Anika rested in the spare bed in Jena’s bedroom. In the time since the two had gotten back, Ash had taken over Anika’s normal duties so Anika could rest and recover fully. Jena insisted that Anika be in the bunker like room instead of her normal isolated bedroom on the second floor where she liked it. The reason was so she could watch over her the younger Lilithian.
“So, he told you that a mage killed his wife and his mission is to find and have that mage killed. He still believes that mage is alive even though he is over seven hundred years old?” Jena questioned as she sat on the end of Anika’s bed.
Anika shrugged, “He said that the same mage killed my family so he took me under his wing after he found me. I think he thought that I was going to be his scion to take revenge on this mage. One of us would personally take revenge on that mage.”
“I don’t know a lot of immortal mages,” Jena replied, “Are we sure this person is alive?”
She nodded, “his wife was a vampire. When he found out, he had already become what he had called himself an afflicted human like herself. She was tracking this mage because he had wiped out her coven about a hundred years before and found him twice before. He didn’t change a day since the first encounter,” Anika recited from the story she remembered.
“So, this immortal mage killed her for the same reason that he killed your family? They were tracking down this mage too? Do you hae some sort of familial connection to Magnus?” like I had a familial connection to house Nameron?
Anika shook her head, “No. Magnus was tracking the mage when he found me. He saved me, actually. I don’t know why he targetted my parents. It could have been random because he had two jars and he put their essence inside them. Their bodies dissappeared and piles of chemicals took the place of their bodies. After that, their bodies appeared…” She started crying at that point.
Soul jars. He put their spirit in soul jars and took their bodies apart! Jena grimmaced and hugged Anika as she cried. She could feel hot tears run down her shoulder, “I will help you avenge yourself. I will help you find this mage. Forget Magnus. The real pain is with this immortal mage. Magnus will fade and die. I don’t think he will harm us anymore. Our survival will mean that we win the war while he has won the battle. You will get your final Vengeance.”
The Dark Church Boston Massachusetts September 29th, 2035-CE
The lieutenants of Magnus charged forward. Anika brought her Saiga up and pulled the trigger. The sound of the shotgun echoed through the open chamber making Lilithian and Vampire grimace in pain from the thunder of the shot. One Vampire fell from a bullet wound in the chest. The other fifteen tried to give as good as they got. Shots peppered the door behind them as both Anika and Jena shot along the back wall away from each other with Celerity boosted speed. Jena shot as she ran, emptying her second magazine. Most of her shots hit nothing. Some of the wild shots hit Vampires as they tried to scatter. One Vampire was hit in the chest, another in the head, dropping two in total. Four more were injured by wild bullets. Sixteen became thirteen in just seconds. At the same time Jena shot, she was sprayed with a hail of bullets, most hit. Her seal lit up green, protecting from all the shots at once. However, the adage goes, the Balance may protect her life, but it doesn’t protect her from the pain of the bullets. She dropped to her knee and her vision started to blur and she dropped her empty gun in response. A split second later another painful bang echoed through the cavernous chamber as Anika shot her Saiga. An unsuspecting Vampire fell to the ground from a shot to the head, the slug not spent, sailed through the air and hit another injured Vampire in the chest dropping that one as well. The smell of dust started to fill the room. They could tell that all the fallen Vampires were elders because they were not leaving bodies. When they died, instead of leaving a normal body or a shriveled body, they were turning to dust. They were all over two hundred years old. Before Jena could process that, or make her next move, she was sprayed with a cloud of acidic blood, causing her seal to remain lit green. She grunted and growled in pain as the spray of blood hit her. It was far stronger than she was expecting. It had to come from Magnus. Jena also knew that the ringing in her ears would also attract the attention of the other Vampires, leaving the ancient Vampire to deal with Jena. She reached out as a ball of energy appeared in front of her face. A sword appeared as she clamped down on the ball. Instantly, Jena charged forward, muttering a language that only Templars could understand. Her seal lit up in front of her for everyone to see. She jumped through the seal and appeared on the other side in her armor and her diamond shaped spirit marks visible around her emerald eyes. Holding the sword in front of her, Jena stabbed the Vampire in front of her and spun around, slicing through it from shoulder to shoulder. The sword of Avalon, the sword the Templars use, is a spirit sword that they use to seal away spirits and control the world with, however, it can also be used as a physical weapon. Jena caught the hail of bullets meant for Anika in time. All bouncing off her armor without as much as a scratch. Neither Jena, nor her armor, lit up green because of her exposure to the weapon’s fire. Anika took off in another direction and fired a third shot from her Saiga. This one aimed at Magnus. Magnus managed to dodge before the bullet ever hit him. In response, he sprayed her with a mist of acidic blood, ruining the coat on the guns she carried and injuring her slightly. “Damnit, Anika!” Jena cried out in horror as she charged toward Magnus. She launched her sword at him, but he turned to vapor as the sword touched him. She tried to wield the sword to open to swallow his spirit up, but it refused to open. Jena hissed, damnit! If we aren’t in the same form, we can’t take their spirits! Jena was returned with a spray of blood sizzling off Jena’s armor causing a green flash across the armor itself. Jena shook her head as she held her sword in front of her, “That acid blood seems to be your favorite weapon,” She commented in response to the mist form.” “One of the benefits of being ancient is this!” The mist form image of Magnus held his hand high and an entire cloud enveloped the ceiling of the cavern. The lieutenants turned to mist at that moment and hid under the pews just before the entire place was covered in toxic blood. Anika cried out in pain as Jena’s armor flickered green and sizzled. The pews changed from new and well lacquered to ancient and rotted as the scent of acrid burning filled the underground desecrated sanctuary. Jena grumbled and fixed Magnus with a rage filled gaze, “You have two choices Jena; kill me or save Anika. I won’t be here when you are done with her.”
“Storm the gate?” Anika questioned as they stood in front of a gate to a residence in the wealthy section of town. The fence was mostly stone except for a wrought iron gate in the front driveway. It was the most direct way in, to open the gate and get into the residence that way. Just the way that Anika would prefer to go, considering that she would prefer to take care of Magnus. Jena glanced to her companion as the started to walk around the circumference of the fence, “This is a large property. I think that we should use our Celerity and strength and jump over the fence instead of trying to go through the fence. That would still give us the element of surprise. We are going to need that to deal with another horde of Vampires.” “We are also going to need as much non-vital blood as possible. Which one is going to be worth more?” Anika mentioned. “This is your arena, Anika. Which one is worth more? While my powers are strong, it is just me. My powers can be limited after a bit.” Jena replied. “I thought your seal regenerated overnight? You didn’t use your powers enough to wait several days before full power,” Anika mentioned, “I still have to fight this battle,” Jena mentioned, “Even my power isn’t unlimited. I can’t just charge in and expect to take on a ton of Vampires before the evening is done.” Anika nodded, “Maybe surprise is better at this point.” Each leaped after syphoning small amounts of blood into their strength and Celerity. It allowed them to jump onto the top of the wall. It gave them a vantage point of the grounds as they Obfuscated themselves. This time, they didn’t trust anything. Any little move or shadow and they were ready to take out anything shadowing the other. Jena swept the grounds with her AR15 and Anika did the same with hers. They found a few humans patrolling the perimeter but no Vampires yet. There was nothing worthy of breaking out the two Saigas over. The muzzle suppressors on the AR’s would suppress enough of the sound that their Obfuscations wouldn’t break by firing on the humans. They weren’t the ideal weapons for sniping, but they would do in a pinch. Anika glanced to Jena as she leaned forward to take aim, “How many shots do you think we can get away with before we break our Obfuscation and need to move?” Jena shrugged, “I don’t know. It depends on how stupid those Vampires are. Do you mind if I leave the sniping to you since you are the better shot?” Considering I have to use aspect energy to get precise shots to strike reliably, I can’t afford to waste energy right now. Anika nodded. She took careful aim with the “iron sights” that were on the rifle. With the gun properly sighted, the aim would be good enough to ensure a body shot. Silver bullet or not, a shot through the heart, a shot severing the spinal cord, or a shot splattering the brain would kill a person, Lilithian, Vampire, or human. Since it wasn’t a sniper rifle, Anika didn’t take particular aim at the head. She more intended to shoot to kill in the main body, taking however many shots needed to kill, knowing that if she missed completely, she could risk her Obfuscation being exposed. Jena was impressed with Anika being so calm as she let out half a breath as she took final aim and letting out the rest of it as she pulled the trigger. The bullet raced through the air almost as silent as a hummingbird through a quiet night. The smell of cloying gun powder filled the air. Only the sound of a dropping body alerted the guards that something was amiss. Anika didn’t wait for the shell to hit the grass to see if the sound of the shell would dispel the Obfuscation. As the two guards checked their fallen comrade, Anika took aim at the first one’s head since it presented a better target. The aim was not as long as the first one, she pulled the trigger and a moment latter the man fell as his head sprayed out and sprayed his comrade in the face and arm. The third shot didn’t have the careful aim as the first one and thus the man didn’t fall with the first hit. He was struck but before he could raise his own rifle to fire back, Anika’s second shot hit him in the heart, dropping him to the ground. She glanced to Jena and said, “Let’s move before they figure out they are under attack. We still have the element of surprise.” They jumped off the roof and landed on the ground. They headed for the main entrance immediately. As they headed there, they glanced around checking to see if there was any armed security. Considering there was none, the patrols had not yet been alerted to anything being wrong. The lights were not on in the home. They got to the door where Anika knelt and took out her kit. Unlike the previous location where she tried, the alarm system was more sophisticated. Jena turned around to stand guard while she broke through the locks without setting off the alarms. Jena started to get nervous as the minutes started to tick by, “Anika!” She hissed nearly silently. “You want it done right or done fast?” Anika questioned in response, “in one way we get in and we still have the element of surprise and the other we may get caught.” A guard walked around and was caught by surprise by silenced bullet fire from Jena’s AR. She glanced back to the red headed, freckled Lilithian, “Done right may also get us caught. May I suggest combining fast and right?” “If you can influence chance, then I suggest you influence my chance at getting this right, right now,” Anika suggested. “I’m not someone that knows how to break alarms,” Jena responded. “But I am,” Anika replied, “Can’t you just think of something like, ‘have Anika succeed,’ or something like that?” Jena thought about it for a moment. She figured she might be able to succeed if she funneled some Aspect energy into Anika for the task. She touched Anika’s shoulder as a gold flash emanated from her seal and transferred to Anika’s seal. She nodded, “Try again, my friend.” Anika nodded and went back to her task. Jena turned around and saw an agent of the house. He had his rifle narrowed on the two of them and radio out. “Shit!” Jena breathed quietly and pumped the trigger several times, putting several bullets into the human, hopefully before anyone could be notified of the breach. As expected, the door was opened a moment later. She glanced to Anika and reported, “You may have spoken to late about your problems. We may no longer have element of surprise.” “That second guy?” Anika questioned as they rushed in. Jena nodded. As if to confirm her worst fears, the lights came on in the building. Anika slung the rifle over her shoulders and pulled out her Saiga. Both slowed from a run to a cautious walk as they waited to hear the sound of foreign footsteps from all directions. There was nothing coming from the grand hall so they headed through the upstairs which is where they encountered resistance in the form of gunfire. Anika used her Celerity to jump out of the way in the nick of time from several bullets and took a pot shot with her Saiga. The shotgun blast punched a hole in the human’s chest and managed to clip a Vampire behind in the shoulder as a bonus spinning him around for Jena’s dead center blast with her AR. “Aim improving or are you cheating?” Anika questioned as Jena spun around to take on a new group of humans and Vampires from the other hallway. “Aim for center mass is what you tell me,” Jena replied as she continued to fire. She about spoke again when another shotgun blast drowned her voice, “…natural improvement.” “What?” Anika questioned as she finished off the last Vampire in her group. “All that cheating at home led to some natural improvement,” Jena repeated. Before they knew it, the second level was clear. Jena and Anika glanced at each other before glancing at the hallway, “So, we check the rooms to see if anyone is still up here.” “Hopefully one of them is Magnus,” Anika stated in response. Silently, both checked the rooms and found that the multiple offices and guest rooms were empty. Nothing seemed to be out of place. The office and rooms seemed to correspond to the rooms that belonged to the fallen foes. Seeing nothing of consequence, Anika and Jena worked their way down to the main floor to check the rooms there as well. Jena shook her head as they started to check the rooms there as well, “This has me thinking of the Missoula Montana compound,” She mentioned. “Why?” Anika inquired. “Because this place seems to be business on top,” Jena stated in response. “Huh?” “It is pretty much what you would expect on top, a mansion. I don’t see anything that would suggest a Vampire conclave,” Jena replied. We might need to go straight to the basement to see if we can find anything.” They rand down to the main floor and ran through the kitchen, storage, dining room, and entertaining rooms as well as an office. Nothing seemed out of place on the main floor. They found a stair well to the basement which they took. Considering it was the only one, Jena did not like their odds of being boxed in. At the basement, they found more guards, completely unaware. Before the humans could react, Jena pulled the trigger and swept the room with her weapon, killing the humans in the room and emptying her magazine. “You don’t have to go all ‘last action hero’ over there,” Anika commented as Jena ejected the magazine, dropping to the ground. “Cleared the room,” Jena jibed as she loaded a new magazine and pulled the slide back to lock a new round into the chamber. “Every round that goes into the wall alerts people that we are here.” Anika cautioned. Jena moved forward slowly. The other times she had been calling the shots, much like Lone Wolfe had been. No one seemed to come out of any hidden or far off door. They continued forward, checking rooms that they found as they went. They came to a door at the end of the hallway that they swore ended far too soon. They opened it to reveal another set of stairs that seemed to go straight down. Seeing the steps, made of stone and topped with fresh flag stone, they glanced to each other, “The other place was old,” Jena replied, “But it was an unholy church. Did he create another one for his coven?” “That or a panic room, maybe a way to escape,” Anika suggested. Jena shrugged but led the way down the stairs anyway. She strained her ears to hear any disturbance come from below them. It was Anika who broke the silence in the humid stairwell, “Do you think this is real stone?” Jena glanced down at the polished flagstone they stood on and nodded, “I don’t think they have a mage. This was dug out.” “Wait, after the Mansion was built?” Anika inquired. Jena shrugged, “The mansion on the outside did not look new. Also, who would agree to build another sub-basement that is way deeper that probably has duplicate amenities as the top and has a strange cathedral in the back.” They reached the bottom of the stairwell where there was a set of ornate double doors. Jena and Anika glanced at each other. They knew that the element of surprise was over. They feared that there would be a hundred Vampires on the other side of that door, “To think I thought upstairs was the final battle. You ready?” Anika nodded and readied her Saiga on the door, “Blunderbuss at the ready.” Jena held up her gun and kicked the door in. There amongst the pews they expected at the massive opening within were sixteen Vampires. They rose up with their eyes on the two Lilithians and at the Diadem was a familiar black slick haired blue-eyed Vampire, “You found me faster than the church did, Jena. I imagine that Anika did most of the heavy lifting. You know most Lilithians have left me alone since I hunt mages.” “You made this personal since you decided to attack me to get some money,” Jena replied, “Why did you make a boneheaded maneuver like that?” “There are things that Miranda needs to unlock a power far worse than people know. You hold that last key. Once you know about it, you will want to keep that last bit of information from her as well. At least if you remember it. Unlike us Vampires, you can awaken ancient evils, Jena. That is the reason why I targeted you. If I knew you were a Templar, I would have left you alone, confident you would have made the right decision. You have to know that I only had the best thoughts of humanity in mind. We are all afflicted humans here, not Vampires. Afflicted, like your friend, Lone Wolfe.” Don’t mention his name, you bastard! Jena hissed inwardly as her eyes widened. Lone Wolfe had insisted that he was an inflicted human, but to Jena, she always thought that he was a Lilithian. She didn’t know why taking that away upset her. “It’s too late to plead, what did you think would happen when you double crossed me?” Anika questioned, speaking over Jena. “You have to see it from my situation, I thought Jena had already turned you at that point. She would have polluted your mind with the typical notion that all Vampires hunt down Lilithians and kill them. Since I am a Vampire she would have lumped me in with that and you naturally would have come after me. I had to intercept you first.” Magnus explained. “But you could have proved her wrong,” Anika explained, “I was still human and I still had faith in you. The other houses didn’t attack you since you went after mages only.” “if you won’t back down then I guess you will have to meet your end,” Magnus stated.
“Who would have thought I would have ended up back here?” Jena questioned to herself as they walked through the airport. It was a smaller airport than the main one. It allowed them to get all their weapons through with no questions asked. They were sure they could get their pistols through on checked luggage if they went through commercial flights but the Saigas and the AR15s that Jena selected were probably a little much. “I don’t see why we took the large guns with us,” Jena replied, “We are only scouting.” “If we are ready, we can attack,” Anika insisted, “The best time to pull off a mission is when no one is expecting it. No offense but I am getting a little tired of your plan, plan, plan method.” “If I remember properly, two of us wiped out your horde of Vampires,” Jena commented, “Is that one of your ‘surprise!’ attacks?” “Well, yes,” Anika mentioned. “Notice how things go better when you plan ahead?” Jena questioned in response. “Notice how that phrase, ‘no plan survives contact with reality intact,’ always applies,” Anika rolled her eyes in response. “For someone that is really good in espionage and gathering just about anything in a clandestine fashion, you suck at planning an operation,” Jena shook her head. They sat back in the Obfuscated car and watched the small office building, “I don’t suck at it, I just don’t like your method.” “Measure twice, cut once,” Jena reminded. “You measure twice, and measure twice again! Twice more then cut!” Anika let out an exasperated sigh. “By your method, we would be charging that building already,” Jena glanced down to her holsters and pulled out her pistols. She ejected the magazine and checked to make sure all seventeen bullets were loaded in the magazine. “By your method, we would still be at the hotel, having another meeting,” Anika insisted. “There are two of us, what would be meeting about? Our takeout meal?” Jena smirked. “What shall we have ordered this time? Room Service and wait forever, or have driver serviced fast food?” Anika laughed, “The former would give us time for a meeting. The later would allow you to reminisce on the days of old when you and your high school friends would prank your town.” “Would you stop!” Jena playfully smacked Anika’s shoulder, “It would be dinner and a movie, and you know it!” “You make it sound like a date,” Anika commented after a round of raucous laughter. “Not my fault that I know you like stuff like that. I bet if we give you an extra couple of days you would like some simple meals from room service and you would do pay-per-view movies on the sofa in the main room.” “You know I haven’t seen anything in or outside of the building for some time,” Anika mentioned, back to her normal tone, “Perhaps even he does daylight hours. “Magnus is a Vampire that hasn’t taken on any taint. Either he does what we do,” Jena suggested, “Or he drinks blood from containers like most Lilithians. I can’t see how he could get away without drinking blood period considering that most Vampires are dependent on blood more than we are.” “How so?” Anika questioned in response. “Once they have no non-vital blood, they cannot use their powers,” Jena answered, “We still can, we just end up using our life force. Something we inherited from the Succubi.” Anika shrugged as she glanced around the building. She noticed that there were security guards patrolling the building. There were two of them, neither one were armed. They were from an outside firm. Anika could surmise that their primary role was to run the rounds around and inside the building and regular intervals and report back. If something outside that happened, they were supposed to call police or emergency services followed by their employers. Anika shook their head, “It looks like this place is only being patrolled by eyes and ears. So protected by an alarm system like before. Are you sure we have the right place.” Jena nodded, “That is what Richard was helping me with. All the data and meta data he had downloaded from his hacks showed that the calls and other stuff was from this location.” “This office building lacks the security needed to protect him,” Anika argued, “I doubt he would be in here. He would demand protection that would rise to a higher standard.” “That might be why we can’t find him,” This might just be a front location. He could be elsewhere.” “The VPN traffic was traced to here. He didn’t hide the tunneling that well,” Jena replied, “Even you have our traffic behind a secure core connection within the VPN.” “But no one is here. Something is wrong,” Anika replied. She glanced around to see if anything else seemed out of place. Aside from a few cars sitting in front of the office building and a few other cars parked near other buildings, the place appeared open and dead. “I have a feeling we stick out like a sore thumb.” “An Obfuscated car, sticking out like a sore thumb,” Jena chuckled, “We are more likely to get ran into by a human not paying attention.” “The problems with the shadow wrapped around you, your perception really works against you,” Anika shrugged, “But the real question is, can Lilithians see past it?” “I thought we did a good job on the car, but the answer is a good Lilithian might have a chance to see it,” Jena nodded. “How about a good Vampire?” Anika questioned in response, “If there is a good Lilithian that can see past it, then odds are good that there will be a good Vampire that can see past it.” “I don’t think Magnus will spend his time snooping around looking for people at night that could be on the prowl for him. If he is going to have security armed with guns that are stocked, locked, and ready to rock, it’s going to be his house. He will want to feel safe there,” Jena shook her head. “Are you sure about that? Maybe he has some sort of safe house we don’t know about?” Anika suggested, “You say that he is being hunted by the church so he could have something in place in case of any plot. If he heard of us coming, he could set his plans in motion. He could be gone like a fart in the wind or hunkered down until we give up looking for him.” “We might be able to find some of that information here,” Jena stated in response. “If there is nothing more than an alarm system, we can get in and get things like his home address. Maybe we can find him there. If nothing else, we might be able to get the location to his haven before sunrise and ambush him there.” “You realize he might have a false location hidden in both locations,” Anika contested in response. Knocks on the outside of the car alerted them to the presence of other people. Jena glanced around with her seal sight, realizing too late that she had been neglecting to use it all night. Suddenly, sixteen figures appeared around them, in full armor with assault rifles pointed in their direction. The noise only exposed the two that were foolish enough to graze the car. Jena touched her aspect well, dispel, using enough aspect energy to power the spell to wipe the Obfuscation away from everything in the area. Jena knew that she could fight her way out of this. The problem was Anika would not survive the fight. Jena put her hands up but shook her head slightly when Anika did the same, “Take us to your leader?” The lead Vampire sneered, “How about we send you to meet your maker instead!” Jena slapped her hands together, barrier! She intoned inwardly as her seal flashed gold. The barrier enveloped around her and pushed the Vampires out of the way as they started to shoot. Anika glanced to her, “Good thinking.” “Only a temporary solution, we still need to get out of this quagmire,” Jena pondered. She glanced around, “I hate to take a page out of the mage handbook, but I see no other choice. How do you feel about teleportation?” “Not big on it,” Anika stated in response. However, she saw Jena start to phase. A moment later the two of them and their car disappeared from the business park and ended up in the hotel parking lot. Jena laid back and breathed a sigh of relief. She glanced to Anika, “Well, say it.” Anika looked confused, “Say what?” “Get your ‘I told you so,’ out of the way. You were right. We need another way in there,” Jena mentioned. Anika shook her head, “The outing told us one thing.” Jena looked confused, “What was that?” “We are on the right track and he has a lot of people assembled to protect him,” Anika replied, “I think we need to contact Richard and see if he can figure out where Magnus lives and how to find him. We need to lay on the final attack before he skips town.”