DISCLAIMER: The Star Trek characters are the property of Paramount Studios, Inc. Other aspects of this story belong to Fox Studios. The story contents are the creation and property of Djinn and is copyright (c) 2000 by Djinn. This story is Rated PG-13.
The Next Evil Thing
The huts stood seemingly abandoned. No footsteps stirred, no voices echoed. Nothing disturbed the furniture, books, clothing. Yet the planet was not deserted. Something was there. As the breeze billowed curtains through still-open windows, it seemed to carry a voice that hissed, "Soon."
"Energize." Kirk's command echoed in Christine's ears as the transporter took them. She was surprised to be included on this mission, but McCoy was at a medical seminar and M'Benga had just gotten off shift. She was the most logical choice. I'm even starting to think like Spock. Pathetic, she thought wryly.
The team consisted of the
Captain, herself, and a hefty security detail.
They were responding to a distress call on a world that had only
recently been colonized by the Federation.
The first families had moved to Alpha Nu-M about five months ago. Their reports had come in regularly, and more
colonists were preparing to make the move when Star Fleet lost all contact with
the colony. The
The landing party materialized in the center of the settlement. The security detail fanned out for defense as Christine scanned the area. "Still, no life signs, Captain."
Kirk studied the area. "There should be over a hundred people here. What the hell happened?" He led the group to the nearest hut. Two security men entered first, then the rest followed. Christine felt shock and dismay when she saw the three bodies lying on the floor. She began checking for cause of death.
"Miss Chapel?" Kirk was obviously impatient for her determination.
She turned her scanner off, studied the bodies. "They died of exsanguination, sir."
At his surprised look, she turned the corpse's head to the other side, exposing marks on the neck. "No blood."
"You mean like a vampire?"
She rose. "Or someone trying to make it look like one. I'd like to check the rest of the buildings."
As she hurried to the next hut, Kirk caught up with her. "We don't believe in vampires, do we?"
"I'm sure Mr. Spock could give you a list of every known species that was remotely close. As well as every legend of vampire-like creatures."
His hand on her arm stopped her progress. "That's not an answer, Chris."
She mentally shook herself. "Of course, we don't believe in them. Vampires don't exist."
The scenes in the rest of the buildings were the same, very pale bodies strewn everywhere. Christine sighed as she rose from the last one. "Same as the rest, sir. And with most of them there is no sign of a struggle. No tissue under the nails, or defense wounds. They died without fighting back."
"Is this everyone?"
"No sir. I've cross-checked each body against the colony records. There are roughly twelve people unaccounted for. Five males and seven females. Varying ages and family groups."
As they walked back out of the hut, the setting sun spread golden-red light over the settlement. Christine moved toward a building in the middle of the camp. "The body in here is the most recent kill. I'd like to beam it up for an autopsy."
"Do you think that's wise? Couldn't you do the exam down here? I hate to risk infection in case this thing is contagious."
"This isn't a disease, sir. These people died because someone killed them. That killer, or killers possibly, are probably still here. I think we should get back up to the ship." She couldn't help but notice that the sun was nearly gone. "We should leave now, Captain."
"What has you so spooked?"
Before she could answer, a shout came from behind them. They turned in time to see one of the security officers fire on something hidden behind a hut. The guard yelled, "Let go of her!" and fired again.
Kirk and Christine and the rest of the landing party began to run toward the officer who was now standing very still, as if mesmerized by whatever was behind the building. In the murky half-darkness, a figure stepped out, dropped the body of a female ensign and advanced on the man. Three phasers lit up the area as other security officers fired. The beams had no effect.
"Phasers on kill," Kirk yelled, as Christine backed away from the group and ran to a wooden chair sitting in front of a nearby hut. She upended it and broke off two of the legs just as the phasers lit up the night.
"Stop firing, it doesn't do any good," she yelled, as she ran past the group to stand between the still unmoving man and the thing advancing on him.
She heard Kirk exclaim, "Nurse Chapel, what the hell do you think you're doing?"
"What I'm best at," she said bitterly, as she launched a shattering kick at the vampire. The force of it propelled him back against the building. Before he could recover she was in front of him and slammed one of the chair legs into his chest. She pulled it out as he exploded into a cloud of dust.
The man standing behind her shocked awake the moment it happened. She grabbed him and dragged him toward the rest of the party. "We have to get out of here…now!"
Kirk didn't hesitate. "
As they rematerialized on the transporter pad, he turned to her. "You have a lot of explaining to do."
Light from the planet's two moons spilled over the settlement. Only the body of the Star Fleet ensign gave evidence to the recent struggle. A young man rose from her side where he had been studying her neck wounds. He looked around angrily at the woman standing next to him.
"I told you all to stay put. What was Caleb thinking coming out here alone?"
She cringed away from him. "I'm sorry, Master. I tried to stop him but he wouldn't listen. He said we didn't have to wait for your permission to feed. Not when he had mastered the charming. He said we didn't need you."
"Well, he was wrong, wasn't he, Sabine?" The young man walked over to a broken chair picked it up and sniffed at it. Then he threw it aside and turned back to the woman and the ten others that stood a bit removed. "He was wrong. And now he's gone. I wasn't trying to control him or any of you. I was trying to protect you."
"Protect us from what?"
The vampire's nostrils flared as he caught a scent from the chair. "From the Slayer."
"Ok, one more time, Christine. You're a _Vampire Slayer_?"
Kirk and Christine were with Spock in the captain's quarters. Christine had barely convinced Kirk not to go running back down to the planet. "Not at night, sir," she had told him. "It's too dangerous." Kirk had finally agreed and had dismissed the security detail and ordered the transporter chief not to beam anyone to or from the planet without his express permission. Then he had called the bridge and asked Spock to meet them in his room.
Now he and Spock were looking at Christine incredulously. Spock finally spoke. "Computer, check data banks for occupational definition: Vampire Slayer."
"There are no references for the term."
Spock turned to her. "It would seem, Miss Chapel, that your job does not exist."
She shook her head. "Wrong, Spock. Computer, check all files for "Chosen One or Vampire Slayer." Cross reference against myths and legends, and/or unsubstantiated rumor."
"Working. File found.
Vampire Slayer. A legend. Origin:
Earth. Text of legend: 'As long as there have been demons, there has
been the Slayer. One girl in all the world, a
"So, Christine, this is what you do in your spare time? Slay vampires?"
Christine sighed. It was going to be a very long night. "No. I'm a retired slayer. I don't do this anymore. That's one of the reasons I like it here in space. No vampires. Or at least not until today."
Spock gave her a puzzled glance. "The computer said one girl with the strength and skill. Forgive me, Nurse, but you do not appear to be especially strong or skilled in combat."
"You should have seen her on the planet, Spock. She seemed pretty damn capable down there."
Christine nodded. "I'm probably stronger than you, Spock. I've never actually gone up against a Vulcan so I don't know for sure, but I imagine it would be an interesting fight."
"I have seen you in the gym, Miss Chapel, you do not seem particularly coordinated, let alone physically powerful."
"You've never seen me alone in the gym, Spock. Tell me, how many times has the punching bag been broken in the last few years? And nobody confessed did they?"
Spock raised an eyebrow. "I am to accept that was you?"
"What is your problem with this, Spock? Meet me in the gym sometime at mid-Beta shift. There is usually no one there then. We can go at it till you believe me, how's that?"
Kirk raised his hands. "Let's just assume for now that what you say is true. That the thing down there was a vampire. And that there are more of them. There were no life signs when we beamed down, yet we saw something that appeared to be living...at least until you came along." He grinned at her. "If we can't find them on sensors, how do we stop them?"
"You don't. I do."
"Just you, against eleven of them?"
"Twelve. There's the thing that made them too. It worries me that there were thirteen of them. That's a mystically significant number. This original vampire may have had a plan, maybe there was an astral convergence or something coming up. He, or she, will need a new thirteenth and will take it from us if he can."
Spock was watching her intently. "How do we know what this creature has planned?"
"I've never heard of a vampire this far out in space. Or anywhere in space for that matter." She shook her head in frustration. "We could contact the Watcher's Council. See if they have any idea. But I doubt they'd cooperate. There's no love lost between us."
"But you had a watcher, didn't you, Chris? The legend said there was one for each Slayer, if I understood correctly?"
"My Watcher is dead, Captain. He..." She trailed off, unwilling to hash up old memories. "I've lost touch with the Council of Watchers since I joined Star Fleet. Retiring didn't make me very popular."
Kirk thought for a second. "Okay, then explain to me exactly what we're up against."
"What we've got is a master vampire and twelve, now eleven, fledglings. They are pure evil, even the young ones. There is no reforming them, or putting them back the way they were. We slay them, end of story. But it probably won't be easy. They can't be captured on sensors...at least not the way we currently have them configured. Maybe not at all. I had heard once that a technology existed to sniff out vampire and other demon pheromones, but if so, it's been lost. What you have is me, and my ability to sense them, which frankly is not going to work unless I am down there with them. And I don't plan to go down there until we even the odds a bit."
She paused, mind racing as she tried to order her thoughts. "We may be able to track them by monitoring the animals in the vicinity, looking for struggles with no apparent cause showing up. Without people around, these vamps are going to be hungry. Spock and I can work on the details for the scanners. We should also rig up a holding pen that would serve as an interrogation space if we capture one. With a little persuasion, our captive may tell us where the we can find the nest." She turned to Spock. "If I want to beam the vampire directly from the planet to the brig, is that possible?"
He raised an eyebrow. "Site-to-site transporting requires pinpoint accuracy." He watched as she frowned. I assume that you would prefer that the vampire not be able to leave the transporter pad while awaiting transfer to the brig?"
She nodded. "I imagine most of the people that would end up as its dinner if it gets away, would prefer that too."
Spock ignored her sarcasm. "It is possible to set the transporter so that whatever is caught in the beam is immobilized until the second transport is completed. It is a security protocol, often used when transporting someone or something dangerous."
"That'll work." Christine felt long abandoned energy flood her body. It was already preparing to fight. She got up and began to pace, to give the surge of adrenaline an outlet. "I'm most worried about the power that the vampire we met showed. The ability to mesmerize is not a normal skill. As far as I know, only one line of vamps manifests it. Which means that we are facing one of Drusilla's get, and they tend to be very clever and extremely vicious." Christine closed her eyes for a moment, again unwilling to dredge up old memories. "Drusilla was killed after the Eugenics War, but her progeny apparently live on."
Spock interrupted, "This bothers you on a personal level? Why?"
She turned; surprised that he had picked up on her worry. "You're right. I thought I had killed the last of them. I took some heavy personal losses doing it. The thought of another one of these monsters loose. I don't like it."
"But this ability? How do we fight it?"
"Again, Captain, I don't think you can. Spock will probably be immune. But any human that goes down there, any normal human, they'll be sitting ducks. On the positive side, I doubt that too many of the new vampires have mastered the skill. The one I killed last night may have been overconfident because he had gotten the hang of it early. He was probably challenging his sire in some way. They aren't real bright when they are young."
Kirk nodded. "So we wait…until daylight?"
"Not just wait. I want to get the sensors reconfigured, set up a holding pen, and I think it would be useful to test Spock's reflexes in the gym. He may be the only backup I have."
Christine did not think she had ever seen Spock's eyebrow go as high as he lifted it when he replied, "Test _my_ reflexes?"
She laughed at his reaction. "I promise not to hold back if you won't?"
Kirk grinned. "Mind if I watch? Since there is nothing for me to do but wait?" He rose and gestured for them to proceed him out of his cabin, seemingly all seriousness until he could no longer hide another mischievous grin.
The gym was deserted as Christine had predicted. Spock and Christine went to the dressing rooms to change into exercise gear, as Kirk made himself comfortable in the spectator area. Christine returned first and dropped a bag on the floor in front of him. "Captain, there are some things you can do to help. You saw me stake the vampire on the planet. That is one of the surest ways to kill them. But a sword would also be useful."
"I thought the stake had to be wood?"
She nodded grimly. "It does. But beheading works too."
"Hence the sword." He nodded understanding. "I think I might know where to find you just the thing."
"I need wood too. And it has to be real."
"We can gather some from the settlement at daybreak. Fashion some stakes while you are getting the other stuff done."
"Good idea. You should know that the vampires don't go dormant during the day. They just can't be in direct sunlight. They are most likely in a cave or underground bunker somewhere, but don't take any chances with the huts. There was sufficient furniture outside the dwellings and in the common areas to make more than enough stakes for our purposes without risking going inside one of the buildings."
She sensed rather than saw Spock walk up. He was obviously trying to be very quiet, as he made no sound on the soft mats. Turning to him she caught his expression of pure disbelief. "Still don't believe me, huh?"
"I'm afraid not, Miss Chapel. I am not sure why you would come up with such an involved fantasy as this, but I believe you need help."
"Fight now, talk later," she replied, leading him onto the mats and moving into a circling pattern. He immediately shifted into a defensive stance. She let fly a sharp jab, which he parried easily. She could see surprise register on his face at the skill she had just shown. You ain't seen nothing yet, big fella, she thought, slipping almost unknowingly back into a younger, wisecracking persona.
She moved to the right, feinted, then moved to the other side and let fly a controlled kick. Spock dodged, but not in time, and the blow connected soundly, knocking him off his feet. He was up in a flash, but she saw his surprise at the power of her kick. He was much more wary as he moved around her, seeking an opening.
"Don't hold back, Spock," she urged, as he moved in and connected a hard blow to her chin. She recovered almost instantly; moving to pummel him with a quick series of jabs and kicks. He flew back, landing on the far side of the mat. He stayed there, scrutinizing her.
"You should not be standing after the blow I just delivered. I should not now be on the floor. This is not logical."
"You're right, Spock. It isn't. It's mystical. And you can't hold back. Fight me for real."
He rose and stalked toward her. Out of the corner of her eye, she saw Kirk leaning forward as he watched them spar. She moved to meet Spock halfway and they circled for a moment. Then he was at her, this time not holding back. They traded blows, fists and feet impacting flesh. Grunts came from both of them as neither gave ground. Finally they separated.
Spock looked as savage as she had ever seen him. "It would seem you are not stronger."
She gave him a cocky grin. "Hate to disappoint you but…" she said, as she launched a solid kick to his chest. Again he flew back, only this time he landed hard against the wall. He sat, momentarily stunned as he fought to stay conscious. She did not insult him by rushing to his side; the healer in her was subsumed by the warrior. She waited as he rose slowly and made his way back to her. Smiling wolfishly, she nodded approval. "You'll do."
Their eyes met and held. Something flared for a moment between them until the sound of applause startled them back to reality. Kirk was making his way over and had clearly enjoyed the little match.
"So, you really are a slayer. I'm impressed. And glad you didn't want to fight me." He grinned at them both. "I'm off to find a sword."
Spock raised an eyebrow.
"I'll explain later," she told him, then turned back to Kirk. "We'll need some crosses. Find them or make them. They still prove effective against most vampires."
Kirk smiled again. "Yes, ma'am. When this is all over, I expect to hear some really juicy stories about your life as a slayer. Is that clear?"
She grinned back at him. "Crystal, sir."
As he made his way out of the gym, she turned back to Spock. "I've brought some stakes. Let me show you how to dust a vamp, okay?"
She moved off to the bag she had dropped near where Kirk had been sitting, but Spock reached out and touched her arm. She looked at him in surprise.
"We have time for that later. Right now, I need to understand more. I am having a difficult time integrating this new persona into the Christine Chapel I thought I knew. Will you tell me more of your life as a slayer?"
"It's a long story, Spock."
"We have all night."
"Let's get the things done we need to, then I'll tell you everything."
"Acceptable. So, how does one dust a vampire?"
Hours later, after a short session in the gym and a longer one spent reconfiguring the sensors and refitting a room in the brig, Christine escorted Spock into her quarters. Formality forgotten after their long evening, they both sprawled in her living area, she in a chair and he on the couch.
"Are you tired?" he asked watching her stretch.
She closed her eyes for a moment, assessing her energy level. "Not really. Too much adrenaline going right now. It's interesting. I thought after all these years, I wouldn't be able to just slip back into being the Slayer."
"When did you quit?"
Her look darkened. "When I was twenty-five. I was called at fifteen."
"You were little more than a child then?"
She shrugged. "It's the normal age, between fifteen and seventeen. One slayer dies, another is called."
"But you live. Does that mean that no one replaced you?"
Christine let out a long sigh. "It's confusing and convoluted. I don't know that I can explain it very well."
He settled back into the couch as if trying to get sore muscles into a comfortable position.
"Did I hurt you?"
"I am not permanently damaged. Were you still holding back?"
She gave him a little smile. "Maybe just a little."
"I suspected as much. You do not appear to be at all injured."
"One of the perks. It takes a lot to lay me out. In fact, most slayers are never seriously injured…well, until they're killed, that is."
"How many slayers have there been?"
She shook her head. "Countless. A depressingly large number. The average slayer doesn't live much past eighteen."
"And there is only one on Earth at a time."
"That's the way it always was, slayers were normally so grievously injured that there was no way to save them. But in the late twentieth century, all that changed."
He looked puzzled. "I do not understand, what changed?"
"There was a slayer who dared to be different. You see, in the past, slayers tended to work alone. They had their watchers, but they fought alone. This slayer had friends…friends that helped her fight evil. She was killed once and left for dead. One of these friends revived her. But something strange happened. Even though the first slayer still lived, another slayer was called. Apparently no slayer had ever come back from the dead before."
"So then there were two?"
She nodded. "Until she was killed and her death called another slayer."
"But there were still just two?"
Christine nodded. "Then the second slayer was injured in a fight with the first slayer." She saw Spock's eyebrow rise and shook her head. "It's too long a story for tonight. Anyway, she should have died from injuries sustained in the fight, but was instead kept alive by machinery long enough for her body to repair itself. But in the meantime, since she was unable to fight, another slayer was called, this time halfway across the world. The Watcher's Council didn't realize for years that a third line had started. That slayer and her replacements fought without a watcher the entire time." Christine shuddered at what the girls must have gone through, the lack of preparation for the kind of evil they would come up against. She knew from her history they had all died quickly. It was not something the Watcher's Council liked to discuss.
"You keep saying *was called* but you never say by whom?"
Christine shrugged. "Nobody knows who activates a slayer. Some call them the Mystical Forces for Good or The Powers, but nobody has ever seen them."
"If temporary death can cause a slayer to be called, could you create an army of them by medically causing death and then resuscitating?"
She snorted. "They tried that. It never worked. Apparently the Powers knew that there was no real danger of the job going unfilled. They also don't call a new slayer if the current one is just slightly injured and out of commission for a short time. Like I said, it is a mystery."
"Why did you quit?"
She shifted in her chair, trying to beat back the memories of her past. "I need to start a few months before that. I was twenty-four. Pretty old for a slayer but I had been successful and lucky and had friends to help me. Despite everything, slaying was my destiny. I was good at it. And part of me enjoyed it. Then I fell in love."
"With Roger Korby?"
She shook her head violently. "No, Roger was my watcher. We were close but he was more like my father. I met a young man at university. He was sweet, and kind, and so smart. His name was Marcus. He was studying medicine. He didn't know anything about my being a slayer. It was the first relationship that I'd had that was clean of it. And the more time I spent with him doing normal human things, the more I wanted out."
"So you quit? Just like that?"
"The Council was livid. But at this point there were a handful of younger slayers. I had fought for them for ten years. I felt entitled to a life. Roger was disgraced, of course. The Council fired him. Which was just a formality since he probably wouldn't have been assigned another slayer anyway. He tried to talk me out of it, but I wouldn't be swayed. Marcus and I were going to make a life together. We were so in love."
She stopped as her voice choked up and she blinked back tears. "I haven't thought about this for so long."
Spock sat quietly as she fought her emotions.
She wiped her eyes roughly. "Then it all ended. A master vampire, one from Drusilla's line…"
"The vampire you mentioned?"
She nodded. "He called himself Anticles. He was very powerful. I'd been up against him several times. Never better than a draw. Usually, I would kill off his brood, and then
he'd just go out and make more. He had
moved back to
"What did you do?"
She looked at Spock. He did not seem shocked by her tale of vengeance. "I went back to San Francisco. Back to Roger. He saved me. Brought me back to life. We'd been together for so long. Knew each other so well. I didn't love him the same way I loved Marcus, but I did care for him. When Roger told me he loved me, asked me to marry him, I said yes. I owed him so much."
"Then he disappeared?"
"Yes, and I was alone again. My mission became to find him. And I did, sort of. The rest you know."
He took a deep breath. "So you never slayed again? You chose to stay with medicine?"
"Until last night, I put away that part of me, pretended to be weak and silly. But the nursing, I never pretended at that. I loved it because it was so different from the killing. It brought me a sense of peace."
"You pretended well. I assumed you were a fearful and weak person physically, although I have always admired your integrity and emotional strength."
"I couldn't let anyone know. They would have treated me differently. I gave all that up. Until tonight that is."
"You did the right thing. You saved the landing party." He rose to leave but stopped at her chair as she let out a bitter laugh.
"I know. But now I'm Christine the Vampire Slayer again. Guess you can't fight your destiny?"
Christine was surprised to feel his hand on her shoulder. A feeling of support suffused her whole being. She looked up at him questioningly.
"You are not alone in this, Christine. I will fight with you and we will stop these things."
She momentarily covered his hand with her own and felt again a surge of emotional steadiness. "Thank you for accepting what I am, Spock."
He removed his hand and gave her a miniscule smile. "Infinite diversity in infinite combinations. If it ever fit a situation, this would be it." She laughed as he walked to the door and turned back to her.
"Goodnight, Christine. Try to sleep. I appreciate your willingness to share your story with me."
"Sleep well, Spock. Thanks for listening."
He nodded, then was gone. Christine sat for a moment remembering the touch of his hand, the warmth she had felt from him. We're both full of surprises, she thought, as she dragged her finally tired body to bed.
Christine woke several hours later. Must patrol, she thought groggily. Then remembered where she was. She got up and buzzed the science department. "Anything show up on the sensors, Mr. Caldwell?"
"Not yet, ma'am."
Damn, they should be feeding. She decided to go spell Caldwell for a while. He was surprised to see her but gratefully headed off for an unexpected break. She sat for a while getting a feel for the readings. Come on, do something. For about half an hour the life signs stayed stable. Caldwell had come back and was sitting with her at the screen. Nerves screaming in bored stress, she was about to leave when they both noticed a sudden rise in one of the readings.
"Looks like we got one!" Caldwell exclaimed.
Christine reached over and paged Spock. "Meet me in the brig. It's show time."
She turned back to the excited young officer. "Ok, nice and steady like we discussed. Make sure it is a wide beam, I don't want just half of this thing showing up. Hold it in the buffer so we can study it. Then, once I'm in the brig, use the protocols Spock gave us to hold it on the pad as you get ready to beam it to the brig. It cannot get loose, is that clear?" At his nod, she gave the word, "Energize."
Caldwell studied the data. " Nothing but the animal we were tracking is registering on our sensors, but there's a whole lot more room being taken. I think we caught something."
She grinned at him and took off at a run for the brig. She met Spock coming down the opposite hallway. "Ready to play?"
"Play? You realize your enthusiasm for this is somewhat disconcerting."
She mock pouted, as she entered the room. "Old habits, Spock." Her new pen was standing ready. Crosses were on three sides. "Okay, we should have something soon."
Caldwell's voice rang over the monitor, "I'm beaming it in now."
"Understood," Christine responded.
A second later, the transporter delivered the panicked vampire. In full demon face, the vampire launched herself off the herbivore she had been feeding from and fled to the back, and cross-free, area of the cell. Christine dropped the energy shield and entered the room, Spock behind her holding a cross and a bottle of clear liquid. The vampire hissed at them.
"Hi. I'm the slayer, and you are?" Christine walked over to the vampire who struck out at her and found herself kicked back against the wall without ever having touched the slayer. "Now, now, now. I can see you are shy. From your appearance, I'd say you are Sabine Devereaux. Or were Sabine. Let me explain something to you. You are going to die. It's how you die that you get to control. There's the fast way or the slow way. Tell us what we want to know, and you get the quick flight back to hell."
She could see that the vampire believed her. "The Master will avenge me."
"Funny you should mention him. I'd really, really like to know more about your Master. Like his name, for instance?" Christine leaned up against the wall, arms crossed. Spock still stood near the door.
Sabine sat silently.
"It's really brave of you to protect him. I admire that. But it's his fault that you are in this situation. You don't owe him anything."
"I am his lover."
Christine smiled sympathetically. "Sure you are. And just how long do you think he will wait until he takes a new one."
"He will mourn me."
"Like he's mourning the other vampire I killed?"
Sabine's face fell and changed back into a normal human visage. "Like Caleb, I disobeyed him. I wasn't supposed to leave the cave, but I got so hungry."
"Of course you did. He should have let you feed. Now look at where you are."
Sabine looked at Spock. "What's in the bottle?"
"Brought you something to freshen up with. A little holy water..." She trailed off ominously. "Sabine, it doesn't have to be this way. Tell me his name."
Christine scowled. "Named himself after the wolf demon? How arrogant. Why is he on Alpha Nu-M?"
Sabine seemed to have abandoned the concept of protecting her sire. "He didn't mean to be here. He was supposed to be shipped to the dark side of the Moon. But his minions screwed up. Landed him here. He escaped about a week ago. Had been locked in his shipping case for months. Really angry and really hungry. Killed most of the colony and then turned the rest of us."
Sabine looked confused. "I don't know. I guess he was lonely?"
Christine tried another tack. "Why thirteen of you?"
The vampire shrugged. "Something about a convergence or convention or something…"
"Weren't really listening, huh?"
"He does tend to go on sometimes, and we've been so hungry."
"Where does he make you stay?"
Sabine looked stubborn again. Christine looked over at Spock, motioned him to come forward. Sabine started talking before he took his first step. "It's a cave, just outside of town. There are some tunnels we've dug that take you into the settlement, the main one goes up into the hut where you killed Caleb."
"I should have known, he appeared out of nowhere seconds after the sun went down. Where are the other entrances, Sabine?"
"One is in the community building near the well, the other is the cave opening in the hills."
Christine motioned to Spock and he moved toward them again. Sabine sprang up and faced him, turning her back to Christine.
"You said if I helped you, I wouldn't suffer."
Christine brought the stake down and the vampire disappeared. "And I wouldn't lie about something like that."
Spock studied her. "That was kind of you. She never saw it coming."
"They're the monsters, Spock. Not me." She motioned him out of the cell. Stepped over the herbivore and went to the wall communicator. "Caldwell?"
"We got what we needed. Thanks for your help."
"Anytime, Ma'am." She could nearly hear him sitting taller in his seat.
She took the water bottle from Spock, opened it, and drank deeply. Seeing his shocked look, she said, "What? It's only tap water." She gave him an evil grin. "Come on, we have a nest to find."
Kirk sat in his chair, staring at the screen, waiting for the light of this system's sun to cross over the settlement. He turned at the sound of the turbolift opening. Spock and Christine walked in, both wearing baggy coveralls and bandoleers of what looked like modified engineering utility belts. Crosses filled some of the slots. He presumed the rest were for the stakes that he and the landing party would make as soon as they got down to the planet. "You two look ridiculous."
Spock looked insulted, but Christine just laughed. "If it works, I don't care how it looks."
She caught Uhura's startled glance and made her way over to her friend's station. "Nyota, I will explain everything. Just not now. Will you trust me?"
Uhura nodded slowly. As Christine squeezed her hand, she said, "You do look pretty stupid."
"You're a real pal." Christine turned back to Kirk. "Captain, Mr. Spock and I were coming up with a plan, you know, to flush the vamps from their nest. And I was wondering if the armory had any flame-throwers that we weren't using?"
Kirk swiveled to face her. "Flame-throwers?"
"As far as we could tell, Sabine was telling the truth about the entrances. I'd rather fight the vamps in the hut than in the cave. If we have a couple security details fill the tunnels and part of the cave with fire, that should force the vampires out the only other way, where we'll be waiting."
"Wouldn't it be easier to just flush the whole cave with fire?"
Christine shook her head grimly. "It would but then we will never really know if we got them all. And we have to get them all. Success will be seeing eleven vamps go poof."
"You are very scary, Miss Chapel. And yes you can borrow any flame-throwers we have." He reached down and picked up a scabbard that had been lying between his leg and the arm of the chair. He tossed it to Christine who caught it easily. "I even sharpened it for you. I think this should do the trick, if you can find a place to put it under your utility-belt-from-hell."
She laughed, as she pulled out the sword. It was sharp and strong. Smiling grimly she replied. "Thank you."
Spock coughed discreetly, and Kirk shot him an innocent look. "You are going to have to find your own sword, Spock. Sorry."
They turned to watch as the sunshine spread over the planet. Kirk called down to the transporter room, "Are the security details ready to go?"
Scotty's voice came back, "They are sir. And they're wielding some pretty big firepower for such a wee jaunt."
Kirk looked at Christine as he rose.
She shrugged. "I figured you'd say yes. Didn't want to waste daylight rounding up the flame-throwers."
"Better to ask forgiveness instead of permission," he asked, shaking his head in mock disbelief as the three of them entered the turbolift.
Christine and Spock briefed Kirk on their plans as they made their way to the transporter room. "We'll help you fashion stakes, then we can commence cleaning out the cave."
"I'm a little unclear on the plan for the cave. You flush them out; they run to the hut. And then what? Eleven angry vampires in one building? How are you going to fight them?"
Christine scowled at him. "The way you explain it the plan does sound asinine. But that's how we have to do it. Captain, just one of these creatures can make hundreds more. We have to know that we got rid of them all. You saw the carnage here. Imagine what would happen on a populated and undefended world."
He grimaced. "Ok, Chris. Just be careful."
"I didn't get to be an old slayer by being stupid, Captain."
"Or by being a fashion plate either, apparently," Kirk countered.
Spock rushed to her defense. "If she is effective, fashion is irrelevant."
"You take her home to mom in that outfit and see what kind of reception you get."
"Why would I take her home to my mother wearing that?"
Christine mock frowned at them both. "Knock it off, you two. We've got business to attend to."
Once the transporter room doors opened, they were all seriousness for the men and women assembled for security detail. A decidedly odd-looking security detail, each member wearing a cross, some carrying flame-throwers, one member sporting a machete.
Christine walked up to him. "Could I see that?" He handed it over and she inspected it carefully before handing it back. "Very nice, Ensign. I like to see initiative, even if you probably won't get to use it."
"Thank you, Ma'am."
Kirk moved to the pad. "Okay, let's get going. Mister Spock and Nurse Chapel will take the first team, I'll follow with the rest. Remember that phasers have no effect on these things. Sunlight is more effective than any weapon you can devise, so stay in the open and away from doorways or windows. If you hear or see anything, let Nurse Chapel, Mr. Spock, or myself know immediately. Any questions?" When there were none, he motioned the first group up. "Keep your eyes open out there."
When the pad cleared, he and the rest of the security team followed their shipmates to the planet.
Christine sat with several others in the common area, all of them fashioning stakes out of foraged furniture. This has got to be one of the strangest landing parties in history, she mused. She looked around for Spock. He was standing with the captain near the community center that held one of the tunnels. They and several other teams were scanning the area for any other possible tunnels. No one wanted to be surprised today.
She checked the other teams scattered around the area. They also seemed absorbed in their duties. Feeling that she was being watched, she glanced back at Spock. Their eyes met and he nodded supportively. Smiling back, she returned to her work.
An hour later, they were certain that there were no additional tunnels. They also had a pile of stakes. She and Spock spent some time loading up their utility belts with them, while the others took several for defense.
"Okay, I'm going to go over this once more. If you have any questions, now is the time to ask…during the fight will not be. Understood?" Seeing everyone nod, she continued. "Those outside, stay in the sun. Do not go near the doors or windows unless I tell you to. A vamp in full daylight will burn up in about five seconds. If you do find yourself engaging with a vampire, the stake goes in the heart. Aim for the center of the chest and you'll have it. You can go through the back, but you have to hit hard. Remember to pull the stake out if you can,or it will disappear with the vamp when he turns to dust. If you lose all your stakes, run for daylight. No heroics, no hand-to-hand. Everyone understand?" Again the group nodded.
Spock stepped up. "Those on flame-thrower duty keep a solid wall of fire going down the tunnel from tunnel opening to cave opening. Do not neglect the ceiling of the tunnel. When you get to the main cave, stop and cover the opening. Allow the flames to extend into the cave. This should be enough to get the vampires moving to the open tunnel. Do not advance unless you get a signal from us. If you definitely see a vampire die in the flames, notify us at once. Nurse Chapel will be keeping track of the ones we have destroyed."
Christine turned back to Kirk and some additional security officers. "Sir, I'd feel better if you were on the ship."
"And miss this? Not on your life." He smiled at her. "Don't worry, I'll stay out here with the stakes and the relief forces."
She nodded and turned back to the assembled group. "Ok. Flame-thrower group one, get ready for beam over to the cave entrance. Let me know when you are in position at the opening." She called the Enterprise and ordered transport. The group disappeared. Moving toward the community building, she and Spock got out their phasers and began to cut large holes into the sides of the building. As sunlight took over the space, they could see there were no vampires waiting for them. "Ok, team two, into position."
She looked at Spock, who met her gaze calmly. "Are you sure you want to do this?"
"I will not let you fight this alone."
She smiled bitterly. "But that's what slayers do…fight alone."
"Not anymore." Their eyes met and held for a long time. Finally, he said, "Shall we?"
She turned to the first of the last two groups. "Team three, you're with us. You're for back up only. Do not engage unless Spock or I appear to be in serious trouble. Oh, and you'll be on stake duty. If you see anyone getting low, get more from team four. Ok, let's do it."
They approached the hut where the first vampire had appeared. Team one signaled they were in position at the cave mouth. She gave them the go ahead and nodded back to Kirk, who sent team two into the community building. Christine and Spock carefully entered the building. Won't be long now, she thought. Team one immediately reported that they had taken a sentry in the tunnel. One down, ten to go.
Team two reported that two vampires had been sighted, but had fled before the flames. A few more minutes passed, then Christine sensed something coming toward them. She noticed Spock perking up but was unsure if he had heard something or was just reading her own body language. "Get ready," she whispered.
Two vampires rushed them, the first one moving to the side and Christine let him go as he unthinkingly ran out the door. A puff of dust was all that remained. Nine to go, she thought. But they probably won't all be that easy.
Spock had lost his first stake during the scuffle, but smoothly pulled another out and stabbed it into the other vampire's chest. Dusted, she thought. Eight.
Four more vamps stormed the room. These were more cautious. They circled back to the side of the hut in an attempt to cut Spock and Christine off from the door.
"Nice try," Christine mocked, as she kicked out at the closest. The next one lunged at her but she grabbed him and threw him through the doorway. He crashed into several security officers who were standing too close to the door, then burst into flame. Seven.
"Back off!" Christine yelled at the detail and did not stop to see if they obeyed. Spock was trying to hold off the three other vampires and was not doing so well. She kicked one into the wall and staked the next one from behind. Six.
Spock was grappling with the fourth as she turned back to the downed vampire. She heard the sound of a vamp dying. Way to go, Spock. Five.
Her vampire flew at her and as she moved to counter, she felt hands grabbing her arms from behind. More vamps had arrived. The one in front of her began to pound her. Spock moved up and staked it from behind. Four.
"Thanks," she said, as she flipped the vampire holding her over her shoulder. A back kick stopped another vampire from moving on her. She surveyed the scene. Three to two. But where was the Master? Everyone she had seen so far had been a colonist. The sentry in the tunnel would have been one too; no old vampire would rush fire. She unsheathed her sword. Finally there was a little room to use it. Two of the vampires backed away, but one looked at her curiously. She let the sword fly, cutting the vampire's head off. He was dust before he even knew what had happened. Three.
"Impressive," Spock complimented.
"Nice sword. I'll have to remember to thank the Captain." As she sheathed the weapon, the other two vampires moved back toward the tunnel.
"Oh no you don't." Christine pulled a stake out and circled around, trying to cut them off without leaving her back to the opening. They hissed and attacked. These two were better fighters than the others. Christine found herself distracted fighting one and keeping an eye out for the master vampire. Finally she got an opening and rammed the stake in. Two.
Spock was looking a bit the worse for wear as he closed on the vampire, but he still managed to stake her quite efficiently. One.
They both stood catching their breath. The security guards outside were yelling updates to team four. They waited for Markosius to appear. She tried to sense him but was having difficulty narrowing in.
"Where the hell is he?"
Suddenly a handsome young man stepped out of the tunnel. "I am here, my darling."
Christine felt suddenly faint. "Marcus?"
"It is I, Christine. And my, how strong and vital you look. So much the slayer. A pity you never told me about that part of your life. How different our lives might have been, had I known, been truly prepared for what went bump in the night." He laughed, not sounding particularly sorry about the way things had turned out.
Her world spinning, Christine watched her lover turn to the security guards outside. His eyes caught theirs and his voice dropped to a soothing tone. "Everything is fine. You are still waiting for the vampire. There is nothing to see."
The guards did not move. He spoke specifically to one of them. "Tell the other teams you are still waiting. Tell them to maintain their position." The man did as instructed.
Spock moved forward. "I cannot allow this to continue."
Marcus whirled on him. Seemingly against Spock's volition his eyes rose to meet those of the vampire. There was a struggle for a moment, then his expression went slack.
Marcus turned back to her. "So much for your new watcher. Or is this your new lover…and next unwitting victim?"
It's not Marcus. It is _not_ Marcus, she repeated like a mantra, trying to see the vampire for the demon it was and not her lost love. "My _victim_?"
Marcus laughed cruelly. "Like me, my love. Sacrificed on the slayer altar."
"I didn't kill you. Anticles did. I thought you had burned up."
Marcus shook his head. "No such luck. Anticles had a more fitting revenge in mind. Made me just like him. Imagine a slayer with a vampire for a boyfriend. Just too rich." He smiled at her. "So what do you think? The years have been kind to me, no?"
He hadn't changed at all of course. Same bright blue eyes, same shock of thick brown hair. Same innocent face. So beautiful. And now so deadly. "I think you're hideous," she said and pulled the sword out of the scabbard.
"Oh bravo. So dramatic. But you can't kill me. You love me." As if to prove it, he walked toward her, arms outstretched. "Go ahead, Christine. Kill me."
Christine felt her instincts war with her heart. Everything that was the slayer screamed at her to strike. And everything that had mourned and missed him forced her to stay her hand. She began to tremble.
Marcus laughed and kicked the sword out of her hand. It flew across the room and landed in the far corner. His hands grabbed the utility belt. He pulled it roughly over her arm and head and then tossed it aside with the sword.
Fight him. Must fight him. But she couldn't, this man had been an innocent. It was because of her that he was what he had become. "You let us kill all your brood. Why?"
"Don't need them now. Only wanted them to take advantage of the convergence in case rescue didn't come. But I knew Star Fleet would send a ship out. A ship that will take me wherever I want to go. Imagine a starship full of vampires. Whole worlds will fall before us." He moved in close to her, began to caress her face. "And the irony of this all. Who should show up but a slayer? And the slayer is you? Oh just too funny."
"I'm not laughing, Marcus."
"No, but you're also not fighting me. You will make a suburb vampire, Christine. And that one." He pointed at Spock. "That one will be your first meal."
His face transformed into something hideous. As he leaned in, she felt his breath on her neck. Something rose up in her, and for a moment the slayer within her resisted his control, but he was too close. She couldn't stop him.
The voice in her mind shocked her. She looked over. Saw Spock standing behind Marcus, a stake in hand. Instead of taking the shot he held the weapon out to her.
She felt Marcus stiffen as he saw her reach for the stake. He pulled away and backed into Spock, who grabbed his arms. Astonished eyes met Christine's. "You will not kill me."
"Wanna bet?" She slammed the stake into him and watched him explode into dust. In a second, she heard the security men outside return to normal and start calling to her.
"Stand down," she yelled to them. "We did it. They're all gone."
Spock was calmly dusting himself off. At her questioning look, he spoke. "I was never affected by him. But it seemed that you had to face this yourself. And that you might need the element of surprise. It seemed logical to pretend, so I did."
"But you spoke to me in my mind. How?"
He brushed some errant vamp dust off her shoulder. "I do not know. We have been working together so closely over these many hours. I believe we developed some sort of synergy, a form of mental connection. In any case, I believed it would work, and it did."
"Yes it did. I'd be dead, or worse actually, if not for you."
He motioned her out of the hut. "We would all be dead if not for you. So I would say we are even."
She gave him a tired smile as they went to give the captain a full report.
Hours later, Christine sat on the couch in her darkened quarters, staring at nothing, trying to not think of the day's events. Even now she could not relax. Her slayer senses were invoked again. It might be days before they went off alert. Like now. She heard footsteps approaching her door several seconds before the chime rang. "Come."
Spock stood silhouetted in the door. Without asking, he palmed the lights up to quarter strength. He walked over to the chair and dropped into it. "You are troubled?"
"Just thinking of what I've lost…again. Everyone that I love dies. Everyone that loves me dies. It's the slayer's lament."
"You didn't kill him, not the first time."
She sniffed unbelievingly. "He would never have been a target if he hadn't known me. I was crazy to even think I could have a normal life. I didn't even take the most basic precautions with him. I could have at least given him a cross to carry. But I just walked away from my old life and never thought that it would come back to haunt me."
Spock shifted in the chair, arranging himself in a more comfortable position. "You were not to blame, Christine. You had the right to a normal life. That you were not allowed it was not your fault."
She leaned her head on the back of couch and studied him. "Do you know, Spock, that I think you are the only person here that isn't either awestruck or intimidated by me now. Even the Captain appears to be treating me differently. Like he has a…" she trailed off.
"A crush? I think he does. He loves warriors. You know that. And your performance today was most impressive."
"You weren't so bad yourself."
"We were a good team."
She leaned forward. "We were. And that surprises me, Spock. I didn't think you would be able to kill with such ease. I mean, I'm the slayer and I'm supposed to do it, but I still feel guilty."
"Because you are a healer now?"
She nodded and turned away. He sighed and then rose and walked over to the couch. Sitting down next to her, he waited till she turned her face to his. "Perhaps we should think of this in medical terms then."
She shook her head. "I don't understand. I'm not supposed to take life, I'm supposed to preserve it."
"Every time we eradicate a disease we have successfully stopped another life form, a virus or a bacterium, from living to its full extent. In most cases we kill it. We do it because it threatens our life. Even Vulcans fight disease knowing full well that they kill a life form."
"Yes, but that's different."
"Marcus killed an entire colony in less than a week. No disease that I know of is that efficient. Even the worst plagues don't kill everyone. How could we not stop him? We *were* preserving life. The needs of the many, Christine, outweigh the needs of the few."
She nodded. "I never thought about it that way. I always thought they were polar opposites, the slaying and the healing."
"They are the same. Just as you are the same women you were a week ago. I just know you better now. We all do."
"And the whole world will too as soon as Star Fleet gets the Captain's report. The Watcher's Council will just have one more reason to resent me."
Spock half-smiled. "I believe that Jim forgot to mention in his official report the reason for your starring role in the mission. The security men only know that you and I led the attack. They do not know why you were involved. To be honest they saw very little of the battle. With no bodies, who can say exactly what we were up against? We called them vampires for a frame of reference, that's all. Your secret is safe, Christine."
She felt tears threatening. "I didn't expect that…"
"I told you that you were not alone. I did not mean just for the duration of the battle."
He held his left hand out, palm facing her, fingers spread. She hesitated then placed her right hand against his, allowing their fingers to touch. He startled her by dropping his fingers down to intertwine with hers. Again the sensation of pure support and caring flooded her.
His eyes fairly sparkled as he said, "It is a logical arrangement. I could use an exercise partner."
She chuckled. "Okay. As long as you promise not to hold back."
He tightened his fingers. "Agreed. You on the other hand, are encouraged to restrain yourself."
She laughed outright, a rich sound that seemed to fill the room. He pulled her in closer. She relaxed against him and rested her head on his chest. She realized she was suddenly very tired. As her eyes closed, she thought she heard, *You have not lost everyone that cares for you, Christine. I am not going anywhere.*