Saturday, September 23, 2017

DragonCon 2017: Keeping the Peace: Liaison Characters in UF

Whether striving to improve communication & relations between supernatural & human communities, or between different groups within the supernatural world, our panelists’ characters often find themselves in the position of peacemaker.

Panelists: Patricia Briggs, Jim Butcher, Delilah S. Dawson, Kim Harrison, Nancy Holzner, Faith Hunter.

This is another one I couldn't get into. Because, again, the hall was WWWAAAYYYY too small for Jim Butcher ALONE, nevermind all of the other authors.

And the audio is a little finicky at times. The farther away you get from the camera, the less you can hear people. Even with headphones, you might want to edge the volume higher and higher. That's all.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

The Catholic Geek: DragonCon Report

The Catholic Geek: DragonCon Report 09/17 by We Built That Network | Books Podcasts:

Declan Finn (Love at First Bite) reports on the Dragon Awards, and the latest news about Monster Hunter International, Harry Dresden spin-offs, Jim Butcher tales, and some words from the late, great Jerry Pournelle.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

A Review of Death Note (Anime)

After encountering the trailer for the Death Note for Netflix, I looked up the general premise. Then I looked up a video on YouTube.

Then I ended up binging the whole bloody show.

A Shinigami (A Japanese god of Death) named Ryuk is bored. His world is a mess, a disaster. On a lark, for something to do, he takes his death note--a black notebook that will kill anyone whose name is written down in it--and throws it down to Earth, just to see what happens.

Enter Light.

Light Yagami is about to graduate high school. The son of a police officer, he finds the world grim, unchanging, and ... boring.

And then he finds this little black notebook. The Death Note comes with instructions, written in by Ryuk.

Light reads the rules of the death note, and first tests it out on a hostage taker, and then a rapist in progress... and five days later, he has filled the Death Note with hundreds of names. When Ryuk comes to him to elaborate on the death note, Light declares that "I will happily sacrifice my soul to make a better world." But Ryuk explains that, no, the Death Note will not come with selling his soul, but "merely" forfeiting his place in Heaven or Hell. With that bit of new information, Light's mission becomes all about him becoming a god, out to start the creation a new world, free of criminals.

There's little buildup to Light's declaration. It's just that sudden.

But we have a show to start, and all of this is episode 1.

After the first thousand dead criminals, it becomes obvious to all that it is the work of a mass murderer, and he is labeled "Kira" -- killer.

Over time, we see that Light is possibly one of the most evil SOBs I think I've ever seen outside of Sauron. Seriously, there's not one person near him he doesn't manipulate. He drives at least one person to suicide without using the death note. At least one person he spent 30 minutes of screen time with (IE: who knows how much in-story time with) and gets to know them, connect with them, realize what a good and loving person they are ... and then kills them, because there's a possibility that they know something that might expose him. Friends? What's a friend? Allies? An ally is just a tool, a pawn, for his own convenience. Light needs no one. Light cares for no one but himself. Even his family seem to be of value to him only as an extension of Light's own ego, and there are points in the plot where even they seem to be expendable.

At the end of the day, Light is charming and suave, and I have read blood-sucking vampires written by Ringo and Correia that have more humanity than this guy.

But good God, it is hard to tell which of these people are scarier.  Light wants to be a god, and reshape the world where only "hardworking good people" exist. Light jumps onto this bandwagon fairly quickly. He goes from killing criminals, to killing cops investigating him, to ultimately deciding with one person "You have defied me, the new god! For that alone, you will die."

Then there's Light's girlfriend, Misa. Yes, his girlfriend. On the surface, Misa is every anime blonde cliche made manifest. She is bright, she is perky. She is outgoing ... and she might be more evil than Light is. She possesses her own death note, and is a fan of "Kira." Because that's what every mass murdering serial killer needs -- a groupie.

Bute when Misa gets going, the bodies start dropping all over the place.

While Light, at the very least, makes certain the ascertain guilt or innocence of criminals who drop dead--or cops coming after him directly-- Misa's quite happy to off anyone who even expresses disapproval of "Kira." 

While Misa comes off as a ditzy blonde, I don't think there's a single person in this entire series who classifies as stupid. We won't even go into some of the various and sundry oddballs, nut jobs, and seemingly "normal" people who join Light's team. Though it is amusing to have Light deal with girl trouble at some particularly perilous points in the story. It almost gives you hope that he's human. Don't worry, those moments don't last long.

Then we meet L, the detective in charge of hunting Kira.

L is the Holmes brothers, Nero Wolfe, and a stack of eccentricities rolled into one. There is an awful lot of thought put into this character, as well as the various and sundry back and forth between L and Light that would make for a great Columbo episode. Heck, there's even a tennis match here that Alfred Hitchcock would love. The tennis matches here are interesting-- but only one of them is literal. Watching the various and sundry thought processes of L and Light ping ponging back and forth between each other is particularly entertaining.

One of the things that makes Death Note particularly tragic is that, at one point, Light has to give up the death note. Without the notebook, he loses every and all memory of being Kira. During this time, we see that Light is actually not a bad guy. He's particularly bright, and possibly on par with or smarter than L. Like Aquinas put it, the corruption of the best leads to the creation of the worst -- and Light is one of the worst.

And that's before Light starts to truly spiral out of control

The animation is largely smooth and fluid. The artwork is creative and beautiful. The faces are unusually well defined for anime. The music is great and atmospheric, and borrows from Gregorian chant.

Overall, I was surprised at how easily I was sucked into this series. There is little of the hysterics that usually mark anime, and the characters are largely rich, well-developed people, with a host of strengths and foibles. Light is possibly the best murdering psychopath since Hannibal Lecter. And yes, I have read Dexter. Light makes Dexter look almost shallow in comparison, and I enjoyed those books.

All in all, I recommend it. It's currently on Netflix.

Friday, September 15, 2017

DragonCon 2017: Magnificent Men of Sci-Fi/Fantasy

The top men of our genres discuss their careers & offer advice to new writers. Panelists: Kevin J. Anderson, Jim Butcher, Larry Correia, Peter David, and Larry Niven.

Yes, this has audio ... it's audio only.

Sorry, again, this isn't mine, so no, I can't fix any problems that arise. I just find the stuff, and hope you enjoy it.

Enjoy, all.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

DragonCon 2017: From the Beginning: The Evolution of the Urban Fantasy Protagonist

The authors on our panel have played vital roles in the advancement of the Urban Fantasy genre. We’ll discuss how their seminal characters have developed & changed over time, all while continuing to influence the field.

Panelists: Patricia Briggs, Jim Butcher, Laurel K. Hamilton, Kim Harrison, Sherrilyn Kenyon.

Skim this one. Why? I think you'll see why, after a while. I have never seen Jim Butcher go passive aggressive before, but when he says, "I think Joss Whedon has something to do with Urban Fantasy. Just a little," he sounds just a might put out.

Best lines

BUtcher: "Laurell writes Hammer villians, Harry Dresden is a magical Spencer for Hire. We take archetypes of different genres and use them. Genre is just a publisher's problem."

Pat Briggs: College writing progessors can rip books apart, they can't put them together.
Kenyon: I was kicked out of a writing track as being too disruptive.
Briggs: I got a C on a story that ended up in a NY Times bestselling anthology.

Butcher will also be doing a Goodman Grey Spinoff, as well as one for Maggie Dresden. Yes, really.

Fun fun fun.

DragonCon 2017: Monster Hunter Files

Focused on the upcoming anthology of stories set in the world of Larry Correia’s Monster Hunter International! Panelists: Jim Butcher, Larry Correia, Faith Hunter, Jonathan Maberry, Jody Lynn Nye.

This is one I actually got to see, unlike many of the videos I'll be posting. However, as I noted before, the video is not mine. How can you tell? It's got film quality.

One of the authors was a last minute addition, since Kelly Lockhart had not written for this anthology, so Larry acted as moderator, and they slipped in ... Quincy? I think that's his name.

Anyway, if you're waiting for the next Monster Hunter Book, and can't wait for the Anthology, may I suggest...

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

DragonCon 2017: Jim Butcher Solo Panel

So, I'm back from DragonCon. I live. BWAHAHAHAAHA

And no, I don't have a Dragon Award. But are we really surprised? More on that on my radio show on Sunday.

But now, the important stuff: Jim Butcher!

Yes, even though the writers track threatened to throw out people who recorded the event, that doesn't stop ANYBODY at DragonCon. Okay, it stopped me, but I didn't feel like putting in the effort, only to have it duplicated by people with better recording devices.

Hell, there are even some panels this year I'll be able to see only BECAUSE people uploaded them to YouTube.

This presentation with Jim Butcher will have very little that's new for long time readers of the blog. However, there are still fun tidbits, including Jim Butcher as Alexander Hamilton, and the story of how he defeated a Witch Doctor's curse, and foiled an extortion racket when he was only ... 12.... ish.

Just enjoy.

Monday, September 4, 2017

Chapter 5: The Maw

The last chapter I'm posting for the book.


Purchase the book here.

Chapter 5: The Maw

An ax hit the door, only to get a clang as metal struck metal.
Marco grinned. “This is my room. I had certain…modifications…made after Nuala. Merle spent time on them while I was in the hospital. I think ahead.
The windows exploded as two people swung into the room. They landed on a rug, which disappeared out from under them as they fell through the floor, onto spikes in the room below.
The fake Yana’s eyes narrowed. “But you couldn’t have—”
Marco circled around the image, grinning like a death’s head. “We were counting on someone coming for me, and assumed we’d be spied on. Had you been smarter, you’d have seen that Merlin Kraft had a team of government contractors turn this into a kill zone.”
The door fell in, and it was followed by a dozen men, all of whom were armed with knives. Two of them had axes. They swarmed, taking up positions all around the room as Marco backed against the window, keeping the bed between him and them.
You have just been suckered.”
Marco smiled at them a moment longer, then gave them a wave with his fingers before he leaped back, and hit the windowsill. The impact caused him to flip backwards and out the window, grabbing the rappelling rope along the way.
As he controlled his descent with one hand, he pulled out a cell phone with the other and hit autodial 1.
The number was that of a beeper in his room, attached to a detonator… which was connect to large quantities of explosives under the floorboards.
Marco hit the ground before the fire burned away the rappelling cable. Imagine what would have happened had they tried me in the chem lab.
Yana” stood there, where the floor used to be, saying, “I hate him.”
The image stood gleaming and translucent in the night air, amid the debris and flaming wreckage where his room used to be.
Marco dove into the bushes, grabbing his gym bag filled with weapons. There wasn’t exactly anything he could do besides run very fast. Someone had to have heard that blast, though.
Marco heard something and glanced left across the great lawn of the campus. More minions were coming out from behind the building…how many, he couldn’t tell.
Well, this is bad.
Marco kept running, wondering why no one else had come out of the woodwork—security guards, students, that sort of thing. Thankfully, these are human minions, and not vampires, otherwise, I’d be food by now.
Marco slowed as he saw more shapes coming out of the dark ahead of him. They weren’t demonic-looking, so they were still killable. He drew two knives from his sleeves. He glanced back over his shoulder at the minions closing behind him.
This could be bad.
You killed my brother, da?” asked a deep voice.
Marco glanced over his other shoulder. It was a large vampire, back-lit by the fire of his dying room, easily 6’5”, perhaps even taller.
He looked even uglier than Mikhail the Bear.
The first shot slammed into the vampire’s head, and Marco expected his skull to explode into a million pieces. Instead, the vampire tottered a little. The bullet passing through the other side as though it cut through the brain and bone without actually punching a hole through it.
Well, that’s not good.
Marco did the math, and knew he was screwed. The sniper in place could wipe out the minions, but not the vampire. As far as his chances on taking out the target, knives couldn’t be thrown faster than a vampire could move, and he couldn’t grab another weapon fast enough without being rushed and crushed. There was only one option left…
Marco dropped the bag of weapons, and ran for the woods of Golden Gate Park.
Our Father, who art in Heaven…
The vampire’s laughter followed him, and the vamp was about to follow as well, when Marco whirled in mid-step and hurled a knife at his own bag.
The impact set off the nitroglycerin within. The nitroglycerin had been packed around a shell of wooden stakes, as well as knives. The contents became deadly shrapnel, killing minions all around, and turning the vampire into a pincushion without turning him to dust, driving him off his feet.
At least it’s winter break. No one else will be horribly murdered.
He dashed across the empty street, wondering exactly where everyone else in the area had gone—Answer, it’s a college area.
The park was within sight. There were enough trees in there to count simply as woods.
A minion leaped out from behind a tree, and Marco dove under the line of fire, and grabbed the gun with both hands. One hand clamped down around the muzzle, and the other around the back of the gun. He locked his arms straight above his head, and stood, raising the muzzle of the gun, and bending it back against the minion’s wrist. In the moment of surprise, he twisted the firearm out of the minion’s hands, jammed it under his chin, and pulled the trigger.
Marco was off and running before the body fell. He dashed for the tree line.
When he bowled over a pedestrian who came out of nowhere, he was about to apologize when he saw that she had a knife. “Damn it.”
The woman slashed for his ankles. He hopped over the knife and came down on the woman’s arm, shattering it. He shot her in the head, bent down and scooped down to grab her dagger.
Thanks. Needed this.”
As he straightened, a sharp noise cut the air. Marco barely raised his arm in time to block the coming blade. The dagger hit the gun, taking it out of his hand.
A newcomer, a large, wrestler-like attacker stood before him, and slashed again, this time backhanded. Someone came prepared. Marco leaned back, away from the slash, then pushed forward and jabbed his stake into the killer’s throat. Marco snatched his attacker’s knife away, then nodded at him.
Two metal daggers. Nice exchange rate.
He turned as another came for him, gun held high. Marco threw himself to one side, hurling the knife for the minion’s face—the knife missed and slammed into his chest, point first. The attacker fell forward as Marco swept up the gun in his right hand.
Marco caught motion out of the corner of his left eye, and he swung the left blade up in a backhand. His blade met the attacker’s wrist, opening the fingers holding the knife. At the same time, Marco’s right hand came up with the gun, and punched the minion in the throat with the muzzle. Then he fired.
Marco slid the blade away in the small of his back. His right hand scooped up the fallen knife as he charged deeper into the woods.
Come on, pal, you’ve taken out thousand-year-old vampires, you can take these twerps.
Marco tripped over a rock in time to avoid being decapitated. He thrust his knife at an ax-wielding minion, going right into his stomach as he fell. Marco landed on his shoulder and rolled, hurling the knife from his back out into the darkness. A figure toppled over, and he hoped he didn’t kill a pedestrian. Marco rolled back, grabbed the ax in his free hand, and rolled to his feet.
A knife wielder jumped in front of him, and Marco promptly slammed the butt of the ax into his face like a hammer-fist, then spun in order to give him the ax blade first. The knife man crumpled, showering blood on the way down.
Marco gunned down the next three minions who charged him, but missed the others. They grabbed his elbows and lifted him off the ground, one pulling away the gun.
Marco struggled a moment, but the lock was too strong on both ends. Unnaturally strong. Full blooded minions. Crap. I’m screwed.
Marco dropped the ax and threw his arms out to either side of him; while that wouldn’t shake them, it released the squirt guns in his sleeves. He fired into their faces, and they fell back in pain. He drew both squirt guns down upon the next minion charging in front of him, still firing.
The minions howled in pain as the hydrofluoric acid burned away their faces. They melted like theyd seen the business end of Spielberg's Ark of the Covenant.
Marco shook the squirt guns clear of any droplets and tucked the weapons away, grabbing the knives and the gun from the ground.
He straightened…ten more minions were in front of him, and he was certain that he didn’t have enough bullets.
How many losers can one vampire get to volunteer at a time?
Marco hurled one knife at them as he brought up the gun. The first three fell back as he shot them squarely in the head. The rest dodged with preternatural speed.
Come on, Merle, save my life.
Something slammed him, hard. He dropped the gun without resistance. He looked at his shoulder, only to find that he was bleeding. He flexed his hand and saw flash lights he knew werent there. His whole arm wasnt responding properly. There was movement, but it hurt like a bear.
Ah, damn.”
Marco slowly turned, only to have his knees buckle. He fell with his back to the tree, sliding to the ground.
A minion stood over him, gun in hand.
Marco snarled, and threw out his arm, throwing the squirt gun into his hand. “Die.”
His hand convulsed around the handle, spraying the minion over and over until it fell back, choking and gasping. He waited until it fell all the way back, and down to the ground before he stopped.
The vampire hunter checked the level of acid. He was out. I’m screwed.
Marco slowly pushed off the ground, onto his feet.
You really don’t know when to quit, do you?” said the Yana image standing before him. He could see the scenery right through the flat contours of Yanas lookalike image. Where was the vampire sending it from?
He straightened. “That’s something we have in common. Don’t you ever shut up?”
Yana” smiled. “I wasn’t prepared for your little bomb, but this will do for now. I have nothing but time on my hands.”
You don’t have actual hands… not in this form.”
An oversight.” It smiled. “On your part,” she added as even more men drifted all around “her,” converging on Marco. “These are my hands, and they’ll do quite well to shred you.”
He grimaced as he looked at the others. Let me think about this. I have one arm, my non-dominant one, outnumbered by ten to one, easily. “Right. Let’s do this.”
Marco grabbed a pen from his pocket with his left hand. With one quick move he broke left and rammed the pen into the nearest minion’s eye and into the brain. With a glance over his shoulder, he spotted another one coming for him. His right leg snapped out in a mule-kick, hitting that one in the throat.
With a ferocious growl, two minions had their heads cut off with the single silver swipe of a sword, and the sword ended up embedded in the sides of two others, pinning them to a tree before something leaped through the projected image and slammed into even more minions, slashing them mercilessly.
The cavalry had arrived.

Friday, September 1, 2017


..... That's all.


Yes, really. Vote by midnight tonight, if you haven't already. If you've registered, the ballot is in your in box. Be well.

Obviously, I'm not going to post a whole heck of a lot in the next few days. So, sorry about that. But I started this week with four posts. So, not bad, eh?

Please remember, Good to the Last Drop is up and running, the fourth book of the Love at first Bite series.

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Best blogs of August 2017

Hello everybody. By the time you read this, I should be flying on a jet plane. Won't be back again until... next Tuesday.

But while I'm away at DragonCon, I've got a few things.

  1. Dragon Awards. Remember to vote. If you've registered, check your email. Vote by Friday.
  2. Good to the Last Drop is out and alive. If you haven't read the series before, click here, get them all.

Now, onto the best blog posts of the month...

And this has been a really odd month.

The top ten posts on this blog this month are, well....

1) A Short Biography of a Catholic Vampire

This one was so insanely popular, I don't even know where to start, to be honest. It's already in the top ten posts of all time

And I did nothing special. At all. The hits all came from the usual sources: social media. That's it. It's like everyone descended on my blog for this one post. It happened so fast, it was like I had a Larry Correia review. And no, it wasn't shared all that often. Or at all. It's almost like people just tripped over it en mass.

I can get used to that. 

This one makes slightly more sense.

Jeffro Johnson shared this one on Castalia House's blog. Why? Because Pulp. 

Okay, again, this one isn't much of a surprise. It was a sale.

Also, I wasn't the only one sharing it around the universe. 

So, again, no surprise at how many hits this got.

Eh. A musical playlist was popular. I'm shocked.

Let's face it: it's Vatican ninjas. Tell me this doesn't sound cool.


Eh. It's an analysis of Marvel. I used the right hashtag. So surprise

7) Faster than the Speed of Pulp #PulpRev

I think this is the same old, same old: right hashtag, beating up on all the right people.

8) The Dragon Nominees, on Radio

Also not a surprise. Though I can't even imagine how many people had their computers frozen by the layout. Too many players, too often. I'll have to fix that somehow. When I get back from DragonCon.


Again, not a surprise.

10) Good to the Last Drop, Chapter 2: Many Happy Returns

Why this one made it and none of the others? NO idea.

Anyway, be well. See you at DragonCon.

Monday, August 28, 2017

PSA: Call of the Dragon


Thank you. This is the final PSA on the topic of registration.

There will be a final call on Friday, September 1, to vote.  But by then, I'll already be in Atlanta for DragonCon.

Thank you.


Coincidentally, the epic conclusion to my Dragon Award nominated series is live TODAY, on Kindle.

And in paperback. The pages are spear right now.

Also, coincidentally, this is the last day you can register for a Dragon Award ballot.

Coincidences are funny like that, aren't they?

But yeah, as you saw earlier today -- literally the previous post-- you can see that I've got a roundup post made for all of the prior posts. So... that's it. I think Hopefully. Yeah. Go buy it... please. Thank you.

Anyway, if you're one of those people who don't bother buying the series until the entire series is out, click here and buy all four.

Or click here to grab Good to the Last Drop.

..... Okay. I think we're done here. Be seeing you.

Illegitimi non carborundum


The Epic Conclusion to my Dragon Award nominated series is LIVE... on Kindle, but it's live.

The paperback is already here, but will take a while to merge with the Kindle page.

It has been one heck of a ride. If you wouldn't mind, I would ask everyone who has a social media account, blog, that sort of thing, to please spread the word that the book is up? If you wouldn't mind.

The sale link is here:

The flap copy for the book is, of course, at Amazon, but I'd rather keep you here as long as possible.

The description is...

The final war is about to begin, in this conclusion to the Dragon Award Nominated series

Merle Kraft, Marco Catalano and Amanda Colt have battled against the mythical Council, a supernatural conspiracy that monsters fear. This war has brought them up against vampires, minions, and demons from Hell.. Along the way, they have accumulated allies among the police, the military, the mafia, college students, lowly street gangs, and even other vampires.

Marco and Amanda have overcome their biggest terror -- their passion for each other.

But now, they face the final threat, one that is the culmination of every threat before them. This creature from Hell has powers beyond anything they’ve ever seen before, and has allies of his own: including SpecOps minions, an army of vampires, and packs of werewolves.
And that was before Marco got bit.

Right here is a round up of all of the various and sundry posts I've made about and around Good to the Last Drop since the announcement. including the announcement. So if anything here is of interest for spreading around the universe, by all means, enjoy.

Pre-Order Conclusion to the Dragon Award Nominated Series
This is the original announcement. Funny enough, it has an unfortunate reference to Joss Whedon.

A History of Vatican Ninjas
With Great Power comes great artillery. Also, a The Shadow / The Saint Crossover in my head.

Playlist for "Good To the Last Drop"
A music post that's a lot of Within Temptation and a lot of Cruxshadows, with some nightwish tossed in.

By "Traditional Vampires that integrate free will," I mean "Catholic Vampires." Though, as one person replied: Weren't Vampires always Catholic? Sort of

First I played with Vampires. Then I mess with werewolves.

A Short Biography of a Catholic Vampire
I posted this last week. It's already one of my most popular posts--it's in the TOP FIVE. Of all time. Who knew?

Good to the Last Drop, Chapter 1: A Little B&E Between Friends
As the title reads, Chapter one. Some catch up on the ones who have been left behind.

Going straight back to Hell. Or San Francisco

Getting some new friends. Sort of

Good to the Last Drop, Chapter 4: The Trap

I should probably mention that today is the release of my novel Good to the Last Drop

Here's chapter 4, though.

Chapter 4: The Trap

January 2nd, San Francisco

Marco Catalano, being unusually stubborn for someone who was both male and only partly Irish, walked through the evening, looking around the crypts of San Francisco to see if there was anything that didn’t know well enough to stay dead. In the back of his head, instead of a casual prayer, he had started going through a rock rendition of the Our Father, in German. It was a good tune to have while hunting.
Because Gregorian chant is not something I want to hunt vampires to.
He turned and looked at the new girl—Jackie. “Hi there.” He looked her over and sighed. “You look quite nice this evening.” He glanced at his watch. “Or should I say morning?”
She shrugged. “Just call it ‘late. What are you doing out?”
He looked out at the dark of Grant Street in Chinatown—he was in between cemeteries at the moment. “Hunting, or going for a walk. Something like that.”
Oh. Mind if I join you?”
Sure, I might as well be falling apart.”
They continued to walk down the street of the opulent neighborhood until they reached the docks along Fisherman’s Wharf. The skyline of the next city glowed in the not too distant horizon, along with a harbor cruise ship that was traveling around the bay with its continuously partying passengers. This view was lost on the two patrollers, mainly because all they saw was two women about to be sucked dry. Two targets were good for the concentration.
I’ll go for the one on the left, you the right. Sound good to you?” Marco looked over at Jackie to see whether she agreed, and found the space where she had been standing empty. He looked up to see her going at it with the two vampires.
Marco sighed. “Or we can just charge into the fight without thinking. That’s a classic.”
Marco pulled out a turpentine-soaked stake and headed after the newbie. One of the melodramatically-dressed Goth vampires saw him coming and charged head on, letting out a stereotypical horrid hiss. He briefly considered stapling the vamps hand to his forehead. His angst would send him to dust more quickly.
Dress normally, would you?” Marco growled, dodging to the right. “This isn’t a game.” Marco rammed the stake home as though he were clothes-lining the vampire.
Marco plucked the stake out, and placed it back in his belt as the vampire turned into dust. “Waste not, want not.”
Marco looked over to see Jackie being backed up against the railing by the other equally-overdressed vampire. He was about to go and help her, when he took a second look. He knew he didn’t need glasses, yet he could swear he saw a look of enjoyment on the young woman’s face.
Marco rolled his eyes. Yana had spent weeks fretting over how scary he was, and she had managed to hook up with a girl who seemed to enjoy killing the damned as much as he did.
Without hesitation, she leaped on the vampire, grabbed his head, and started making out with him… it seemed. She was actually spitting water into his mouth.
The vampire pushed her away and dropped to his knees, grabbing his throat as it disappeared under his fingers. Jackie smiled as his neck collapsed in on itself, along with the rest of his body. He then turned into dust, spilling into the breeze and blowing all over her hands, clothes, face, and hair.
Poor baby, can’t handle his drink.”
Jackie stood, faced away from the dust and took a deep breath, exhaling a deep sigh of satisfaction. She faced Marco, who still stood at a distance.
Pity, I get ready to leave, I get someone on the team who might be interesting.
Too much?” she asked, sounding surprisingly innocent for someone who had basically poured acid down his throat. But still, she was pretty nonchalant.
Jackie laughed and gave him a smile. Even from where he stood he could see her eyes dancing in the dim street light with the satisfaction of the kill. He found himself staring – he wasn’t used to being on the other side of that. “Let’s get you home.”
Why?” she protested.
Marco laughed. “I know you seem to be enjoying yourself, but as you can see…” He held up his watch. It was two hours to sunup.
Jackie sighed and replaced the holy water flask on her hip. “Suppose I can’t continue hunting when the sun is out.”
Not unless you have a ready answer for why you’re walking around with sharp pointy things in San Francisco.”
The two exchanged a look of amusement. They both knew that technically, they could go hunting in the daytime, but neither was up to the job of explaining why they were kicking open random crypt doors, looking inside for a few seconds, and then closing the door as if nothing had happened.
Jackie offered her hand. “It was nice meeting you.”
Marco walked up and yet again took her hand. “And where do you think you’re going?”
A slight sense of alarm took over Jackie. “I’m going home.” She pointed over her shoulder. “I was planning to walk down Grant.”
He gave her and incredulous look. “Uh huh. And then what?”
As she gave her answer, she realized how ridiculous it sounded. “Walk halfway across town.” She looked up at him and offered an embarrassed grin. He sighed, and walked over with her to the curbside edge.
Where exactly are you taking me?”
I’m going to put you in a cab and send you home. And if you even think of paying the fare, I’ll break your arm off here and now.”
This stunned Jackie and allowed Marco to lead her along. She never heard someone force chivalry on another, and threaten them if they tried otherwise. She was quickly seeing that this guy Marco was completely, utterly, undeniably…nuts.
They reached a major street and Marco waved down a cab. The foreign driver rolled down his window and asked with a surprising lack of accent, “Where to?”
Marco looked over at Jackie, who was still dumbfounded by threatening kindness. “You need me to check your wallet for you?” he asked, a slight tone of impatience coming through.
He shook his head and gave the driver Yana’s address. “All right then.” She watched Marco as he opened the door for her. “In you go.”
Jackie walked around and stepped into the cab, looking back up at him. “You know you don’t have to do this. I can handle the—”
He cut her off. “Do you think I was kidding about breaking your arm?” She stopped mid-sentence and just blankly stared at him. “Get in the cab.”
Without reaction from her, he placed her hand at her side and closed the door. He looked at the driver. “So how much is the damage?”
The cabby looked back at her, still a bit dumbstruck, and replied, “For her? Twenty.” Marco reached into his back pocket, pulled out a relatively small wad of twenties and handed one to him.
Before the driver took off, Marco called his attention again. “By the way? If you try anything, just remember I have your license plate memorized, and have no qualms about hunting you down and treating you with the same loving care that a white supremacist would have with you and yours. Am I understood?”
A look of pure horror emerged on the driver’s face as he mechanically nodded his agreement. “Good.” Marco pounded on the roof of the cab. “Tally-ho then.”
* * * *
Marco!” a voice snapped at him in the middle of the night. “Get up!”
His eyes snapped open. Yana was at his bedside. How did that happen?
We need to go, now!”
Marco kicked the covers off and rolled off the bed, onto his feet, still fully dressed, with a knife in his hand. “What is it?”
Yana looked over her shoulder. “No time, we have to go, now!”
He stopped, glanced at the door, fully locked and bolted. “Well, whatever you are, you’re not omniscient. At least theres that much.”
He looked over his shoulder and launched a side kick, his foot going through Yana’s chest, like a hologram. He smiled broadly as he pulled his leg back. “I didn’t know vampires could have astral projection. Or are you a ghost?”
The projected image of Yana smiled, speaking now with a slight Russian accent. “Glad to meet you, Marco. I’ve had my eye on you ever since you killed my brother.”
Marco winced, taken aback for a moment. A Russian accent meant a Russian vampire, and there was only one other Russian vampire that he knew outside of Amanda, and he had been killed in Brooklyn the year before. Which meant…
Marco smiled drolly. “Yes, your brother Mikhail. I hate to point out that Nuala killed him.” He raised a brow. “Let me guess, either you’re outside, or you have minions waiting? How absolutely cliché. Hell, you’re his vengeful brother, should I assume you’re a twin?”
The Yana image gave him Yana’s puppy-dog eyes and innocently asked, “Why would I have any minions?”
Marco backed up onto his bed. “You couldn’t count on me being cooperative enough to leave my room, and you can’t get in without an invite. You’d have them because I’m a scary bastard, otherwise why waste a demon and an assassin on me? I’m honored that the Council still thinks I’m a threat.”
Yana” raised a brow. “Threat? To me?”
The New Yorker’s eyes narrowed. The vampire didn’t contradict Marco’s statement about the Council, so that confirmed his supposition. The image didn’t say us, but me—which gave Marco a guess that the Council had only the one vampire left to go. “I know that you can be beaten. Otherwise, you’d just come out and strike. That you’re resorting to, well, this, means you want to wear us down, so you can kill us.”
Let’s find out,” the fake Yana said. “You’ve said you are what you’re needed to be. Well, I need you dead!”
An ax hit the door.

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