The Buccaneer Chronicles:
By Karen Dunn (Despite Interference by Keith Dunn, Andy Simpkins, Adam J Purcell and Tony Gallichan)
Chapter Sixteen - The Assault
“I think I may have made a mistake. They won’t allow me to leave this damned cell and examine the boy but I have to accept that these primitives know the difference between a vampire and a human. I just don’t understand how I could have been so wrong. Eleanor had no right to perfect the cure! How could she possibly…Blanche is right. I seem to have some perverse need to live under the shadow of nightmares. Idiot.”
Colin leaned back against the bars of the cell and watched his two friends.
When Rafe delivered the news about the boy, Mac reacted as if he had been punched in the gut. He was sitting below the cell window, elbows propped on his knees, head thrown back against the cell wall. He hadn’t said a word but Colin could see the cogs turning in his head.
Blanche, on the other and, was on full alert, standing in the centre of the cell, glaring at the Time Lord, her bruised mouth a testament to how quickly things had come unravelled.
He gazed at her with a sad smile. She was the little sister he never had and Mac treated her like dirt. He had seen the way Marco had looked at her as he brought food to the cell, seen the way the slayer had squeezed her hand through the bars.
The girl had been crying out for some one to treat her with respect and the vampire killer had ticked all the right boxes without even trying.
Colin got the feeling that, when this whole fiasco was done, he would be hugging her goodbye.
Why would she step back on the Ship with Mac and his abusive ways when there was a good man right here willing to give her the world?
* Captain Curtis *
Colin spun round, unable to pinpoint the voice, “Cre’at?”
* I am at the window, Captain Curtis. *
Blanche grinned, “Hi, metal head!”
* Greetings, Blanche. Where is Macfadyan? *
“I’m here, Cre’at,” Mac stood, smoothing imaginary wrinkles from his jacket, “Where have you been?”
* Hiding in the trees. *
Blanche grinned, “Wish I’d thought of that.”
* There are vampires in the forest. *
Macfadyan shrugged, “We know.”
* There are many vampires on their way here. They wish to kill you. I did not approve but I was unable to stop them all. *
“Shit!” Colin grabbed the cell bars and rattled them, “RAFE!”
Macfadyan waved an impatient hand, “How did you ‘stop them’?”
Cre’at’s servos gave a self-satisfied burble, * I was able to persuade Eleanor’s Psych-comp to activate the Ship’s defence shield. Unfortunately some of the vampires were already inside the perimeter. *
“She has a Psych-comp?”
* It is a very annoying machine. *
The tramp of heavy footfalls made them all turn as Rafe, Marco and Conor arrived, “What’s going on?”
Macfadyan frowned, “You have a problem - but I think I know how to help.”
As command centres went, the bar of the King’s Cruelty pub didn’t really make the grade but it was the best they had at such short notice.
While the slayers and the townsfolk took up position guarding the perimeter, Rafe and Marco were huddled with Mac, Colin and Blanche round a table on which had been sketched a rough map of the area.
Mac beckoned to Cre’at, who was bobbing on an air pocket next to the fire, “Show us the path of the forcefield.”
Cre’at pootled forward and considered the map, * This is not to scale. *
“It’s the best we have. Now tell us.”
* The shield runs in a circle south from the Ship to the town and the same distance to the north. It emcompasses Eleanor’s house to the east and the same distance to the west. It is quite large and is running at full power. *
Rafe frowned, “And this shield is keeping the vamps out?”
* Correct. Though I believe a number may have already been within its boundaries. *
“Why do you think that?”
Cre’at’s servos clicked and a bone-chilling scream rang out, ending in a sharp choke.
Rafe stepped back as the slayers reached for their knives, “Sweet maker!”
* I believe that is the sound of a vampire’s prey meeting its end. *
Marco shook his head sadly, “Sounded like Matthias.”
Rafe nodded, “Never liked the bastard but he didn’t deserve that.”
Mac shushed them, “Yes yes, enough of that…”
Rafe spun on him and grabbed the front of his shirt, “THAT was one of my men and you will show respect. I only let you out of your cell because I trust Colin and he said you can help but you step out of line and you’ll be back behind bars before you can blink. Understand?”
With a snarl, Rafe let him go, “So how many vamps are we dealing with?”
Mac shrugged, “Inside the shield? Who knows? I saw dozens in Stackmore’s cavern but there could have been hundreds. The cave system likely goes for miles.”
Rafe stalked across the room, “Conor!”
The slayer turned from his position at the window, “Yeah?”
“We’re set, Rafe.”
Rafe nodded and stalked back to Mac, “When they come, we’ll deal with them. But what I don’t understand is why you took Stackmore’s word. You murdered Eleanor. If she was here we’d be able to help these vamps - cure em. Now we’re gonna have to kill them. Because of you.”
Mac glared at the slayer, “We don’t have time for this.”
“Whose fault is that?”
The Time Lord slammed his fists onto the table, making the splinterwood shudder, “Enough!”
He looked from one face to the next as they gaped at him, “I made a mistake. I allowed Stackmore to make all the moves when I should have taken him down. I dismissed the idea of a cure before I had all the facts.”
He glared at Rafe, “But I will not apologise for killing Eleanor. I’m just sorry I didn’t let her explain the cure before I shot her.”
“You son of a bitch!”
Colin stepped in front of Rafe as he threw himself at Mac. It took all his strength to hold onto the furious slayer, “Enough, man, enough! Focus on the job in hand.”
Rafe pushed away from Colin’s grip, his eyes spitting fury as her glared at Mac, “When this is over, I’ll find you.”
Colin and Marco exchanged a worried glance. With their leaders at each other’s throats the ball had fallen in their court.
The young slayer stepped up, “How long will the shield hold.”
Colin shrugged, “For as long as the Ship has power, I guess.”
“So for now all we have to worry about is…”
The shout came from one of the men at the window.
As one, the slayers and the townsfolk ran out into the snow, armed with little more than torches and knives.
Colin drew his revolver and glared at Blanche, “Stay here.” And he ran out into the night.
Blanche bristled, “Who the hell does he think he is?”
She turned to Mac as the scream of battle began. He was the only one left in the tavern, “Aren’t you going?”
The Time Lord huffed, “Certainly not. Now make yourself useful and find the syringe.”
“What?” She jumped as the sound of Colin’s revolver exploded outside.
“The syringe, girl. The needle Eleanor used to inject the boy. It must be here somewhere.”
Muttering under her breath, Blanche started searching the room.
Colin had seen active service before - had shot a man in the face who was trying to kill one of his colleagues. He told himself that he had dealt with the nightmares. It was a lie.
Though he was happy to carry a gun, and saw it as a necessary part of his life as a soldier, he was uncomfortable with the need to fire it - especially when the target was armed with nothing but a sharp set of teeth and an unhealthy psychosis.
He had read plenty of trashy vamp fiction as a boy that described them as creatures of the night, an analogy that fit perfectly.
They were melting through the town, camouflaged against the snowy night, attacking one by one and he had been forced to shoot one as it threw itself at Rafe from the roof of the blacksmith’s.
He had been unable to make a proper count but, no matter the numbers, they had reduced the inexperienced townsfolk to screaming at shadows while Rafe and his men did their best to conduct matters with some form of discipline.
He saw Marco disappear beneath three of the creatures, only for Rafe and Conor to throw themselves into the battle, knives drawn, bloodlust in their eyes.
A panicked cry to his left saw him sprinting to the aid of a young farmer whose axe had been wrenched from his grasp and laid uselessly at his feet as one of the vampires used claw-like fingers to pin his arms.
As the creature lowered its gaping mouth to the screaming man’s neck, Colin took aim and fired.
The top of the vamp’s head exploded messily and the body toppled slowly sideways allowing the farmer to scramble free, his feet slipping on the snow-covered cobbles, “Thank you, thank you…” And he ran off into the night.
Colin nodded and checked the chamber of his revolver. Empty. Throwing the useless weapon to the ground, he snatched up the axe and turned - just as a second vampire plummeted from the rooftops and smashed him to the ground.
The creature’s claws gripped the axe shaft, it’s fetid breath burning in Colin’s lungs as he tried to push it away.
It’s strength was frightening and he felt his muscles failing as it pushed the axe down towards his throat, a string of spittle looping from its mouth as it grinned at him with insane eyes.
With a roar, Colin doubled his efforts, pushing hard against the axe shaft, “Come on!”
The vamp simply grinned and pushed back. It was like trying to wrestle a Sumo fighter and Colin fought down terror as he realised he was going to die.
Then it was over. The vampire gasped and slumped over, its gruesome teeth just missing the side of his face, and Macfadyan was smirking down at him, a syringe in one hand as he reached out the other to help him up.
“What the hell..?”
Mac shrugged and showed him the needle, “There wasn’t a lot left but this is powerful stuff. We’ll see if the smaller dose worked when it wakes up.”
A hand slapped Colin on the back and a bedraggled Rafe nudged the comatose vamp with his foot, “His name’s Cadmer, he’s a cooper. They got him about seven years ago. It’ll be good to have him back.”
“If it works.”
Rafe sneered at Mac, “Eleanor knew her stuff. It’ll work.”
Fearing another row, Colin stepped between the pair, “Are they all dealt with.”
Rafe nodded, “All dead. There were only 15 of them. We got through with hardly a scratch.”
“Excellent.” Colin turned to Mac, “Now what?”
Macfadyan grinned and gazed at the remnants of the serum as it oozed gently inside the syringe, “Now we take the battle to Stackmore.”