I’m finally here.
After a hasty escape from San Myshuno with the aid of one of Papa’s friends, I was able to leave without getting spotted by any of the Feng Clan’s vampire hunters. The Fengs bought out the whole Guild in San Myshuno and turned them into their own private vampire culling army. I wanted to stay and continue my studies, but it’s not easy when a Feng gangster or two try to kill you almost every night.
The old hideout doesn’t seem to have changed much, so that means Papa is still here. I remembered to cover my tracks and passed through alleyways I knew as a kid to avoid any stalkers. The Fengs that followed me all the way to San Myshuno’s suburbs were quite persistent, but they seem to have given up once I reached the city limits.
I reach the heavy steel door and hear faint sounds of laughter. After knocking, the laughter stops and I just wait.
“Who is it?” a familiar surly voice from the other side asks.
“Preston. It’s me.”
As the door opens, I see the familiar ghost knight lunge for a hug.
“Nicky! You’re back! It’s really you!” Preston exclaims with joy as I hug back. “Doc! Nicky’s back!” the ghost knight calls my father and gently takes my hand to lead me inside.
Upon entering, I just run towards Papa who was welcoming me with open arms to give him a hug.
“Dominica, my dear! This is an unexpected visit.” we hug for a few more moments and I notice a henchman of his looking at us. “But this probably only means one thing. Did something happen in San Myshuno?” Papa asks as he releases me from the hug.
I tell Papa everything. The growth of the Feng Clan, the increase in attacks against vampires, and the trade embargo on the country that produces Papa’s vampire figurines.
“NOT THE FIGURINES!” Papa screams as I wonder if I should have left that out.
“But on to more serious matters, it is indeed alarming that the Fengs have bought the entire Guild in San Myshuno. I should inform the Association soon.” Papa says as his foreign henchman just nods and seems to be taking down notes.
“Who’s this guy, Papa? A new underling?”
“Ah, yes. I haven’t introduced to you my new underlings yet! The other one just went on an errand and will be coming back soon.” Papa speaks as he gestures the lanky henchman towards him.
“This is Shin Park, but we just call him Park. He’s currently our daytime henchman. His Simlish is still not that great, however.”
The foreign henchman bows with respect. “Nice greet you, pretty daughter of Doctor.” I just nod back and smile.
“As for the other henchman, he works as both my butler and protege.” Papa says while looking at the back door as I imagine what kind of person this butler is. “And here he comes now with some fresh plasma fruit.”
A bespectacled vampire wearing a suit enters carrying a bag of fresh plasma fruit.
“Sorry, Doctor. They didn’t have any big ones from Vlad’s Farms, so I got one from Erzebeth’s Growers–”
The vampire drops his bag of fresh plasma fruit mid-sentence as I just cannot believe who just entered.
“YOU!” we both exclaim at the same time, which leaves Papa looking perplexed.
“What’s all this? You two know each other?” Papa asks us as I look at the man in front of me.
“Doctor.” my old neighbor begins. “This woman happens to be an old enemy of mine. I simply cannot stand the sight of her.”
“And I can’t believe that you’re now undead!” I pause for a moment. “The last time I heard about you was when the landlord kicked you out for missing a year’s worth of rent!”
“But what are you doing here, woman? I came to Newcrest to start a new life but end up running into you again!”
“Both of you–” Papa tries to calm us down but we ignore him.
“I can ask you the same thing, asshole! I thought I’d never see your stupid face again but you come back as a vampire to have it for eternity!”
“Now listen to me–”
“GOTH BAND REJECT!”
“ENOUGH!” Papa shouts in the angry voice that scared me when I was little. Antonio also stops in his tracks. Papa rubs his forehead with two fingers, trying to make sense of things.
“Dominica.” Papa calls my attention. “Introduce Antonio to me. Pretend that I have never met him before.”
It did not take me long to come up with something.
“This is Antonio, my former neighbor from San Myshuno. We’ve had lots of fights mainly over noise until we just resorted to calling each other awful things at sight.” I try to tell him as calmly as possible. Seething anger can be hard to control.
“Antonio. Do the same with this woman you’re calling a goth band reject.”
“Yes, Doctor.” Antonio seems to have calmed down. “This is Dominica, my former neighbor and enemy. Two years ago, this bitch made my already bad life a living hell.”
Papa shakes his head at Antonio. “Wait. WAIT. Did you just call my daughter a bitch?”
Antonio just freezes as if he committed the greatest sin ever. I just smile and savor the sweet moment.
“I… I’m sorry, Doctor.” Antonio struggles to apologize, and I’m loving every bit of it. “I did not realize that–”
And then Papa goes into a fit of rage.
“How DARE you talk about my daughter that way!” Papa points at Antonio and approaches him. “While your behavior is certainly befitting that of a vampire, call my daughter something horrible again and I’ll make sure that your undeath will be a living hell.” Papa threatens Antonio by leaning in close and uttering every word in his ear, emphasizing almost every syllable. Antonio just lowers his head in regret after that.
I smile, but when Papa turns to me, I suddenly freeze.
“And why are you smiling? I did not teach you to behave in such… an unrefined manner!” I just brace myself for whatever Papa is going to say. “Here I was thinking that you’ve changed your tomboyish ways, but you’re still the same as ever! Boorishly fighting with a neighbor over such a trivial matter! You will never become a real Lady of the Association at this rate!” He finishes the sentence by throwing a nearby chair against the steel cage, creating a loud, clanging sound.
I never even wanted to act lady-like to begin with, and I don’t care about becoming a Lady of the Association. I do not say anything fearing that it will anger Papa further. I just hope that Papa calms down. The whole room goes into complete silence until Papa speaks again.
“This is what we’ll do. Our organization will never run at full efficiency if you two will be at each other’s throats all the time. Dominica. Antonio.” Papa calls our attention as we anticipate whatever he has planned.
“Both of you younglings have until dawn to reconcile and find common ground. I will be trapping you two in the big room, with no escape. Do it, or the sun will kill both of you.”
I cringe at the thought of being forced to reconcile in the big room with Antonio, but we have no choice.
“Preston! Make sure that both of them stay in the room.” Papa orders Preston who seems like he was about to object, but he reluctantly nods and complies.
Papa then speaks to Park in a foreign language, and Park responds and goes to the nearby storage room. “I’ll be retiring to my coffin early, and I am expecting the immaculate image of ‘jolly cooperation’ from both of you before dawn.”
Papa heads to the basement as I am left with Antonio.
“This is your fault!” I immediately accuse Antonio. “If only I knew that you were working for my father–”
“It’s your fault for coming here!”
“Enough bickering, you two. Let’s go.” Preston tells us to stop and gestures us towards the big room. “You heard the Doc, move.”
As we were herded by Preston towards the big room, I see Park bring out a box of garlic that has been linked together with plastic rope to form a curtain of sorts, and one bulb alone can repel any vampire.
“Hang those garlic curtains well, Park. Wouldn’t want the Doc seeing them escape!”
“Okay, Presto!” Park responds right after we enter the big room. Preston stands watch by the door with a curtain of garlic as I am stuck in the room with my enemy, whom I have to reconcile with before dawn. And that’s in six hours.
Antonio just sits across the table and fiddles with the pieces used for planning heists.
This will be a long night.