Cutscene - The Beach

Moonless cold windy night on beach, wind turbines inland

The two vampires heard the steady “whoop, whoop” sound that meant they were close to the beach. Another fifteen meters and they would be done with the stinking morass daylighters called a wetland. The marsh that extended along ocean side south of The Park.

“Ha, lookit. It’s so confused.” Cleetus held up a twenty centimeter long pale slug-like thing. The beastie flopped back and forth. It’s rows of circular teeth seeking flesh to dig into.

“Gee, Cleetus you found a leech. I can see the posting now ‘While slogging through a putrid, revolting swamp, vampire is stunned by table-turning leech.’”

“He’s just looking for dinner like us.” said Cleetus holding the leech up and looking for it’s eyes. “Sorry, little vampire guy. I ain’t got no blood in me. Maybe we’ll find us some later.” With this Cleetus slipped the wriggling blood-sucker into the thigh cargo pocket of his militia fatigues.

“Speaking of dinner, I smell blood, warm blood, of the human kind.” Cleetus’s companion said as he removed the hazmat suit he used to keep the muck off his expensive tailored cloths.

Cleetus ran out into the surf, his idea of a bath. The cold salt-water washed away most of the mud and slime. He still reeked and would continue to do so until he ‘did his laundry’ aka stealing the cloths of some suitably sized and recently drained ‘donor’. He rushed out of the foamy water towards the spot Noname was approaching. They arrived simultaneously.

Pulling a bit of seaweed out of his collar Cleetus spoke first. “Lookit, seafood snack. Huh, huh.”

“My seafood” replied Noname. Bending over to inspect ‘the catch’ Noname’s dark blue fedora sailed off in the gusty wind. Recently deposited by the tide she was naked except for a steel ID bracelet around her right wrist. In her early twenties with head shaved so close it was hard to tell that the fuzz that covered it was brown. Her olive skin was unburnt and displayed few signs of exposure. Stradling the unconscious female his ostrich leather shoes filling with sand Noname reached down to pull her neck up to a more convenient height. Her large dark lips parted and spit up a bit of Pacific. Brushing sand and muck from her bare neck Noname noticed she was quite a bit more muscular than most humans her age and gender.

“Don’t worry my little sushi, it will all be over soon.”

Cleetus would have laughed at this but could manage only one thing at a time and was currently busy scanning the ocean swells. He had seen a misshaped head sticking out the waves just were they started cresting. Er, maybe not, back to the show. He turned ‘round in time to catch Noname changing into ’the face’, mouth open wide, fangs centimeters from piercing that tender, shivering neck.

Even before her large eyes were fully open she had begun to move her right arm, across the front of her body, elbow tight at the side. Swinging hard, the back of her hand smashed into the face that was leering over her. It had been an automatic response as was the rest of this combo. Her left fist, clenched tight barreled with the full force of her swinging body into Noname’s jaw knocking him half way around and nearly to his knees. Continuing her spin, she lifted her right leg and planted a circle kick firmly in Noname’s side, propelling him several meters through the air to face plant in the sand.

“Jesus,” he spurted mouth half filled with sand. “I like to tangle with dinner as much as the next vamp, but let’s not be ridiculous.”

Without really thinking about it she had ending up facing the next threat.

“Uh” Cleetus managed. The naked meal’s two brown eyes, pupils extra large in the darkness, fixated on him.

She stood, bewildered, staring at the camouflaged soldier a few meters away. Shivering from the cold and generall lack of cloths she looked down at her bare, sand caked body and wondered “Where are my cloths?” Her clenched fist caused the muscles of her right forearm to bulge as she held it up. She was turning over the ID tag to read it when a sharp pain forced her to throw back that wrist. The skin at the base of her hand separated and a smooth spike protruded. It’s tip caught in the links of the bracelet and snapped it apart as the spike continued its painfull extension. A scream erupted from her lips. Not of pain, this was a battle cry. She spun around and thrust out at Noname as he ran up behind her. The force of the impact gouged two troughs in the sand with her heels. The palm of her hand rested over Noname’s unbeating heart. Twenty-five or so centimeters of wood sheathed carbon fiber stake lay buried in his chest. It’s ferroceramic tip had pierced his Kevlar undershirt as easily as it had parted his imported wool suit. As Noname turned to dust she looked over her shoulder to again bring the next threat in view. But Cleetus had seen enough of this shit and was busy running very fast back towards the marsh and the big boss.

The warmth of combat fled her body. Her arm fall limply to her side and the stake slowly withdrew back into her forearm. Muttering to herself “Where am I” and looking around she saw only turbines, beach and dark ocean. Shapes were out in the waves heading this way. Not understanding what had happened to the man that assaulted her and fearing what might be coming after her from the ocean she took a step back almost toppling over. Shock and mild hypothermia were taking their toll. But slayers don’t give up, even ones who don’t know they’re slayers. Hugging herself for warmth she trudged towards lights and the “whoop, whoop” of a hundred turbines. A few minutes later she was in the Lowlands stumbling up Ortega.

The half-dozen recon spiders they had deployed informed them exactly who and what was or was not on, in, or above this lonely stretch of sand. Their rebreathers, night vision, thermal, and combat gear hung, protruded and bulged all over. The skin-suits they wore adjusted reflectivity making them extremely hard to spot. Thermal dampeners made them nigh invisible to IR. Many of their targets, such as vampires, relied heavily on IR. But, this wasn’t a search and destroy mission. This was cleanup, collecting the pieces left around from someone else’s fuck-up.

“Did the spiders get that? Tell me they did, R&D chews my ass when we don’t get them data to play with.”

“Recorded and uploaded, Sir.” Replied the Sergeant after checking her HUD.

“How ’bout Delta section?” Continued her superior.

“They’ve located both the re-entry capsule and it’s hatch. Just waiting for Mother to pick them up.”

“Hot damn this team is sharp. Inform them to stand-by, we’ll be back out in ten.”

“We’re not following… it, Sir?”

“Not our problem Sergeant. Some other resource will handle it. If there’s even a need.”

“How do you mean, Sir?”

“Rumors that they have built in failsafes. Now quit asking questions before you learn more than you want to know.” Replied the Lt. ending all discussion.

He picked up the broken ID bracelet and meticulously scanned the sand with an array of detection equipment until satisfied that not a single fragment remained. It, unlike any thing he wore or carried, was stamped “Property of Sony Corp”. It continued “Orbital R&D Facility” and below that “Starsider - v8.37.2”. Then again no one had expected the particular piece of tech this had identified to ever be ‘in the wild’ so to speak.

“Sergeant check your seals and call in the spiders, we’ve got a sub to catch.”

“Yes, Sir.”

Epilog -

Gunderson sits on beach as the sunlight fades. Great sunset.

She holds his hand and says its beautifull. Her hand becomes soft and wet she withdraws it and Gunderson doesn’t complain. Wet gurgles beside him but he can’t turn to look. Tears cascade down his cheeks to the sand and are quickly absorbed. When the last bit of firey red is banished by purple twillight he finally turns and sees all that remains of her. Two sets of ferro-alloy support struts, liner actuators, and wood sheathed carbon fiber stakes. Wiping the last tears from his face he grabs the two mechanics. Taking a few steps towards the surf he hurls them into the ocean. Losing sight of them in the moonless twillight. But he hears them plop one after the other into the churning water.

Turning around, Gunderson’s hydrolic pistion legs pump hard, propelling him off the beach and back towards the hills. He never noticed the spiders that had been watching, recording since they arrived. The Sergeant retrieves each of the stake weapons while the Lt. and two soldiers from Delta section scoop and bag all the sand Starsider had melted into.