*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.*
For those who have no idea what this is, Dark Fate starts
Last episode is HERE.
Dark Fate 8
Silvia, the dark, curly haired Portuguese hunter who had been giving me the tour, turned and said something. I didn’t know the word, though it sounded like a latinized version of “stupor.” I wondered if it was some kind of incantation. It had the tone of a swearword, but the meaning didn’t fit.
She grabbed my arm, “Come on. I’ll tell you the story as we go. We are needed, and you’re going to get a sense of what monster hunting is like around here. And of what we’ve been facing. And we get to see how you fight.” She gave me a smile. I just want to say it wasn’t entirely pleasant. People always seem to underestimate my fighting abilities, partly, I think, because I’m too handsome, but surely with bruises all over my face I didn’t look that handsome anymore?
No, an internal voice said. It looks like you get beat up a lot!
She’d pulled me back into the big main room. People were grabbing weapons and guitars from the wall, and I wanted to say that I’d take a flute, though there was none in sight,just to mess with them. Seriously, what kind of monster hunt called for guitars, of all things? Were they going to scare the monster away with their singing?
But I had no time to say anything, because Silvia was also grabbing stuff off the wall, and turned to me and said, “what do you shoot?”
I stopped myself just short of saying “monsters” because the meaning penetrated. “I have a Glock,” I said.
She snorted. What in hell?
“Not a little pistol,” she said. “You’re going to need a real gun.” She handed me this thing that looked like a world war II rifle had a baby with a machine gun. “You have no idea what sirens can do if you think that you can take them on with anything short of automatic fire.”
“But…” I looked at the gun. I still didn’t know what it was. Did they make their guns in backyard forges? “Aren’t sirens just really seductive creatures that steal your soul in the… in the act?”
“Stupid,” she said. “Not that kind.” Then she frowned. Around us the other people were packing up weapons and slinging guitar cases, and leaving. I could hear the elevator shriek out in the hall. “Now I think about it, she said, our sirens might be different. Portugal has always been a seafaring country, and we attract different kinds of sea monsters. You know the sirens who tried to sink Ulysses?”
I had a vague memory from my high school classes, so I nodded. She said, “Yeah, these would be sort of like that, except their singing not only can control humans, but it can command all the people that drowned in the sea in that area. And old ships.” She shuddered. “You need a high rate of fire.”
“You mean it’s a zombie sea-apocalypse?”
She said. “It’s revenants, mostly, not really zombies, but it’s… They can make skeletons that no longer have flesh take flesh of anything around. Oh, yeah.” She had already grabbed a gun similar to mine, but now she grabbed a bright, plastic water gun. “Holy water helps. At least agains the Catholic dead. It can overcome the command of the sirens.”
“Silvia, are you coming or not?” A guy who hadn’t gone with the others was standing by the door scowling at us. He had a phone to his ear. “The van has to leave. Anibal says that if we don’t come they’ll go without us.”
“You go,” she said. “I’ll take my car, so I can brief the American task force.” I’d got what he said, even though he was speaking in Portuguese, but she answered him in English, and I tried to tell myself there wasn’t dripping sarcasm in the words “American task force.”
Unfortunately I understood what the guy muttered, as he walked away. Something about how I was supposed to help and not be a baby needing babysitting. My face burned with a blush. Silvia turned to me. “Now, do you need anything else?”
“I don’t think so,” I said. I heard the groaning of the elevator outside, indicating that the guy was going down, leaving me alone with Silvia. Which wouldn’t be so bad, if I didn’t have the impression she was mocking me. “I don’t play guitar.”
There was an expression of confusion, but then she laughed. “Yeah, this is why I need to brief you.” She put a black cloak over her shoulders, hiding the weapon slung at her shoulder, and then made a mmmm sound, looking me over. Not like she was appreciating me, more like she was trying to figure out something. She sighed, ducked into the room where I’d seen the woman ironing shirts, and came back with a black cloak. I was still holding the rifle-machine gun- thing and hadn’t done anything with it. Silvia took it as if I were a toddler, and slug it over my shoulder on its strap, then put the cloak on me. It was shorter on me than on the rest of the guys, but as she tied it around my neck, I realized that it did indeed hide my weapon.
“What kind of gun is that?” I asked. “I’ve never seen–”
“It’s an FBP,” she said, and to my blank look, “You mean you never heard of FBPs in America? It’s only one of the best submachine guns ever built. Never mind. I’ll tell you in the car.”
She walked out into the elevator, waited till I was in — I tried not to show I was shaking — closed the door. Then she looked upwards and shouted, “Tareco, take us down.”
We started moving much more steadily than I had when I was in the elevator by myself. I looked up, and could see the same panorama of chain, cobwebs and rust as before, but now in the middle of it, there was a very large, blue, clawed hand, pulling at the chain.
“Tareco?” I said, my voice faltering.
“There’s nothing to worry about. He’s harmless. We only let him out when the soccer club wins, because people then think he’s a balloon.”
“Oh, he’s a dragon,” she said. She fished for a packet of cigarettes from her jacket pocket, lit a cigarette and took a puff. “We captured him some years ago. Well, in my grandmother’s time. But really, he’s harmless. He was holed up in a cave, scared of everyone. So we took him in. He’s okay. Like a big, giant cat. Hence, Tareco.”
“Oh,” I said. Monster hunter also had monsters working for them, but a dragon seemed like a large risk to be taking.
“He’s our first level of security. If you’d been unauthorized, he’d have burned you to a crisp when you left the elevator.”
Harmless my butt. Anything that can make you crispy and might think you’re good with ketchup isn’t harmless. I kept a very careful eye on the creature up there, and if I’d had the slightest notion if there were any special tricks to firing this FBP thing, I’d have shot it, just on principle.
But the elevator ride was much smoother, and no one made any comments as we exited via the tunnel, the office and the deli.
Her car was a Renaut so tiny that I sat with my knees almost at my chest, even though she put it back as much as possible. Well, not their fault I was outsized even in America.
She drove like monster hunters tend to drive: when you risk your life ten times a day it doesn’t seem worth it to drive like a grandmother.
Only here everyone drove like that. I’d driven in Italy once, and thought it was crazy. Now I longed for the restraint and careful respect for human life the Italians had shown.
We drove against the traffic in what I was sure was a one-way street, plunged down an alley where I was sure there wouldn’t be enough room between two rows of parked cars, but through which Silvia seemed to maneuver us, unscathed, with minor movements of the wheel.
As we emerged into a crowded city street that I was sure was designed for two lanes but supported six at the moment, Silvia relaxed, turned to me and said, “Now, some History. It all started with King D. Manuel.”