Dispatching the two ghouls was easy. Anika felt some small satisfaction watching them fall to the ground, perfectly placed shots between the eyes. She stowed her rifle in her gym bag and crossed the street to remove the bullets, and any other evidence. She briefly considered bringing them back to the frat house, out of spite, but that would be too much work. Just as she finished, she tensed, sensing someone behind her.
The woman behind her was absolutely stunning. After a moment, Anika recognized her, as her as Rose Noche, her best friend.
Rosa smiled at her before asking, “Why did you kill them? Ghouls are people too you know.”
“I didn’t want them to go back to the Vampbros.”
“Vampbros….you mean the Nosfaratu? That’s funny as hell…I’m going to have to use that! But seriously, why did you kill them?”
Anika knew that she could be honest, and that if anyone could understand it was this woman. “Honestly,I don’t think things through”.
They both paused, looking at each other, before Rosa smiled gesturing for Anika to sit down next to her on the curb.
“What’s your name?”
“Anika…where have I heard that name before. Oh! Anika Wolter! The one we hired to take care of that little problem. I’ve really wanted to meet you!”
The last thing Anika wanted to think about was Meckle, even though time was running out.
“Can we not talk about that? I’ve had a really rough few days”
“Sure of course! Why don’t you tell me all about it?”
She paused, wanting to share everything that had happened over the past two days without giving away all the details. The most important detail being Brandon. “I’m….haunted. By my past”. The words came pouring out of her, starting with her decision to destroy the Dormier warehouse, and everything that transpired afterwards.
“So then, the mechanical spiders transformed into ghosts, and one of them looked like a vampire and…”
Rosa interrupted “You saw that?”
“Yeah, briefly, it was kind of weird. I’m still trying to figure out what it meant”
“Well I can tell you that. You’re telling me such fascinating things, so I can return the favor. The Ordo Dracul, rather the Vampros,” she laughed showing a lot of teeth “Seriously, that’s hilarious. The Vampbros, they have found a way to project themselves through ghosts. They harness them, I’m not really sure how. I tried it once, it was….well amazing. Rumor is they are finding a way to make this permanent, but they need a fate mage to make it work. But anyway, continue with your story . What happened next?”
Anika kept talking,right up through being drugged by that stupid bitch nurse, at the hospital, while trying to get to Katie.
“I know her name though, Sarah Smith, she’s what’s hunting us. And I’m going to end her”.
“Why is she hunting you Anika?”
Up until this point she had been deliberately avoiding talking about the God Machine, but she couldn’t avoid the topic forever.
“Sara Smith is a cultist for…well it’s called the God Machine” Rosa’s stare was intense, and it indicated that she should continue. “The God Machine is everywhere. It’s, hard to explain. Only those who were plugged into the machine, or who have been exposed to a piece of it know of its existence. Even then, you’re never really know what its true intent is. Because you are not meant to know.”
“So which are you? Were you a part of it or just exposed? What are you Anika?”
Xenosa hesitated. Once she revealed what she truly was, there was no going back.
Sensing her trepidation Rosa said “I’m a Toreador of Invicuts. Now you know what I am”.
Anika swallowed before speaking softly “I…I am unchained”
Rosa leaned closer and whispered in her ear “Show me”
As much as she wanted to reveal her true self to her new friend, that would be ill-advised, especially since there was a cult hunting her. A small display would suffice. Xenosa briefly considered activating her fire aura, to let her fire burn away the events of the past few days. She realized that her new best friend might not appreciate that, since she was a vampire. Instead she assumed her winged state, and floated a few feet off the ground, before resuming Anika’s form on the curb.
Rosa’s eyes were lit up with excitement. “Ok so how do we stop it?”
“You can’t really STOP it. However, there are ways to subvert some of it’s projects, or dispatch with it’s human agents or cultists. There are different ways of going about it. My way is….rather direct”.
Rosa laughs at this. “Yeah, I kind of got that vibe off of you. So does it have non-human agents?”
“Yes. They are referred to as Angels”. Rosa quirks an eyebrow. “They are nothing like the holy creatures that humans believe in. They are mechanical, hooked in to the machine, although some of them do have “human” covers. They exist to serve the Machine, to do the job it has assigned them without question. They are extremely dangerous, and unfortunately I’m on their radar at the moment. Hopefully taking out the cultists will help. But yeah, Angels, they are all assbutts”.
She thought of Castiel, her fall, and her current goal to help Brandon. Being able to fulfill that goal, was tied to the vampires. She was just beginning to understand how it was all connected, and Rosa was helping her fit the pieces together. More than any of that she wanted to leave Castiel behind, and become something more, something better.
Rosa interrupted her musing. “I want to help, in any way I can, to subvert this “God Machine”. I can’t abide by false prophets”. Anika looked at Rosa, her final words resonating with previous train of thought. This creature was centuries old, and couldn’t fully be trusted, but on some level, Xenosa could sense that Rosa wanted to become something more as well. Even more important, she wanted to help, but in order to do that, Rosa needed to be able to see what they were up against. She could give her that ability.
She pulled a piece of scrap paper from her gym bag, and began drafting out a pact. “There is a way for me to allow you to see the God Machine, and it’s workings. It’s only going to be temporary, a week. It may be a bit…disorienting at first. We can renew the contract at the end of that time if you want.”
Rosa read over the contract “I assume that you need something in return”.
Anika considered for a moment before remembering watching Jennifer, Meckles girlfriend at the party. This thing with Rosa made the whole Meckle situation even more complicated, but the least she could do for him was extricate his girlfriend.
“I want Jennifer Winter”.
Rosa laughed “Absolutely! Between you and me, I’m only keeping her around because the Vampbros asked. Just…make sure that it still seems like she’s here ok? It will make things awkward otherwise.”
Rosa signed the pact, and her signature was just so damn pretty. Rosa handed the pen back to her, and as she was signing her name at the bottom, she was struck by a really good idea.
“So, remember when I said earlier I was being hunted by a cultist? Well, one of the ways to get around that is to take a second cover”.
“So, you mean to tell me, that what I’m looking at right now is like a ‘meat suit’? To hide what you really are?”
Xenosa felt some discomfort at having Anika referred to as a ‘meat suit’, even though that was exactly what she was. “You could say that. Point is, cultists and angels are looking for ‘Anika’. It would really help if I had a second….’suit’. Best way to do that is make a pact with someone, and take pieces of their life, and create a new cover. If I did this with Jennifer, it would still seem as if she was here, which eliminates the Vambro issue. Also, now I can hang out here, since it wouldn’t be advisable for Anika to be seen with you. It’s probably a stupid idea but…”
Rosa clapped her hands with delight, before slinging her arm around Anika’s shoulder. “No I think it’s a fantastic idea! I’d love to have you around! Let’s go inside,and we can talk more. So I want to ask have you ever seen an angel?”
Xenosa couldn’t quite form the words “I used to be one”. She knew that Rosa would find out eventually, but she didn’t need to know right now. Instead she said “Yes. I’ve also seen an Archangel, then I killed it”
“Shit seriously? Girl,you are really badass!” Xenosa couldn’t quite grasp what emotion Anika was feeling at that particular moment, it might have been joy at finding someone who accepted her. She decided to run with it, because it felt really good.