Scene 49 – Mercennarium

MERCENNARIUM

KELLY

“That was probably a bad idea,” Alex noted as we got back into the van.

I waved at Obould’s boys loading the gargant into a truck. “It’s not so bad. It was fun, and no one died.”

George chuckled. “Boss, weren’t you the one saying we shouldn’t get involved with the Paladins more than we have to?”

I took off my daygoggles. The ambient light in the van was a bit softer than daylight, about the level of a lightbulb, which meant I could see fine, but it gave me a fierce headache. I could bear it for a little bit—I was tired of everything being dark.

“Maybe you guys are right. But we’re having a bad day, and I figured everyone could use a little R&R before another week or so of stakeout.”

Jarasax grimaced as he slid into the driver’s seat and started the engine. “That’s an understatement if I ever heard one. But I’m not sure this was the time or the place.”

“We did get to have a little fun,” George noted, as he scratched at his bandages. We’d need to get him better healing soon. “C’mon, Sax, you have to admit watching Adam kill that gargant was worth it.”

The changeling grunted. “Hardly. We both almost got killed. Hell, I didn’t even see the actual kill. Wouldn’t you have preferred to stay home over a few broken ribs?”

I rubbed my eyes. The headache wasn’t too bad yet, but the incessant sniping was getting tiresome. “Fine, Sax, next time we’ll leave you with the van. Happy now?”

He frowned. “Kelly, come on. I’m just looking out for the team.”

“Oh both of you stop,” Alex admonished as he polished his dayknives. “You’re both so overprotective it’s embarrassing. Though I suppose I should be grateful Mom let us have some fun today.”

I glared at the angel dangerously, but he just grinned back. “Don’t start that again, Alex.”

“I’m serious,” he said, warming to the subject. “Ling’s been chattering about this whenever she gets the chance.”

“Why to you of all people?” Sax asked. I had to admit I found it a bit curious too. Most people were a little leery around angels, and I hadn’t thought she was an exception. “Weren’t you just complaining we aren’t friendly enough with them?”

“Hey, I wasn’t complaining.” George shifted in his spot, warningly, and Alex hurriedly continued. “It’s just that the rest of the Paladins aren’t very sympathetic to her plight. She’s not a soldier, she’s just someone in the wrong place at the wrong time.”

George grinned. “With superpowers.”

Alex smiled, and nodded. “Yes. With superpowers. They aren’t any more interested in listening to her theories than she is to listening about tactics.”

“I don’t see the point here.” My headache was getting worse, but I didn’t put the goggles back on yet. Besides, the pain distracted me from the fixer on my arm.

The angel shrugged. “No point, really. She was just talking about each of us fit into our own little archetype. Derek’s the hero, not to mention the father of his group. Laura’s the smart one, and the mother.”

“That doesn’t make sense,” George cut in. “If anyone is the father, wouldn’t it be Butler?”

“Adoptive parents, then. Derek is in charge of caring for them, that’s all I meant. Like how Kelly and Sax are the parents of the retinue.”

I rolled my eyes. “Cute, Alex. Very cute. What did I ever do to deserve this?”

“Oh come on, I’m serious! You take care of us, and we appreciate it.”

Sax looked at him sideways. “Yesterday you threatened to disembowel me and strangle Kelly with my guts.”

“Oh, you’ve never wanted to kill your parents?” Suddenly his grin faded, and he stopped polishing his knives. “I…guess not.”

Now that was surprising. “You knew your parents, Alex? You never talk about what happened before you joined your Host.”

He slid away his dayknives with a sigh. “That’s ‘cuz I don’t like talking about it, Kel. It was a slip of the tongue. Don’t worry about it.”

I frowned, reached over, and smacked him upside the head. “That’s bull. You know George’s story, and all the details of Sax’s escape.” I shifted around and lay back in the seat. “God, you even know everything about the shit storm that is my life. You don’t get to skip your turn on our little sharing sessions.”

The angel scowled. “Fine. My dad was one of the first angels, my mom one of the second-gen vampires. Dad killed mom, I killed dad. We done?”

An awkward silence fell in the van. I became acutely aware of the orcs outside, still cleaning up the gargant.

George shuffled uncomfortably. “God, sorry, Alex. I mean…I didn’t realize.”

Sax nodded. “Not knowing your parents is better than that.”

But I just glared at the genderless little freak. “No, that’s not what happened.”

He glared right back, and his hands went to the hilts of his knives. “What did you just say? If you think you know me—”

“That’s the plot to Vampire Carmilla Saizou,” I interrupted. “I bought you the disc for your last birthday.”

The angel winced. “Crap, I thought that was Adele. Ah, right. So my mom was a high-level vampire, and my dad a lupe—”

“If your mom was a loli, that’s Dance in the Vampire Bund.”

“Uh, I was told my dad was a pilot, by my aunt and uncle—”

Star Wars.”

“My dad was an antiques dealer and an abusive gambler, and my mom killed him with a cursed sword he got—”

“Now you’re just making stuff up.”

He threw up his hands. “Saints above vampire, can’t you just let me have my cool origin story?”

My headache was getting close to unbearable. “Alex, you’re just making us curious.”

He leaned his back against the door of the van and sighed. “Fine. I was raised in one of Zaphkiel’s orphanages. Spent a lot of time watching TV. When I was eighteen—ten years ago—I took the glow and the eyes and joined the Host.” He shrugged. “You know the rest.”

George snorted, though he tried to hide it. “Well, I’ll admit I can see why you tried to hide it. It’s not very interesting.”

“Be nice,” Sax warned. “It took a lot for him to admit the real story.”

I sighed and finally put my daygoggles back on. “At least now I remember why you’d be friends with Ling.”

The ogre leaned forward a little. “That reminds me—Sax, what’s the word on that data dump Kat set up? The one using MC’s system?”

“Not much,” the changeling admitted. “I talked to Clarke and got the data, but its just a five minute audio file between a half-dozen fey, talking about something.”

I raised an eyebrow. It scraped against the daygoggles, and hurt. It was amazing how easy it was to forget that discomfort, just by taking the stupid things off for a few minutes. “Anything specific?”

“Just about how they’ll need to be careful their dead homunculi don’t fall into the wrong hands. They were talking about the kill switches, mostly.”

Kill switches were pretty much what they sounded like; self-destruct sequences the fey used for their homunculi, to make sure that the body was completely destroyed, and no one would be able to study the corpse.

“That’s interesting on its own, though,” Alex said slowly. “They’d only be worried about leaving corpses behind if they were staging a war.”

“They stage wars all the time,” I noted. “I don’t think its a big deal.”

But the angel just shook his head. “Their normal turf wars are bad enough, but right now…if a war starts now, a lot of people are going to die.”

“People die every day,” I muttered gruffly. “Besides, we can handle a few monsters.”

Alex leaned forward, between the driver’s seat and the passenger, holding himself up by the shoulder rests. He locked gazes with me and wouldn’t let go.

“How do you think we would have survived the bleeders,” he asked slowly. “If there was a horde of fey-born monsters attacking at the same time?”

I forced myself to avert my eyes. “Wouldn’t happen. The fey don’t plan.”

“Hm,” the angel muttered. “I’m sure they don’t. Kat’s intercepted communication is clearly just an anomaly. The fey couldn’t, for example, be in league with the Composer.”

Behind the Scenes (scene 49)

One of the main reasons for this scene was to show what happens when a vampire tries to see in normal light without daygoggles. The other was a little more characterization for Alex. I really don’t think I’ve given him enough time to shine.

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