Dark Fate 4

*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

Third Chapter is here (edited because I was out of it last Monday.)

IV

So, I was trapped in my room with a Lamia.  I’d just done my best to kill her, and she’d self-regenerated.  And I was out of options.

As she moved, startlingly fast towards me, I jumped on top of the bed and to the other side, trying to slow her down.  I ran in ever broader circles, trying to make it out the door, because I had the vague idea that in the hallway I might find something else to kill her with.  Of course, she also might get to attack other people, and of course I’d try to stop her doing so, but clearly I needed more space and greater ability to act.

Panic and tiredness got hold of my mind, and I must have lost it, because I caught myself babbling the most inane crap ever, “Ah ah, what a Lamia story!  Come on, Madam, are you Lamia?  Now I Lamia down to sleep.”  As I spoke, I detached a fire extinguisher from the wall and flung it at her  head.  She ducked, and it hit the wall hard, making a dent in the plaster.  Man, it’s a good thing I’d made a lot of money in my years with MHI, because this bill was going to hurt.

Let’s assume that Lamias were like every other vampire.  It had to be staked through the heart, but it had to be with wood.  I tried to find wood, but I wasn’t sure that either the desk or the bed was wood. They were that kind of painted and antiqued stuff that might be wood, or it might be papier mache or fancy painted plastic, for that matter.  For all I knew it was plaster.  Didn’t anyone think of the needs of tourists who must kill vampires?

I presumed garlic didn’t work — not that I had any — but if it were an Italian vampire, certainly it would like garlic.

I got to the door, and turned to open it and there she was.  Right on me, coils around my lower body, inhumanely beautiful face, next to mine, mouth opening.  “I have lawyers.” I said.  My father had described his third wife much like this lamia, and this must be some memory of hearing him talk when I was five or so.  Predictably it had no effect.  She smiled.  Or it looked like she was going to smile, but her mouth kept opening and opening, till it was round, and surrounded by needle-like teeth.

I squeezed myself against the door so hard that I might be two-dimensional, while with one hand behind me I tried to open the door, and with my other hand, I reached to my left, blindly looking for something to stop her killing me.

And all through it, the coils kept tightening around me, till it felt like she’d break me in two, with the pressure on my waist.  I felt as though lights were going on and off behind my eyes, and I was sure I was hallucinating, because I kept hearing fireworks.

The only thing my hand found was a serpent tail, waving at my head height.

I seized hold of it and pulled on it, while I rolled my head this way and that against the door, trying not to let her bite me.  I could feel her scrabbling at my mind, too, telling met his was the best way and that really, my entire life I’d wanted to be devoured by a woman-serpent thing.  Honestly, if it weren’t for the fact that by the time I was ten my father was on his tenth wife, and that I’d learned to distrust women if not in my cradle shortly after, I would probably have fallen for it.

Instead, I grabbed the serpent tail hard and pulled.  The first pull was easy, and then it seemed to realize it was being pulled and tried to pull the other way.  I pulled with all the strength and despair of someone who is being sliced in half by a supernatural creature.  Sweat fell into my eyes.  It felt like I was going to pass out.  In fact, I probably did, but kept pulling anyway, until I shoved the tail, completely, into the lamia’s own open mouth.

She bit down, perhaps by reflex.  There was a sound like an unending female scream.  As it toppled away from me, I pulled under and away from it, opened the door and got to the hallway.  My legs probably were broken, or at least they felt like I was walking with swords up my thighs, but I didn’t have time for that now.

I had a vague memory of seeing a glass case with “Break only in case of emergency” and a firehose and a fire ax behind it.

The fireax was needed in these old buildings because the partitions between rooms weren’t wallboard, and if the hallway was in flames, you might have to escape by hacking your way into the next room and the one after that.

I was fairly sure this was an emergency.  I shoved my elbow at the glass as hard as I could, and was almost amazed to see it shatter into the particles that safety glass breaks into.  I felt weak as a kitten and half expected it to do nothing.

When I turned, ax in hand, the Lamia had got its tail out of its mouth and got out of my room.  It made for me.  I swung the ax.  It hit her neck and went in like knife through butter, slicing her head off her shoulders.  I half expected it not to work, but her head fell, right enough.  Blood got all over everything.

I grabbed the head off the floor, and flung it to the end of the hallways.  Regenerate that, bitch. Then I thought I should make it harder for her.

I was axing the tenth portion off the tail when I heard someone behind me, “Sir, Sir, what are you doing?”

I turned around, blood spattered and with a maniacal grin on my face.  “I want to lodge a complaint,” I said.  “Your reception committee was too slithery.”

The person who’d talked was Portuguese and young and looked like some sort of valet.  He stared at me and looked down at the ax.  I could hear the ax drip blood on the floor and I was not about to let go of the ax, because you never knew precisely what the nice room service guy might really be.

He looked behind me.  “That…” he said.  “That was a lady.”

“Not hardly pal.  Not unless your ladies are half serpent,” I heard myself snarl, and then, not caring what he thought, not caring if he’d just had his world shattered by seeing a legendary monster, not even caring if he thought I was some kind of mass murderer and called the police, I turned on my heel and went back to my room.

If I was going to be arrested, I was, by damn, going to be arrested clean and shaved and feeling like a human being.

I left the ax propped in a corner of the marble-and-tile bathroom, while I washed.  The water was kind of low on pressure, but it was warm and there was a lot of it, and it kept pouring over me, washing away all the red, all down the drain.

Some of the red was probably mine, judging from the places that hurt, particularly that place behind my ear, but I really didn’t care.  The shampoo smelled of wisteria, and so did the soap, which stung on a lot of my skin, but took even more of the red off.

Towels were abundant, white and thick.  I dried myself thoroughly before risking a look in the mirror.

If someone had drawn my portrait right then it would be called a study in blue and purple.  There were bruises forming across my forehead, across my chin, and around my neck.  The wound beside and behind my ear looked like someone had stabbed me with a circle of sharp needles.  It itched.  I got some disinfectant cream from my luggage — of course I always traveled with a first aid kit — and slathered it there, and also on an open gash down my arm and in a place around my waist where it looked like someone had attached a lot of suction cups with nails in the center.  Rusty nails.

All of it stung, which I didn’t remember the cream doing in the past.  I contemplated using band-aids, but it would take like ten of them for my neck, and if I used gauze I would look like a bad remake of The Mummy Wakes.

Instead, shaved, and  dressed.  Putting on a clean shirt felt good, as did the nicely cut suit.  I looked at myself in the mirror again, and looked almost like myself.

There had been no thumps, no one frantically knocking at the door.  As I put my used clothes into the laundry bag, wondering if this hotel performed miracles or if I’d have to buy an off-the-rack suit while in town, I half expected the words, “The police have this room surrounded.”  Instead there was a sound from the hallway that sounded much like a vacuum.

I put my socks and shoes on, in case someone really wanted to arrest me, because I didn’t want to be arrested barefoot, then opened the door.  Someone had taken out of the pieces of cuisinarted lamia, and there were three women in the hallway running carpet cleaners.

I opened my mouth, closed it, closed the door, too, and realized the phone was jumping around atop the marble-top of the dresser producing a sound not unlike a low-level growl.  I didn’t remember tossing the phone on the dresser top, but obviously I had.  It must have been all bloodied at the time, too, because it had left little dropplets and then a trail of blood as it buzzed along the marble.

I grabbed it, answered,  “Hello,” I said.  And thinking of the female voice on the phone before, I added, “who are you?”

The growl from the other end told me all I needed to know.  Whoever the other voice had been, this was Agent Franks, and he was not happy with me.

 

130 thoughts on “Dark Fate 4

    1. Um… there might be one tomorrow, but not early. Why? I was working on Darkship Revenge all day, but Grant wasn’t going to let me sleep if this weren’t up…

              1. unfortunately, the LC wiki doesnt say and there isnt a separate MHI one… oo wait…

                MHI RPG says law school.

                    1. My favorite “walks into a bar” joke is extremely simple:

                      “So an Irishman walks past a bar…”

                    2. Three Huns walk into a bar. The bartender looks up and says, “Is this some kind of joke?”

                  1. Kil’t him a b’ar when he was only three . . .

                    Or was that, ‘Kil’t in a bar when he was only three.’?

                    And Judge Posner is still a moron.

                    1. No, I think that was while wearing a kilt.

                      Wasn’t a b’ar, anyway, just a poor, misunderstood shoggoth.

                      Autocorrupt can’t spell shoggoth, and neither can I. No, it’s not an Ostrogoth!

                    1. Good luck; mostly high opinion of himself, or so it seems.

                      Also, wasn’t he bitten by a vampire in the first or second Monster Hunter book—intra-dimensional portal capture and wound up in a feeding pit in a cavern? I’m not positive if that means he has to beheaded (and maybe burned too) when he dies to prevent becoming a vampire himself.

                    1. almost all of them, but smart people take something else, otherwise if you fail entrance to tight graduate school you’re out in the cold. Son took Human bio and chemistry, for ex. I can have Grant explain that. I think I’ll also have him accepted to Harvard as a legacy (though he thinks he’d have made it on grades) when sh*t blows up in his face. Um… decisions, decisions.

                    2. Pre-law at my school was spelled Music, I’m pretty sure. Either that or all the more practical music students (I was not one such) decided to apply to law after they discovered the job prospects for BA music were non-existent.

                    3. I’m pretty sure almost everybody who makes a living with music… doesn’t need a degree to do so.

                    4. Bearcat, I know people who make a living performing because of music degrees. They have titles like ‘Maestro’ and ‘Concertmistress’, but can also usually claim Dr.
                      The other set of people who make a living with music degrees are called Professor and have MAs, or have MusEd degrees and teach K-12. There’s overlap, of course: Maestro here is also Professor.

        1. Lawyer. I’m pretty sure I read later that he could practice law.

          Chapter Five, in the MHI samples

          “And you know my type how?” she asked, studying me carefully. I swallowed, wanting to shout “Me.” Thankfully she continued before I had to answer. “Yes, I know Grant comes off a little arrogant, but he really is a great guy. He’s smart and ambitious. He was in Harvard Law School when we recruited him

          1. Yeah, but we needed at least one scene of Grant actually _being_ awesome on camera, as it were. And we didn’t get it.

            Hopefully this fic corrects that and then becomes canon.

            1. He was an excellent shot, admittedly probably not better than his ex-girlfriend, but in the same ballpark. Grant is an arrogant little prig, who deserves every bit of the snot he gets beat out of him, beaten out of him. But we saw him through the biased vision of a first person narrator in MHI. Doesn’t mean I don’t completely agree with Owen, but Grant isn’t worthless, Owen just wishes to see him that way.

                1. Owen had good reason. *Not* shooting Grant in the face afterward never made sense. Nor did it make sense for MHI to keep Grant on once they found out what happened.

                  People would still go on missions with a guy who’d locked a teammate in a hold full of monsters so he could make his own escape? *Really?* That TWANGG! was my suspension of disbelief exceeding its tensile strength.

                  I figured it was to string the Grant-Julie-Owen triangle out a while, but that didn’t make much sense either. If she believed Grant’s story over Owen’s, then Owen would be the liability. Instead she just lets it float along in an unresolved limbo. Which, considering she’s a highly experienced operator and leader, was out of character. Julie was used to making split-second life or death decisions and taking responsibility for them, and used to managing combat teams. People like that don’t leave potentially-murderous problems to fester.

                    1. That is my recollection: misjudgment in the heat of battle rather than cowardice in the face of the enemy.

                      Given that Monster Hunter teams are rarely over-staffed it seems likely that they would be inclined to Grant the benefit of doubt.

                    2. True, but putting them on the same team together would be ridiculously stupid. You don’t have to like your teammates, but when it hits the fan you do have to trust them. I would rather go into a situation understaffed than with an untrustworthy teammate at my back.

                    3. And Owen made the exact same decision in Legion: leave Lacoco behind to die so that everyone around wouldn’t.

                      That will likely temper Owen’s feelings towards Grant quite a bit. It is unlikely to temper Lacoco’s feelings towards Owen at all.

            1. He might have. If finishing was weeks to months, the advantage of being able to practice would offset however many missed missions. IIRC, he is mentioned as using his legal training to help MHI, the way Pitt later uses his accounting training. But I’m not sure he is described doing lawyer specific things. The job with the MCB does suggest a completed degree.

              Sorry I can’t provide specifics, I’d have to get copies from the library.

              1. Lawyers don’t always practice. My buddy who’s a lawyer found out that she could make a lot more money working for Lexis/Nexis than working as a family lawyer with her own practice, plus she hated divorce cases. (And if you reconcile the parties they are both happy with you, but they also don’t pay you the big bucks.)

                But even though she doesn’t practice, she keeps up her bar requirement stuff, and in more than one state. Because you never know. (And also probably because Lexis/Nexis gives her more moolah for being a lawyer.)

                1. See Kratman, Drake, Wright.

                  I think Grant may also have spent time in Hollywood trading on his looks, before getting them ruined, post MHI.

    2. Actually, it’s mid-afternoon here. Does the time change it? Ooooh… writing that shifts? So if you read it on Sunday, you get a lamia, while if you read it on Monday, you get a latia? But if you’re on the other side of the international time zone, does that mean you just get shafted? Silly boy, you just want more words, don’t you? Some people are never satisfied. Wait, she’ll put up a whole chapter of Franks yelling into the phone! That would be amusing.

        1. It would break the phone lines and scare the cell-phone towers to death if he did yell. Sort of a half-power Chuck Norris.

        2. Just wait until some FNG from MCB beancounting tries to chew him out over all those obscenely expensive international messages. Pretty sure Franks reply will leave the idiots head splattered over a toppled cube wall at least 30 or 40 feet away.

            1. The phone companies now route international texts through the Interwebs, because otherwise people get text apps that route texts through the interwebs without touching the phone companies.

  1. Yay! Character backstory! Ouroboros-fu!

    The vacuum cleaners are a great detail. You always hear about mysterious fixers working for the conspiracy groups and secret government agencies, and you see trucks pulling away and MIBs, but you never see the fixer janitorial staff.

    1. “You always hear about mysterious fixers working for the conspiracy groups and secret government agencies, and you see trucks pulling away and MIBs, but you never see the fixer janitorial staff.”

      Marvel has an occasional comic book series called *Damage Control*, about a company that specialises in clearing up the aftermath of battles between superheros and super villains (the company was actually founded as a joint venture between Tony Stark (Iron Man) and Wilson Fisk (The Kingpin)). There’s supposed to be a TV spin-off in the works.

      1. The Wearing The Cape series has teams of “supers” that get the dirty jobs of cleaning up after super-fights, natural disasters, and bombings.

        1. I am sorta kinda working on a guidance counselor’s book to guide young supers into careers other than heroes and villains.

          1. Even in Wearing The Cape, there are “supers” who don’t go the hero or villain route.

            Legal Eagle is “just” a lawyer (admittedly his speciality is Super-hero law) even though he has the power of flight.

            IIRC there’s talk about other “break-throughs” who don’t go the hero or villain route.

            Of course, there’s Iron Jack who is basicly a reservist (non-active hero) in order to spend most of his non-work time with his family.

          2. Have you ever read of how Jay Leno’s High School guidance counselor tried to tout for him the advantages of a career at McDonald’s? And the fact that such a career didn’t require a High School diploma?

            True story. You could look it up.

            Now, imagine that dialog for a young peculiarly powered super.

            “Ummmm … it says here that your power is the ability to make blood stains disappear?”

            “Not just blood — any organic stain.”

    2. Hm. I wonder what those cleaners get paid. Might be a bit more profitable than generic cleaning. And even more icky… and not quite so boring. Although you do occasionally ran across curious stuff even as a normal cleaner. 😀

        1. Now I want to write a short story about MHI’s little known side branch, the cleaners. It is rumored they have some PUFF exempt ghouls to eat the more embarrassing remains… Wonder if Larry will let me do that as a gift to you guys?

          1. Not to mention the secret laboratory that comes up with the werewolf blood remover and ectoplasm dissolver and all the other cleaning supplies!

          2. Some Magical Girls have powers for that.

            I say that because the loonies over at MHN have stuck into my head the idea of magical girls working off their PUFF at STFU.

            1. I think there may be an imp who does the cleaning up. He manifests as a cat, wearing a tall hat.

            2. *continues watching Legend of the Galactic Heroes fansubs in hopes that something like the Sailor Moon opening song won’t get stuck in my head*

        2. Boy howdee it must! Have you considered the rehabilitation required after an undine attack?

          Now I am contemplating a series of pulp detective novels (probably having read too much Dir Bently) with titles along the lines of The Undine Drowned, The Murdered Muse or The Lame Lamia.

          1. Sigh.

            Dirk Gently.

            Gawd — ANOTHER Great Good Not Wholly Awful novel ruined by Hackollywood.

      1. I wondered if that was a joke about there being a real-life mathematician called Grant Jefferson, but if there is one, he’s unknown to Google. The only thing I remember for sure about Grant’s pre-MHI career was that he was a minor movie actor.

      2. No, I was referring to the part where he shoves the Lamia’s tail in it’s mouth and gets it to bite itself. There was some fantasy novel, and for some reason I thought it was Glory Road, but looking at it again now I don’t think so, where the protagonist defeats some unbeatable monster by doing that exact thing and getting it to eat itself. The response he got was something like “That’s a brilliant solution. I didn’t know you were a mathematician.” So when I was reading that section I first wondered if you were going to go the same route and have Grant feed the Lamia to itself essentially. And since I could easily see you having a soft spot for a character who was not just from a patrician New England family but also defeats monsters with mathematics… nevermind.

        Now do any Huns recall which book that is from? Because now it is bugging me that I recall the scene but not where it was from.

        1. When Star ended, with a simple: “Thus it happened,” he let out a long sigh and said, “Could we have that part about Igli over again?”
          Star complied, chanting different words and more detail. The Doral listened, frowning and nodding approval. “A heroic solution,” he said. “So he’s a mathematician, too. Where did he study?”
          “A natural genius, Jock.”
          Glory Road – RAH

  2. “his was the best way”: “this” instead of “his”

    “and that really, my entire life I’d wanted to be devoured by a woman-serpent thing.” I’m sure there’s a whole newsgroup on the internet devoted to that sort of thing. Backwards Lamia, if she’d set up a website she probably could have made a tidy sum of money off them (anything worth doing is worth doing for money?) and maybe with a side business making “sexy woman swallows mouse whole” videos too.

    ““Not hardly pal. Not unless your ladies are half serpent,” Now look here agent, If the snake self-identifies as a lady then that is all that matters! No wonder Frank’s is mad at him!!! Sounds like Grant is about to get a harsh remedial lesson on the Federal Government’s strict new Gender Identity policy: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gfGPx4xJHvM BWA-HA-HA

    BTW, please DON’T take the above as a criticism, just some free copyediting in hopes of getting an autographed hardback later. Thanks again for posting this! It’s a great read. I’m looking forward to what Franks really has to say.

    1. As one of her Highness’s copy editors, I will note that what we are getting here is the pure quill, her stream of consciousness first draft cut. With her fingers desperately attempting to type what her mind tells them, proper spelling, grammar, and punctuation fall by the wayside.
      I have learned that at this stage you don’t joggle the maker’s elbow. She knows it will need a solid going over, but at a later stage in development.

        1. Pure quill is an old New England term meaning “the genuine article.”
          I suspect that’s where Smith borrowed it from anyway.

  3. “Now I Lamia down to sleep.”

    That line alone is a cure for the Monday-morning-it’s-still-2016 blues. Thanks!

    1. Oh, thank you. Since you got me through a “I’m going to die” pregnancy (I almost died with the first, so I expected to die with the second. I was wrong, obviously.) I’m glad I made you smile.

    2. I can just hear that sort of free-associating. Sometimes from myself, though that one would not have occurred to me as until I read this, I was utterly uninformed of Lamia. Really. You’d think we’d have a handbook or field guide or something. And, no, Bullfinch’s is not sufficient. Amusing, sure, but there are more than a few… misdirections, shall we say?

  4. Weber’s Shadow of Victory eARC is up. I’ve just read the sample. I’m a bit more into it than I thought I would be.

    1. I found it engaging. It has many enjoyable scenes, ties up a few loose ends, sheds light on a few interesting matters, has a few battles….. and advances the overall story all of a few hours from the end of the last two novels.

      1. … and advances the overall story all of a few hours from the end of the last two novels.

        Which prompts the question: has anyone ever seen Robert Jordan and David Weber in the same room? And how good is Brandon Sanderson at writing space opera? Just in case, you see…

          1. I gave up on the Safehold series. Until it came out I never thought I would totally lose interest in a Weber series, but that one did it.

        1. There’s a new Honor Harrington book, Shadow of Victory, out in November. The E-ARC came out 8/29/16.

          1. I don’t mean pick up the pace on the writing–no, I am quite satisfied as to the quantity of his output.
            I mean picking up the pace in-story. I want the MA dead, hang it!

        2. I thought the latter two Bahzell books may have suffered from Weber trying to hit the necessities of the three he’d originally planned.

      2. I went into it not expecting much progression on the timeline, but found myself caught up in it after the sample.

        1. Yeah, that’s what happens when you have three parallel series going in the same universe, simply with different main characters.

          Kratman’s Carreraverse suffers from the same thing. I love each of the books individually, but after a while I am hoping for some actual progress in the timeline, instead of the same history seen through a different characters eyes. for the third or fourth time.

          1. Shadow of victory is doing the same thing as of ch. 32. There are 78 chapters in the book.

            1. But But….

              Firebrand ……….BUZZZZZZ

              Darn those snerk collars. 😈

              1. The action revs up by the halfway point. The beginning of the book introduces new characters. The mills of Weber grind slowly but finely. 🙂

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