turning into a vampire. And on whether she wants to go anywhere with us, we're objectively kind of suspicious people.

- and it's not like you have to help, or anything. You can just - hang out by some recognizable country church, or return to it every few weeks, and I can meet up with you there if I find out anything that seems probably useful to you, or if I wanna know how close you are to independently inventing boats, and - if you don't want to do stuff then you don't have to, OK, but if I don't have anything to work on right now then I am just going to - start crying, and not have any reason to stop crying, ever, so - so I'm gonna try to do something. I guess.

Permalink Eye

I'd say you'll grow out of it but I guess you probably won't.

Permalink Eye

Yeah. I guess. 

- I'm sorry. 

Permalink Eye

For what? If I felt like leaving I would, you can't have missed that.

Permalink Eye

 

For being - I'm usually more tolerable. As a person. I think it's the everyone I know ceasing to exist.

Permalink Eye

I have no reason to think you're a particularly obnoxious human. I just don't like company, it's nothing to do with you particularly.

Permalink Eye

Yeah, but I'm being obnoxious, and I can feel it but I can't stop being it and it sucks and I'm sorry about it.

 

Anything that would particularly improve your situation from here?

Permalink Eye

A boat. 

Permalink Eye

I see.

I'll see if I can find anything on shipbuilding techniques or the price of boats for you?

Permalink Eye

 

I mean, you can if you want to but I'm not going to -

I'm not unhappy about this because you're insufficiently helpful and it's not like if you help enough I'll decide I want you around. It's not even because you're human. I talk to my family every couple decades, got it? I don't know what's supposed to change in the next hundred years but it isn't just the cities smelling less.

Permalink Eye

Yeah, but - you're the only person I have at all, OK, and you don't have to like me, but as long as we have any bridge at all then it would be stupid to burn it, given general lack of legal rights or money or independent access to food or to anyone else with telepathy or anyone else who can fight or anyone else who - and I don't even know if that's it, OK, maybe I just miss the other you, and I know you're not him, and I know you're not gonna be him, not while I'm around, and that's fine, but -

 

Maybe if she sends memories. Maybe that'll capture the thing she's trying to say. Maybe it'll just make everything worse, but it's something to try, some attempt at an explanation. She sends - Alex, teaching gym class for the first time, telling everyone that it's important but he's going to give everyone an A anyway, giving everyone cookies for pushing themselves, having the time of his life demonstrating stances and correcting kids as they practice. Alex, telling her a couple weeks ago that he likes her classmates, that he never used to like humans but that everyone is awful to kids. Alex, teaching her archery and how to fire machine guns and how to take vampires out without killing them. Alex, listing off to Wyndam-Pryce her various positive qualities and all of the things they've covered together. Alex, stabbing Zeke in the arm before being blown away. Alex, telling her that she did good at killing him. Alex, informing her that she's entirely completely safe at summer camp, but that she should come home anyway if it's making her unhappy. Alex, instructing other students during archery club. Alex, telling her why she shouldn't feel sorry for Wesley. Alex, distraught over the death of Herbert the pig. Alex, listing off his reasons why he's not a good person. Alex, crying in the bathroom over her classmate's body and giving her the words to Antony's speech. Alex, upset about being mistaken for God, because God tortures people if he thinks it's a fitting end for them. Alex, informing her that she should have checked on whether Macalaurë was actually validly a priest. Alex, one day ago, asking for a hug and then correcting himself and then telling her I'm so sorry and that she shouldn't die. 

They're all jumbled up, fuzzy around the edges, more a sense of a person in places than real memory, but they're what she has.

 

I miss him. If someone asked me right now whether I wanted to trade an arm to have him here, I wouldn't even ask which one they wanted. He's a really great person, and if he were here he'd know what to do, or have some idea what we should be doing, and - and I'm sorry for expecting anything of you, OK, I really am, it's not fair at all to you and I'm trying not to do it, I just - 

I'm sorry. It's just - it's been a rough day, and my brain isn't working right, and it's not your problem and you don't have to deal with it but - that's what it is.

Permalink Eye

He seems neat. He's just - not me, and I don't know what the missing element is and you clearly don't either. - does God torture humans after they die?

Permalink Eye

There is debate. I tend to think that hell is more the absence of all the good stuff that comes from God and not a bunch of specifically terrible stuff made to torment people, but he definitely lets some people go to somewhere that isn't full of roses and sunshine.

Permalink Eye

Well, that's fucking fantastic.

 

 

 

- and we're - doing something about it?

Permalink Eye

It's on your to-do list. We're - trying. To make things less messed up. You, uh, the other you, this is one of the things we kind of don't perfectly agree on, you - Alex doesn't think there's any one place that's really hell, there are just lots and lots of really bad places. I went to one, once, chasing the hallucinatory dream silmaril, to this hell where the demon who eats babies lives. I could send it but I don't know if you'd want to see.

Permalink Eye

You're not gonna shock me.

Permalink Eye

So she sends Lurconis's hell, as well as she remembers it.

Permalink Eye

So the plan is - clear them all out, and then people'll keep getting sent there but it won't be so bad?

Permalink Eye

I don't think you're really that far along on the plan thing.

Permalink Eye

Well, it sounds like we'd just started. But we can start earlier this time.

Permalink Eye

....yeah, I guess you can. Uh - I don't super have anything better to do. If you need anyone who knows anything about anything. Although I do have to save the psychic seer who is otherwise going to be tortured to death by demons, I do actually think that I should do that before she gets tortured into insanity and turned into a superpowered monster. But after that, if you wanna figure out the logistics of clearing out Lurconis's hell and all of the other terrible places, I think my schedule is open.

Permalink Eye

Let's go get her, explain everything, try to convince her to come with us. If there are a bunch of people trying to torture her to death I think we have a compelling pitch. Then we've got to get home. 

Permalink Eye

Yeah. Sounds like a plan.

- uh, I don't actually know where she is. I know that she's Catholic and I know that she is or will be training to be a nun, which, uh, does narrow it down some, since most people around here are not Catholic, but - I don't super have an address or anything.

Permalink Eye

I'm going to attract a lot of attention, in the city. Everyone who sees me knows I'm not human.

Permalink Eye

- probably not literally all of them, but yeah. I - might need to think about how to track her down. I guess I can start by beating up vampires, there's like a nonzero chance that they might know about the other powerful vampires hanging out stalking people and murdering all of their relatives.

Permalink Eye

Seems like the kind of thing I'd keep track of if I were a vampire.

Permalink Eye

Yeah. I, uh - I think I can probably handle beating up normal vampires alone, if you don't wanna be going around in the city, but I should probably have a bow and arrows on me just in case anything unexpected happens.

Permalink Eye

Working on it. If you go into the city with a wet scarf around your face it helps a bit with the air.

Permalink Eye

Thanks. I'll do that.

We don't have a place to meet yet, so - I guess we should head out, find something landmark-y away from the city that I can find again, you can make some arrows, and then I can work on beating up vampires?

Permalink Eye

All right.

Permalink Eye

Cool.

 

They'll have to go a ways outside the city to find any particularly recognizable buildings, but eventually there's a tall church by a road that Karen's pretty sure she can find again.

Permalink Eye

All right, have fun.

Permalink Eye

 

So the problem with beating up vampires for information is that Karen is actually really really bad at this. She's obligated to kill vampires she runs into, since they're definitely going to kill again and she can't contain them in this time period. This means the only ways she can incentivize vampires to give her information are to, one, lie about whether she's going to let them go, or two, make continuing to live so unpleasant for them that they give her information just for the privilege of dying. The first is unlikely to work, since she's never any good at lying about things if she's at all conflicted about them. The second is... differently problematic.

She does find a vampire on the prowl. She doesn't try questioning him. She beats his head in with a handy blunt object, strips him of clothing and valuables, plunges a stake through his heart, asks around until she finds a pawn shop, and sells his pocket watch. In the morning she buys herself some bread. She really isn't sure what to do about the investigation problem, though, so at that point she heads back to where Tyelcormo's hanging out.

 

So I have this problem.

Permalink Eye

He has more arrows. Oh?

Permalink Eye

So like, I can't actually let vampires go, if I catch them. There are circumstances under which I could, but I don't think I can get all of London's vampires to reform no matter how much I threaten them, not with no way of determining which vampires are still killing people. Which means the only way I could plausibly get them to give me information by threatening violence is to torture them so badly that they tell me stuff purely because they want me to skip to the killing them.

I think this is probably, like, evil? And I think even if it weren't I would be..... bad at it.

Permalink Eye

.... uh huh.

 

So it was my job?

Permalink Eye

No, in the future we have a facility to keep them contained in and we can actually let them live. We're working on this implant that'll make them unable to hurt people even if we let them go about their other business outside. And also when you want to torture people for information you say something like 'no Catholics allowed' and then drive off without giving me the chance to discuss whether I have ethical objections to this plan.

Permalink Eye

 

I think I'm not in fact up for doing anything complicated around reducing your culpability for whatever it is you think we should be doing.

Permalink Eye

Nah, making other people do bad things for you is worse than doing them yourself. I think that if I think it should be done then I should do it. I just, uh, also think I'm gonna suck at it, if I decide to. And I'm not sure whether there are maybe better options anyway.

Permalink Eye

You could offer them a head start?

Permalink Eye

 

That's - really not a solution for any of the elements of this problem, I don't think.

Permalink Eye

I don't know very much about vampires. Why doesn't that work, they wouldn't believe you? They wouldn't cooperate even if they believed you? They'd get away?

Permalink Eye

They probably wouldn't get away, but they might, and then it'd be my fault if they killed more people. Also I think I'm maybe kind of really bad at threatening people in the first place. 

Permalink Eye

...okay...do you want to practice?

Permalink Eye

She sighs heavily and sits down on the ground. 

'M sorry. There probably aren't solutions I'm going to like.

 

I should probably go to the council. They're the only findable people who might know about Angelus and be willing to provide intel on him without it involving - this.

Permalink Eye

But they want to kill you? Look, I don't know about torturing vampires but I wouldn't mind talking to one to check if this is as unsolvable as it feels like before you go ....infiltrating a secret organization of child murderers.

Permalink Eye

 

That would be helpful, yeah.

Permalink Eye

I can also do tips on threatening people, that seems like a good skill to pick up in general.

Permalink Eye

Yeah. Probably. Maybe when I'm not as - sad as I am.

I can get you a vampire with enough head trauma that it's down for the count for a bit, then carry it out of the city. We'd have to be able to contain it.

Permalink Eye

I don't know enough about vampires to know what contains 'em.

Permalink Eye

Solid stone or metal walls. Sufficient quantities of rope. Shade, in daylight, but only if they don't have anything to shield themselves with if they make a break for it. I guess we'd need shade anyway.

Permalink Eye

Shade's the only one of those I can think how to get, offhand.

Permalink Eye

Shade works. Provided there isn't an escape route. We could make something that worked. It'd have to be enough shade, I don't have a fantastic sense of how much sunlight it takes for them to end up on fire.

Permalink Eye

Well, if the first one catches fire then we make it shadier and try again, yeah?

Permalink Eye

- yeah. OK.

Permalink Eye

Have fun out there.

Permalink Eye

All right. Any idea how long it'll take you to have something set up?

Permalink Eye

I can build it today.

Permalink Eye

Solid.

- I'm gonna sleep first, actually, that seems like a thing that I should be doing during the day. Also if you, uh, happen to have any food around I wouldn't say no.

Permalink Eye

Yeah, I wasn't sure which of these plants were okay for humans so I got lots.

Permalink Eye

- thanks.

She munches on things that she's pretty sure are nonpoisonous and at all nutritious. Good thing she went to superhero summer camp and got a crash survival course that dipped into how to live off of random wild plants.

If you ever want any bread or anything I can get some. I mean, you seem like you're doing super fine here, but if you ever do want anything.

Permalink Eye

I'm good. 

Permalink Eye

Thought you would be. Thanks for the food, it's a big help. 

 

It's actually pretty hard to take vampires non-lethally inside a crowded city; they're a lot more resistant to head trauma than humans are, so you have to get in a lucky hit. She tries her arrows, of course, but the first time she tries that tack she ends up with a screaming vampire with an arrow in his eye and a bunch of concerned bystanders trying to figure out what happened, and the whole thing is really more of a mess than she wants to deal with again. Even when she does successfully beat them into unconsciousness with no screaming, the head injuries are usually too obvious for her to feel safe carrying them out of the city; she doesn't want to get stopped by police. In these cases she strips them and kills them before they regain consciousness, which at least means she has enough money to buy things.

It takes her a bit to pick up on feeding patterns, but in a few nights she has a decent understanding of the basics. Female vampires like to pose as prostitutes; male vampires like to pose as their clients. (Her brain is writing a comedy sketch in which two of them accidentally meet and try to feed on each other.) This is really pretty smart of them, since it gets people to follow them or take them to out-of-the-way places, and the victims are mostly people who either won't be missed or who haven't told anyone where they're going to be. She can't distinguish between vampires and humans on sight, so it's kind of a pain figuring out which is the vampire at any given point, and at least seventy percent of prostitute/client pairs are just actual prostitutes and clients. If she were trying to clear the city of vampires, she could spend more time on this and follow the vampires back to their nests, but she's sort of on a deadline here. The other major pattern is the vampires who hang out preying on drunk people on their way home from bars. Really drunk people are too out of it to put up very much of a fight. These vampires are at least pretty easy to identify as vampires, and she tends to focus more on them just because they're the low-hanging fruit. 

There are also vampires who prey on young women who are walking alone (mostly poor girls, of course, since the wealthy ones tend not to be in this situation). They don't do it because it's easy to avoid detection, they do it because it's fun, killing scared people whose deaths aren't connected to their vices. These are sort of the most satisfying to stop.

She spends nights and a chunk of each day in the city. She consistently sleeps outside it. A week or so in, there's a day where she doesn't come back to where Tyelcormo is; she's back the following night with a vampire.

He might take a bit to wake up. Doesn't look that bad from the outside, a couple people stopped us but they all bought that he'd passed out drinking, but I think I kinda mushed his brain a little.

Permalink Eye

He's dead.

Permalink Eye

Oh, yeah, they all are. Undead. They don't have heartbeats or anything. If he were dead-dead he wouldn't be here, they turn into dust after you behead them or stake them.

Permalink Eye

So they're - magically animated corpses? - in that case I don't have any reservations about the torture.

Permalink Eye

They're human corpses animated by demons. They still - feel things and think things and have preferences and are people and stuff, just not people who are, uh, biologically alive? And also they're evil.

Permalink Eye

Where do they go when they die? Uh, when they die deader.

Permalink Eye

We don't know.

Permalink Eye

Mmkay. How long until it wakes up, do you think?

Permalink Eye

She frowns at it. Probably less than a day. Two at most.

Permalink Eye

Ah, okay. You gonna wait here or go kill more things?

Permalink Eye

Probably wait here. You can't talk to it without me anyway.

Permalink Eye

Sounds good. Do you mind changing your clothes?

Permalink Eye

Yeah, I can do that. Still have some from the others.

Permalink Eye

Thank you.

Permalink Eye

Sorry. I dunno how to do laundry without a house. Or a washing machine. 

Permalink Eye

I'll do it.

Permalink Eye

- thanks. Sorry.

She leaves, because changing in front of people is weird, and comes back in a different set of men's clothing. 

Everything from this time period has a weirdly unnecessary number of ties and buttons and stuff.

Permalink Eye

What do they use later?

Permalink Eye

Um - I mean, some things still use buttons. Plus we have zippers. Lots of stuff just kind of fits. I guess maybe we have stretchier fabrics in the future or something.

Permalink Eye

That's interesting.

Sigh.

 

Permalink Eye

Yeah.

We have lots of stuff in the future. We have cars - uh, like, vehicles without horses that go really fast. And we have radios that play music for everyone even if they can't play it themselves. And we have the internet, the internet's really new, it lets everyone from all over the world read stuff and type at each other and learn about what things are like in other places. 

I guess people will figure all that stuff out eventually.

Permalink Eye

Permalink Eye

I'll just - go be over somewhere that is not here. Lemme know if vampire guy starts saying stuff, I guess.

Permalink Eye

Yeah. Uh, I'm sorry about the death of everyone you knew and cared about.

Permalink Eye

 

I'll get over it. It's not the first time.

Permalink Eye

It doesn't actually get easier with practice.

Permalink Eye

I guess not.

Wish I had any idea where my dog was. He's gotta be somewhere. He's even British, originally, but I have no idea if he's here right now.

Permalink Eye

Would any of the people we're going after know that?

Permalink Eye

Council might. He's had dealings with the council before, but not this century.

Permalink Eye

Maybe we could get close enough to read their minds without coming to their attention.

Permalink Eye

- oooh, maybe. We'd have to figure out how to either draw them out of the city or allow you to get closer without, like, dying of misery.

Permalink Eye

If I planned for it it wouldn't kill me instantly but I like the idea of getting them out of the city a lot better.

Permalink Eye

I'll see what I can do.

Permalink Eye

Do they investigate supernatural happenings themselves?

Permalink Eye

think so. I'm a little unclear on the scope of their operation since, uh, being on their radar seemed like it could get me killed. I did get assigned a watcher earlier this year, though. He, uh, sorta died a couple days before I landed here. He mostly seemed.... well-meaning and like he had encyclopedic knowledge of a lot of mystical stuff, but pretty bad at the actually getting things done.

Permalink Eye

Do you think if we did obviously supernatural stuff here, they'd come investigate?

Permalink Eye

Very possible. We could, uh, also end up attracting the attention of other people who might not want to wait two years to murder me.

Permalink Eye

Uh huh. Okay. What if they get dream visions telling them to come here, would they do it?

Permalink Eye

...they'd probably send someone. You can do that?

Permalink Eye

Not from here without knowing the target but I wouldn't have to get that close.

Permalink Eye

Well this is moderately concerning and kind of a good thing to know regarding any and all possibly prophetic slayer dreams she might have in the future.

How close, do you think? Any information I could get you that would make it easier?

Permalink Eye

Names and what they'd look like would help. Knowing them deeply as people would help but that seems more dangerous than just getting a bit closer.

Permalink Eye

I can get you names and faces. 

Permalink Eye

Okay. Then we can lure a councilperson and maybe have a bit more idea of what we're trying to do.

Permalink Eye

Sounds good.

 

She sleeps. The vampire wakes up before she does.

Permalink Eye

He's awake but can't talk to it. He holds a spear and watches it warily and decides to wake Karen after a couple minutes.

Permalink Eye

She frowns at the vampire. The vampire frowns at her for a moment, and then laughs.

     "Ohhh," he says. "What, are you two with the council? Need a vampire to test your precious slayer? I guess there are worse deals."

Karen transmits this.

Permalink Eye

Is this related to the murdering you at 18?

Permalink Eye

Yeah. They kidnap a vampire, drug the slayer until she's much much weaker than a normal human, and lock them in a room together without weapons.

Permalink Eye

That's elaborate. Has anyone told them that you can just stab people?

Permalink Eye

They like to think of it as a test. Sometimes people do survive. Just - not often.

Permalink Eye

People also sometimes survive being stabbed! 

 

Anyway, seems good he doesn't think we'll kill him? Tell him that that's the plan if he's helpful; if he's useless we can find someone else for it. We want to know what Angelus is up to.

Permalink Eye

She takes a deep breath and channels what she imagines Wesley Wyndam-Pryce might be like if he had known how to ever actually do anything.

"That's the plan, if you're helpful. If you're useless, we can find someone else. We want to know what Angelus is up to."

     The vampire smiles. "He's really not someone you want to run into. With or without a slayer."

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That's why we want to know, he suggests once this is relayed.

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"That's why we want to know."

     "Last I heard he was up to his usual business of rape and torture. I'm sure he occasionally kills people quickly. I hear he really likes nuns."

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Does he have company?

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"Blonde vampire from America. I don't exactly go out of my way to keep track of what everyone's up to these days."

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Any part of the city to avoid in particular?

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"He goes for wealthy people more than anyone else. Likes preying on people who feel secure. It sounds like fun, you know, but if I tried it I wouldn't get away with it the way he does. Has a real gift."

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Anything else we wanted?

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Not optimistic about this guy knowing it, but ideally the location of the girl he's stalking right now.

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I suppose it can't hurt to ask.

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"We have reason to believe that Angelus has been hunting a specific girl for several months. Do you have any idea where she is?"

     "Haven't heard anything. Not like I'm following him around."

Guess that's all, then.

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All right, show me how the stabby part goes.

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She picks up her bow. The vampire starts wildly protesting that he's told them everything he knows. She shoots him through the heart and he crumbles into dust, clothes and all.

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Huh. Okay. If this doesn't endanger you too much it might be worth doing a couple more times, to see if anyone does know about the girl he's after. Or the man he's with.

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I can do it more times. Normally I try to avoid melee, it's more dangerous than shooting them, but as long as I'm beating them into unconsciousness for their valuables anyway.

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I'm not very clear on how much of a threat they pose but I trust you to have it figured out. 

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Most of us die in the first year, but most of us never get the training I have. I should be OK as long as I don't get extremely unlucky or run into anyone in the same class as Angelus, which I guess is a subcategory of being extremely unlucky, and if that happens I will run. Vampire who almost killed me a week ago was unusually dangerous, he goes around specifically targeting slayers. It's like a hobby or something.

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I feel like I'd like these people if they had better hobbies. Anyway, we can try a couple more and if none of them know then checking all the convents will probably go faster.

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Yeah. I can split my time between trying to get more people and trying to find out more about the council. Anything else we need to be working on? I assume the boat stuff is not super time sensitive compared to the other stuff.

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I would rather leave before you get killed but I'm not picky beyond that.

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Solid. 

She brings back a couple more vampires; neither knows as much as the first. She figures out where the council building is and makes an attempt at contact.

Well, she sends, when she trudges back to where Tyelcormo is. Got names and faces. They figured out that I was a girl with slayer training, though. They think I'm a never-activated potential.

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That's a thing?

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Yeah. Um, they have some way of locating girls who have the potential to become slayers, I don't know how exactly. Wishbone - my dog - says they find them when they're really small, sometimes so small they don't remember their parents, and they take them away and give them combat training and teach them about demons throughout their whole childhood. They're raised - mostly in isolation, no friends, no support structure outside the council. They don't find all the girls early, whatever method they have of finding slayers is a lot more reliable than their method of finding potentials, but - that's what happens to the ones they do find early. I didn't know what happened to the ones who never got called.

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That's an awful thing to do to kids.

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Yeah, I guess. Lotta awful things being done to kids these days. Uh, they said I could stay with them, but I told them I was staying with my watcher outside London. Not giving myself a ton of points for stealth there, but I don't think they're hugely suspicious.

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They're not in communication with all the rest of the Watchers?

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No, they can't be. Or, uh, I figured they couldn't be and I'm pretty sure I'm right. The world's too big. In the future they get better at it - or, uh, I assume they get better at it - but I think it's still too early for them to not lose track of people.

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Huh. Okay. Then I guess I will get into the city and osanwë them while they're sleeping. I think there's only one specific point in the sleep cycle you got to hit for someone to remember it when they wake up but I don't know what it is or how to notice it in a sleeping human brain so I think I'll just do that all night.

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Nod. Will you be OK doing that?

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It will not be my favorite thing I've ever done but I have in fact spent a week taking cover behind a wall of enemy corpses and it didn't kill me so London will probably take at least that long.

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She nods. I'll go with you? In case anything, uh, vampiric happens. Or anything happening to require saying words to people. But I can mostly leave you alone if that'll make things, uh, less annoying.

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M'not annoyed by you.

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- all right. Just saying. If you ever were.

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You - try so hard to be not annoying I feel like I could punch you and you'd apologize for standing in the way of my fist. - I guess maybe I'd think that was itself a little annoying except I don't like games, and 'the thing you're doing, but try less hard at it' is a shitty game. M'not annoyed at you. Just not used to people.

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OK.

Future you thinks I apologize too much, too. Just - I'm out here eating your food and not doing my own laundry and getting you to help me rescue random seers I don't actually know, and - you don't seem like you super need anything, besides a boat I guess, but if you ever did, for the record, I'd help, because - you should help people who're helping you. And it would suck if I assumed you were OK and then you weren't and something bad happened because of it.

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You're gonna tell my familly about the future and the demons and so on once we get to them safely, that's - a lot more than laundry.

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Oh. 

Yeah, I guess I am gonna do that.

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They're nice. Or - 

- they're the right people to know this thing.

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Your brother seemed OK. Of course he didn't seem as nice as you, and you're......... not the nicest person I have ever met, in this time period.

But I'll help you guys. You helped me, and - well it's not like I can really clean up Lurconis and everything like him by myself.

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No, no, they'll be nice, they're nice to people when they get something out of it. - I'm not. He sounds faintly proud of that.

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No, I guess not. You're all right, though. 

I'll just get some rest before tonight, then. See you in six hours or whenever.

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He's still not really sure what an hour is but he nods.

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Elsewhere, in London, a mostly-recovered vampire hears a rumor about a superhuman Chinese boy roaming the streets and beating up vampires. The vampire makes some connections. He'd previously been undecided on what to do about Angelus and Darla, after determining where they were in the city. Given a slayer on the loose, though, and given that Drusilla wouldn't be at full strength even if he turned her now, he figures it's about time he made some friends.

When the sun sets, he goes off to pay some old friends a visit.