Dark Fate 3

*I SPENT THE LAST HOUR TRYING TO POST THIS.  I’M LATE BUT NOT THAT LATE.  D*MNED WORDPRESS WAS NOT WORKING IN CHROME AT ALL.  FINALLY BROUGHT UP ANOTHER BROWSER. GRRR. SAH*

*FIRST AND VERY IMPORTANTLY, THIS IS NOT CANON.  THIS IS COMPLETELY UNSANCTIONED (okay, not completely.  Larry said I could do this for you guys without his ripping my head off) MHI FANFIC.
Good, now that we got that out of the way, why am I doing this?  Both Grant and Fado Negro (Portuguese Monster Hunters) have minuscule parts in Guardian, the MHI book I’m collaborating with Larry Correia on.  However, obviously the Portugal of Monster Hunter is not the real Portugal (Really, no arcane creatures come stumbling out of the undergrowth there.  If there were arcane creatures, the country would be chock-a-block in them, when you take in account the continuous human occupation since… well, forever.)  And this story gives me more of an opportunity to firm the worldbuilding.  (Yes, it would be MUCH easier to do this with a notebook and noting things down, but that’s not how my mind works, d*mn it.)
Okay, that’s the rational excuse.  The real reason is that d*mn Grant Jefferson won’t leave me alone.  (Always had a thing for men from Patrician New England families.  Ask my husband.)  So I’m torturing him.  Also Guardian won’t come out until I do this more or less at same time (I’ll be sending first chapter of that to Larry soon.)
Will this ever be a book?  Don’t know.  First Guardian will get delivered.  Then, this being finished, I throw it at Larry.  And then it’s his SOLE DECISION. (Which means, don’t you monkeys hassle him.)  It’s his world and his character.  I’m just grateful he lets me play in it in Guardian and here for your amusement.*

First chapter is here.

Second Chapter is here

III

The hotel I’d booked, down near the river, in what used to be the medieval part of the city, came highly recommended, and was supposed to be actually a set of mini-apartments, kind of like a more ritzy embassy suites.

The area itself was beautiful.  Narrow streets flanked by housefronts that ended about one inch from the street and that linked to their neighbors on either side.  Only the different colors, and the entire area was painted in bright, primary colors, told you where a house ended and the next one began.  Some of the windows were surrounded by carved stone work that in the States would be locked up in some museum.

But it wasn’t all sculpture and high class.

Part of what I was getting used in the country is that they did just about everything in less space.  It reminded me of when my parents took me to Japan on vacation when I was ten.  The lobby of the hotel was appropriately grandiose, furnished with bits and pieces of antique or antique-looking furniture and ornamented with bits and pieces of masonry probably salvaged from the neighborhood during renovations.  From what I’d gathered online this area, though now one of the primary attractions of the region, had once been decayed and scabrous, the haunt of prostitutes, pimps, pickpockets and any other unsavory type of person, whether their occupation started with p or not. There were interesting scraps that looked like parts hacked off Roman columns, and other interesting shards that looked like they might have been medieval and roughly carved.

I noticed particularly part of a woman’s face hanging on the wall.  It was the face of a statue that must be at least as old as Rome, and had once been creamy marble, but which was now stained and blotched with age, with something green growing on the corner of the mouth, giving her smile a wicked twist.  It seemed to me that the carved eye — only one remained, since the salvaged portion was little more than a quarter of the face — followed me up to the registration, as the line wound its slow way forward.

All through this, my phone — a blackberry because Monster Control Bureau was not the most up to date thing in nature — kept trembling with arriving texts.  I ignored them, having decided that I’d save all the unpleasantness Franks could rain on me all at once instead of piecemeal.

I had no idea at all what was going on in Portugal that Franks wished he could evacuate all American citizens from the country.  And all I could think is that it was a hell of a time for Julie to be here.  And she certainly shouldn’t be here on her own.  I intended to make sure she got through this in one piece, if it was the last thing I did.  It very well might be.

Check in was handed by a sharp-faced young man who looked at me critically from behind his glasses, visibly wondering if I belonged in this high class hotel.  I could only imagine what I looked like, not only having been batted around by the troll things, but having lain who knew how long on the — probably mossy – floor of a medieval cell, and then to boot having had water thrown over my head.  I felt my cheeks color under the man’s dubious appraisal, but fortunately Amex platinum covers a multitude of sins.  Once that came out it was all smiles, and eagerness to accommodate me. American Express, no explanation necessary.

I asked for two keys, mostly because I’d been in Europe before and was on to their little trick of not letting you run the air conditioning or heating unless the key was inserted into the unit.  I had no intention of freezing or baking — I wasn’t sure which one was more likely in June in Portugal, and it could be either, depending on the time of the day — because the room’s systems couldn’t function unless I was in them.

After another short wait for the elevator, and a creaky trip up — the place was modernized but the structure itself was probably eighteenth century — I found myself in a long hallway with marble floors and tasteful imitation-roman frescoes on the wall.  I had to admit that the Europeans did opulence better.  When Americans try it there’s always a chintzy look to it and the sort of Caesar’s palace in Las Vegas feel of “come on, rube.”

I slipped my key into the door.  It opened.  And I started to apologize, feeling vaguely embarrassed but also irritated.  It wasn’t the first time this happened to me, but it only happened to me in Europe.  I had been given an already-occupied room.

She was beautiful and half naked. Olive skinned, almost as tall as myself, with long black hair, and luscious skin.  She seemed to be wrapped in a towel, and as I opened the door she turned to look at me over her shoulder.

“I’m sorry,” I said.  “I–”

That’s all I had time for.  I had an impression of almond-shaped, mysterious-looking eyes, and a red mouth.

And then she was on me.  At first, as she put her arms around me, I thought it was just that the hotel had prostitutes, and she’d got into the room and was waiting for me, after perhaps a discrete call mentioning a platinum amex.

But as she wrapped herself around me, right there at the door, and I tried to step back, it felt not like I was being held by a luscious half naked female, but more by a–

Cobra.

I flung myself sideways.  I couldn’t fully escape her coils, but it was enough that her attempt to tear my throat open was thwarted.  I felt a sharp pain behind my left ear but I didn’t have time to deal with that right then.  I had an up-close-and-personal view of a beautiful girl’s face, her mouth impossibly open, revealing needle-sharp fangs. She looked like the marble piece in the hall.

I lifted my hand, that held my suitcase, and slammed her face with it.

Through my head, like a narration, went the lecture on lamias I’d got while training as a federal agent.  MHI hadn’t bothered with them overly much because Lamias aren’t an American problem.

I remember being bored out of my head while the instructor droned, “Lamias are the Roman version of vampires.  Beautiful women from the waist up, they’re snakes from the waist down.  They hang out in cemeteries, though they’ve also been reported in any place where a lot of Romans died violently.  They often attack tourists visiting Rome.”

Well I wasn’t in Rome, but I didn’t particularly care.  She was still a woman from the waist up and a cobra from the way down, and if she was only a lamia’s second cousin, I couldn’t care less.

I banged my suitcase over her head hard enough to get her to let go of me, stumbled back and looked around wildly for anything I could use as a stake.  I hadn’t heard any of the lecture see?  Mostly because I was bored and thought that I’d never run into a lamia.  Which just showed you what an idiot I was.

I assumed stakes would work. But there were no stakes in the room.  None.

It slithered towards me, somehow remaining upright, but undulating with the kind of movement that no bipedal ever had.  I tried to get back to the door, but she was in my way. I had a glock and silver ammunition in my checked luggage.  But there was no way, no way in hell I could get to it.

One thing they teach you in monster hunting, both MHI and federal is that there are no such things as dangerous weapons.  There are only dangerous people.  And they’d taught us to be dangerous.

I grabbed the floor lamp, wielded it like a lance.

It hesitated.  I speared it through the chest.  Or more like I lightbulbed-and-poled it through the chest.

Blood poured out of her, soaking the carpet. Damn it, that was going to put a dent on the Amex.  She fell down writhing.  And my phone was ringing continuously.

I got it out of my pocket.  I could barely speak through panting as I said, “Yes, Agent Franks, sir, if you’ll excuse me, I was just killing a Lamia.”

“What?” A feminine voice said from the other side of the connection.

I didn’t say anything.  I flung the phone down. Out the corner of my eye, I’d seen the lamia regenerate, and come towards me.

I jumped behind a huge armchair.  I despise the self-healing ones.

*Sorry this was so late.  The best I can describe today is like this:

1e0a2d08ca72844e899546140b8aeb50*

55 responses to “Dark Fate 3

  1. After reading the other comments for these I think I’m the only MHI fan who still has a soft spot for Grant, and I’ve been loving these little bits you’ve been dropping for us.

    • I don’t even have a soft spot for him. He just installed himself in my head!

      • I don’t have a soft spot for Grant, but I always thought he was handled clumsily in the first novel. We didn’t get to see him be impressive enough for Julie to have fallen in love with.

        I’m rooting for this fic to do precisely that.

    • …you’re not the only person with a soft spot for Grant.

      Do you have any idea how hard it is to dig an unmarked grave in really hard soil?

      • That sounds more like you need to find a soft spot than already have one. Look into a back-hoe? Or if you insist on solid rock plentiful amounts of c-4. Granted large explosions probably aren’t part of effective and discrete body disposal. . .

        I’m over hating Grant. He screwed up and he’s a douche but he seems like he might get over it eventually. It’ll probably require repeated blows to the head and it looks like our esteemed hostess is planning on dishing out quite a few.

        Am I the only one laughing at the thought of Franks texting? I wonder what the average life of Franks phone is? More or less than the life of a monster in Franks sites?

        • backhoe tracks aren’t exactly discrete either. If you carefully cut the sod and collect the dirt on a tarp you can almost completely hide a hand dug grave even a few days after the fact. You just need a bit of time for the flattened grass to perk back up, and a person sized grave is just a scaled up version of a pet sized one. As a kid I had a lot of practice digging the latter in the back yard.

          • I am glad you clarified….

            • Whoever ends up buying my parents house is going to have an interesting time if they end up deciding to redevelop the property as a half to a dozen mcmansions. (The way their town is being sprawled over, assuming the township eventually runs water/sewer lines out this’d be the way to bet.)

              The backyard has a medium size dog and 10ish cats buried in scattered plots most with cinderblocks above the remains and at most a flagstone with a few chips of paint on it as a marker. (I’m not sure if the blocks actively discourage scavengers from digging or just force a deeper hole; but none of the graves we’ve protected that way’ve been dug up and a lot of the older ones were.)

              In addition there’re several mass graves with culled chickens, assorted singly buried birds when conditions were wrong for a bon-fire cremation, and several raccoons that were trapped and summarily executed after deciding a live chicken dinner sounded tasty; all in completely unmarked graves.

  2. Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

    Hopefully, the woman on the phone is associated with Dark Fate. 😉

    • Oh, I’d just assumed that Franks had gotten himself severely damaged again and MCB had to patch him up with whatever was available and… well… beggars can’t be choosers. Your guess makes more sense.

  3. Big grin! I like this story.

  4. Kinda like a short movie serial with better cliffhangers!

  5. Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

    Almost Forgot.

    More Please. [Pleading Smile]

  6. Travis Siegel

    Yes, Yes, definitely, more.
    *beg* *beg* *beg*

  7. I guess you’re saving “her attempt to tear my throat open what.” for the print edition. *g* And big “g” Glock.

  8. Of course print. Us Luddite tree-killers need love (and new fiction) too.
    JPDev

  9. Get some rest. (No offense but this sounds like me when I haven’t slept for 3 days straight.)

  10. Comment to log back into WP. I gotsa Minty fresh install of Mint. My Kubuntu upgrade made the few issues I had worse.

    • So far Mint 18 (Xfce) has not anything to really annoy me. And everything seems to be working. Even an ancient (USB 1.1) scanner, once the ancient files it needed were in place.

      • I went with the MATE version. so far, so good. Once I decide where the desk will actually sit, I will exhume my old scanner, and get a new(ish) printer.
        If it keeps up, I shall try it on my laptop as well, it though, may suffer from hardware flakiness.

  11. “ondulating” undulating?
    “bipedal” biped?
    “handed” handled?
    ” I couldn’t fully escape her coils, but it was enough that her attempt to tear my throat open. ” sentence fragment?

    Please, don’t interpret these as criticisms! Just offering them up in case they need to be fixed for the aforementioned print edition. Thanks for writing and posting this! I’m on tenterhooks waiting for the next exciting installment.

    Judge Posner is still a moron.

    • Is it odd that one of my favorite parts is the him requesting two room keys and the explanation of why?

      • It’s called local color. Funny that, you almost get the feeling that the author might have been there once upon a time.

    • More minor nitpickery: the lamia seems to switch back and forth between “her” and “it” from sentence to sentence. I’m assuming that her name isn’t Caitlyn. 🙂

      I am literally laughing out loud at the idea of Franks being given a female body.

      • Perhaps it is an “it” when it wants to be an it, but is a “she” when she wants to be a she, and both when sheit wants to be.

        OK, probably time to go to sleep before more such warped thoughts go leaving my brain and making it to the keyboard.

    • yeah, when I don’t feel quite myself the spelling and bits suffer.

    • Rule of the House Hoyt.
      On blog posts Thou Shalt Not expect proper grammar, spelling, or complete sentences.
      For PC literary proper english crap hie thee to Vile 666 or other SJW hangouts.
      Entertaining stories, or correct english, choose wisely.

  12. ” *Sorry this was so late.”

    Geeze, you take all the fun out of jerking your chain. Ah well, I notice that (unlike last episode) you haven’t chained your jerk.

    Lamia, oh! Lamia, say have you met Lamia
    Oh! Lamia, the vampire lady
    She has eyes that folks adore so
    And a torso even more so …

  13. Thank you. More, please?

  14. Gaaaah! Way to leave us hanging.

  15. Oh, so that’s what a lamia is!

    (And the two keys trick is interesting.)

    • Some friends of mine through church discovered this when they went to Poland for Workd Youth Day this summer. They also pointed out that any cards od the right size work, and stuck a business card in the slot while they were gone.

      • Cruise ships seem to have the same thing (at least the one we were on) – also lights wouldn’t work. But we eventually used other cards. Not cause we wanted to leave the lights on – but because we didn’t want to fumble with a card when we got back.

        If you have kids, you need to impress on them that it is NOT funny to remove card while sibling is in the bathroom – plunging them into complete darkness. Because the designers put the light controls and card slot on the outside of the bathroom.

        -John

      • The hotel in the Netherlands I stayed at during a business trip had the same key/light arrangement. As you mention, any cards of the same size work – including my supermarket shoppers card, library card, and the card from the sub shop.

        • At last, another practical use for all of the faux credit cards one receives in the mail these days. Sure, many of them make excellent bookmarks, but not even in my household are two hundred bookmarks commonly needed.

          Of course, as I am convicted that a cruise ship or European travel would (for me) be an experience only slightly short of perdition, this does not seem a reason to collect such items … but if ever I plan a trip to Hell, I will be sure to pack along a supply of such cards.

  16. I misread this line thus:

    I had no idea at all what was going on in Portugal that Franks wished he could _excavate_ all American citizens from the country.

    Okay, that works too. 😀

  17. Christopher M. Chupik

    I shall echo the others: more please.:-)

  18. Gotta steal/recycle the cat image. Goes well with chemo brain…

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