“Leave me alone.” I tell the pale-skinned freak that started stalking me two stations earlier. “Our discussion is over.”
“Please Miss Cherry, I would just like to know if everything will be all right.” the ugly vampire asks me for the nth time.
“And you have the gall to ask Cherry May Feng herself?” the impudent vampire deserves to be de-fanged just for that.
The vampire that sold out his own kind does not reply for a moment.
“You could have just told one of my goons, like the ones that visited your rat hole of a hideout.”
“They told me that if I just gave Andre, they’d leave House Salvatore and my family alone.” the vampire tries to block my way. “Can you at least guarantee their safety? PLEASE, my friend! I beg you!”
“I am not your friend, vampire.” I snap back.
The nerve of this one. I try to get a good night’s sleep in my penthouse when this vampiric thug the Dimsum Brothers told me about appeared in the subway. I have to shake him off somehow and get to my nightly ritual of admiring myself in the mirror before sleeping.
The vampire tries to grab me, but the medallion hidden under my top shines a bright light and stuns him for a moment. This is something that I bought from the head honcho of the Guild, which he was happy to give away for the right price.
“Here’s what we’ll do, bloodsucker. I make the terms here, and your friends and family’s lives are on the line.” I push the vampire aside to continue walking. My self-admiration meter is running low and I need to restore it soon.
“Continue providing information about the locations of other vampire hideouts and I’ll guarantee their safety.” I stop for a moment and look at the vampire straight in the eye. A blatant lie, which he will probably believe out of desperation. It feels so good to have power. That’s what Daddy always tells me.
“Yes, understood, Miss Cherry. Yes!”
“Do I make myself clear?”
“Yes, Miss Cherry. And about the money…”
“It will be deposited into your account. Now get lost.”
The ugly vampire just nods meekly and keeps throwing empty words of gratitude as I head off towards my apartment building, which I personally own. As I approach the entrance to the building, I see one of my goons on guard.
“You. Goon.” I get the goon’s attention.
“Be on the lookout for any pale-skinned freaks. I just ran into one earlier. No one but residents and tenants are to get through you, understood?”
“Yes, ma’am!” the goon responds as I put my mind at ease and go into the lobby.
The Dimsum Brothers should have burned that young vampire they captured into bits by now. Now I can perfect the essence that that man told me about. I need to thank him formally once I purge San Myshuno of vampires and become the most beautiful being in existence.
Even with deals like that in place, that vampire’s so-called family will also be purged. That’s just how us Fengs do business in San Myshuno.
I wait for the right moment.
The two of them seem to be discussing something, but I made the bad choice of positioning myself near a karaoke bar. All I could hear were bits and pieces of their conversation, but I must sort this out. I have to follow Karim and interrogate him myself.
My chance comes, and the two finally go their separate ways. Now to follow and corner Karim.
Karim seems to be taking the long way back to the subway station as I follow him through a small park, a plaza, and a convenience store. He then turns around a corner behind an old karaoke bar, which I know hosts a vampire lounge that has already been ransacked by the Fengs, and it’s a dead end.
Karim tries to knock on the shutters as I walk up behind him.
“That door won’t open. It’s already been ransacked by the Fengs.”
Karim turns around in surprise as he almost reveals his fangs, but his face then soon turns to one of relief.
“Oh, thank goodness, it’s only you, my friend. I thought I was getting stalked by a Feng for a moment there. You’re Archon de Guzman’s pupil, yes?”
“Indeed I am. But what are you doing here? I thought you stayed at the hideout.”
Karim seems hesitant to answer my question.
“I… had to run an errand for Don Salvatore, you see! Miss Gupta told me to get the boss some medication that can only be bought at a pharmacy here in the Fashion District.”
“Maybe I should help. The Doc has taught me much about vampire medicine. What brand of medicine does he need? Vampimethicine? Metroponecrosol? Maleficanine?” I list a number of vampire medicines from the top of my head.
“I forgot the name. I just had Miss Gupta write it on a piece of paper. It’s too long, yes? Vampire medicines and their long names.” Karim gives off nervous laughter as I just look at him with extreme suspicion.
“Show me the prescription then.”
“I uh… must have misplaced it, my friend. You see, I was in a hurry from the hideout after all.”
We’re getting nowhere.
“Enough talk. I saw you with Cherry May Feng earlier. What were you talking about with her?”
Karim just laughs this time. He laughs until the empty space we’re in echoes with his own laughter.
“That is something I cannot tell you, my friend.”
“And why not? Isn’t Cherry Feng behind all those attacks on our fellow vampires?”
“These are desperate times, my friend. A vampire has to use every means necessary to preserve himself. ”
“Whatever you have planned with the Fengs, I won’t let you get away with it! I’ll be telling Salvatore.”
“Oh, I’m afraid you won’t be able to, my friend. Because I’ll make sure that you won’t!”
Karim reveals his barely noticeable dark form and starts floating in mid-air, ready to lunge at me.
“I am a merciful vampire, my friend. Keep quiet about this and I won’t kill you.”
“I won’t back down.”
“I am the second-strongest vampire and a lieutenant of House Salvatore! A minor vampire like you cannot hope to defeat me!”
“You talk too much!”
I immediately jump and tackle Karim in the chest while in mid-air, with enough force to stop his momentum. He breaks free from my grip and steps back as I try to slash him with my sharp nails. Karim evades this attack by phasing into dark mist and punching me in the gut, pushing me back a few paces.
As I try to recover from the punch and prepare another stance, Karim comes at me again with another lunge, launching himself from the wall to slash me with his fingernails. I manage to grab both of his forearms and hurl him to the back, making him crash into a pile of garbage. Karim gets up and hisses as he starts to play defensive with both arms up.
I run towards Karim as he readies his fists but I feint a slash and perform a roundhouse kick to his side, catching him off guard. Karim easily recovers from this and comes back with a flurry of slashes. A few slashes connect and hit me, but I manage to get away from his frenzied attack before taking more damage.
“Why won’t you go down? I’m Salvatore’s strongest man!” Karim shouts in frustration as he leaps in the air to punch me.
I evade his attack by stepping back and counter by kicking him in the face. The kick does not push him back this time as he manages to punch my shoulder and kick my gut with his knee. This makes me cough up some blood as I start to get angry.
I step back with arms raised in a defensive position as he comes in with a sliding kick, but I jump and perform an elbow drop as soon as he passes underneath. A direct hit on his stomach as he coughs up blood. I roll away from Karim as he gets back up as he hisses again for another charge.
Karim attacks with another flurry of slashes, but I manage to counter it this time by performing a sweeping kick, completely ruining his momentum. I then see an opening and grab him by the neck, bring him in mid-air and throw him down to the ground.
“I concede! I concede, my friend!” Karim manages to say as he coughs up more blood while trying to stand up. “Karim Moghadam knows when he has been defeated. To think that a minor vampire would–”
“Shut up, you scumbag.”
The defeated vampire gets up on his own with a clearer expression on his face- one of fear.
“Now, what did you talk about with the Feng bitch? I want answers!” I grab Karim by the lapel of his jacket to make him talk. This is something I’ve learned from working with the Doc and his other henchmen.
“Please, Mr. Antonio, I’m sure we can talk this ou–”
I grab his neck with my other hand and squeeze it until he pleads for mercy.
“Alright, I’ll tell you everything!” the words barely come out of Karim’s mouth as I throw him down to the ground again.
With ugly sobbing, Karim spills the beans and says that the Fengs threatened to kill his entire family if he didn’t sell out his fellow vampires. He has been selling out Salvatore’s own men for simoleons and to keep his own family safe. A very difficult position, indeed, but any other vampire might have done the same thing.
However, betraying your own House is probably the greatest sin, which I personally find unforgivable.
“Please spare me, my friend!” Karim goes down on his knees to beg for mercy. In a normal situation, the victor of a vampire fight like this has the option to either spare or rip out the heart of the loser. “I have a family of sixteen and three loving wives! They mean the world to me!”
I think about whether or not I should spare him. What would the Doc do in this situation? He would have probably decapitated Karim on the spot. What Karim did has angered me, but I try to calm down and find the right words to say.
“Get up. It is not my place to pass judgment on you.” I tell Karim as he continues to sob on the ground. “I will tell Salvatore and the Doc about what you’ve done and let Salvatore himself decide what to do with you.”
“You are too kind, my friend! Too kind!” Karim crawls and prostrates himself beneath me.
“Stop that! Have some dignity as a vampire and stand up!” I tell Karim and almost kick him.
“No, my friend. I realize now that my actions were unforgivable. I am beneath even the lowliest ghoul that walks the night because of what I did.” Karim says while still prostrating on the ground. I leave him alone as he is still in the same position. Dusting off the dirt from my suit, I head for the capsule hotel.
With that, I take out a plasma pack from my coat and start sipping to recover the energy I lost during the fight.
After taking note of what happened with Karim, I pass by the last place where I saw Cherry and see the high-end residential tower again. Seeing that it is almost dawn, I make my way across the plaza to get to the capsule hotel.
And then someone calls my attention.
“Hey, you.” a woman in a black suit calls me curtly. “Only residents and tenants of the Ichiban Kireina Tower may go past this point.”
“Pardonnez moi, mon ami, but I seem to have become lost.” I reply in a Lutecean accent, knowing that this woman dressed in black is most likely a Feng goon. Thank goodness for Lutecean classes back in college. “I was looking for a capsule hotel for travelers like myself.”
“A tourist, huh? Two blocks down that street. Keep to the right and make a left on Shinsen Street. Now scram.”
How curt. But that’s what I’d expect from any person working in security. She suggested a long way, but getting past her will save me some time.
“Isn’t it faster if you just let me past here? That’s what the travel agent told me back in Lutece!” I make up another excuse. “And why can’t I pass here? Not for tourists, non?”
“Nothing I can do about it. Just doing my job. Only residents of the tower may get through.” the tough-looking woman stands her ground. Looks like I can’t talk my way past her.
She then starts looking at my mouth with suspicion.
“What’s that in your mouth?”
“Ah, pardon. Just some gum, non?” I pretend to swallow the imaginary gum and realize that I forgot to retract my fangs and quickly conceal them.
“Whatever. Now get lost.”
“I guess this is how la ville de San Myshuno runs things. Merci.” I give the last word in the snootiest way possible.
Realizing that I won’t be able to get through, I leave to avoid arousing any more suspicion and walk away. I look back and see the woman already on her radio and manage to hear something.
Pam here. I think we’ve got a you-know-what here in Sector C. A foreign one. Get Tea, Lobs, Charl, and Peva here with some silvers pronto.
I start walking faster.
I quickly make my way back to the capsule hotel and enter through the back door for a good day’s rest.
The next night, I get up and text the Doc instructions on how to get to the Fashion District as well as other reports. I look out the window and see that I cannot get out of the hotel for now.
The building has been surrounded.