Evelyn Chartres Author
In Flanders Field

Saint Augustine’s Wrath – Part III

Clara stood on a ridge overlooking the battle that raged on a few miles ahead. Flashes of light erupted on both sides as gunfire and artillery flared up.

Occasionally a blast would occur near one of the trenches and for a moment there was silence. It was just enough time for the men to shake the cobwebs loose before they sent their own volley in anger.

Tonight the casualties would be lining up at the field hospital. There would be soldiers with lost limbs and gouges in their flesh caused by shrapnel or bullets. That’s if they were lucky, either side was not above using mustard gas or chlorine on unsuspecting troops, and those afflicted never fully recovered.

In the distance, Clara heard the sound of a car coming. She turned and saw the hard wheeled affair labouring along the hellish terrain. Eventually it stopped near the base of the gentle slope that led up to this ridge.

Two soldiers exited the cab, and headed towards the back to fetch something. Clara turned to look over the battlefield, even with this reduced light she made out a few observation-balloons looming in the sky.

“Men were slowly refining their ability to kill,” Clara thought. “How long until humanity found a way to end all life on the globe in one strike,” she wondered.

Even over the sound of intense fighting Clara heard someone struggling against his captors. The fact that he still had some fight left in him meant that her orders had been followed.

“Miss Grey,” one of the soldiers said.

Clara turned to face the soldiers and recognised them as graduates from an earlier class. The first, named Sophie was a tall and elegant woman, so much so that all of that padding did little to conceal those feminine features. More effort would be needed in the future to avoid drawing suspicion.

The second, named Bell was shorter in stature and had a uniform which fit her perfectly. She would prove invaluable in navigating No-Man’s-Land even as a junior officer.

“Any trouble,” Clara asked.

“None miss Grey,” Sophie replied.

Sophie appeared to be shielding her side from the Colonel. He probably managed to land a lucky blow to her ribs; Clara was surprised the man was still standing.

“Excellent,” Clara said. “Colonel Blythe,” she said in a feminine and sultry voice.

The Colonel looked up and he went white as a sheet. It was as though he had seen a ghost and Clara’s smile did little to reassure him.

“You and I need to talk,” Clara said with her hands behind her back.

Clara began to pace back and forth while looking over her shoulder to make sure there were no surprises on the Western front. Colonel Blythe followed her every step, leery of what would happen.

“I hope they did not treat you too badly,” Clara asked.

The Colonel never said a word. In fact, if looks could kill she would end up as a casualty of this damned offensive.

“Cat got your tongue,” Clara asked. This time when he failed to respond Clara added, “Sophie if you please.”

It was very important to deliver their lessons early, so the tall one landed a blow to the man’s sternum. The Colonel collapsed into the mud gasping for air, class was now in session.

Clara smirked while she continued to pace. She would give him a few moments to recover, because she needed him to be coherent enough to answer questions.

“Well Colonel,” Clara asked.

The fire in the man’s eyes grew in intensity. Clara watched as the fires of hell claimed all sanity and reason within. Now things were getting interesting.

“Bell,” Clara said.

This time Clara did not even bother to look. The smaller one sent the Colonel head-first into the mud in one smooth motion. Now he was beginning to get the idea.

“We can play this game all evening Colonel,” Clara said. “Right now my girls are under orders not to hurt you,” she added.

Clara did not need to add anything to that statement. This man had either bought his commission or worked his way through the ranks; either way he was no fool.

“What do you want,” Colonel Blythe asked.

“You mean you don’t know,” Clara asked while her voice oozed with sarcasm. “Girls! Didn’t you pass on my personal invitation for tea and crumpets,” she added.

“No Miss Grey,” they said in unison.

“What do you want,” the Colonel barked.

She had to laugh at his attempt to establish dominance. Perhaps it was time for her to show that her authority was not only ordained but earned.

It took a few minutes of laboured effort for him to get back on his feet. Before he could blink Clara was holding a straight razor a hair’s width from the base of his larynx.

Once he sensed the blade against his days old beard, he immediately looked towards the sky to avoid being cut. Clara however maintained control over the blade even while the cool steel glistening in the moonlight.

“If I wanted you dead,” Clara said. “You would have woken up in front of the Pearly Gates wondering how you’d arrived,” she added.

Sophie pulled out a little silver triangle that German snipers used to monitor casualties on the battlefield. If a casualty moved, the triangle would glisten in the light and draw sniper fire. The Colonel knew exactly what this object represented and what the implications were.

“Instead I had them bring you here so we could have a little chat,” Clara said. “Now why is that,” she asked.

“You want something,” the Colonel said.

“Very good,” Clara said.

Meanwhile she pressed the blade in just enough so that a trickle of blood ran down to his collar. That would let him know that he was not out of the woods yet.

The Colonel was stiff as an ironing board; it surprised her that he was not shaking like a leaf. Clara kept a close eye on him, waiting for some sort of response.

“She was so beautiful,” Colonel Blythe said with a cracking voice.

“Who was,” Clara asked, but suspected that Gladys was the answer.

“She never told me her name,” the Colonel said. “Met her one night at the officer’s mess. An angel surrounded by every officer in the room. When—Once I walked in, she only had eyes for me—,” he rambled on.

The rest of his sob story revolved around her stealing his heart then threatening to tear it apart if he did not do exactly as asked. The rumours of his infidelity would lead to a divorce, which meant the loss of lands and title back home.

Had this been the first time such a tale of woe reached her ears, Clara may have been tempted to feel an iota of pity. Everyone needed someone’s company from time to time, even just to forget the horrors encountered. However, ignoring everything that an officer and a gentleman were expected to uphold? That was another matter entirely.

This man had betrayed not only Edith, but everyone else under his authority. A wounded soldier deemed a threat to her could have been administered an overdose of morphine. The power of a CO in time of war was near absolute and tonight Clara was going to remind him of the consequences.

There was no way to determine the damage this man’s indiscretions had caused. He would never expose himself nor accept any blame for his actions. It was always easier to blame someone else than accept responsibility.

“—Could not help myself,” the Colonel said. “Please forgive me,” he pleaded.

Clara moved her blade away then turned to observe the battle. She watched intently as the firefights grew bolder and that meant men would soon scale the walls in an attempt to gain an inch of land. In a couple of hours casualties would come pouring in.

Clara turned back to face the Colonel then leaned in close. So close that he could feel her lips tremble.

“I could have been there for you,” Clara whispered so faintly that she sounded far away. “I would have made you come so many times that you’d pray for me to stop,” she added with growing intensity.

Colonel Blythe eyes widened while his heart pounded with excitement. Clara had no doubt that her words would have him to rise to the occasion… how typical of a man.

“Instead you sold me out to some blonde number who offered you a dream,” Clara said. “It was pride that changed angels into demons; it is humility that make men soar with the angels,” Clara added.

The louder her words became, the more distant she was from him. There was something about her mannerisms that would have chilled the mood at an orgy. The Colonel was beginning to realise just how much trouble he was in.

“What did she offer in trade,” Clara asked. “A piece of tail or the promise of a longer life,” she asked.

Why else risk his career, title and wealth for a beautiful woman? Women like that were generally relegated to trysts or brought on as mistresses. Wives even tolerated their husbands playing the field as long as they were discreet, but these actions were anything but.

“I—I—Er,” he said.

Clara was growing weary of his games, so she drew her sidearm and trained the weapon on him. Once she cocked back the hammer, the colonel knew he no longer had any leeway.

“More life,” Colonel Blythe said through sobs.

This man, defeated and broken collapsed onto the mud while sobbing uncontrollably. Clara merely glanced at Sophie who responded by landing a blow at the base of his neck. Just like that he went silent, oblivious to the world and the nightmare unfolding just a couple of miles away.

Without direction Bell silently secured his arms and legs. The girls then walked down the ridge to the lorry and drove away.

It was not up to her or anyone else from her order to judge another human. People were often used as pawns while others were victims in their own right. Many were easily seduced, which explained why sexuality was a weapon wielded by both sides.

After a half an hour of travel they reached the remains of that burnt-out farmhouse. While Sophie and Bell changed back into their nurses uniforms, Clara picked up a field phone.

She wound the handle several times, and then picked up the receiver. After a brief exchange she hung up and sat down on what had once been a bed.

Clara closed her eyes, and heard artillery strikes moving closer and closer to their position. They eventually erupted in a volley so powerful that the farmhouse shook.

“Fire for effect,” Clara thought.

Perhaps the Colonel could not be judged by those in her order. However, that did not mean she could not nudge fate in the right direction. Many survived artillery strikes and if God wished it, he would make it through.

Clara guessed that God would not intervene tonight. There were many who deserved to live under the grace of God that would end up run through with a bayonet or cut down by machine gun fire. Saint Peter would be busy admitting entire companies tonight.

From the ground, God appeared to be absent from this part of the world. Until he chose to pass his wisdom down to his flock, Clara and her ilk would have to look after his best interests.

“Safe travel girls,” Clara said before they left.

With their mission complete, Clara watched as they melted into the night. She then pulled out the sealed envelope that bore the Reverend Mother’s insignia. As promised she had not even looked at it until her mission was complete.

Without a second thought she pulled out a knife and cut through the envelopes top. Inside she found a simple sheet of folded paper.

“Great,” Clara muttered. “Time to babysit,” she added.

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 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!