The Buccaneer Chronicles:
By Karen Dunn (Despite Interference by Keith Dunn, Andy Simpkins, Adam J Purcell and Tony Gallichan)
Chapter Fifteen - The Barrier
“Damn snow.” Matthias pulled his jacket tight across his chest, leaned back against the branch and took a lung-burning drag of his roley,
Burning with embarrassment after being dismissed so casually by Rafe, he had returned to his duties, alone in the cold, dark forest on the off-chance that a vamp may wander by.
He snorted, tobacco smoke jetting from his nostrils as he laughed. As if he would actually risk his life for any of those high and mighty slayers.
He had only jumped the man and the girl because he had thought it would earn him some alone time with Eleanor - that vamp could suck on his arm any time she liked.
But Rafe had treated him like a kid, a dead brain - a nobody - so they could all get bitten for all he cared.
Shifting his shoulders against the bark, he stubbed out his smoke on the branch and flicked it away, watching the tiny glow of burning ash as it tumbled gently to the ground at the feet of...
The vamp grinned up at him, teeth and eyes catching the moonlight like the stuff of nightmares.
Then it started climbing.
Fumbling to pull his club from his jacket, Matthias scrambled across the canopy of branches to the next tree, braced himself against the trunk and waited for the vamp to get within striking distance.
“Come on, then!”
The vamp pulled itself up, its eyes never leaving his, its grin widening as it closed the gap between them. Twelve feet, ten feet, eight feet...
Matthias hefted the club above his head, “Come on!”
The vamp sprang, a flash of golden light streaked between them and suddenly the creature was falling headfirst to the forest floor.
Matthias blinked, “Wha'..?”
He peered down at the vamp, which had found its feet and was swaying dizzily. It threw itself forward and Matthias gasped as the air shimmered and the blood-sucker fell back, stunned.
Returning the club to his jacket, he stretched out a hand and edged along the branch. The air was tingling and he snatched back his hand as a tickling shock shot up his arm.
Dropping from the branch he landed, cat-like, and ran his hand over the invisible barrier, “Devil work!”
The vamp lay motionless just a few feet ahead of him.
He grinned - Devil work or not, it was keeping the monsters out. Eleanor would want to know - and this time Rafe would not be able to belittle him.
He had saved everybody!
A twig snapped behind him. He froze.
They surrounded him in seconds, silent as the grave, teeth bared. He had counted five of them before they tore his throat out and bent to feast, snapping at one another like wild animals.
His last thought was that Devil-made barriers were all well and good when it came to stopping vamps but what did you do about the ones that had already got past?
Cre'at paused in mid-flight. The scream that pierced the night had been horrific, full of pain and terror and was silenced all too abruptly.
He ran the voice pattern through his memory bank and dismissed it - it did not belong to any of his shipmates so a pointless rescue attempt of some one who was so obviously already dead was not necessary.
His scanners were showing the force field at full strength. Good. At maximum speed he should reach the town in minutes.
Nothing else showed up on the scans - but he didn't take that to be good news.