*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 with 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 in order to redeem him.
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.
Previous installments are HERE.*
Come to Portugal, I thought. Come for the history, the culture, the thousands of years of ruins and artifacts. But stay for the beaches. I stared at the hordes of revenants scrambling up the beach towards us. Or on the beaches. In itty bitty pieces. Until the next goddess or false saint or whatever gets its panties in a twist and…. assembles you to do her bidding.
It was bright enough — the police had spotlights on the bridge — that I could see the nearest revenants were collections of marine life in human form. Some fish were still flopping, while pretending to be part of a leg or arm. One of them, I could distinctly see, had seaweed air, and sea shells for eyes. I shuddered. I don’t know why and I will certainly not explain it, but I hated the idea of being eaten by zombies made up of seashells and fish more than being eaten by zombies made up of rotting flesh. To be fair I never liked fish.
Silvia was yelling loudly at the policeman, and one of the dark haired, thin guys I had seen at the Dark Fate headquarters lay down next to me, supporting his — machine gun? — on the top of the seawall (which was deeper on the beach side, but here was about 2 feet up from the road.)
The machine gun went the hack hack hack of an AK47, and he stitched neat rows across the heads of the first row of zombies who fell to be trampled by their fellows.
He looked up at me, “So, Americans too good to shoot? he said, before resuming shooting.
My first impulse was to tell him to go to hell, but if I understood what I was supposed to be doing here, but I was supposed to be a good will ambassador. Considering it was Franks who had told me that, perhaps I should be Grrrrring or shouting “Classified” at the hapless people now taking their place on the wall and shooting down at the zombies. I noted they made no big difference, except the horde advanced somewhat slower.
Silvia was still yelling at the policeman.
I shouted over the machine gun and — were some people really shooting handguns? — other fire “And what do you think this will do?”
“We die defending the city,” the guy next to me shouted, and took a moment to glower at me, as if I were a bad person for not embracing this glorious martyrdom.
Look, the point of a battle is to make the other guy die. Sure, sometimes you have to give your life to save someone, but the whole point is that in that situation it should be possible to save someone.
I’d once made a snap decision that I couldn’t save someone else and saved myself, and therefore had lost Julie Schakelford’s good opinion, but hey, sometimes your decision was wrong.
In this case, though… I looked at the massed, massing hordes, and the idiots machine gunning them down, without trying to do something that would actually save them.
I thought if I started running now, stole one of the cars parked in the police barricade of the street, and drove like hell to the airport, I could definitely save myself. Of course, sea-revenants might eat and shred the whole North of Portugal.
And Franks would almost certainly growl at me. Also, possibly rip my head off and beat me to death with it.
Besides, it would take a hell of a lot of driving to get me out of there. And look, the US couldn’t possibly drop a nuclear bomb over Portugal without starting some internatioal incident. … well, it could if the other option was letting all of Europe be devoured. And damn it, I thought well of the Louvre.
The idea of cars waiting at the barricade stirred in my mind. There was something….
Suddenly it bloomed in my mind, filling everything — so to put it — with light and heat. The hordes of undead were now so near I could smell them, a smell like clam chowder gone very, very bad.
I ran back towards the barricade. I barely heard the sneering “Run, American run.” Yeah, what I really needed in my life, right now, was sneering nationalistic condescension. Well done, them.
The vehicle I remembered seeing was just past the barricade, and I was very glad to read on the side “BP Oil” Because it would be pure crap if, say, it had been milk. My mind desperately wanted to make a joke about the milk of human kindness but I didn’t let it. I also didn’t let myself think about whether this would work. After all, could you burn sea-revenants?
I knew it was a crazy, last ditch idea, but it seemed better than let the sea-dead eat the living of Europe.
I climbed on the running board and knocked at the window to the tanker truck, and the man rolled it down and garbled at me in Portuguese. I screamed incoherently at him “Get out, get out, get out” and reached for the door handle. To my shock the door came over. The guy was about twice my size, and started screaming at me and trying to push me.
In the process, he also half-stepped out of the truck. Which is when I beaned him with the guitar — Toink — shoved him out of the truck, shouting, “There really are useful for monster hunting” and then, after a moment of confusion, drove the tanker truck forward.
This involved driving between two rows of parked cars. Well, kind of in between. As people screamed and ran out of the way, I scraped the doors of cars on either side and might have dragged a smart car several feet. The police tried to wave me off the barricade, but when I drove towards it, they dove out of the way. I stopped the truck, looked over at the beach, and the situation was as desperate as I thought, so I ran back.
The guys with machine guns were preparing to fall back, and Silvia was about to join them.
People surrounded me and tried to stop me, or pull me away from the truck, but I was bigger than most of them, and bulled through. The guitar, much the worse for the wear, thonked a couple more heads.
Fortunately the tanker had a hose. Well, sort of a hose. I think it was meant to fit into the receptacle for gas stations’ underground tank.
I didn’t have a way to unlock the end, though, and nothing was flowing. So I dragged the hose out to the wall, pointed it over the wall, banged the end-piece of the hose till it broke and gas started flowing. I was in luck. It flowed out with pressure.
I pointed it at the revenants, and let it fly. Then I yelled. “Anybody have matches?”
The guy next to me passed me a matchbook, and suddenly all the guys on the wall let go the machine guns and started flinging lit matches. None were making it. They were just too light. The gas-soaked revenants advanced, close enough to see the shells of their eyes.
I said “Lighter.”
Guy next to me said, “It won’t stay lit”
I said “Lighter.”
Looking dubious, he handed it to me.
There was something I had learned. That is that sometimes you really do have to risk your life to save others. I lit the lighter, jumped over the sea wall and ran at the revenants.
A hand made of fish and shells grabbed me. I put my lighter to the other arm.
I think it let go of me. I wasn’t sure. I was too busy wondering if I’d come back as a sea zombie or a vampire. I tried to run for the sea wall. There was an explosion — I think — at least I was flying through the air, and I think my hair was on fire. At least it hurt like hell.
I hit the wall face first, and fell into…. Her arms.
She was blue and twenty feet tall, and the most beautiful woman I’d ever seen, even if she smelled like fish.
“Hello Sailor,” she said. “I’ve been waiting for you.”
“Not a sailor,” I said.
And everything went black.