Preston and I help Ms. Vivas out of the coffin.
The weary girl stumbles out and falls onto my chest, but I catch her at the right moment.
“Are you all right?” I ask the woman who just broke off from a deep sleep. She doesn’t respond immediately and just faints, and with that, Preston and Rembrandt lay her down gently on the floor. We have to bring her back to the hideout as well as do other things: sweep the other areas of the basement for other ferals and lurking enemies, check on Park and Antonio, and look for the chest that Ms. Vivas had with her.
Rembrandt and his men volunteer to check the remaining rooms for ferals that have not been slain yet, and El-Hashem’s men manage to find the chest in the next room, which removes something from my to-do list.
As the chest is placed in front of me, I think about opening it now, but the amount of memories that might be in there could be too much. Better open it at the hideout.
“What do we do now, Doc?” Preston asks me as he looks at the sleeping Ms. Vivas.
I break off from my train of thought for a moment. “We take the chest and the girl back to the hideout, Preston. We can finally do what we needed to do if it weren’t for the Pastor’s meddling.”
“What about this guy?” Preston gestures toward the hunterling in the back, who was on his phone. Probably contacting his two henchmen.
I turn to the hunterling and see him put down the call. “Are you satisfied now, hunterling? What will you do now that the Pastor that you wanted to bring to justice has been killed?”
The hunterling doesn’t reply immediately and looks at Ms. Vivas.
“I don’t really trust you taking that girl with you back to your hideout. You intend to drink her blood, don’t you?”
I laugh at the hunterling’s comment.
“I’ve got plenty of plasma at home, hunterling. I won’t suck out her blood, vampire’s word.” And inside my head, a vampire’s word probably isn’t the most trustworthy thing.
“I’ll keep an eye on her to make sure she doesn’t get hurt.” the hunterling replies. “And I still need to accompany you to the hideout to meet Antonio.”
That reminded me of something all of a sudden as I call Preston to attention.
“Preston. Any word from Park and Antonio?”
“We saw them in the pet shop upstairs with the two hunters. Park was asleep from exhaustion, and Tony was being treated by one of Rembrandt’s medics.” Preston tells me, which also makes me glad that one of the vampires that I trained in supernatural first aid is putting his skills to good use.
“That’s a relief.” I tell myself and look back at the hunterling. “I will allow you to accompany us, Llama.”
“I’m still keeping an eye on you, vampire.”
I just laugh at the hunterling who is still suspicious as we wrap things up. Rembrandt returns from the other rooms and tells us that the remaining ferals have been killed. El-Hashem and his men offer to carry the heavy chest and the girl, and the Pastor’s body is left to burn as the hunterling douses the corpse with oil and throws a match. We then burn the whole pet shop to leave no trace. The long night has finally ended.
The front page of the Newcrest Daily reports that the bodies of dead plumbers were seen around different locations in East Newcrest and an exotic pet shop was burned to the ground. Grand Archon Leclerc sent me a handwritten letter saying that the Don has resigned from his position and has promoted me to Middle Archon. While smiling, I stretch my legs, get dressed, and go out of my room to check on Ms. Vivas’ condition.
Ms. Vivas still hasn’t woken up even after my long rest in my coffin. The fight in the pet shop’s basement left me enervated, and I had to drink more plasma than usual. I also had to drink a bit of blood from a reluctant Park to help speed the recovery process. I go up to the Big Room and see that Antonio is watching over Ms. Vivas while his hunterling friend is sleeping in one part of the kitchenette. It made me wonder what they were doing while I was asleep.
“How are you feeling, Tonio?” I ask my protege who stands up as I got closer.
“Feeling much better, Doctor. Thank you.” he replies. “I still can’t believe that plasma fruit kimchi saved me from completely going feral.”
“We have Park to thank for that. If we didn’t have any of that, we might have killed you in the dungeon!” I laugh as Antonio doesn’t seem to get my joke. I look at the sleeping woman.
“I heard from Preston that this woman is apparently your great great-granddaughter?”
“That’s what the Don told me at least.” I then remember the words of the Don from last night, about all of the things I’ve stolen from him when I was human. “Perhaps the chest has something that will help me remember things.”
As I was about to say something else, Ms. Vivas opens her eyes and starts to wake up. She gets up on her own but still seems to feel dizzy.
“Are you all right?” I ask, hoping that she will be able to respond this time.
“Where am I?” the girl slowly asks, trying to orient herself.
“You’re in my hideout, Ms. Vivas. And I’m glad that we finally got to meet.”
Ms. Vivas yawns and finally looks like she can respond better.
“And you are?”
“You were looking for me some time ago. Do you remember going up to an old building looking for Doctor Domingo de Guzman?”
My name seems to have triggered something as she suddenly seems to remember something.
“I’ll need some time alone with Ms. Vivas, Tonio.”
“Yes, Doctor.” Antonio turns around and heads to the next room, leaving me with ms. Vivas.
“My name is Sita. Teresita.”
“Very well then, Sita.” I correct myself. “When you were captured by the Pastor, you met an old vampire, correct?”
“He called himself Don Antares, I think.” Sita scratches the back of her head. “Did you say vampire?”
“Yes, and so is the one standing before you.”
I comically pose while showing my fangs just like one of my vampire figurines, which makes Sita laugh a bit. Maybe Preston’s possession had a side effect of silliness on me. At least that broke the tension.
“I’ve always wanted to meet a vampire, but I didn’t know that Don Antares was one.” I nod as she continues speaking. “He just told me that if I ever meet you, you should open my family chest to recover what you lost.” Sita says the last words with uncertainty.
I just smile. “That’s all I needed to know.” I then examine her face closely, which somehow gives me a familiar feeling that I’ve met someone who looked like her a long time ago.
“You remind me of someone I’ve probably met more than a century ago.” I say as I do not notice my hand touching her cheek. Sita does not respond immediately, but she just smiles.
“I’m glad that it makes you smile.” she points out as I revert back to a stoic poise. “Oh, and I almost forgot the other thing Don Antares told me to tell you.”
I just nod, indicating to let her say it.
“You’re my great great-grandfather, he said. He told me that when you took over your master’s household, you had a child with my great great-grandmother but got sent off to war. The De Guzmans eventually had to change their last name to Vivas, and I am the latest generation.”
“I see.” I nod again, confirming that what the Don said was true, and it was connected with the dream that I had. “It somehow warms my heart to see that a fragment of my past has survived all these years.” I consider for a moment to stop my art museum heists to look for my memories completely, but I remember that it’s very profitable.
Sita doesn’t say anything but suddenly gives me a hug. I return the gesture.
“VAMPIRE!” a voice from behind calls as I recognize that it’s the hunterling’s. “Stop sucking her blood this instant!”
“He’s not sucking anyone’s blood!” Sita releases herself from the hug as I look behind to see a crossbow aimed at me. Antonio gently tells his friend to disarm the crossbow and calm down.
“Always on edge, I see!” I laugh as the hunterling puts back a crossbow bolt in his quiver.
“Don’t go buddy-buddy on me, vampire! Vampires cannot be friends with humans!”
“Your boyfriend is a vampire, though!” I retort, which makes him shut up and blush. Antonio then ushers the hunterling into the other room.
Sita then speaks up. “I used to think vampires were just fiction; blood-sucking predators who only prey on the living. But with the way you interact with the people around you, you seem to have a bit of humanity left.”
I smile for a bit then comment. “You’re mostly right about us vampires still having a bit of humanity left; it’s what keeps us from devolving into savage ferals. We’re still blood-sucking predators who prey on the living, though.” Sita laughs from that, and I hear the hideout suddenly bustling with excitement as Archons Rembrandt and El-Hashem enter with plasma drink coolers and their men. The party that Preston planned has started, but I wanted to go back to my inner sanctum first.
“Oh, there’s a party?” Sita asks as more people start coming in.
“To celebrate the defeat of the Pastor, who has been a big hindrance to the Association.”
“Pastor Westfall died?”
“Killed by the Don. He took away my kill, but that doesn’t matter now.”
“Anyway, the night is young, great great-granddaughter. Go have some fun.” I pat Sita on the back as I let her go and enjoy the party with Park, who has arrived to check on her.
I go past the crowds of vampires dancing to some sort of mix between Czardas and modern electronica and go to my inner sanctum in the basement. I could only hear the bass beating from upstairs, but it’s quiet enough for me to reflect on things.
As I enter the door and look at my cozy coffin, I reflect on all the years I’ve lived as a vampire. I knew there was something off about the Don in the beginning; he first told me that I only had a rare skin condition that did not allow me to be exposed to sunlight and eat normal food, and he always prevented me from pursuing higher studies. It was at that point when I decided to run away from his crypt to a supernatural university where the headmaster told me that I’m a vampire. Pretty stupid to not know exactly what you are after five years.
Then I met Preston in college after saving him from a rabid flock of chickens. The Don visited sometimes to persuade me to go back, but on every visit, a disaster or tragedy always seemed to happen, and I had to sort things out, especially when a student’s death was blamed on me. That explains everything bad that happened when I was in college.
After getting my degree in supernatural medicine, I moved to Newcrest and joined the Association. The Don also joined the Association as a senior member, being an acquaintance of Leclerc and all. Leclerc took notice of my achievements and awarded me the title of Archon, but it seems that the Don was the one who prevented me from rising beyond the rank of Minor Archon. The Don always tried to block my path to success.
The Don must be killed.
And suddenly, a knock on the door which derails my train of thought.
“Dooooooc!” Preston calls from behind. “Everyone’s waiting to see you burn Archon Valmonte with your Czardas dance moves!”
“Give me a few more minutes, Preston!” I call back with the itch to get back at my dance rival, Valmonte.
“Okay, Doc! We’re having the plasma juice chug right now. El-Hashem still holds the record!” he reminds me of the time I challenged El-Hashem to a chug and lost.
As I hear Preston float away, I look at the Vivas chest beside my coffin and open it. All kinds of little trinkets, books and letters were in it, but it somehow made my head feel a bit weird.
Something then flashes in my head. A memory from the past when I got shot. But there’s more to it now. It will probably all come back the next time I sleep.
As I hear the party getting wilder upstairs, Preston comes down again to tell me to come up as I go out of my sanctum to join the revelers for a long night of partying, dancing, and blood.
Being undead definitely has its benefits.
—-END OF PASTOR ARC—-