Interlude 31C – Avalon

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“Um, your dad is a Stranger?” Rudolph asked, his voice fairly emotionless considering his words. The boy already had his bow out, an arrow nocked in it as he took aim at Reggie. He and the rest of the group were spreading out a bit, as Katarin and Hisao’s words about not clumping together in a group in a situation like this clearly rang through their minds.

“He’s a vampire,” Avalon replied flatly, not taking her narrowed eyes off of the man in question. She had barely even blinked since first laying eyes on him after he had revealed himself.

“A vampire?” Douglas echoed. His pen was in his hand already, and the boy clicked it twice to create a shield in one hand and some kind of small crossbow in the other. A third click created a short spiked wall all the way around the boy and a few feet in each direction. It was just barely taller than the boy himself, and left a couple slight openings for his crossbow. Protection from being directly attacked. He had actually created a small, personal bunker of sorts for himself using his pen to store the design. “There’s six of us,” he continued then. “We can take a single vampire.”  

“You wanna tell them, sweetheart?” Reggie prompted while cracking his neck. “Or should I?”

Still not taking her eyes off the man, Avalon explained quietly. “He’s not just a normal vampire. Someone… upgraded him. He can take powers, like we do. Only he does it by drinking blood. He drinks someone’s blood, he gets some of their power.” Her voice was dark, as memories rose. “That’s how he’s still alive even though he’s practically a newborn by vampire standards.”

“I’m sorry, what?!” Douglas was staring at her, mouth open. “He can–he gains–motherfucker.”  

Sean cursed as well, holding Vulcan in his massive gun-form. He apparently had the pixie stored inside the cyberform already. “That’s less than helpful. But we can still-”

A few feet away from the boy, Columbus abruptly spun, lunging that way before grabbing his roommate in mid-sentence to yank him out of the way an instant before a blurred form went right through the space where Sean had been standing. The blur stopped suddenly, revealing a man who was a stranger in both the capital and lower s sense of the word. Another vampire.

Avalon had just started to react as Columbus pivoted, his hand lashing out while some kind of metal armor appeared over it. There was a brief spray of blood, as the boy’s metal-armored fist punched through the vampire’s back and out his front, holding the man’s heart in his hand. An instant later, as if just to be absolutely sure, his other metal-covered hand reshaped itself into a blade before a quick snap of his wrist took the vampire’s head clean off of his shoulders.

For a brief moment, no one spoke, and barely even moved. Columbus stood there, slowly pulling his arm out of the dead vampire’s body while his pure white kill-aura flared up briefly. Avalon had known that he was more powerful than before, thanks to Charmiene feeding him Alters so that her chosen host would be stronger. But she hadn’t had much of a chance to see it.

“Well shit, son,” Reggie remarked with a low whistle. “That sucks. I kinda liked that guy. Luckily,” he added then, his tone still casual, “I brought a few more of my… uhh, drinking buddies.”

At those words, more figures appeared all around the group, emerging from the deep shadows of the same trees whose extensive canopy ensured that the sun wasn’t actually burning them. Within a few seconds, there was almost twenty of the figures surrounding the group  all vampires from the quick glance that Avalon gave. Twenty vampires, even normal ones, were entirely too many for the six of them to deal with. Especially with her father standing right there.

With a low chuckle as he watched all of them take in the sight of the new arrivals, Reggie remarked, “Doing the math on that, huh, sweetheart? How many seconds do you think your friends can hold out before my pack here eat them? Three, four maybe? I bet the quiet girl tastes utterly delicious.” As he spoke, his chin inclined toward where Scout had been slowly pivoting with her rifle raised, tracking the barrel over each of the vampires one after another.

“Or,” the man continued, his tone turning contemplative. “Maybe I let them go. Maybe I tell my boys to back off, and we let them walk right on out of here. No harm, no foul. And no blood. But the pixie stays. I mean, come on, she’s almost dead as it is, so it barely matters.” His eyes narrowed then. “And you stay too. They go. You and the pixie stay right here. That’s fair.”

“Not that we don’t appreciate being talked about like we’re not standing right here,” Sean put in while copying Scout’s move of slowly turning to keep pointing Vulcan’s barrels at one snarling vampire after another, “but we’re not going anywhere without Avalon and the pixie. So forget it.”

Avalon genuinely wasn’t sure if the boy was talking to Reggie, or to her. She gave him a brief look before lifting her chin to her father. “You’re not nearly as important as you think you are,” she informed him. “We’re taking the pixie, even if we have to go through you and your fodder.”

Even as she spoke, the girl was trying to calculate the best path out of there, her eyes scanning the figures surrounding them to determine the weakest point. Vampires were fast, and her father was even faster than most. They might have been outclassed in a long fight by a lot of things, but in the short term, they had a distinct advantage over most. Vampire were essentially ambush predators. Their speed-blitz tendencies left them able to kill quickly before their targets knew that they were there or that they were a threat. By having them stand around and act menacing, her father was giving up one of their biggest advantages. Especially since between Scout’s rifle, Sean’s minigun, Columbus’s goggles, Rudolph’s bow, and now Douglas’s crossbow, there were no less than five different ranged weapons sighting in on them. It was tactically idiotic. Unless…

“You’re stalling,” Avalon abruptly realized. Her eyes shot back to her father then, widening a bit. “You don’t want this fight to start yet. You’re holding out for something, trying to waste time.” It could have been about letting the pixie die. But if it was just that, there would be no reason for them not to attack. No, it was something else, some reason that the vampires were holding off.

“Heh,” her father gave a chuckle. “Never could put one past you, could I?” His smile widened, showing his fangs. “‘Cept with those beer bottles. You got pretty good at ducking those.”

Douglas had switched to two crossbows by that point, aimed through his personal bunker in different directions. “You know,” he remarked, “it’s pretty subtle, but I’m getting the very slight impression that your dad’s kind of a piece of work. And that we should really get out of here.”

He was right. Whatever her father was actually up to, and why he was stalling, she had no idea. But it wouldn’t be anything good. They needed to get the pixie out of there, before she died.

Her father took a step forward then, yanking her attention back to him instantly. “You think one of your little guardian angels is about to show up and save you?” he mocked, clearly trying to get a rise out of her. “Got news for you, we’re using a little blocker spell. As far as all those protective doodads you’ve got on are concerned, you are absolutely fine. Might not be enough to let us kill you, sure. But right now, your legion of protectors have no idea that you’re even in trouble.”

Barely had the words left his mouth before there was a brief flash of silver light as a different voice announced, “Oh, I dunno.” Deveron stepped into view, accompanied by Wyatt as he continued casually, his aura fading. “Maybe the guy who designed those security spells is just flat out better at it than your people are at breaking them.” Even as he spoke, the two of them entered the space that had been occupied by one of those vampires just a second earlier. A vampire whose absence pretty much explained why Deveron’s aura had been flaring up.

“The weird security guy and one of our second year sort-of joint mentors?” Douglas blurted in complete disbelief before his tone turned completely flat. “Oh, hallelujah, we’re saved.”

“Well, shit.” Reggie quickly hid his expression of incredulity at the two’s sudden appearance. “Guess we’ve gotta have a little fun anyway, don’t we, boys?” With that, he gave a sharp whistle, and the small horde of vampires suddenly made their move, each turning into a blur of motion as they rushed forward, falling in on the assembled group of Heretics.

It was pure chaos. The sound of Vulcan’s rotating gun barrels were deafening as Sean sprayed in the direction of anything that was coming toward him. Rudolph and Douglas notched and fired arrow after arrow and bolt after bolt so quickly that their own motions were almost a blur as well. Beams of concussive force erupted from Columbus’s goggles repeatedly, before one of the vampires actually got close enough to reach for him. It was stopped abruptly, however, as the boy’s hand snapped up and the vampire reacted as though it had hit some kind of invisible forcefield, flattening against it. A second later, another blast from Columbus’s goggles took the vampire in the chest and sent it rocketing backward off into the trees with a surprised cry.

Honestly, they weren’t actually killing that many of them, given the relative lack of auras appearing. But they were at least keeping the vampires back a bit, and somewhat injuring them.

And then there were the exceptions to that ‘not killing them’ thing. Deveron already had two of the vampires on the ground, his aura popping up once again before he turned, hand snapping up to catch one of them in some kind of telekinetic grip. With a grunt, he flung the vampire high into the air. It cleared the canopy, before its screams announced that it had reached sunlight.

Scout, meanwhile, had her own aura flaring more than once. She was simply firing shot after shot from her rifle… off into nowhere. Her bullets were disappearing through one of the gun’s manifested portals, then reappearing elsewhere. The bullet would fly a certain distance, hit another portal, and then jump again. Scout had been doing more than simply panning her gun over the vampires earlier. She had actually been setting up an extensive series of portals all around them. And now, every time she fired into that first portal, it shot the resulting bullet all the way around the circle through those portals, constantly changing direction, angle, height, and everything else to the point that the vampires might as well have been getting shot from all sides. They had no idea where the next bullets would come from, and several were cut down in rapid succession before they even had the idea of what was actually going on.

And through it all, through all of that violence, Avalon stayed completely still. Her eyes never left her father, while his never left her. Neither of them moved to attack. They knew each other. They had fought so many times over the years, once she finally started fighting back. They had grown in power together, even as each tried in vain to kill the other repeatedly, to the point that they knew each other’s moves as well as they knew their own. She knew her father, and he knew her. They could fight an entire battle simply by watching each other, waiting for openings that never came. The two of them were in a world of their own while the rest fought all around them.

Then there was Wyatt. Even as several of the vampires managed to actually get past the extensive covering fire laid down by everyone else, the security man raised his hand to throw a pyramid-shaped object about eight inches across straight up into the air. At its apex, the pyramid inverted so that the tip was facing down. It floated there in the air, while each of its sides opened up. From the flat bottom (now facing upward), a small portal appeared, leading off somewhere that clearly had bright sunlight, given the glimpse through what was visible.

That portal led the sunlight from wherever the other end of the portal was into the pyramid itself, before it was magnified and projected in every direction through each now-open side. The entire clearing was abruptly bathed in so much sunlight that it looked as though they were standing in the middle of an open field at midday.

Everyone else had been fighting the vampires. Wyatt exterminated them in a single move. Over a dozen died almost instantly, burning up to ashes within seconds. A couple more were incinerated before they could reach the edges of the light, while the few that remained took off, fleeing. While it happened, Wyatt staggered, his own silver kill-aura to match his father’s flaring up dramatically.

And yet, through it all, her father stood completely still and unmoved. The light that filled the clearing seemed to bend around him, leaving the vampire still shrouded in slight darkness. As everyone’s attention turned that way once he was the final vampire left in sight, the man chuckled. “Well, that was dramatic, wasn’t it? Good thing the first power I sucked up was this good old cloak of darkness.” He indicated the shadows that remained wrapped around him. “Keeps me nice and shady even on those Tijuana beaches.”

“Too bad you didn’t wrap that shade around all your little friends,” Deveron pointed out in a dark voice. “Or they might not be ashes right now.”

“Sure,” the vampire agreed. “Still won’t help you that much though. See, this jungle? It’s completely full of my little drinking buddies. And the word from on high is that the bosses just shut down every portal in and out of this jungle. You want out, you gotta go the long way. Which means going through all that jungle just chock full of vampires just waiting to rip your head off. Or, you could wait here until that pixie dies. Doesn’t really make much difference to me in the long run.”

Deveron took a step that way, unsheathing his pistol. “Maybe we start by going through you.”

“No!” Avalon quickly interceded, catching the man’s arm. “Don’t. Let me.”

“Avalon,” Deveron started, looking back to her.

“It’s okay,” she insisted while meeting his gaze. Her voice was calm, her eyes steady and unblinking. “The pixie is the key. You have to get her out of here. You have to save her life, Deveron. If you save her, she can help find Chambers and the others. But she’s about to die. She needs help, now.

She turned away from him then, and from the others. Her gaze was centered on the dark-shrouded figure across the clearing. “I can handle my father.”

There were protests from the others, but Deveron and Wyatt called them in line, making them focus on the issue at hand: getting the pixie to safety. They said something to Columbus, Sean, Scout, Rudolph, and Douglas that had to do with getting through the jungle, but Avalon wasn’t listening. All of her focus was on her father.

“Avalon.” Deveron’s hand was on her shoulder. “Are you sure?”

“I can do this,” she replied, her voice completely even. As she spoke, Avalon let her hands slip behind her back while cracking her neck. “I’m ready. I am ready for this.” She was speaking both to him, and to Gaia, who was no doubt listening in.

He paused, looking down for a moment. Then he squeezed her shoulder while nodding. “We’ll see you on the other side.”

Then they were moving. The group took off into the jungle, heading for the beach where they would be safe, where the pixie would be safe. Avalon didn’t know how hard their trek through that vampire-infested jungle would be, but she did know that they would make it.

Just as she knew that this would be the last time that she faced the monster of her childhood. It was time to move on. It was time to put him behind her. And this was the only way that she could do that. This wasn’t for the Heretic that she had become. 

It was for the scared little girl that she had been.

“Alright then, little princess,” her father intoned a bit mockingly while readying himself. In one hand, he produced a massive, wickedly curved dagger, while the other held some kind of electrified baton that he clearly intended to put her on the ground with before cutting her. “Let’s do this.”

With that, the man was a sudden blur of motion that swept toward her, crossing two-thirds of the hundred feet that stood between them in an instant. Flames roared up along one side of him, while lightning crackled violently on the other. He would be on top of her, literally, before she could do more than blink. As he rushed at Avalon, the man’s baton swept up to the ready while lightning and fire bounded along at his sides like loyal hounds. 

And then, as suddenly as his charge had begun, the man hit the ground on his knees with a cry. His weapons fell to either side in the dirt while he put his hands against his head and groaned out a pained, “What… the… fuuuuuck….”

Slowly, Avalon pulled her hand out from behind her back. Nestled in her palm, she held a small tennis ball-shaped metal orb. The same orb that she had secretly shown Deveron before he would agree to leave her. It was silver, with a series of small rectangular blue lights along the bottom, and two slightly larger triangular red lights on the top half, each pointed inward so that the tips of the triangles pointed toward the very top of the orb, where the north pole would have been if it was a globe.

“Hurts, doesn’t it?” she asked rhetorically before explaining, “It’s an ultrasonic frequency that only people with hearing as advanced as a vampire’s can pick up. I mean, me, I can only barely sort of hear this low buzzing sound. But you, it probably feels like your brain is melting. Screws up your sense of balance, makes up seem like down, pretty sure it even gets into your short term memory and screws with it. So you probably have no idea how long this has been going on. It’s all just noise. Noise right in your brain. You don’t just hear it. You see it, you smell it. You can feel it digging into your head. Can’t focus on fighting. Can’t focus on using any powers. Can’t even focus on escaping. Just that sound, that horrible, inescapable sound driving through your brain, pounding and pounding over and over. Relentless. Unending. A drill made entirely of noise, boring straight through your skull.

“You’re a vampire and you’ve been trying to either make my life miserable or kill me literally my whole life. I took an entire semester of the Development Track. Did you really think I wouldn’t come up with anti-vampire weapons that were specifically tailored to you? I’ve been waiting for you to attack me all year, you fucking imbecile. The Seosten didn’t just tell you to stay away because of the spell that I’ve got on me. They told you to stay away because they knew that the one single thing that I would be one hundred percent prepared for was a fucking vampire, you stupid piece of shit.

The man was thrashing by that point, head shaking back and forth violently while he dug his fingers into his head deep enough to draw blood. His mouth opened, and a scream escaped him that echoed off into the jungle. More blood poured from his eyes and nose, and he gave a slight convulsion.

Standing a few feet away from the man, Avalon looked down at him while he shuddered. “Sorry,” she added without meaning it, “did you think this was going to be some grand, epic fight in the middle of the jungle? Did you think it was going to be a cinematic duel to the death full of awesome powers and amazing stunts? It’s not. Because quite frankly, you’re not worth that kind of effort.”

Her father reached for her then, one hand stretching out while hate filled his eyes. Avalon simply stepped back, letting him pointlessly reach. “You think you’re some grand villain, some great big bad, my nemesis? You’re not. You’re a pathetic, drunk piece of shit, who was too stupid to understand that the people using him to attack his daughter are the ones who actually murdered his wife.

“I lost my mom when I was born. I didn’t have to lose my dad too. You did that. You let them do that. You helped them. You helped Mom’s killers because you are a worthless, stupid, angry fucking failure. I just wanted a dad. I was a little kid and all I wanted was my daddy. I wanted someone to be there for me, someone to tell me it was alright. I wanted someone to chase away the monsters, not become one. A child should be afraid of what’s in their closet, not what’s in their parents’ bed. No little kid should ever feel like their mommy or their daddy hates them. No child should ever, ever see their parents look at them the way you looked at me. You were grieving? Fuck you. I was a child. I was a little girl. Even if Mom’s death had been because of my birth, that wouldn’t be my fault. It wouldn’t be anybody’s fault! But it was. It was the Seosten’s fault, and you fucking helped them, you miserable piece of shit.

“So no. We’re not going to have an epic duel to the death. No powers. No fight in the jungle. You are going to die here like a rat, and then I am going to move on to things that actually matter. I am going to make those bastards pay for what they did to my mother, for what they’ve done to this entire world. And I’ll do it as Avalon Sinclaire. But I will also do it as Hannah Aken, descendant of Liesje and Dries Aken, daughter of Alicia Aken. Because Hannah was the name my mother chose. And I am not going to let you take one more goddamn thing away from us. Because I’ve moved on from you. I’m not afraid of you anymore. You were the monster of my childhood. But I have a lot worse monsters now. And if I’m going to deal with them, I have to deal with you first.”

Reggie, by that point, was lying on his side, blood still leaking from his head as he stared at her, glassy-eyed and barely comprehending. Avalon waited for his eyes to find hers, then clicked off the sonic device so that the only thing, the last thing that he would hear were her next words.

“You… are… irrelevant.”

Her announcement was matched by the hum of the long energy blade emerging from her gauntlet, even as her hand swept out and up. One more final spray of blood, a gurgle, and her father’s head fell to the ground several feet from his body.  

The rush of pleasure that she felt then was only partially from the Heretic kill sensation. But perhaps it was fitting that the only thing her father ever did that brought the girl who was both Avalon Sinclaire and Hannah Aken any happiness in her life… was die.

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47 comments

  1. And that, right there, is the end of Reggie Owens. He was quite a long-running and repeated nemesis for our char–oh, this was his only actual appearance outside of Avalon’s origin interlude? Right then. So long, Reggie!

    So, for those who might be wondering, I chose to do it this way for several reasons. First, it made sense that Avalon would be prepared for her father after all the times they’ve fought. It also made sense that, after a whole semester in Development, she’d have that kind of gadget ready for him.

    And from a more narrative/writing viewpoint, Avalon has enough villains with the Seosten. While Reggie may have only just appeared (as a vampire) on-screen, he was her big enemy for so long that it makes sense for her to move on from him at this point, after all she’s learned and how much she’s improved.

    That and I just thought it would be cool to have an ‘Indiana just shoots the big sword guy’ moment. 😉

    So yeah, I’m quite aware that some people might object to the… relative ease with which Avalon dispatched her father that way, but I wanted to go against expectation and it made narrative sense. Hope you guys aren’t too disappointed.

    Anyway, hope you all enjoyed that well enough. And I hope you’re ready for a lot more reading over the next few days. Not only did we have this chapter, but we will also have an interlude focused on Lincoln Saturday/Tomorrow, one focused on Joselyn on Sunday, and then the regular chapter/start of the new arc to get back to Felicity on Monday. So four days of updates, whooo!

    So, see you tomorrow for the next update, and today’s tags were: Avalon Sinclaire, Columbus Porter, Deveron Adams, Douglas Frey, I Think It’s Safe To Say That That Fight Did Not Go The Way That Reggie Expected It To., Quick Avalon‚ Save Some Of Reggie’s Blood! Maybe You Can Use It To Turn Asenath Into An Enhanced Vampire!, Reggie Owens, Rudolph Parsons, Scout, Sean Gerardo, Vulcan, Wyatt Rendell

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      1. definetely rule #11 of super villain rule book. dont monologue before you kill the villain, followed directly by rule #12 kill all of the remaining family of the “hero” before they seek revenge.

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  2. Why isn’t that sonic thing standard issue for fighting vampires? It should be like”we are sending you on a mission to fight vampires, here’s a gadget that strait out incapacitates them” especially if it is the kind of thing you can make while your still in school.

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    1. For those who know they’re hunting vampires, that kind of thing often is. In this case, it helped that Avalon knew her father so well, tailored it to him specifically, and figured he would be stupid enough to run straight at her and get within range so that he was close enough to be crippled by it, all without having any backup or anything.

      Basically she counted on her father completely underestimating her. But yes, they do tend to use things like that. They just don’t always work quite that well for various reasons, such as the vampire having reinforcements or just being quick enough to break/damage it in time.

      Plus, as was noted in the chapter, most vampires fight in underhanded speed blitz/ambush things. Few are stupid enough to stand there and chit chat with Heretics, then run straight at them.

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    2. If vamps super senses are a known weakness, then the average vamp probably has invested in some earplugs. Not enough to negate the effects, but enough to allow a vamp more time to destroy the device or just run away.

      Also, I’m pretty sure anyone can use magic. If a heretic can make a sonic weapon a vampire can make a zone of silence.

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      1. Actually, vampires specifically CANNOT use magic. The Vestil blood plague cuts them off so they can’t magic it away.

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      2. Also, I’m pretty sure anyone can use magic. If a heretic can make a sonic weapon a vampire can make a zone of silence.

        As Alex said, vampires cannot use magic. It’s part of the plague.

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  3. You know, any disappointment I think I would have felt at how quickly Reggie bit it is mitigated by Avalon’s “of course I would be ready for you,” speech. It does make sense. It makes a lot of sense.

    Part of me still wishes that he shown up once or twice elsewhere, but it’s losing to how kickass that was. And also by the knowledge that she’ll still have to deal with Manakel, Fahsteth, Paschar, and possibly Elisabet/Jophiel (because if anyone won’t want something to render all Heretics immune to possession, it’s them).

    That moment with her declaring herself to also be Hannah Aken was cool too. Does she know about Dries being with Team Stranded or just put two and two together?

    Other moments I loved included the note that Wyatt’s aura looks the same as his father’s, and Columbus kicking ass. It’s just too bad he can’t enjoy having Colossus armor considering how he got it.

    One question though, were all those vampires there just to search for the pixie? Near 30 vampires that close to Crossroads seems risky, even with the portals shut down.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Part of me still wishes that he shown up once or twice elsewhere, but it’s losing to how kickass that was. And also by the knowledge that she’ll still have to deal with Manakel, Fahsteth, Paschar, and possibly Elisabet/Jophiel (because if anyone won’t want something to render all Heretics immune to possession, it’s them).

      Yeah, having him show up before would’ve been good too, but I think at least keeping him away from Avalon until now really drives home the whole, ‘The Seosten were telling you to stay away because they knew I’d be ready for a vampire, you fucking idiot’ message.

      Does she know about Dries being with Team Stranded or just put two and two together?

      She does not know about Dries being out there, no.

      One question though, were all those vampires there just to search for the pixie? Near 30 vampires that close to Crossroads seems risky, even with the portals shut down.

      They were there to look for the pixie, yes. The thought being that more could get the job done quicker. And it’s not that risky for the Seosten, since 99% of those vampires knew nothing about them and if they die, the Seosten lose nothing. They were cannon fodder, in every way. Risky for the vampires, sure, but the Seosten don’t care.

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      1. Was Wyatt’s vampire instakill always planned that way or did the discussion of the portal to the sun we had in the last chapter have anything to do with the particular way they died? I totally loved it though, Wyatt for the win!

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      2. Was Wyatt’s vampire instakill always planned that way or did the discussion of the portal to the sun we had in the last chapter have anything to do with the particular way they died? I totally loved it though, Wyatt for the win!

        That part of the chapter was already planned/partially written by that point. Which made me smile when it came up in the comments.

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  4. That was terribly anticlimactic. I love it.

    Heretics are cheating cheaters who cheat. And Wyatt is one of the cheatiest of them all. It would have seriously pushed my SoD if Wyatt DIDN’T have some way to cheap shot vamps knowing that one is gunning for Avalon. And it would have pushed it Avalon didn’t have a cheap win option between making her own and Wyatt giving her one if she couldn’t.

    Also Avalon’s monologue was incredibly carthritic.

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  5. >For a brief moment, no one spoke, and barely even moved. Columbus stood there, slowly pulling his arm out of the dead vampire’s body while his pure white kill-aura flared up briefly. Avalon had known that he was more powerful than before, thanks to Charmiene feeding him Alters so that her chosen host would be stronger. But she hadn’t had much of a chance to see it.

    Hm. We know Avalon was no slouch herself coming into this encounter, but the speed with which Columbus reacted made her seem slow.

    >Avalon genuinely wasn’t sure if the boy was talking to Reggie, or to her.

    Whynotboth.jpg

    > Might not be enough to let us kill you, sure. But right now, your legion of protectors have no idea that you’re even in trouble.”
    Barely had the words left his mouth before there was a brief flash of silver light as a different voice announced, “Oh, I dunno.” Deveron stepped into view, accompanied by Wyatt as he continued casually, his aura fading. “Maybe the guy who designed those security spells is just flat out better at it than your people are at breaking them.”

    Hah! The sense of timing on Reggie eating crow for his (failed) boast spot-on. As for Douglas, his incredulity is about to be broken into tiny pieces (as we know Wyatt and Deveron are very heavy hitters when the need arises).

    >constantly changing direction, angle, height, and everything else to the point that the vampires might as well have been getting shot from all sides. They had no idea where the next bullets would come from, and several were cut down in rapid succession before they even had the idea of what was actually going on.

    Well, damn. The mental image of that setup is rather intimidating. Thinking with Portals, imo.

    >“You’re a vampire and you’ve been trying to either make my life miserable or kill me literally my whole life. I took an entire semester of the Development Track. Did you really think I wouldn’t come up with anti-vampire weapons that were specifically tailored to you? I’ve been waiting for you to attack me all year, you fucking imbecile. The Seosten didn’t just tell you to stay away because of the spell that I’ve got on me. They told you to stay away because they knew that the one single thing that I would be one hundred percent prepared for was a fucking vampire, you stupid piece of shit.”

    Indeed. Reggie here isn’t too bright is he? Avalon must have gotten her intelligence from her mother’s side.

    > “Sorry,” she added without meaning it, “did you think this was going to be some grand, epic fight in the middle of the jungle? Did you think it was going to be a cinematic duel to the death full of awesome powers and amazing stunts? It’s not. Because quite frankly, you’re not worth that kind of effort.”

    I’m getting shades of Ozymandias’ speech to Rorshach and Nite Owl from Watchmen here. Also, a bit of a meta shoutout to the readerbase imo. Heh. Well-played.

    >The rush of pleasure that she felt then was only partially from the Heretic kill sensation. But perhaps it was fitting that the only thing her father ever did that brought the girl who was both Avalon Sinclaire and Hannah Aken any happiness in her life… was die.

    *claps* Bravo, bravo indeed.
    Nice update.

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  6. “he was more powerful than before, thanks to Charmiene feeding him Alters so that her chosen host would be stronger”

    I would bet, one of the powers made it so, that he doesn’t have to go to the toilet anymore.
    I mean, unless they have some strange fetishes, what Seosten would want their Heretics-suit to make potty breaks or have some ‘accidents’?

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Avalon having prepped for the fight with a home-made anti-vampire weapon to utterly pwn Reggie was good. Unfortunately, she broke one of the Evil Overlord Rules. You know, the one about just shooting the ‘hero’ instead of monologue-ing.

    Reggie calling the other vampires his “drinking buddies” was actually a pretty good pun. I wonder if Shiori would appreciate it, or if it would be overshadowed by the fact that it was said by evil vampires.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. But she’s not the evil overlord so that doesn’t matter.

      The Guile Heroine is allowed to explain to the villain how utterly fucked he is before she puts him down like a rabid dog.

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      1. I gotta disagree, The Guile Heroine is supposed to explain how she pwned the villain to her friends. That shows the audience that she HAS friends, unlike the Monster of the Week.

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  8. “Sorry, did you think this was going to be some grand, epic fight in the middle of the jungle? Did you think it was going to be a cinematic duel to the death full of awesome powers and amazing stunts? It’s not.“

    Like Landcollector said, I am not sure whether this is Avalon, talking to Reggie or Cerulean, talking to us. Either way, I like the way it turned out. Avalon even got some much deserved closure out of this, good for her! =) Also, Reggie got something that he had coming for a long, loooooong time. All is well that ends well, right?
    Now how about another Interlude where the Pixie spills all the details about how Team Flick gets back together and… and… that’s not happening, is it? D:

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Okay, so…
    Avalon is a confirmed classical villain?
    She tortured a prisoner (with consent from Gaia, which is all kinds of fucked up), monologued before killing someone with a gizmo…
    All she needs are an evil cackle and a dark lair.

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      1. That was her going into a cell the guy was imprisoned in (with little chance to exercise, for one) and goad him into a fight, with the specific objective of working out stress by beating him up.
        It was a horrifying thing, especially once one considers that after the fact she’d have gone out and healed with her powers, while he’s stuck in the suppressing cell, suffering.
        Plus, completely fair? Besides the exercise question (remember their powers are suppressed, so physical fitness is a point of consideration), which one could argue her being female balances out, there is the fact that there’s no way in hell Gaia wouldn’t rescue her if she were in mortal danger.
        In any case, goading imprisoned people into fights because watching others suffer relieves stress for you does not exactly scream “champion of Good”

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    1. I totally understand where you’re coming from, and in a lot of ways it’s personal opinion. But really, Avalon did not torture anyone. As Alex said, they had as close to a fair fight as possible. He even did quite well at first. Remember, it was specifically stated that he hadn’t lost much, if any of his reflexes, speed, etc.You have to remember that a lot of that for Heretics come from powers, thus they don’t fade as easily or as quickly as a normal human’s.

      Basically, given how much he was winning the start of the fight, I wouldn’t call it torture at all. It was a hard, brutal fight in close quarters that he took a quick advantage in before Avalon ended up winning.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Well, he had his powers suppressed, no? Would make sense that he functioned like a normal human in that situation… But I guess I was wrong.
        As for it being a fair fight, she goaded him into it, and doesn’t change the fact that she beats people for stress relief. I guess calling it torture is excessive, but it still places her south of neutral to me, in DnD speak.

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    2. While I agree that what Avalon did in that chapter was pretty dark, I also think you’re overstating things a bit (though I’m also pretty sure the “classical villain” thing is at least a partial joke). I would agree more if she had done it to someone she had no beef with, but Trice and Reggie are two people Avalon has ample reason to hate.

      Also, my reading on Gaia’s apparent consent had less to do with approval and more to do with preventing Avalon from doing something dumber later. Which didn’t even work, given that Avalon had that jungle scene soon after.

      Also, I’d bet real money that Gaia healed Trice after the fight.

      Basically, I agree that the whole thing doesn’t scream “champion of good.” But considering everything that’s happened between these characters, it doesn’t really scream “classic villain” either.

      And honestly, Gaia’s faction does some dark stuff. They’re doing their best, but there’s always been plenty of ambiguity with her.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Hmm. That sounds like I’m saying it was okay because Trice is an asshole, doesn’t it? But that’s not my intention.

        I’m not trying to say that Avalon’s history with Trice justifies her actions. Just that and the intensely emotional headspace she was in at that time explains it. It’s up to each reader to decide how right or wrong it was.

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      2. Yes, it was mostly a joke.
        Still, the fact that she just goes and goads people she hates, who are imprisoned (and so under mental stress, as well as unable to escape), into fights for stress relief is very much unethical and abhorrent.

        Like

      3. But she doesn’t “just do it.” It’s not like this is a regular thing with Avalon she does on a whim. Starting a fight with Trice wasn’t stress relief, it was an all out emotional breakdown from the latest and one of the worst events of lifetime of being abused, isolated, and hunted for something out of her control upon someone who rails about how he’s going to slowly torture her to death for defending herself at every opportunity.

        If she starts starting fights with Trice or transitions to beating him when he can’t fight back (which she pointedly did not do) regularly and in cold blood, I’ll agree with you. But the whole thing is clearly an extreme case, not a habit.

        All that said, it’s pretty clear that Avalon could very easily go down a very dark path. I think that’s why Flick’s influence on her is important. Flick has pushed Avalon to isolate herself less, and even in her absence Avalon is using “what would Flick do?” as a guide to interacting with Columbus and trying to be more understanding.

        If course, the flipside to that influence is that losing Flick led to the breakdown we’re discussing. So at the end of the day, she’s walking a razor’s edge right now. On the one hand, starting fights with her hated enemies; on the other, declaring her intent to protect innocents.

        Like

      4. Yes, it was mostly a joke.
        Still, the fact that she just goes and goads people she hates, who are imprisoned (and so under mental stress, as well as unable to escape), into fights for stress relief is very much unethical and abhorrent.

        Yeah, like I said, I get that kind of opinion. HOWEVER, just to point out about your ‘she goes and goads people she hates’, let’s look at how that encounter *actually* went down.

        She walks into the place the cell is. Trice’s *first words* before she says a single thing are:

        “What happened? They end up killing that little girlfriend of y-”

        She interrupts him by kicking the bars to make him stop talking. He reacts by saying:

        “I guess something bad did happen, huh?” His smile dropped. “Good. I hope it hurts.”

        That is what drives her to attack him. And even then, she points out that neither of them can use any active powers or anything, lets him go so he can fight back, and tells him to bring it.

        By what *actually happened* the only possible ‘goading’ she did was show up there. He actually goaded her TWICE by making reference to Flick being hurt, and she still let him have as fair of a fight as possible.

        Liked by 1 person

  10. Okay, one the one hand, I’m really glad you went with the anticlimactic path here, with Avalon actually having prepared for this fight and done what real people do for fights they know are coming: cheat as much as possible. And having her actually kill him was fantastic. I felt greatly disappointed that you had Fahsteth just get away when Avalon pulled her trick against him. Glad to see you were less predictable here.

    On the other hand, there are a few problems:
    1) Avalon monologing at her father felt cliche and, well, dumb. I can forgive her for it, because she’s a teenager and dealing with someone she absolutely hates, but given that she went to the trouble of preparing for this fight to make it as little of a fight as possible, and that she knows he can’t hear anything she’s saying ANYWAY, it feels like pure cliche and needless risk. What if he has some kind of trump card prepared, or some kind of backup she didn’t know about? All she was doing was throwing away a perfect chance at victory just for the sake of monologing at someone who couldn’t even hear her.

    2) The part where you said that they knew each other’s capabilities and fighting styles so well that they didn’t even need to move to “fight” felt…nonsensical. Avalon just became a Heretic recently. They haven’t fought since she became one. They haven’t fought since she became capable of magic, or received her personal weapon. And if they fought one on one before then, how in the hell did she survive? He’s an enhanced vampire, and she’d have been only human, without even a special weapon to help. She shouldn’t have stood a chance. Beyond that, however, there is just no conceivable way they know each other’s fighting styles or capabilities well enough that they can metaphorically fight while standing still. I mean, it’s so ludicrous on so many levels that I feel like I shouldn’t even have to explain it.

    3) How did Scout set up all of those portals without anyone noticing? I mean, doesn’t she have to adjust her scope/rifle or whatever to do something like that for every portal? And what kind of rate of fire does she have with that gun that she was actually getting several kills against speedblitzing vampires without even aiming?

    Other than those things, however, I liked it. Wyatt showing off was great. Deveron actually being serious and showing what he’s like when he is serious was refreshing. Columbus having a moment to shine was nice, too–though the fact that a point-blank, direct hit on a mook vampire just knocked him away and didn’t even seem to mortally wound him felt really weak.

    Like

    1. Avalon became a heretic seven years ago. Just like her father became a vampire seven years.

      If you’re going to make constant nitpicks, make sure they’re not counterfactual.

      Scout set up those portals because apparently the gun doesn’t make noise when triggering the portal generator. And it’s less high RoF, more using portals to make a bullet loop fence with semiauto fire. Essentially, the vamps could either stay clear of the team or move into the flight path of looping bullets.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Right, my bad about Avalon’s becoming a Heretic recently thing. I completely forgot she had an emergency apple (isn’t that a funny phrase to say seriously?).

        Still, it seems very weird, because at the end of the day, her father couldn’t possibly know about every ability or skill she’s acquired since their last fight, and vice-versa. He’s also never fought her while she’s had her hard-light gauntlets weapon (come to think of it, what weapon did she use before then? Or did she get those gauntlets seven years ago? I’d have to go back and check…).

        As for the monologing…it still feels very cliche. I mean, this is going on while everyone else is fighting. There’s gunshots, laser blasts, etc. That she’d be able to hear *herself* in all of that is a bit odd, but then again, she’s only saying it for catharsis anyway, so whatever. But it disabling all of his powers? Okay, sure, I’ll buy it. Still risky, but acceptable. But it being something only she can hear is still…it takes the satisfaction out of it, I guess. It’s like bragging when no one can hear you. Yeah, it wouldn’t be as satisfying for her, because she knows he can’t hear her at all–but it would have made the story that much better, I think, for her to feel a little dissatisfied that she couldn’t rub any of this in his face, or tell him what she thought of him now that she’d won–and then just kill him to be done with it. And maybe have her talk with Gaia about it afterwards–how she’s upset that she didn’t get to monolog at him, and she’s berating herself for feeling that way at all, because killing him was what actually mattered, and monologing at enemies is a bad habit to get into, etc, and for Gaia to reassure her in her own way. Because revenge is often like that–unsatisfying, something you have to settle for, and move on from without perfect closure or catharsis. And a bonding moment between Avalon and Gaia about that would be a nice touch, in my opinion.

        Not that I think you need to change anything. It’s fine as it is. Just some feedback for the future, if you find any of it useful.

        Like

    2. As Alex said, Avalon became a Heretic seven years ago, around the same time that her father became a vampire (same night, even). They’ve fought off and on since then, first with Seller stepping in to keep her alive until she gradually started fighting back herself.

      The point is, they have fought repeatedly and consistently since they both became more than human.

      As for the monologue, she deserved it after everything she’s been through, particularly from her father. He couldn’t use his powers, couldn’t move, couldn’t do anything. And as she said, she made the (correct) assumption that Gaia was paying attention in case anything went wrong. After spending literally her entire life being tormented by her own father, she earned the right to tell him off like that. It was cathartic.

      As for…

      3) How did Scout set up all of those portals without anyone noticing? I mean, doesn’t she have to adjust her scope/rifle or whatever to do something like that for every portal? And what kind of rate of fire does she have with that gun that she was actually getting several kills against speedblitzing vampires without even aiming?

      I don’t understand the question? It was established that the portals are invisible unless you’re looking through the scope. She kept pivoting, setting up one portal after another in a long and complicated series while they were all in that standoff. Then she just shot one bullet after another through the portals that were lined up right in front of her, sending them through the series of portals in various directions.

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  11. Note for the future for Flick’s movement/rebellion: Find out how they did the blood power-augmentation thing for Reggie, especially if he didn’t need to drain the ‘donor’ to death. Just think, all the vampires on their side could have the full powers of everyone in the entire movement.

    Also, could the Edge be tricked/augmented in some way to accept drawing or exchanging blood as killing to do the same thing for heretics?

    Like

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