Anyway, yeah. Call this written-out off-blog roleplay. :P
"No pestering, remember?" she replied instantly.
"I'm sorry," he said, and he did sound sorry. He sounded pretty down, actually.
She wished she could make a resolution and stick to it, not let him in, but she'll always let him in, because he's Hunter and she's Ez, and she wished she could hate him for it but she never ever would.
Didn't stop it being damn annoying, though.
"Are you okay?" she asked, playing the role again. Playing Ez.
"I'm fine, Ez," he said, and he sounded guilty now, like he was sorry for bothering her. It hadn't been that important.
So she could tell him to fuck off, if she wanted, but she didn't really want to. She liked feeling needed. It made her feel guilty to keep pushing at him for her own sake, but not that guilty, because it was Hunter, and he would forgive her. He always forgave her.
She always forgave him.
They always forgave each other.
"Are you okay?" she asked, then realised she'd already said it.
Hunter laughed. "Would you like me to tell you I'm not fine? Please, Ez, I'm dying. I've been shot."
"Oh dear," she said, a smile creeping to her lips. "That doesn't sound good."
"I'm bleeding to death."
"I think you have the wrong number."
"This isn't 911?"
"Nah, this is Ez."
"Ah, fuck. Well, can you give me first aid advice?"
"Sure. Where were you shot?"
"Your HAND? Then what the fuck are you doing? Get a fucking bandage!"
"EZ, THERE ARE LITTLE CHILDREN HERE," he whispered angrily, and she laughed.
"YOU FIND THIS FUNNY? THEIR BRAINS ARE LIKE SPONGES, EZ, AND THE SINKS YOU ARE MAKING THEM CLEAN ARE TOO DIRTY!"
"VANISH, HUNTER," she whisper-yelled back.
"TRUST PINK, FORGET STAINS."
"PINK? I AM A MANLY MAN, EZ."
"Sure you are."
He laughed, a properly happy laugh. "Thanks, Ez."
"No problem, Hunter," she said. "Missed your pestering."
He laughed again.
"So why were you phoning?" she asked.
Hunter snorted derisively, telling her that he was about to start ranting about some idiot or other. "Blake turned Silente into a human by exorcising her like she was a demon. Silente didn't want to be a human so was begging Blake to turn her back. So I offered. Four times. And she IGNORED me. Fine, then. Stay a human." He was onto a proper ranting track now, his voice rising and falling dramatically. "Never mind that I can probably cure exorcism. Never mind that I can easily track down and persuade the correct vampires. Of course, it really means that much to you. Of course you're begging, you're pleading. Of course you would do anything. Of course you would SLAP YOUR ONLY SOLOUTION IN THE FACE. Little dramatic shit."
"You phoned me for THAT?" she asked incredulously whilst he paused for breath.
There was a pause, then, "Well, I thought it would be fun. Tracking down vampires, blackmailing them, that stuff. I was bored. When I can't pester you, I have very little to do."
She rolled her eyes. "You'll be the death of me, Hunter."
"Sorry," he said again, guiltily. "I can go now. Chat to Noelle."
"Hunter?" she asked, an idea sparking in her brain.
"Ez?" he asked back.
"Do you really want to find some vampires and blackmail them?"
"Ez, I love you."
Hunter insisted he could detect vampires by their energy. Ez wasn't sure that was true.
They ran down the street, strangely populated by furniture (Blogland sure was weird), and Hunter stopped in the middle of the road.
She dragged him out of the way, hustling him onto the pavement and glaring at him.
"Ez!" he protested. "You made me lose my scent!"
He walked further down the road, sniffing like a bloodhound, and suddenly froze, then broke into a run and ran to the left.
Ez ran after him. "Are you sure Silente isn't just a hallucination of yours?"
"Don't be silly. You've met her," he told her, and Ez tried to remember if this were true.
The scent led to a dead end.
"So much for your bloodhound skills," Ez told him.
"Bloodhoundhound skills," he told her, then paused, looking at the dead end.
It was a fairly high brick wall that probably bordered someone's yard. There were houses enclosing on either side of them. It was late afternoon, and it was slightly overcast, the day being dark and the dead end being darkened. Brick walls were surrounding all exits except the one they'd come down, brick walls without perfect bricks, crumbling from life's pressures. The floor was tarmacked unevenly, with holes and lumps, and it didn't smell great down here.
Ez slipped her arm into his. "When we come to a wall, we go over it, right?" she asked him.
"Left," he automatically corrected her, then looked at her and thought about how lucky he was to have her.
He couldn't quite comprehend it.
"You okay?" she asked, and he nodded, then began stepping back.
They took the wall at a run, almost in sync but obviously slightly out, their energy flaring as they carefully directed themselves. They sailed over the wall and dropped into crouches.
Someone's back yard.
Hunter thought they should stay down, so he signalled and they dropped.
Get behind the trees, make sure no one could see them. "Trees," he whispered to her, and she rolled over to one and he rolled to the other side, creeping up in a crouch and then ducking behind a tree. It was a very small tree. Wasn't really cover. But it was the principal of the thing.
He listened, listened to the silence. Not the silence, really. Traffic, odd because it was furniture. There were lights inside the house, and there were voices behind them. Hunter was silent himself for a moment, imagining. What was it like behind there? Maybe it was dinnertime, and the family was around the table, the kids babbling about their days at school.
Except it was rarely as simple as that.
"Let's go back over the wall," he mouthed to Ez, who'd been looking at him, waiting for further instruction.
"You're kidding," she mouthed back. "Let's go over the fence. Easier."
He nodded, and she stood up and turned around with her legs already moving, jumping over the fence silently and without glowing.
He lay down, rolled over to her side of the garden and rolled.
The next house was empty. No lights. Maybe for sale, maybe people out. They were probably out. There was a plastic car in the garden, one a child sat in and propelled with their feet.
"Which way is the scent telling us to go?" Ez asked.
Hunter thought about it. "This way," he said.
"Okay," she said, and that was all the explanation she needed.
They continued, backyard to backyard, until Hunter whispered - "Hang on a sec."
They needed to go through the house.
"You what?" Ez whispered.
A channel, though. A side channel, down the side of the house.
They crept down it, out of the front drive, and then they were running again.
"Which way?" Ez called, and Hunter tossed a coin. Heads, he'd won.
"You tossed a COIN?" she called.
"Fate, Ez, fate!" he called back.
"Well, toss another one!"
The end of the road was approaching.
Hunter tossed. "Left again!"
They ran left, Ez in front of Hunter, because it was a sidewalk and it was narrow. Then there was a person, so they stopped running and walked to the right in single file, smiling at the old woman as they passed her.
Then the vampire hunt was on again.
Walking into a vampire estate as evening fell.
That was smart.
Hunter had felt the energy and slowed down, his eyes melted to blue. Ez had spun around, seen him, and nodded.
Now they were here.
Vampiric energy glowed from the buildings, burning at their senses. Some sources were stronger than others, the area unevenly dotted. But there was a lot of it, it seemed. Was vampiric energy residual? It appeared so.
Ez looked at Hunter and saw that indigo fascination glowing out of his eyes. It made her nervous.
"What are we going to force them to do?" she whispered. It felt like the kind of place to whisper. The streets were deserted, like a ghost town, and silence fell like mist between the houses. They could feel the energy of people behind the walls, though. A scarily diminished energy.
So this was like Moloch's ground.
It was working, Ez guessed. The neighbourhood was nice. The hedges were neatly trimmed, the gardens cared for, and there wasn't any broken glass, graffiti or alternative rubbish lining the streets.
"Don't you think it feels like the town's had plastic surgery?" Hunter said in a soft voice. "Perfection, paid for by stress and loss of emotion or proper living."
"You can talk," she whispered back. "You with your appearance-changing methods."
"That's less stressful."
"I don't think so. Besides, you haven't answered my question."
"Oh, I'm asking TLC now."
"Smart," she said with a laugh. A laugh lowered to match her voice, which was lowered to match the environment, which was lowered to match the habits of the vampires. A ripple effect, with the vampires at the centre.
This might be fun after all.
She was still speaking. "Asking a bunch of teenage girls what to do about it is really gonna help."
"Voice down," he instructed her, then - "You underestimate them."
"There's not much to underestimate," she said, her voice lowered again, and not for the first time she wished she had a voice like Hunter's. His was beautiful, carefully cultivated for effect, and hers was . . . a voice.
"There is," he said softly, then - "But I just asked Blogland as well, and they're not smart."
She rolled her eyes. Hunter was funny with his random attachments to random people.
He gave her a reproachful look, and then asked - "How are we forcing them, anyway?"
They rounded a corner, onto a larger road. Equally deserted.
"I don't know. It's your operation."
"I believe we mentioned bribery."
"You can bribe vampires?"
"You're asking me?"
"Yeah, maybe I should ask Silente."
"She's the reason we're here in the first place."
"Exactly, so she should know."
She looked up at him, at his perfectly sincere face with those light blue eyes, and wondered, not for the first time, or the billionth, what the hell went on in that head of his. "Don't ask her."
"Okay," he said. "Brute force?"
"We're outnumbered, and they're hardly helpless."
A car drove by. They could hear it coming up the road. It was a simple family car, and it drove past with its lights on. Ez saw a middle-aged woman in a house opposite tug open a thin white curtain and stare out at first the car, then them, with suspicious eyes. Then she pulled the curtain closed again, trapping her house in its cocoon of yellow warmth.
"Ez, Noelle says she's dead."
"Then how's she typing?"
"She's metaphorically dead."
"Oh, cuddle her and ask the question again. Are we going anywhere?"
"We're going to find the vampires. But not yet. Answers first."
She sighed. "Okay. What could vampires give us?"
"Silente just ignored me AGAIN!"
His voice was startlingly loud in the quite town, and she put a hand over his mouth. "Well, what did you expect?"
"They're ALL ignoring me!"
"Seriously, Hunter. Get a life."
"I think I will. Got one. With you, here. What are we forcing the vampires to do?"
She repeated herself for him. "What could vampires give us?"
He thought about this, his eyes flickering, and when he spoke again his voice was, thankfully, lower. "I still rather like the idea of stealing their fangs and turning someone into a vampire with them."
"You want to turn someone into a vampire?"
"I could build a vampire army."
His eyes were orange, so she slapped him and they snapped back to blue.
"Sorry. But seriously - experiments sounds fun."
She nodded slowly. She didn't particularly like agreeing to this. She never liked experimenting on people. But she guessed she could deal with that. "Okay. How are we going to force them?"
He feel into thoughtful silence, and so did she, the uneven thump of their footsteps echoing loudly on the pavement. The only sound they could hear.
Until the other footsteps.
They looked up to see another middle-aged woman, this one younger, with fairly long brown hair. Worry creased her eyes. "Get in!" she hissed. "What are you doing out at this time?"
Hunter noticed she had a scarf around her neck. Maybe it was hiding a vampire bite.
"Just went for a stroll."
She glared at them and grabbed Ez's arm, pulling her in. Ez looked at Hunter - this was his venture - and he nodded, so she allowed herself to be hustled into the woman's house - just next to them - whilst Hunter followed, his eyes stuck on blue but alight with interest.
The woman pulled them into the hall of her house and glared at them. Kids' school shoes were by the door, their coats thrown over the post at the end of the stair rail.
Ez had the feeling they should get out of there. They didn't want to bring trouble here.
Of course, Hunter had already walked in, so that plan was already down the drain.
"What were you DOING out there?" the woman asked again angrily. "Hadn't you seen the time?"
"No, actually," Ez said, looking at her feet as if embarrassed. "We were just heading home. We didn't mean to cause any trouble. Honestly."
The woman rolled her eyes, and she seemed less angry, if still not best pleased. "Well, you can't go out there again."
"We have to," broke in Hunter urgently. "We have to get home."
The woman shook her head apologetically. "I'm sorry, it's not worth it."
"We'll be fine," said Hunter. "Seriously."
"Thank you, but we really don't want to cause you trouble," Ez said, smiling.
The woman shook her head. "I can't let you out there. I'm sorry."
Hunter and Ez looked at each other. "Your venture," said Ez.
"Let's go," said Hunter.
They teleported out and ran for it.
"Bribery and threatening," Hunter said to her as they slowed back up to a walk.
"Any idea how to do either?"
"Do vampires want laws, land, blood?"
"They have blood and land," Hunter said. The town was pretty much that.
"Laws saying what?"
They both fell silent. They didn't know much about laws regarding vampires. One of the many issues with being foreign people from the future of an alternate dimension.
Another one of the issues was that they weren't anybody here . . .
"Could we pretend to be from the Sanctuary?"
Hunter snapped his fingers at her. "That's an idea."
"Thanks. How do Sanctuary officers prove they're Sanctuary officers?"
"I may have to ask Blogland again," Hunter said reluctantly, and Ez rolled her eyes.
"If Silente ignores me again . . ." Hunter said in a threatening voice.
"I still have no idea why you're bothered," she said in bemusement.
He frowned. "Actually, neither do I. Anyway."
"Silente says they probably do," Hunter told her.
Ez frowned at Hunter's phone. "Why are you giving her advice? I thought you were annoyed with her."
Hunter shrugged. "Well, you know, one good turn deserves another. Action-consequence. She doesn't ignore me, I'll help her out. Ooh - do you think she needed any of these vampires we're blackmailing?"
"Well, we should probably tell her we've used them."
"We can just say this is a different clan."
He was stilling typing. "Hunter, stop talking to Silente!"
"Sorry!" He put his phone away. "Anyway, badges. Do we have badges?"
"No. They're those laminated cards, aren't they?"
"Possibly?" Hunter didn't know any more about it than her.
"Do you think they'll recognise Sanctuary badges?" The vampires must have had dealings with Sanctuaries before.
"We can say they've been redesigned."
"True. Do you happen to have a badge-making kit in your jacket?"
"As it happens, no . . ."
"Well, damn that.”
"Silente says that vampires turn people by venom and magic."
"Cool, but WHY ARE YOU TALKING TO HER?"
"Well, she has INFO! Plus -"
His voice suddenly went blue. "Ez."
Vampiric energy was moving towards them.
She looked up and saw a vampire.
Apparently vampires weren't all that impressive in the daytime, but this one appeared to be, mostly because of the handgun on his hip. As they watched, he stopped walking and drew at them.
Hunter stopped walking, so Ez did too, and slowly raised her hands. He copied her.
"What are you doing?" he asked them. He looked to be about thirty years old, hair dark, eyes dark. Features indistinct in the poor lighting. Clothing casual, jeans.
"Just going home," said Hunter in a low voice, subservient, no defiance.
"Why are you out so late?" The man's voice was dangerous, with a calm confidence that came from knowing he was in charge of the situation.
"We didn't realise the time," said Ez, half-whispering, her character's fear making her voice shake. "We didn't mean any trouble." The mood of her character was getting to her, and it suddenly seemed horribly sinister, this powerful, inhuman man standing bathed in shadow and pointing destruction at them. No one would come out of the houses. No one would help, no matter what they might hear, no matter what happened to Hunter and her. They were alone.
She embraced the feelings, replicating them, carefully calculating in another part of her mind. Not that there was much to calculate. Hunter held the cards, here, and that made her more nervous than being in a strange town with a deadly vampire did.
"You should have stayed where you were," said the vampire. "You know the rules."
They nodded, even though they didn't really. "We're sorry," said Ez.
The man nodded, and Ez thought he might let them go.
"Where do you live?" he asked them.
Ez looked at Hunter in time to catch a blur as he ran forward and jumped at the vampire, electrocuting him. The vampire spasmed and crumpled to the ground, unconscious - Hunter hadn't been gentle.
Ez looked nervously at the nearby houses as Hunter climbed off the vampire and pulled some handcuffs from his jacket, shackling him. But all the curtains and blinds were drawn. Another rule, or just a cultural thing?
"Head or feet?" asked Hunter.
"We're carrying him?" asked Ez.
"He's our hostage," said Hunter.
"You think that'll work?"
"The least we can do is try it."
"Okay," said Ez. "Carrying, though?"
Carrying people wasn't fun.
Hunter thought about it, his eyes flickering a bit. "Teleporting?"
"Um . . ." She didn't want to use that much energy.
"I'll scout ahead."
And he was gone.
Ez sighed and looked up at the sky. The moon was out, but it was still too early for stars.
How had she gotten herself into this?
What had happened to not being pestered?
She didn't have anything better to do, though.
She turned her gaze earthward again, to rest on their hostage. Still unconscious.
Hunter appeared in front of her. "This way," he said, and held out his hand. She took it, and he bent down to grab the vampire. As soon as he made contact, the world blurred and reformed into a very similar street.
Ez let go of Hunter's hand and sensed, the equivalent of looking around or sniffing the air. She felt the vampiric energy. It glowed, a dark thing thick with the mass of multiple vampires, coming from her right. She looked towards it.
Maybe the idea of Hunter being a bloodhound wasn't that ridiculous after all.
"They're in the town hall, aren't they?" said Ez.
"Probably," said Hunter.
Out of all the buildings on that side of the road, she would guess it was the town hall. That made the most sense. Lights glowed from the windows, and there was a sign on the door stating the purpose of the building. It was a rather grand structure, big, with pillars by the doorway.
"What do you think it was built for?" Hunter asked, the purple of interest flaring in him.
Ez shrugged. She didn't care. She had a rational, logical brain.
"Once arm each?" asked Hunter. Hands and feet would just be undignified, and they needed to make an entrance.
They bent down and fiddled with their hostage until they were supporting him, and carried him in, Hunter lifting a foot and blasting the door of the town hall apart to grant them entrance. He earned an eye roll from Ez.
The vampires swarmed out from the main hall, where they'd presumably been having a meeting (good night to pick, this one). They moved with extraordinary grace, and a tad faster than normal humans.
Maybe vampires weren't really that scary after all. Maybe it was just the way they moved, clearly signalling SUPERHUMAN, that made them seem creepy.
Hunter stopped walking and began to slowly let the hostage slide, and fortunately Ez got the message and let go. The hostage collapsed on the floor.
"What is this?" asked one of the vampires. The others' eyes were flickering to him. He was the leader.
Hunter pulled the vampire's handgun out of the 'immediate items' portal in his jacket and pointed it at the hostage. "An exchange," he said. "What we want in exchange for his life."
The vampires froze. Froze very effectively. They looked like statues.
"What do you want?" asked the head vampire. Not desperately, though. Coldly, condemningly.
"Venom," Hunter said, his voice clear, confident. "Vampire venom."
"For what purpose?" asked the head vampire.
Hunter shrugged. "I thought it might come in useful."
Ez really, really wanted his voice. If she'd tried to say that, it would probably have sounded like she was trying to get out of a corner. He sounded powerful.
"For what purpose?" repeated the head vampire, stressing the words.
Hunter looked at him directly, to take up time. He thought about it quickly. "Experimentation."
"That's a shame. We'll just have to kill him -" Hunter kicked their hostage "- then."
"Yes, I suppose you will," said the head vampire.
Hunter took a knife out and handed it to Ez.
You're making me do this?
She kept her expression carefully controlled as she reached down and rolled the hostage over. Emotions rose in her head, angels with wings wanting to carry her away from the wickedness of this, but she ignored them and sliced the knife across his throat.
Killing in cold blood. Never easy. As blood welled up, the emotions welled up inside her, reminding her of who he might have been, what good he might have had, but all she did was wipe the knife on his clothes - first one side, then the other - and stand back up again. Next to Hunter.
"Your hostage is dead," the head vampire told Hunter, as if they hadn't noticed. "What will you do now?"
Hunter grinned. "Attack."
Oh, FUCK IT, Hunter.
Ez leapt forward and pulled a lightsabre out, beginning to decapitate the vampires. It was surprisingly easy. They were stronger and faster, yes, but she was even faster, dodging them in a blur, and they'd all taken their serum tonight - no claws. She saw one of the vampires who was trying to rip his skin off. She severed all the skin on his head from the rest of his body to help him.
Then the gunshots began going off.
Ez instinctively ducked down and moved to a wall. She could probably live through most of what a gun could fire at her, but that didn't mean it was pleasant or convenient.
Sudden silence. Ez looked around, and saw nothing but bodies lying haphazardly on the floor. Were they all gone? Good. They were screwed if the serum needed to be fresh, though.
Where was Hunter?
"Hunter?" called out Ez, and then she saw him, lying on his back pressing his hands to his side.
His red, red side.
She checked around quickly in case anything would attack whilst she ran over to him, and then ran over to him.
"You idiot," she said, tugging his jacket away and reaching in to grab bandages.
He didn't reply. She looked at him and he was conscious, his eyes dark and his face pale. She smiled at him comfortingly. "Radioactive milkshakes," she said, and began opening the packet with the bandage in.
"Ez," he whispered, and she tensed as she sensed it too.
More vampiric energy.
She stood up, dropping the bandage, and was greeted by a wave of white animals.
Ez pulled out her lightsabre, blade blurring with her speed, and began slicing at them, but there were lots of them, a terrifying whirlwind of white biting, scratching, pain igniting everywhere, EVERYWHERE -
When Ez woke up, the pain was burning all over her, making her grit her teeth and force herself to focus.
Etherenergy glowed inside her, the comforting cool to the pain's red hot. Healing flowed through her in a wave that left tiredness in its wake, and she sat up, blinking against her suddenly heavy eyelids, the pain faded to a dimmer heat.
She sat up straighter, her sleepiness slapped back with a jolt, and looked around. She was in a dark place, a dark, dark place, with a cold stone floor, and Hunter was there.
Ez glowed, revealing herself to be in a stone room - walls stone, floors stone, ceiling stone, all grey bricks of stone - and Hunter was lying a little way away from her, nearer than she had expected, crumpled as if he was a discarded toy.
She was over to him in an instant, reaching her hand out to his face. Cold. She held her hand to his side like a torch, and bit her lip at all the blood. So much blood . . . so much . . .
She tasted some in her mouth and at first thought it was her mind playing tricks on her, a reaction to seeing his blood, but then healing tingled and she realised she'd bitten her lip too hard.
Idiot. Keep your head straight.
Putting her mind into action mode, she quickly reached into his jacket to pull out an energystick, a square of ethermelt, ANOTHER bandage and a knife. Her own knife had vanished, as had all her weapons. She recharged herself, popped the ethermelt into his mouth and used the knife to slice his shirt apart, then slotted the knife back into her belt. It fitted - Hunter had multiple models of the same one for this very purpose.
Never mind with the bandage for now. She out her hand on his wound, trying not to grimace at the thought of putting her hand into all that blood, and closed her eyes, sensing.
It wasn't too good. His body had worked as well as it could on his own, but the bullet was still inside him, and his body had started to form together around it.
Ohhhhhh God . . . this wasn't going to be nice.
Her emotions rose in a painful twinge, but she pushed them down harshly, and reached into his jacket to get out another knife, a thinner, sharper one, and more ethermelt. Having this much probably wasn't good for him, but hell, being shot wasn't good for him either (Hunter . . .). This ethermelt was liquid, and she poured it into the wound, mentally stopping it from moving, or trying to. You had less control over ethermelt in another etherdemon's body . . .
She took a deep breath - I'm sorry, Hunter - and stabbed her knife down into his bullet wound, slicing through his flesh like bloody steak. She felt it rip apart and winced - sorry, I'll fix you in a moment - and -
Hang on . . .
She'd missed slightly (God, sorry . . .). She stabbed into him again, at a slightly different angle, feeling like she was moving underwater through all the blood. So much blood . . .
Sorry, sorry . . .
Her knife hit metal and she pulled it out, putting her hand back on the bloody mess and closing her eyes, directing the healing using her own energy. Heal BEHIND the bullet . . .
Her energy drained in a sickening blur as Hunter knitted back together - he'd healed himself done it often enough for his body to know how, and besides, Ez was directing - and she clutched the energy stick for support, which only added to the swirling. She pause, taking deep breaths to clear her hand, and blinked past the purple sparks at what she'd done. Not much so far . . .
She delved back in again, healing, healing until the energy stick ran out.
The energy stick ran out.
She felt it when she hit the bottom, like a plug had blocked her off from the energy supply. She took another deep breath and reached over using her energy senses, her sight still gone. She easily picked the bullet out now, and chucked it to the other side of the room. There was still a wound, but it was smaller, much smaller. He would live.
She leant back, trying not to throw up, and hoped they had another energy stick. They must do . . .
She had closed her eyes, but there it was equally as black if she kept them open, except it never was black, was it? All those little dots swirling . . .
She next woke up to a jolt of etherenergy and Hunter's hand on her forehead. Her eyelids flickered open as her memories returned, and she almost wished he'd let her sleep.
"Thanks," came Hunter's voice out of the blackness, lying next to her on her right. She couldn't see his eyes, but his voice was a weird murky blue colour of serious gratitude. "Thanks," he said again, and she wished she could portray that much with her voice. She also wished she were too asleep to wish that. She wished she were asleep. Ground was too uncomfortable, though. She shifted on it, changing position in the hope of making it more comfortable.
"It's not a problem," she told him. "Any time."
And maybe her voice couldn't be that exact shae of murky blue, but it was as close as it was going to get, and she smiled at him in the dark, even though he couldn't see it. Because she would do it again, forever. Which was essentially entirely selfish on her part.
"Thanks," he said again, and his hand pressed into hers with something cold and wet and slimy.
"What?" Ez asked cautiously.
"Moist towelette," he told her. "Blood all over your hands. You look like one of those medieval surgeons."
She rubbed the moist towelette over her hands, making them glow in order to see what she was cleaning. "I don't think women were allowed to be medieval surgeons," she said.
"I never said you looked like a women," he said jokingly, and she hit him in the face with the moist towelette, which wouldn't hurt but would be slimy and wet and covered in blood so hopefully wouldn't be pleasant.
He took it off her and passed her a clean one. "Just complimenting your disguise abilities," he told her reproachfully.
"I'm too pretty to look like a man," she told him, extinguishing her glow and dropping the moist towelette on his face again. She heard the sound of cloth and presumed he was putting it into his jacket's bin.
"You could look like a pretty man."
"A pretty medieval surgeon?"
"They must exist. Sorry."
"Sorry for what?"
"Getting us here."
Yes, he had got them here, hadn't he? "You better be sorry."
"I am," he said. '"I'm sorry, Ez." And it was a different kind of sorry this time, a I'm-sorry-for-being-me kind of sorry, so she took his hand with her newly-cleaned one and squeezed it.
"It's okay," he told him. "Seriously. What else would I have been doing?"
He just shrugged, so she said "Where are we?" instead, changing the subject.
He shrugged again, the hand holdings her moving as his shoulders did. "I was out, I'm afraid."
"I was out."
"Oh dear. Who was in?"
"Not us," she said, and he laughed.
"I presume we're in a dungeon of some kind," she said.
He nodded. "Had a look around?"
"Well, there's a solid metal door blocking us in."
"Fun. How about air? Ventilation?"
"Small holes," he said, his voice lighting up with purple fascination, the bright kind that veered over to a reddish pinkish orangish colour. "There's these TINY TINY holes in the stone, and tubes taking the air to us . . . you wonder why they bother. They must have gone to so much trouble to keep us underground and not to have an air vent . . ."
She smiled at his enthusiasm, and squeezed his hand, mostly to let him know she was smiling. "Can we burn through the door?"
He sucked in a breath. "We could try."
"How thick is it?"
"How do you expect me to know?"
She let go of his hand and reached over to his jacket, flipping the edge towards her and reaching in it to pull out a lightsabre. "Only one way to find out," she said, jumping up.
She heard his feet smacking into the floor as he jumped up after her. "I don't know, don't you want to see what they have in store for us?"
She lit herself up so she could look at him with the full force of a "I don't believe you" face, then turned her glow off to conserve energy.
"Well, don't you -" he began.
"Hunter, you got SHOT."
"Well, that's my problem, isn't it?" Almost immediately afterwards, his voice dropped to blue and - "It's okay. I know." He pulled out his own lightsabre and stabbed it into the door, patiently waiting for it to heat up to a burn.
Ez stuck hers in the other side of the door. "How long was I asleep?"
"I don't know when I woke up."
"I'd say a few hours."
"You say that. You were unconscious when you got here?"
"Yes. I wasted energy healing you, so I'll have slept more than I naturally would."
The door flew backwards and Hunter and Ez only managed to jump back in time to avoid getting hit from it.
A couple of vampires stood there glaring at them, their faces vanishing into shadow as the glow from their jumping-back died down. One of them was male and fairly old, the other female and younger.
"What are you doing?" the older one asked.
"Escaping?" asked Hunter. Damn him.
"If you try it again, we will kill you," said the old man. The female reached for the door and slammed it closed.
Hunter turned his back to the door and slid down it into a sitting position. "I think we can take them," he said.
Ez sat down next to him. "They'll call for backup." Then, accusatorily - "You're not taking this nearly seriously enough."
He shrugged. "Being captured by vampires is cool." But his excitment had been dampened a little.
They sat there in the dark.
"Do you want to build a card stack?" Hunter asked.
"No," said Ez.
"Okay, so, we have two options," concluded Ez, drawing the results of their discussion together in her mind.
"Number one, build a card stack," said Hunter.
"Will you SHUT UP about that card stack?!" she asked in exasperation. "Okay. We can teleport out and make a run for it."
"And go home and build a card stack."
"Shut up. Or we can stay here and see what they have in store for us."
"And build a card stack."
"Hunter, I swear . . . !"
"Okay," he sighed. "Okay. Pluses of doing a runner - we might escape. Minuses - they might kill us. Plus card stacks. Pluses of staying - they won't kill us at the moment. Minuses - we might not like what they have in store for us. Plus card stacks."
"If you mention card stacks on more time, there'll only be one of us for them to kill."
"And one less of us to protect the card -"
Hunter quickly shot to the other side of the cell as Ez attempted to leap on him. She hit into the floor and stood up, staring at him from across the Hunter-lit cell. "There is nowhere for you to hide," she said, "and we need our energy. So please, PLEASE stop annoying me!"
"Is it my fault you don't like card stacks?" he asked, and she closed her eyes, trying very hard not to murder him.
Hunter turned off his glow and sat back down next to her. "How many vampires do you think there are in this town?" he asked in a measured blue voice.
Ez thought about it. "It's quite a big town. A lot."
"They must keep the whole of the town under their-"
"- And vampires will want to come here, it's a good place."
"We didn't kill that -"
"There'll be plenty left. If they police the whole town -"
"We'll have killed their most important vampires, though."
"YES. And if that amount is the most important ones, then the number of unimportant ones will be -"
"More than that."
"You have one?"
"Of course not."
"So, quite a few vampires."
"Are we going to survive that?"
They looked at each other. They were fast, but they didn't have any more energysticks (Hunter had checked), and if it was night . . .
"Option two," said Ez with a sigh.
"Bet you fifty dollars it's a death penalty."
"Fifty dollars of which currency?"
"Any of them. Make that a hundred."
His voice didn't actually sound all that gloomy.
"You're still interested by all this, aren't you?"
"It's interesting," Hunter said apologetically. "I can't help it. Anyway, now we're stuck here, will you build a card stack with me?"
They didn't sense the vampires coming until they were outside the door, and at first they thought it was just another guard patrol.
"There's a few of them," Hunter said. "They've come to get us."
He began demolishing their card stack.
Sure enough, the door opened, swinging forward silently. Light flooded the room, burning their eyes for an instant before they adjusted, and when they did Ez saw they were only carrying a few flashlights. She'd been in the dark a while, though . . .
Hunter used the light to grab a few cards he'd missed, and he stood up, glowing to provide further light and making her feel slightly guilty about the fact his shirt was still ripped and blood-soaked (although not awfully guilty - she had saved his damn life). She had stood as soon as she'd realised they were going. Maybe it had been Hunter's venture, but it was her life.
She turned her glow on as soon as he did, though. Seeing their faces might be useful.
There were eight vampires, and none of them were the guards they'd seen earlier. They'd probably been right to avoid doing a runner, then. Most of them were looking at the door. Some with displeasure, some looking impressed, some looking interested. None scared, though. Most of their faces swung round when Hunter and Ez lit up, swung round faster, faster than humans (Hunter and Ez were still faster though) (when they had energy), and stared at them with the same expressions in their faces. More annoyance this time, though.
One of them switched his torch off, and a few more copied. Ez had to fight the urge to laugh, although she wasn't entirely sure why.
Two of the vampires walked over with cuffs (one of them had her right arm already cuffed, and the other had her left arm already cuffed), and held out their non-cuffed hands to Hunter and Ez expectantly. Hunter put his right hand forward, and the one with her left hand cuffed walked over and used the other half of her pair of handcuffs to cuff his hand with a key and quick, sure fingers. She was young, Ez noticed - they were both quite young. All of the vampires in their cell were, come to think of it.
That made sense. If vampires didn't age, then naturally they'd use the ones with the youngest, fittest bodies to deal with prisoners (more evidence that they'd been right not to do a runner, although on the other hand letting themselves be trapped here wasn't looking too smart either). She wondered how old they really were, and then wondered if she could work it out, and then began examining them in order to do so.
Maybe she was as bad as Hunter, in her own way. Interest grabbed her too, she had to admit.
The one with her right hand cuffed cuffed Ez's left hand to hers, and began walking, pulling Ez with her. She didn't resist. The whole party of vampires, with Hunter and Ez in the middle, began walking out of their cell.
They walked into a dark corridor, also built of stone, with metal doors set at equal intervals down it. Only five metal doors, and then it was the stairs.
The stairs were also built of stone. They led up, and then they turned a corner, and they led up a bit more and then they were in another corridor, still built of stone.
Were they in a castle or someplace?
There were windows in this corridor, so Hunter and Ez turned their glow off and the remaining flashlights were extinguished. As they walked down the corridor, Ez looked out of one of the windows, and saw a row of houses.
They walked along the corridor, and into a hall.
The town hall?
The hall was set with rows of chairs and a makeshift temporary stage. They were coming into it from the side, with the main doors (double doors) to their right and the stage to their left.
In some of the chairs sat people, some ordinary-looking humans and some ordinary-looking vampires. The vast majority of them were empty.
Their little party walked up onto the stage.
A middle-aged vampire women - who had been standing on the stage to the left stepped out onto an extension to the stage, facing them. "Do you admit you killed members of our town yesterday?" she asked Hunter and Ez.
They looked at each other.
"Yes," Hunter said.
"Guilty," proclaimed the vampire, and she stepped down, looking relieved for some reason. A vampire man standing to the right of the chairs noted something down in a notebook.
Their vampires guides led them back off the other side of the stage and down another corridor on the other side of the hall.
Apparently, that had been a trial.
She might gain a hundred dollars off Hunter. Or not, if she was dead . . .
Ez shoved her fear away. They could get through this. They were Hunter and Ez, and a few vampires wouldn't bother them.
But now their death sentence was actually happening, her fear was creeping in and curling around her heart, no matter how much she cut it back.
She kept her face carefully composed, of course, but Hunter glanced at her, and Hunter could read her, and Hunter's eyes flashed brown and he nodded at her.
She smiled back at him, then put her face back under controlled.
This corridor led to a crowd of people. They heard them first, and sensed them soon after - they were quiet quite, for a crowd, then.
When they sensed them, they knew they were predominantly human.
That was more good than it was bad, Ez supposed.
The corridor led to the outside through an open door. They stepped out, and up some small steps - single file steps, slightly awkward to climb up when cuffed to another person - and onto another stage, this one bigger. Taller, anyhow.
When they stepped up onto the stage, Ez saw what must been the whole town staring back at them. They were in a town square, she noticed. Lovely business for the shops here.
This was an execution.
It had to be.
Nerves clenched down on her, harder than she was clenching down on them, and her eyes darted around, looking for an escape.
If we don't get out of this alive, Hunter, I'll kill you.
Or would if we weren't going to be dead anyway.
But we're not going to be dead. We're not going to be.
That was a Hunter-like reassurance, but she wasn't Hunter. She was more realistic than Hunter, and it didn't wholly work on her.
Keep your head straight. You can get through this.
Crowd in front of them, with vampires on the front row. Vampires behind them, and a building with vampires inside it. Vampires standing to the left and right of the stage.
Shit shit shit . . .
A vampire stepped to the front of the stage and cleared his throat. The head vampire.
They hadn't killed him?
Ez looked at Hunter, hoping for a signal, but he wasn't looking at her.
The head vampire held up his hands and the crowd quietened.
"We are a peaceful town," he began. "We have promised to bring you peace from the problems of the outside world, and for the most part, we uphold that promise. However, there are those that do not value peace such as we do."
Ez looked at Hunter again, and saw him mouthing the words "- is boring." Peace is boring. She supressed a smile.
"As such, in order to keep the peace," the head vampire was saying, "we must eliminate the problems obstructing the peace."
Hunter and Ez met eyes, exchanging 'Oh crap' expressions.
The head vampire stepped back, making a 'Behold!' gesture with his hands, and two more vampires stepped forward. They were holding swords.
Hunter wasn't the only one after all.
Ez heard some people in the crowd shout - not words, just an abrupt noise - and her head whipped forward to see that Hunter had teleported out of his cuffs on top of the crowd, falling on top of a bunch of people, and zoom - she was on top of them too, and people were crushed -
She scrambled up, rolling off the people that had cushioned her fall, and she stood up and began pushing through people.
They pushed back, and she was shoved violently in the opposite direction, her feet stumbling. She glanced up to see a sea of angry faces, and then they advanced straight into her, pushing her backwards . . .
She tried shoving them, but there were too many of them, shoving, kicking . . . she gritted his teeth and -
And what? What could she do? It was like shoving a wall.
The stage must be almost behind her now.
Someone shoved her in the eye and she gasped, blinking.
Ez hit one of them in the eye, moving fast, too fast for them to block.
Maybe she couldn't shove a wall, but she could get the wall to retreat.
She began hitting every eye she could see, making people flinch back and cry out. They were just civilians, weren't they? They'd back away if she hit back . . .
An arm was suddenly around her neck and she was choking. She electrocuted them and their grip loosened and she ducked out, then fell back with a kick to the head. Not a strong one, she was okay, but -
Someone stood on her stomach and she gasped, electricity flaring, but rubber shoes . . .
That shoe was pressing in on her now and OW - someone kicked her head . . .
Ez looked upwards and teleported above them again, but she felt weakness slip into her - or strength slip out of her - and she did so. She shouldn't do that again . . .
She landed on people, heard their yells, and scrambled off them before they could hurt her, beginning to make her way through again . . .
Suddenly a cold hand grasped her arm, tightly, too tightly to get out of.
Ez turned around in the suddenly still crowd. It was the same vampire who had handcuffed her.
The vampire turned around and pulled at Ez's arm.
She couldn't teleport again, could she?
Ez electrocuted the vampire, hard, and felt her grip slacken.
She shouldn't really be electrocuting either, but what else to do?
Ez shoved a person away before they worked out what was going on and came face-to-face with Hunter.
"Hi," he said, and then someone shoved him into her.
Electricity fired through Hunter, and he was grabbing her arm and pulling her, people spasming and falling around him . . .
"We don't have enough energy for this," she told him, voice raised so he would hear her.
"We'll make it," he said nonchalantly, stepping over a person lying on the floor.
"You're being overly optimistic," she criticised, not bothering with the stepping and walking over the people.
"Shut up. I electrocute, you shove. If we stay together, we'll only used half the energy."
"Not enough," she said, grabbing a freshly-electrocuted person 's arm and pulling him to the side.
"We'll make it," Hunter said cheerfully.
Ez had a very bad feeling about this.
People had seen the people dropping, though. They were clearing out their way . . .
Oh, that was why.
A vampire stood in front of them, a handgun pointed at Hunter.
Hunter froze, tugging his hands up. Ez began to raise her . . . and then twisted her right one, firing.
The laser burnt through the vampire's head, and Hunter and Ez ran forward, grabbing for each other's hands so as not to lose each other.
Ez gripped Hunter's hand firmly. Don't feel bad about it. Focus on getting out of here.
"Are we going in the right direction?" she asked him.
"Left direction. Don't know. We're going away though, left?"
"Hopefully," she said. Hunter was extracting energy from both of them and firing it from both of them, and she could feel her energy levels falling . . . "Maybe we should only electrocute when we're desperate?"
"We need to get away NOW," he emphasised.
"Better to get away later than not get away at all!"
The crowd was separating again.
That was probably bad . . .
Hunter's hand tightened around hers as he tensed, and she sensed it.
Vampires, surrounding them.
All holding guns.
Hunter and Ez froze, and the remnants of the crowd scurried away, packing in tightly around the circle of vampires.
"Maybe we should phone Blogland for back-up" murmured Hunter to Ez.
"Don't move," said the head vampire. "And that includes your mouths."
None of the vampires were moving either. They were frozen like statues.
Hunter looked at the head vampire, his eyes flickering a few different colours, his expression thoughtful.
Ez's eyes widened in worry. Whatever you're thinking of, Hunter, please don't do it. Please -
Purple light fired out of Hunter's eyes and the head vampire dropped to the floor, a hole through his head.
Ez immediately spun around with her hand out, laser light blazing out of her palm, burning holes through skin, clothes, whatever it touched.
But the vampires were fast . . .
Ez jerked as a bullet ripped through her shoulder, another through her leg.
Hunter pulled her by the hand, running again, and she stumbled. "My leg!" she protested.
"You idiot," he said mildly, and she felt energy fire down it, not healing it but keeping it stable, allowing her to run. She gritted her teeth and ran, trying to lift herself above the pain.
Trying to keep moving, despite the exhaustion.
We're not going to make it.
She realised she hadn't said it out loud. "Hunter -"
"Less talking, more running," he told her, and she barely caught his voice.
More energy flooded her system, taking the edge off - he must be draining a few phones. They carried on going.
Maybe they'd got away with it. There couldn't be many more vampires . . . could there?
"Feel that?" Hunter asked, pausing for a moment.
Ez pulled him on. "What?"
"That vampiric energy."
She sensed around.
There was practically a WAVE of it.
"Faster," said Hunter.
She was already going as fast as she could.
They raced onwards, electricity flaring, stumbling over people.
The crowd was thinning. Crap . . .
"Oh yes," said Hunter.
They'd reached the edge.
"It's a wall," Ez said.
"It's a SHOP," Hunter corrected, and blasted the glass, dashing inside the shop window.
Ez waited a few second before following him, cautiously stepping over the low bit of brick under the window and ducking her head.
It was a small charity shop.
Hunter was already pushing the fire exit door open at the back.
"Wait?" she called after him, pushing past the clothes and flying past the DVDs out the back exit.
He paused for a moment, then looked around the little yard at the back.
"Want a leg up over the wall?" he asked her. It was a brick wall, about as tall as them, and it went all around the yard.
She walked over to him and held her hand out. "Jacket."
He took it off, swinging it in front of him with the inside facing her. She pulled a plastic chair out , disconnecting it from the chain of plastic chairs by lifting it up, and placed it by the side wall –
"Back wall," he told her, tugging his jacket back on.
She moved the chair and stepped up on it, on it before pushing her hands on the top of her wall and lifting her feet up -
"Ez," said Hunter.
Ez lifted her feet over the wall and sat on it, facing the street behind the wall.
Well, more of an alley, really.
"I only have one usable hand."
He stepped onto the chair and reached his left arm around her, holding his hand in her line of vision.
She looked at it.
"Well, I'm sorry, next time I'll get shot in the leg like you did."
"You need your hands."
"You need your leg."
The wave of vampires was getting closer.
Ez shuffled to the left and pulled on Hunter's left arm as she pushed himself up with his right hand.
They jumped down (OUCH, that hurt her leg) and began running, Hunter pulling Ez to the right with the arm she was still holding on to.
"Do you know the way?" she asked.
"Why would I?"
They reached the end of the alley into a main street with shops lining it, and they turned left, away from the crowd and the vampires.
"Do you know where the portal is, at least?"
"Once again, why would I?"
"We'll just go away from the vampires," he said, and took another right turn.
"They're getting closer," she said.
"No they're not."
"Yes they are."
He stopped talking for a moment as he took another left, making them run in a staircase pattern. Up and away. "They're not getting closer."
"Yes, they ARE."
Well, they are, but we're getting further away at the same time so the distance is the same."
"No, they're -"
She paused (but carried on running). "Oh my God, you're right."
"I'm LEFT. And, yes, I am left. How could you think they were getting closer? They -" His eyes widened. "Shit. They ARE getting closer."
"No they're not."
"Yes, they ARE!"
"Crap, they're catching us up!" He ran faster, swerving into the next right turn. They were away from the shops into houses now.
"Hunter," she said, not speeding up. "THEY'RE NOT GETTING CLOSER."
"Yes, they ARE!" He had to slow down to keep pace with her, dammit.
"We're getting further away at the same time they're getting closer - are you sure you aren't confused?"
"Of COURSE I'm not confused!"
She sighed. "They're NOT getting closer. SENSE." She sensed. "See?"
He'd sensed too. "Yes, they are."
"They're NOT." She sensed again. "Really, they're - Oh my God, they ARE."
"YES," he groaned.
"Crap," Ez said. "They're gaining on us." She ran faster, wincing as the pain spiked up her leg. Running on it really wasn't good for it.
"YES," sighed Hunter, and he took another left, into -
Into a dead end.
They backtracked and took a right.
"We're going down the stairs now," Hunter said worriedly.
"The roads are curvy," Ez said. "We're not going anywhere anyway."
"Shut up and think positive," he said, as they curved around another curve -
Into a second dead end.
"Oh, FUCK," Hunter said.
"Thing positive, Hunter," Ez told him teasingly.
They'd have to turn around.
They didn't have time to turn around.
Hunter dashed forward down the side passage beside the house, stopping to lift the latch on the wooden gate into the garden.
Ez ran after him and they ran into the back garden.
It was a rather nice garden. It had flower borders and a fountain in the centre.
"We're going to have to stand on the flowers to get out," Hunter said, slowing to a stop.
Ez deliberately stomped on the flowerbed at the back of the garden, grinning at Hunter's horrified look, and scrambled over the fence, landing in another garden.
This one was less fancy. A plain grass square, with a plastic slide.
Hunter came over the fence as Ez began running down the side passage to the drive - this one didn't have a gate - and they were in another street.
"The vampires are still getting closer," Hunter said.
"Just checking. Seeing as how you can't sense for yourself . . ."
"Hey. I was the one who thought they were getting closer FIRST."
"They weren't then."
"They probably were."
"Then why did you decide they weren't?"
"You screwed my head up!"
They had turned left and ran onto a slightly wider road. Probably a busier one. They ran up it to the right, hoping it would lead out of the town
. . .
"No, I didn't. They weren't gaining on us, and then they -"
"Hunter, they're coming up the road!"
He turned around to see a black mass chasing them. "Crap. How many?"
"Do you think this road leads out of the village?"
She echoed his words from earlier. "Why would I?"
He caught the slight edge of panic to her voice and his mouth twisted slightly. "Okay, we'll take a best guess. RUN!" He set off, etherenergy burning through him and speeding him up . . .
She sped up with him, feeling her reserves draining. "We're not going to be able to keep this up much longer."
"Then this had better be the way out."
Sometimes Hunter was so EXASPERATING . . .
They carried on running.
Did this road go on forever?
Black spots started to flicker in her vision.
"Um, Hunter . . ." she said but her voice was quiet, too quiet . . .
Hunter gripped her hand.
"Crap, Hunter," she whispered. His energy was too low, and hers was the same . . .
"One of us might have to carry the other one," he murmured.
"Because carrying someone whilst running doesn't use up energy . . ."
He was quiet for a moment.
Longer than a moment.
Ez slowed down. "Okay," she said, running at normal pace, although her body was screaming out to stop, please stop . . . "We can't keep this up," she said.
He slowed down to match her, relieved of an excuse. "Well, what?" he said.
She looked at him and forgot what she had been about to reply. She frowned and looked away.
And stopped (oh yes, oh yes, STOPPING . . .).
He stopped, and she saw the dark relief on his face. "Yes?"
"FIELDS," she said, pointing.
He frowned. "You hate fields."
"We're out of the town!" she said, grabbing onto Hunter's arm in order not to fall over.
"You hate the town even more than you hate fields?" he asked, sounding impressed.
"No. Well, yes, but - we've escaped!"
"We still have a ton of vampires after us," he pointed out.
She frowned. Of course, they'd still chase them after they exited the town. Stupid of her.
She started running again, at human pace, and he ran next to her.
"Do you think we'll make it?" he asked.
"Do you really?"
"I'm trying to be optimistic, stop ruining it."
"Is that a CAR?"
He looked up, and saw there was a crossroads coming on.
On the road that crossed with theirs, there were cars.
Hunter let go of her hand dashed forward with newfound energy, before stopping and standing by the side of the road with his thumb out.
"Do you think they accept hitchhikers round here?" she asked, catching up to him.
"They're catching up with us," she warned.
"Cars are faster than people," he told her.
"I know that."
He nodded and switched arms.
"They're getting closer," she said again.
"I realised that."
She looked at him. His eyes were dark and red-tinged.
She bumped her shoulder against his arm. "Hey, it's okay," she said.
He didn't reply.
His expression was growing steadily darker.
A car pulled up by them and the darkness in his eyes flooded to gold before vanishing to a false blue.
"Need a lift?" the driver called.
"Thank you," Ez said with gratitude, reaching for the car door.
Take that, vampires.
"We still didn't manage to force the vampires to do anything," Hunter pointed out to her in a low voice.
"Oh, shut up," she said.