Evelyn Chartres Author
The Van Helsing Paradox – Page 12

Saint Augustine’s Wrath – Part II

For some reason people tended to believe that the Paris gate was located within the catacombs. There was a certain logic to that, many of the gates were located near cemeteries and mausoleums. However, people often overlooked how popular the Parisian catacombs were, even during wartime.

For some reason people tended to believe that the Paris gate was located within the catacombs. There was a certain logic to that, many of the gates were located near cemeteries and mausoleums. However, people often overlooked how popular the Parisian catacombs were, even during wartime.

While an unnamed cemetery in some forgotten part of town was an ideal location for most gates. A site swarming with tourists, treasure hunters and historians did little to conceal traffic. Instead Clara and Edith stepped through the backdoor of a dilapidated hospital complex and found themselves in the Terminus.

Next week it would be in a different location. In a city the size of Paris, changing the gateway’s location with some regularity helped reduce accidental discovery.

“Right on time children,” said Reverend Mother Augustine.

Clara had never been greeted at the Terminus before, so it all came as a bit of a shock. Since Edith shared the same stunned look, that meant it was a new experience for her as well.

“Reverend Mother,” the two said in unison.

“Come with me,” the Reverend Mother said. “We have no time to waste,” she added without formality.

The girls fell in line, walking alongside the doors designed to confuse. They walked down a few sections until the Reverend Mother stopped and opened a door.

“Through here,” Augustine said.

Clara moved through the door and found herself standing in the middle of the Reverend Mother’s chambers. Apparently there were many ways into the Tower, some that were active only when certain conditions were met.

Once the Reverend Mother entered the premises she said, “Who gave you the name Drusilla?”

“That detail was clearly outlined in my rep—,” Edith attempted to say.

“I don’t care what the report says,” Augustine said. “I am perfectly capable of reading a report Edith.”

Clara found the exchange telling, staff rarely set aside formality for the sake of brevity. Proper marks of respect were to be used on both sides. How else could the staff expect the young ones to follow their lead?

She also noted how a lot of security had been bypassed for no immediate gain. This report must have gotten the senior echelon’s attention, but a key detail was missing. So they had been recalled to tap directly into the source without relying on the war machine’s bureaucracy to relay their queries.

“Yes Reverend Mot—,” Edith attempted to say but was motioned to stop.

Both girls remained silent, clearly the Reverend Mother had something in mind but had not voiced her requirements. Edith was not about to get cut off again and by convention Clara was expected to let her senior take the lead. So she remained silent, besides she wanted to see how far this would go.

“Cat got your tongue,” Augustine asked while staring at Clara.

“Gladys’ partner volunteered the name before sunrise,” Clara said without showing a hint of amusement.

“You have met Gladys before correct,” the Reverend Mother asked.

“Once before, when she killed Father Michael,” Clara said.

“The same woman you identified in Professor Stephens’ class,” the Reverend Mother asked.

“Of course Reverend Mother and the same woman portrayed in Jack’s sketches,” Clara said. After a pause she added a belated, “Reverend Mother.”

Clara glanced at Edith for a moment and realised her partner was just as confused. This information was not new, nor did it provide them with any motivations for their recall.

“Did she recognise you,” the Reverend Mother asked.

Clara thought back over the events of that night. Had this been more than a mere coincidence? Up to now she had dismissed the idea as being paranoid.

“I don’t believe so Reverend Mother,” Clara said.

“Why not,” the Reverend Mother asked.

“Edith was attacked first,” Clara said bluntly.

This implied that Gladys had gone after the biggest threat first. If that thing had recognised Clara, then her rage would have been appropriately focused.

“True,” the Reverend Mother said while pacing. “How did you know where to fire your weapon,” she asked.

“She attacked Father Michael in the same manner Reverend Mother,” Clara said while avoiding to mention that this had been a wild guess.

The Reverend Mother smirked, she had no difficulty in seeing through what was left unsaid. It would be hard to get anything past her, so perhaps it was the time to change the beat.

“Reverend Mother Augustine,” Clara said in an unwavering voice. “This was all covered in our report, surely that is not the reason we were brought here,” Clara asked.

The elder hunter’s immutable face formed a smile. So this had been some sort of trial to see who could break through their conditioning and operate independently?

“Will these tests ever end,” Clara wondered.

Had the Reverend Mother suspected Edith of embellishing her report? Could that have been the reason for their being summoned? Edith was known as a straight shooter, so the Reverend Mother must have wanted to make sure that Clara’s portion was truthful.

“Drusilla,” the Reverend Mother said. “Was one of the first hunters in our ranks,” she added.

Both of the girls cocked their heads to the side and looked confused. Clara would not have guessed the origin of that name, so their mole had been one of their own. The big question on her mind was how long ago that had been?

The Reverend Mother carried on for nearly an hour about Drusilla’s history. A woman who had been recruited shortly after Emperor Constantine converted to Christianity. Quite literally she was one of the founding members of the Tower; a member integral to how the order functioned.

She had moved up through the ranks quickly, very much like Clara had done. However, there was always an appetite for power that no amount of training or self-actualisation could purge. These days students were discharged if that flaw came to light, but back then it grew unchecked.

The day Drusilla was passed over for selection as Reverend Mother was the beginning of dark times for the Tower. It was as though a shadow loomed over that staff and students; dozens of hunters including some of their most experienced disappeared without a trace. Faculty members were found mutilated and tortured just outside the gates.

Until that point, attacks against the Tower had been few and far between. There had been no coordinated campaign against them, nor any strategy behind their attacks. After Drusilla had been turned down, they began fighting a unified front fielded by a whole new class of monster.

No one ever suspected Drusilla, even when the attacks grew more vicious she remained to shore up their defences. At least that had been the image she portrayed on the homefront.

In truth, she had been rallying the enemy, focusing their attacks to weaken her opponents. When the political tables did not shift, she vanished without a trace.

The memory of these attacks faded from the Towers collective memory. Soon a new generation of hunters ventured out into wild, better equipped and informed on what to expect.

A century later rumours began to circulate on a dangerous vampire lurking about. Every encounter spoke of a woman of unimaginable beauty. The Tower ordered out waves of hunters to confirm these rumours and neutralise the threat. Most found nothing or were never heard from again.

A hunter eventually escaped the clutches of what she described as a cruel woman. While she barely escaped with her life, the contents of her report shook the very foundations of the order. That revelation led to many of the security precautions put in place today.

“Her name was stricken from all official records, as were the names of any who subsequently betrayed us,” the Reverend Mother said.

Clara’s eyes brightened when another piece of the puzzle fell into place. Obviously some records remained, since the Reverend Mother knew exactly who Drusilla was. So why were the names stricken from the record? Augustine seemed to sense the question lingering in the air.

“When their names come up, it confirms the intelligence as authentic. Drusilla however, has been clever enough to change her name frequently,” Augustine said. “Because it’s far easier to hide amongst your prey when your name is nondescript,” she added.

“Yes Reverend Mother,” the girls said in unison.

So these names became a red flag to alert hunters that a threat was moving against them. That meant that Drusilla’s name must have sent off one hell of an alarm to get this level of attention.

“We’ve always suspected that Drusilla was responsible for Father Michael’s death,” the Reverend Mother said. “You confirmed it today when you mentioned her name,” she added.

“The man who gave up the name told us she was the mole Reverend Mother,” Clara said.

“That’s probably the truth as he knew it,” Augustine replied. “Do you believe she would have trusted this man with actual information,” she asked.

“No Reverend Mother,” both girls said in reply.

So this was nothing more than an attempt at taunting them. Although the word haunted was more appropriate.

“Why did she vow revenge Reverend Mother,” Clara asked.

“What do you mean Child,” the Reverend Mother asked in return.

“What were the chances of two hunters being called upon to witness the meeting between the Georgians and Drusilla’s party,” Clara said. “They were expecting us to be there to conclude a transaction Reverend Mother,” she added.

The Reverend Mother looked as though she was deep in thought.

“Had Drusilla’s name been used to throw them off,” Clara thought.

“This means that we have a mole within our order,” Clara said out of turn. “One who can issue orders without raising suspicion,” she added.

“Orders,” Augustine said. “What orders,” she asked.

“We received orders through our CO to investigate sightings in that area. Intelligence strongly indicated that a meeting would—,” Edith said.

“Did you see these orders Child,” the Reverend Mother asked.

“—No. These were passed on orally Reverend Mother,” Edith said without hesitation.

That was a departure from the standard operating procedures, hunters were normally given their orders directly. Their COs would have to break the envelope’s seal to know the particulars.

“We should warn whoever remains—,” Clara managed to say.

“See to that child,” the Reverend Mother said to Clara while she kept her eyes fixed on Edith. “Edith you will stay behind to discuss matters further,” she added.

Clara looked over the situation and knew this was the end of an era. Until now they had been inseparable, a formidable force to be reckoned with.

This time Clara had proven her worth as a full-fledged hunter. It had been her quick thinking that revealed Drusilla’s ongoing interests in the Tower.

She left the office quietly without looking back, but prayed that Edith would be fine. She was a good soldier and one hell of a partner so that had to stand for something.

Once Clara reached the main floor, a young acolyte handed her a sealed envelope.

“For your eyes only Miss Grey. You are to open the letter once your mission has been completed,” the acolyte said before he scurried away.

Clara stood there in awe, an impressive feat considering how little time had passed. Or had the Reverend Mother known how this debriefing would turn out?

“She is never one to be underestimated,” Clara thought.

Disclaimer: This chapter is currently in development. There are likely typos, errors, omissions, inconsistencies and so forth. Please do not treat this as a polished and completed work!

Saint Augustine’s Wrath – Part I

The girls were run off their feet the moment they got back to the field hospital. While casualties piled up faster than they could handle, Clara prayed that none of the patients showed signs of an animal attack. Alas, there were times when a pyrrhic victory was the only reward for being right.

Her hunch had been dead on; that thing had almost decimated an entire company of soldiers. This senseless mass murder had been necessary to satiate her bloodlust and regenerate. Clara felt guilty for what she had unwittingly unleashed and promised that Gladys would get the fate she deserved.

After two days of relentless fighting, the front had shifted back to the same stretch of burnt out land they had fought over for years. All of those munitions, equipment and men had been wasted in an attempt to gain a foothold into enemy territory. Now, they were back at square one; even now Clara could feel the ground tremble from bombardments.

After the third day, the fighting ebbed and the opportunity for rest became real. Alas the girls received orders to muster at their Commanding Officer’s tent. At the sight of them he adopted a stern look and handed them a letter. While addressed to him, the contents were clearly meant for them.

Fortunately such letters were a common occurrence, so without a word they were dismissed. In the past a great deal of time had been wasted in an attempt to extract information from them. Eventually it proved easier to give up, since enemy soldiers were more forthcoming with their secrets.

“That was quick,” Clara said. “When did you send out the report,” she asked.

“This morning,” Edith said which effectively set a record.

“So where to,” Clara asked even if she had her suspicions.

“We have been ordered back to the home front,” Edith said.

Clara was surprised, here they were in the middle of a war where tens of thousands of lives were lost in a single campaign. Those figures did not include the carnage unleashed from ghouls, vampires and their ilk. So far nothing they encountered merited this level of attention from the Tower.

Clara often imagined that the home front had been ripped from the world, which was technically correct. The inhabitants were shielded from the atrocities that plagued this war. Clara often considered herself lucky to get orders at all.

Edith smiled meekly before she said, “I know exactly how you feel.”

Edith was about to pull away but paused. There was something about the orders that required extra thought.

“You’d better get packing,” Edith said. “The truck will be here at first light,” she added.

“Never a dull day,” Clara said with a grin.

Disclaimer: This chapter is currently in development. There are likely typos, errors, omissions, inconsistencies and so forth. Please do not treat this as a polished and completed work!

In Flanders Field The Poppies Blow – Part V

With the heat of the morning sun came a renewed offensive that shifted the lines back to the west. It took thousands of men and millions of tons of munitions to advance even a mile and just like that their fortunes had been reversed.

Clara used the chaos of battle to make her way back to the church. The first thing she noted was that there were no traces of Gladys’s body. Fortunately, it looked like Edith had made it out on her own, so Clara went on to their rendezvous point.

Once she reached the remnants of the home, she heard a bird whistle. Clara replied by varying the chirp and saw Edith come out from the shadows wearing her nurses uniform. Clara’s partner looked very much worse for wear.

“You look like you had a rough go,” Edith said.

“I was about to say the same,” Clara replied.

The girls rarely showed affection, but the long night had heightened their emotions. They hugged one another and sought cover inside so Clara could be debriefed while she changed. With the battle raging on nearby, it was wise to not be seen as a combatant.

“I awoke with the sun in my eyes,” Edith said. “Took me a bit to remember what happened. Once I realised that I had your coat, I figured you put me there before pursuing your target,” she added.

Clara nodded and began to recite the entire tale about blowing several large holes in Gladys’ head followed by her chase of the male. Edith listened intently, committing every detail to memory in case they were summoned to substantiate their report.

“You think the name Drusilla is legitimate,” Edith asked.

“I don’t know of a Drusilla at the Tower but the name was its dying words,” Clara replied. “At the very least we should report it,” she added.

Edith nodded while helping Clara remove the hastily added wrapping and bandages. Bit by bit she turned back into a mature and sensual woman; the perfect weapon against any man who had an inkling for the feminine form.

“You took a big risk approaching him dressed like that,” Edith said as a friend.

“Gladys would never partner with someone who could challenge her authority. So that meant a low level neophyte,” Clara said.

“Still a big risk,” Edith said and this time it sounded like her superior officer.

“I know,” Clara said. “That’s why you are here to keep me in line,” she added.
Edith smirked since the mission would have gone sour had Clara not gone off half-cocked. It was her willingness to take risks that kept them alive.

“I will omit that from my report,” Edith said.

All the while Edith was watching Clara get dressed, long enough to feel a shiver and bite her lower lip to maintain control.

“Did you find anything near the fence,” Clara asked while she adorned her hat and cloak.

“Nothing but a few stains of blood,” Edith said.

That meant that Gladys had managed to heal up enough to escape. She must have gone on a rampage. In the back of her mind Clara wondered if the withdrawal had been caused by the actions of that enraged creature.

“She will not be so easily dealt with next time,” Clara said.

“No she won’t,” Edith said. She then smiled and pulled out a slip of paper, “Oh I almost forgot to mention that I came across this.”

Clara looked at the piece of paper and for a moment thought these were hieroglyphs. However the iconography was inconsistent with anything known from that period.

“What are these,” Clara asked.

Edith shrugged then said, “Not sure. I once came across a reference that mentioned scrolls that contained gate symbols on available destinations,” she added.

“So… A list of destinations and their sequence,” Clara asked.

“Possibly. Either way I will have to include it with my report,” Edith said.

That revelation explained a lot of their trouble in the region. While their portals had been shut down for security reasons, it seemed that these creatures had maintained the status quo. That meant they were able to pop in and out to sow discord just as Gladys had.

At least now she knew why they were dressed as like they were. No one could make that far in No-Man’s-Land without getting dirty.

“We need to hurry. Casualties will be pilling up by the time we get there,” Edith added.

“No rest for the wicked,” Clara said with a sly grin.

Disclaimer: This chapter is currently in development. There are likely typos, errors, omissions, inconsistencies and so forth. Please do not treat this as a polished and completed work!

In Flanders Field The Poppies Blow – Part IV

This particular creature was making no attempts to conceal its escape. Given the clothes and his submissive nature, such behaviour was to be expected. Clara suspected that city dwellers knew little on tracking animals or how to avoid being tracked; these were not survival skills people needed in the land of steel, brick and mortar.

The path was random and confused. At first they were travelling towards the front and suddenly veered away from it. If this creature was disorientated, that would complicate matters.

After about an hour she saw a dark silhouette against the ridge. The gentleman’s dress and hat were a dead giveaway. Was he waiting for the female’s return? No matter, Clara looked at her watch and saw there was another twenty minutes to go before the crepuscular sky.

Clara knew that he would instinctively seek out shelter and was capable of burrowing into the ground to avoid exposure. A survival instinct which permitted them avoid their biggest natural threat.

She had her own share of risks if she remained on the hunt past sunrise. For one, she might be spotted by an observation balloon or a passing aircraft. They might report her presence then have her arrested, which would lead to an execution by firing squad for cowardice.

It was only about a hundred yards or so to her objective. Without cover that would be difficult, since he would bolt if anyone in uniform approached. This meant she needed to distract him and she was not looking forward to the rest of her plan.

Concealed by a small crater Clara removed her tunic, shirt, padding and wrapping. Already her skin was turning to gooseflesh, but she relied on her training to ignore the cold; at this point it was mind over matter.

Beneath all of those clothes she wore a slip, simple, and not too showy. With her trousers out of the way, Clara pulled down the fabric, grabbed a knife and cut the slip so he would get an eyeful.

Almost ready she hurriedly removed the pins from her hair to let it down in the hopes that it would make her appear more feminine. With any luck she would not rely on the holy water applied to her lips nor would he notice the bayonet held behind her back.

Ready, she headed up the ridge wearing the boots and little else. Clara even elongated her steps to make that sway in her hips more pronounced. This had to be a first, trying to seduce an enemy in a warzone.

The man turned to find Clara moving up the ridge, even in the moonlight she saw the fear melt away. The look of confusion set in, followed by a shit-eating-grin. Luckily for her, men seemed programmed (for the most part) to enjoy the sight of a woman, especially one in a state of undress.

“You’re not Gladys,” he said.

“So the female had a name, a modern one too,” Clara thought.

Now there were a few ways to answer the question. Either she ignored his question or reply no which might arouse suspicion. Although she could always act confused to see how gullible this man was; her instincts told her the latter would prove most effective.

“Gladys,” Clara asked.

The man’s smirk grew into a full-scale smile, so he was clearly not thinking with his head. What were the chances of a half-dressed girl showing up in the middle of No-Man’s-Land? Then again, most of them were like Jack and considered themselves to be direct descendants of Casanova.

“I could not resist,” Clara said in a distant tone.

“Of course not,” he said. “Come hither my sweet,” he added while adopting a smouldering look.

If Clara were not so cold she might have felt the effects of his charm. Hence the reason she applied a bit holy water to her lips. Instead, she fought the urge to roll her eyes while she continued on with her approach. This pose had the benefits of pushing her chest out front and centre. Given her hard nipples, she knew that she was giving him a show.

When she got within a few feet, she noticed him back away subconsciously. He must have been newly turned to be so affected by her presence. Faith was a potent weapon, but she needed him to overcome his aversion. In a few minutes the sky would begin to lighten and he would run for cover.

“I want you,” Clara said while pulling down on her slip to expose her bare breasts.

The appearance of willing flesh was all the motivation he needed. This time when she took a step and he did not move, enabling her to get within inches of him.

Clara ran a finger along the buttons of his jacket until they reached his trousers and said, “I need you.”

He leaned in, his lips gliding over her chest towards hers. Soon their lips would be locked in an embrace or so he hoped. In truth the burn from the holy water would send him into a tailspin, but Clara had a different plan in mind. Just before their lips made contact she drove the bayonet into his chest and pierced the heart.

She pulled away just before his body dropped to the ground. She covered up her breasts since there was no sense of exposing them to the elements now. Without a second’s hesitation she then pulled his smoking jacket away and wrapped it around her. It might have been too big, but at least it would help her stay warm.

The look on his face was priceless. Clara adopted that same smirk he wore when he first set eyes on her. Of course, he did not appear to be receptive to her brand of humour.

“What a shame,” Clara thought.

“How,” he asked.

“You let your ego lower your guard,” Clara said.

“Why,” he asked with a strained voice.

“You’re a perversion,” Clara replied. “An abomination that needs to be culled,” she added.

Clara broke eye contact with the man. She searched the area and began to gather any stray pieces of wood she found. Most had already been scorched, but that mattered little. Every time she recovered an armful she piled them over his paralysed body.

“What are you doing,” he asked.

Clara did not bother to reply, instead she fought her urge to shiver. Unfortunately, she could not afford to lose this opportunity to extract information.

As the sky turned from a deep blue to purples and pinks the man’s eyes nearly popped out of his head. He panicked as his survival instincts kicked in, he knew that his time was drawing to an end.

“Let me go,” he exclaimed.

Clara snickered before she dropped more wood onto the body. By this point in time he was partially covered in kindling. Unfortunately that meant more material was needed.

“She said no one would get hurt,” the man said.

Clara paused for a moment and said, “Who?”

“Gladys brought me here to meet that man,” he said. His voice was shaking when he added, “A simple transaction to get them to open some door.”

“Really,” Clara asked.

She dropped more wood by the body while the sky began to assume some yellow hues. She was cold and looked forward to what would come next.

Despite her joints being stiff from the cold, Clara knelt down by the man and grabbed the bayonets hilt. She nudged the blade deeper into the wound and watched while he screamed in agony. It was time to up the ante.

“So why were we there,” Clara asked.

The man sighed in relief once she stopped, but he knew that was only a temporary affair.

“Gladys never told me,” he answered.

That answer was not hard to believe, but Clara had nothing to lose. She grabbed the hilt of the blade and shifted it further motivate him.

“Are you sure,” Clara asked.

“Yes. Please don’t,” he pleaded.

“No mention of a name,” Clara asked while she wiggled the blade. “No mention of a contact,” She added.

The man seemed torn between enduring more pain and the thought of what Gladys would do when she got a hold of him. Meanwhile Clara saw how the sun was moments away from peering over the horizon.

Clara kissed him on the cheek. At first he seemed confused until the skin began to smoke and bubble. In that moment he learned just how dangerous Clara was.

“Drusilla,” he exclaimed in hopes that she would end his pain.

The pain was about to end, just as the sun’s rays reached the top of the ridge, the man’s skin began to blister and blacken. Clara backed away to a safe distance, watching as smoke rose from the body.

Just as he burst into flames the whoosh overcame his screams. Clara’s eyes began to water as the life giving heat made her feel warm for the first time tonight. God she needed that!

Clara now had a name to go on. In a couple of minutes she would run down to fetch her uniform. She would then head back to the church to find Edith.

That plan could wait, for now she would warm up by this bonfire. So far this was turning out to be a pretty great morning.

Disclaimer: This chapter is currently in development. There are likely typos, errors, omissions, inconsistencies and so forth. Please do not treat this as a polished and completed work!

In Flanders Field The Poppies Blow – Part III

The snow had stopped just as suddenly as it began. The higher atmospheric ceiling created the illusion that the shelling had moved off, but the timings remained the same.

Just as the last snowflake fell to the ground there was a bright flash of light that came out from the heavens. A column of light formed ahead of the couple and a new entity made an appearance.

Clara was temporarily blinded, but a breathtakingly beautiful man soon came into focus, a real sheik who wore a stylish tailor-made suit. Clara immediately suspected that they were dealing with a Georgian, no one’s appearance was that flawless.

“You’re late,” the female vampire said.

“Perhaps you were early,” the sheik said.

Clara observed how the female bared her fangs for a moment before backing down. Whoever this man was, he had enough sway to force her to play nice for now. It was odd to see someone like her so easily declawed.

The sheik smiled and said, “Is the delivery here?”

The female scanned the area and focused on the girl’s position. Both had been concealing their breathing, but it was already too late. Clara slowly and cautiously pulled out her pistol, there was no way she would go down without a fight.

“Seems our mole has drawn them here,” the female said.

“The deal was for one,” the sheik said.

Meanwhile the female’s partner seemed strangely nervous. This was starting to look like a setup and most in the group were just beginning to realise it.

“They sent in whoever they felt was necessary to complete the mission,” the female said nonchalantly. “I held my end of the bargain now you give me what I want,” she hissed.

“You’ve only held up part of the bargain,” the sheik said.

The sheik pulled something that looked like a spyglass from out of his coat pocket and instantly stretched out into a full-sized staff. Clara had heard of such things before and was now certain they were dealing with a Georgian.

When this sheik raised his staff into the air Clara took aim and fired seven rounds at him. Time appeared to slow down, the bullets came out with a puff of smoke then streaked through the night sky towards their target.

Once the first projectile reached her target, the sheik disappeared in a blast of shimmering light. In its place there was an ashen grey creature with long thin fingers and an oversized head. Its eyes were the most chilling element, large, black, and mirror like. There was no hint of emotion visible in those eyes, simply the dark reflection of one’s own image.

Clara instinctively pressed down on the ejector to release the clip. She then reached into her pocket to load a fresh magazine. Once the spent clip hit the ground, so did the Georgian’s body. The female’s partner looked over the scene in shock, but Clara assumed that would soon change.

“So where is she,” Edith asked.

“You,” the female shrieked.

Out from her peripheral vision, Clara picked up the sight of Edith being hurled through the air. She guessed what would come next, without looking she raised her pistol to the side of her right ear, pointed it at a forty-five degree angle and fired three rounds.

The blast left her temporarily deafened but did little to attenuate the shriek of pain that thing made. It seemed that two of the three rounds had reached their target, much to Clara’s good fortune.

Clara turned around while keeping her pistol trained on the woman and saw that distinctive blood pouring onto the snow. The thick red liquid did not melt the snow or steam in the cold, instead it coagulated and grew thicker. The blood was coalescing into a coherent mass in an attempt to return to its host.

Without a second thought Clara unloaded a full clip into that things head until the carrier remained fully to the rear. She stood there for a moment to observe but saw no movement, for now that was the best she could do.

Clara ran towards Edith and found her unconscious but no worse for the wear. She looked about and thought it best to move Edith somewhere safe. It would only get colder and she needed to make sure that some random patrol would not come across her while unconscious.

She lifted Edith onto her shoulders, then moved deeper into the church until she came across a small room. The door was still serviceable, and could be bolted from the inside, while permitting Clara to sneak out through the broken floorboards above.

Clara placed Edith down lightly and felt a chill run down her spine. Edith would probably get a lot colder if nothing were done to help her stay warm. Since lighting a fire was out of the question, Clara helped herself to one of Edith’s clips and left behind her greatcoat.

Even now the chill made her shiver, so that meant she had to keep moving to stay warm. Still it would be a challenge, especially if she had to use stealth.

She ventured out towards the scene of the altercation. The body of the Georgian was gone, in fact there was no indication that it had been here at all. Hopefully those bastards had learned a lesson about playing both sides.

At least the female’s body was still there. Clara then spotted a set of footsteps that led deeper into No-Man’s-Land. Given an active threat lurking about, Clara knew her primary objective; so without hesitation she began her pursuit.

Disclaimer: This chapter is currently in development. There are likely typos, errors, omissions, inconsistencies and so forth. Please do not treat this as a polished and completed work!