Disclaimers: See Part 1 for disclaimers
Constructive criticism is always welcome and can be sent to Protek.
"Here are the original documents." Xena handed the folder to Emil.
"Thanks. Did you find out anything?" Holt asked.
"Nada," the black haired woman answered. "The 'Vampire' has done a good job in covering his tracks - except the blood, of course."
Holt was sitting behind his desk. Xena and Rickie were sitting on wooden chairs and Calista sat on the corner of Holt's desk.
"I see that you're referring to the killer as 'he'," the blond woman remarked. "I wouldn't dismiss the possibility that we are dealing with a woman here."
"That's most unlikely," Xena objected. "You know what the statistics say about serial killers."
"True, but there have been no signs of sexual abuse in any of the victims. That would hardly be the case if we were dealing with a man." Calista stood up and leaned over the table to look Xena straight in the eyes. "Or would it?"
Xena stared right back in the brown eyes. "I'm not making any conclusions before I have some hard facts to base them on." The profiler was trying to irritate her in some level but she chose not to let it bother her.
"So, what next?" Holt changed the subject in order to loosen the tense atmosphere between the two women.
"I don't know," Xena answered. "We can only wait for the killer to make another move."
"I could ask for more patrols in the downtown district, but that might scare him away. That won't take us far." Holt sighed.
"I have an idea," Rickie opened her mouth. "Most of the victims are street kids, right?" She asked the detective who nodded. "So the killer must pick up his victims from an area where street kids usually hang out." Another nod from Holt. "So I thought that I would go hang out on the streets and get in touch with my old friends. Someone must have seen something."
"No way!" Xena protested. "That's too risky. What if the killer picks you?"
"Out of hundreds of other kids? I think those are pretty good odds," Rickie countered. "Besides, I wouldn't go anywhere without my favorite guardian angel," she added impishly.
"I hate to admit it, but I'm with Rickie," Emil said. "She can blend in among the other kids and they will talk to her more likely than to any adult."
Xena cast a murderous glance at Holt. "I still don't like the idea of you out there on the streets," she said to her lover.
"Hey, the streets are my second home. I can take care of myself," Rickie said back.
The dark woman realized that she was up against a wall in this matter. "Looks like I can't talk you out of this, can I?" She said, defeated.
"Nope. Look, we gotta give it a try. Act, don't react. Isn't that what you always used to say?" Those words were insignificant to everyone, except the woman who the words were addressed to.
Xena was dumbfounded. Rickie's capability to remember things and events from her previous life as a Poteidaian bard still kept surprising the Immortal woman.
"Yes, yes it is," Xena finally managed to say when she had recovered from her surprise.
"Alrighty then!" the younger woman breathed out with her best Ace Ventura accent. "Let's get back home, I've gotta change to something more appropriate for the evening."
"Do you need any backup? I could ask couple of guys from the department to go there undercover," Emil offered to the raven haired woman.
"No thanks. I'd rather keep this at a low profile," Xena said. And have less people to keep an eye on, she completed the sentence in her mind.
"Suit yourself," Holt said. "You can reach me on my mobile, in case you need help."
"Thanks, I'll keep that in mind," Xena said and followed the fair haired woman outside.
The sun cast its final rays between the bulky skyscrapers, giving the streets a shade of brass. The streets were filled with cars and people. Portland's daytime swarming was giving way to a perky nightlife. The nine-to-five people retired in their suburban homes, letting the others to take over the streets. Nighttime represented a broad selection of people from all walks of life. Much broader and, in a way, much more realistic when compared to daytime. Among those who had come out to enjoy the night, walked those who were less fortunate - bums who desperately sought after their every night redemption in a form of a bottle, thugs who lurked for a good prey in order to finance the next dose, kids who escaped the anxiety of home to recognize their colors, just to get strength to make it through another day of anxiety inside those walls and kids who had no home to return to, whose life was a continuous survival from day to day.
There was Rickie Gardner, dressed in her most tattered jeans, a faded top that resembled more a shade of olive than the original dark green and a brown denim jacket. Dirty canvas shoes and an old cotton backpack added to the impression of your average street kid. Her stomach was growling deeply and demandingly. It had not been easy to refrain from eating for the rest of the day but that, with the half pot of coffee, now paid off with a restlessness that the lack of nutrition and a need for a dose would cause. Her now well-formed body would have betrayed her but the jacket was slightly oversized, thus giving the impression of a person in low nutrition. Xena had done a wonderful job giving her a make-up that made her face look skinnier. The dark shadows around her eyes crowned the job. Styling gel was great when you wanted to make your hair look dirty and tangled. With one sentence; she blended right in with the others.
Rickie walked aimlessly among the people. Occasionally, she turned to look behind her to catch a peek from the raven haired woman that was following her. Every time she failed to see her but she knew that Xena was there. So far nothing useful had turned out. She had talked with some of the kids she knew from her past. Everybody was talking about the murders, of course but no one had actually seen or knew anything new. She was feeling slightly lightheaded from puff of a joint that had been offered to her. It had been almost two years since the last time and the sensation was a bit tempting. Xe's going to let me hear about this when we get back home, she thought. The redhead was certain that the warrior had not let anything get past her sight. Well, I have to be plausible, she reasoned.
Xena was about a hundred feet behind the younger woman. She was wearing her black leather jacket and matching jeans. So far the most eventful moments had been keeping the local lowlife off her own back. The Immortal saw a glimpse of the reddish gold hair among the people and stepped up her pace. The crowd had its advantages and disadvantages when you were following someone. The crowd gave you good coverage but you could easily lose your prey.
Xena saw her lover turning over to an alley and she cursed silently. Xena had given Rickie specific instructions to stay on the streets and not to go in the alleys. She paced even more rapidly and stepped into the dark alley. It was much less crowded and the redhead had already reached the other end of the alley. Xena went after her but was stopped by five young men dressed in loose sweaters and metro pants.
"You gotta light?" One of them asked.
"Sorry, don't smoke," the warrior answered impatiently.
"'S too bad, lady. Guess we'll have to settle for your money, then." The gangsta grinned evilly.
"Look, why don't you just let it be. It's going to save me some time and you from some broken bones," Xena said, not letting the threat intimidate her.
"You a toughie, eh?" The man said. "Good. I like tough women. I like the way they squirm." He and his buddies pulled stilettos.
Oh, fuck! I really don't have time for this, Xena swore. "Okay, but don't tell me I didn't warn you then." The immortal gave a feral smile.
"Get him, Slice!" The gang leader said to the one on his left side.
"Piece o' cake, man," Slice replied and made an attempt against the raven haired woman.
With an amazing speed Xena grabbed him from the wrist and turned it ninety degrees. The wrist snapped like a dry branch. Slice had just enough time to grimace in pain before the warrior's elbow hit his mouth. The man went down.
"Shit! You broke his wrist, you bitch! Joey, make her pay!" The gang leader said angrily.
The other man approached the warrior, but more cautiously than his unfortunate friend. Xena could see a hint of fear on his face.
"Come to mama," Xena said viciously.
The gangsta made some quick prods at the dark woman, failing to hit her. Xena, on the other hand sunk her biker boot on the man's stomach and when he bent she gave another kick to his jaw, sending him flying on the ground. She now turned to look at the rest of them who were starting to feel quite uncomfortable.
"Okay, now we are nicely warmed up. Who's next," she said provocatively.
The remaining gang members took a few steps back. "Hell, a hundred bucks ain't worth getting our ass kicked," their leader said. They turned away and started running away from the warrior.
Hundred bucks The realization hit her mind. Fuck! Fuck! Fuck! She ran after the running men and caught the gang leader at the end of the alley. She pushed him against the wall and jabbed her fingers on his shoulder. The gangsta's eyes filled with horror, when his body was beginning to fail on him.
"I've cut the circulation to your brain," Xena said. "That means your brain ain't getting any blood and you'll be dead in thirty seconds, unless you tell me who hired you." Her tone told the man that she meant business.
"Hey, I don't wanna die." The gangsta said when his sight started to blur. "I tell you what you wanna know, okay."
Xena jabbed her fingers again and the gangsta fell on the ground. "Spill it!" She said. Suddenly, she heard a engine revving on her side and turned to look. She had only time to see the grill of the dark sedan before the car hit her. She flew over the car from the power of the impact and hit the ground hard. Her final conscious thought was the sedan turning away from the alley.
Rickie opened her eyes. She cast a glance to her surroundings. She was in a dim small room that appeared to be a basement of some sort. Her hands had been tied to rings that hung from the wall. A wave of nausea went through her and she closed her eyes again. Well, Rickster, looks like that we are in deep shit once again, she thought.
She tried to recall what had happened before everything had went black. She remembered that she had turned to another alley, much darker than the first one. She had taken a few steps and thought that it might be better to turn around and get back to the street. Right at that moment someone had attacked her from the behind and placed a cloth on her face. Then she didn't remember anything, until now.
What had happened to Xena? She had been right behind her, hadn't she? Was the warrior all right? Did she know what had happened to her? So many questions and so few answers. Rickie made some attempts to get herself free, but it was of no use. The ring was tightly bolted to the brick wall.
"Don't bother to waste your strength, my dear. You are very well secured," a familiar voice said and Rickie turned her focus to the door.
"You!" Rickie couldn't hide her surprise when she recognized the tall form of Calista Leighton. "You're the 'Vampire'!" She said in disbelief. "But you're a cop!"
The blond woman smiled condescendingly. "Not a cop, my dear, a federal agent." She walked to the redhead. "Besides, even we are entitled to have a hobby. Haven't you watched the X-Files?" Calista slid her fingers on the young woman's cheek, making her twitch. "But you're right. The lust for blood, the liquid of life has been a desire of mine for a very long time."
"But why all of those runaway girls?" Rickie asked.
Calista seemed to consider the question for a moment. "I don't know really. Maybe, because they remind me of myself." She turned to look at the redhead. "By the way, if you have high hopes about that queer friend of yours coming to save you, you can forget it. She can consider herself lucky if she is still alive from the encounter with my car. Didn't have the time to stop and check but she hit the ground good." She smiled when she saw the expression on the young woman's face.
"You!" Rickie tried to pull herself free, without success. The tall woman laughed at her desperate attempts.
"But enough talk. It's time for a little feast." Calista said. She took a set of fangs from her pocket and put them on her teeth. She closed with the redhead, a feral smile on her face. Calista was only few inches away from Rickie's, when she backed away. "But look at me. What kind of hostess am I? Guests first," she said and bit her own arm. Blood started trickling down from the wound. Calista placed her arm over the redhead's face. Rickie turned her face away so that the trickles fell on her cheek.
"Now, that's not very polite," Calista said and used her free hand to force Rickie's mouth open and make sure that the blood found its way to her mouth. "That's a good girl."
After a while, Calista removed her hand and instantaneously Rickie spat all the iron flavored blood on the blonde's lapels. That was returned with a hard smack to her face.
"You no good, little bitch!" Calista shouted. For a moment it appeared that she was really losing it, but suddenly she calmed down. "Well, suit yourself. Now it's my turn." She pulled Rickie's head backwards, exposing the tanned neck. She sunk her fangs through the warm skin and flesh and sighed with pleasure, when she felt the taste of warm blood in her mouth.
Rickie wanted to shout but not a single sound came out of her mouth. The sensation was almost erotic. Violent spasms went through her body as the very life was drained from her. A little by little Rickie started to feel a little lightheaded. She realized that it would be only matter of moments before she would be sucked dry leaving the lifeless body to hang from the wall. At this moment there was only one thing she could think of. Oh, Warrior-mine, I'm so sorry that I didn't listen to you. I want you to know that I love you more than anything and I promise you that you won't have to wait my return so long this time.
Rickie's vision started to black out. Her thoughts became disordered. The last thing that she registered was a loud crack from the door and a dark figure standing in the doorway.
An hour earlier
Why do we always have to be the Romans? That was the first conscious thought that came to Xena's mind. It was one of her childhood memories, when she had played the Greeks and Romans with Toris and Lyceus and some other children. She had always ended up being one of the Romans and usually the losing side. This had lasted until Xena had grown a bit older. After that she had always been on the winning side.
Xena opened her eyes. Visions of childhood activities vanished and the cruel reality took place. There wasn't a single bone in her body that didn't ache like hell and she could feel that her right shoulder was dislocated. She still had her clothes and her belongings so she couldn't have been unconscious for long.
Xena stood up slowly. She felt that a few of her ribs were broken, so intense was the sting when she breathed. There were bruises here and there in her body. Luckily, her legs were still in one piece. Otherwise, she might not have been able to move for a while. The warrior walked to a corner of a building. She pinched a pressure point, making her dislocated shoulder numb. Xena inhaled deep a hit her shoulder hard against the brick wall. A crack indicated that the shoulder slipped back to its original position. Now was the hard part. She released the pressure point and let the feeling come back. The pain was almost more than she could handle but she had to stay conscious, for Rickie's sake.
Rickie. The thought of her lover's distress filled the immortal's mind. The killer had expected them, that was more than obvious and since there were only four of who knew about this it didn't leave much of a choice who the killer was. Nomen est omen, Xena thought and began to limp to her car.
The black Mustang was still there where she had left it. As soon as she was in the car she picked her cellular and dialed a number.
"Jason, it's me. I need your hacking skills," Xena said when she heard the familiar voice on the other end.
She drove forward as she received the information she needed. "Thanks, Jason. I'll fill you in later." She ended the call. And dialed another number.
"It's me, Emil. I need Calista's address. She's the 'Vampire'." Xena said frantically.
"Are you serious?" The voice on the other end said.
"Listen, I don't have time for this! She's got Rickie! Are you going to give me the address or what?" The warrior's tone was now furious.
"Okay, let me see.." Holt told the address. "I'll meet you there. Don't do anything stupid."
"If she has done something to her, she is going to find out who the 'Headhunter' really is." Xena closed the phone and stepped on the gas. The Mustang's engine roared in response.
Half an hour later she arrived to a quiet suburban area. Soon she parked in front of a white two story house. Xena opened the glove compartment and took a shiny Walther with ivory handle from there. A Christmas present from Jason. She inspected that the clip was full and pulled a slug into the chamber. Xena ran to the porch and looked inside through the window. There was no movement. She moved to the door and was a bit surprised to find out that it wasn't locked. She stepped inside and made a quick check in downstairs. No one was there.
Xena opened a door that lead into the garage. There was the same black sedan that had hit her. There she found stairs that lead into basement. She could see pale light at the end of the stairs. She ran down and kicked the door in. Words weren't enough to describe the horrible sight that met her.
Rickie was tied on the wall. Her head was bent backwards and her pale face had frozen to a grotesque expression. Calista was all over her and left a little doubt of what she was doing. She turned to face the warrior. Her face was covered with blood.
"YOU!" The blond woman shrieked in surprise. "It can't be you! You're dead! No one can survive a direct hit like that!"
"Get - away - from - her," Xena was in no mood for irony. The sapphire eyes were flashing in fury.
Calista was still standing there in disbelief when Xena attacked her. Hit after hit, the warrior took her anger out on the woman. Finally, she grabbed the blonde from the throat with one arm and lifted her against the wall.
"What are you going to do, kill me?" Calista croaked arrogantly.
"Killing is not what I had planned for you," the immortal said with dark voice and jabbed her fingers on one point in the blonde's spine.
For a while, nothing happened. Then the strong smell of urine told the warrior that she had hit the right spot. She looked Calista straight in the eye.
"I've cut your control over your body. That includes your capability to walk or to use your hands. And, as you probably can smell, your capability to control some of your more intimate bodily functions.
Calista opened her mouth to protest but the words emerged as primal sounds. Now Xena gave an evil grin to the woman.
"Oh, I forgot to mention. You can't talk either," the warrior stated matter-of-factly. "You'll be a vegetable for the rest of your sorry life, as far as I'm concerned." She let go of the woman who fell flaccidly on the floor.
Now Xena turned her focus on her lover who hung unconscious from the wall. She tried her artery. There was hardly any pulse. "Gods, Rickie! What has she done to you?" She let the pale woman loose and laid her on the floor.
Xena heard footsteps from the stairs and turned to see Holt stepping in a revolver in his hands.
"What took you so long?" The warrior asked.
"I came here as fast as I could." Holt saw the FBI agent's limb body on the floor. "You didn't "
"She's alive," Xena said. "But Rickie won't be for long if you don't call an ambulance here, pronto."
"I'm ahead of you. I had a hunch that there would be a need for paramedics so I called one on the spot." Holt's words were accompanied by the sound of a siren.
"Thanks, Emil," the warrior said and squeezed her lover's cold hand. "Hang in there, love," she pleaded.
Portland, Oregon, three days later
"Well, how are we doing today?" Holt asked when he stepped inside the white hospital room. Rickie was lying on the bed and Xena was sitting on a chair next to her. The redhead had regained some of her natural color and she smiled weakly to the detective.
"I'll live," Rickie answered and continued. "At least they didn't have to sew my jaw together this time." That got a snort from the warrior.
"I kinda hoped they had," Xena said. "The way she has been talking the last two days. I can hardly get a word in between." Xena had to duck when Rickie tried to hit her with a pillow.
"Much better, I can see," Holt commended.
"What will happen to Calista?" Xena asked.
"She'll be placed to an institute," Holt answered. "I'm not sure what you did to her, but she's nothing more than a vegetable."
"Not quite," Xena said. "Her mind is as clear as ever, but she is a prisoner of her own body. Did you got confirmation on the info that I gave you?"
"Yes I did. It's funny that she got into the Bureau in the first place," Holt said. "She belonged to a cult that practiced Satanism and vampirism, when she was a teenager. Her parents died in suspicious circumstances but she was never placed under suspicion. She moved away shortly after that, started studies at an university and got a degree in psychology. She applied to the FBI and passed as one of the best of her class." The detective looked at the wall. "I worked with her over two years and I never suspected a thing."
"Don't take it too hard on yourself," Xena said. "She fooled me too."
"When will you be getting out?" Emil asked the redhead.
"In a couple of days or so," Rickie answered." I can hardly wait. This hospital food tastes like shit."
"I'll buy you the biggest hamburger in town when you get out. That's a promise," Holt smiled to the young woman.
"Deal," Rickie said.
"I'll talk to you later, Xe," Emil said and left.
"Okay, we got two days in our hands," Xena said to Rickie. "You got any ideas?"
"How about you telling me how you dealt with Dracula?" Rickie wheedled.
"I thought you were supposed to be the storyteller," Xena grinned.
"Hey, you've seen so much more than I have," Rickie said. "Besides, I think storytelling is one of your numerous skills. You just didn't know that."
"I can't argue with that, can I?" Xena relented.
"No, no you can't," Rickie assured.
"All right. Here goes "
The fields around the small town of Bucharest were filled with soldiers of the battling armies. The Turkish army had entered Wallachia in order to push Vlad Dracula from the power. The ruthless prince had re-established his power only recently after a period in imprisonment and exile. The Turks were determined to return the throne to Basarab, who had ruled during this period.
The battle had started this morning and it would be the culmination of this war. Dracula had less than four thousand men to put against the Turkish army so the result would be quite obvious.
Xena saw her prey, fighting desperately with his men against the overwhelming opposition. She was dressed as a Turkish soldier. She had joined the army when it had marched over the borders of Wallachia. No one knew her true identity and no one really cared. She had done her part in the battle.
Xena proceeded through Dracula's elite guard, leaving lifeless bodies behind her. Finally, she and the ruthless prince were face to face.
"Come and try your luck! I'm not afraid of you!" The prince shouted boldly.
"Oh, I would be if I were you," Xena said and revealed her face. Dracula's eyes flew wide open when he recognized his opponent.
"YOU! But you're dead!" He said in disbelief.
"It takes a lot more than a wooden stake to kill me," Xena grinned viciously. "But I tend to take those kind of things personally. Now, it's payback time."
Dracula made a desperate attempt to attack the warrior but she parried the hit easily. With few strokes she disarmed him. The prince fell on his knees, giving a pleading look to the dark woman. Xena had no mercy for this ruthless man. With one stroke she decapitated him.
Xena felt almost disappointed when the spasms never came. She took the prince's head and placed it at the end of a spear and lifted the spear high above her head. The gesture was greeted with hoorays among the Turks. Vlad Dracula, Vlad the Impaler, prince of Vallachia had met his fate.
"Are we ready to go?" Xena asked.
"Just about. Here are the sleeping bags." Rickie said and put the bags in the trunk of the forest green Mustang.
Xena looked at her lover. Only two little scars on the redhead's neck reminded about the incident that had almost cost her life two weeks ago. Otherwise, she had done a fine recovery. They were planning to spend the next week in the woods, away from civilization, just the two of them. They both deserved it after what they have gone through.
"Hey, there's only one fishing rod," Rickie noticed. "Aren't you bringing yours?"
"Nah, don't need one," the warrior replied.
"Another one of your skills, I presume?" Rickie asked.
"You could say so," Xena grinned.
"Okay, that's all, we are ready," Rickie said and closed the lid.
"Well, what are we waiting for, then?" Xena said and sat on the passenger seat of the convertible.
"Nothing, I guess," the redhead replied and sat behind the wheel.
Just, when Rickie was about to turn the key, Xena's cellular rang. Both the warrior and the redhead exchanged glances, then Xena turned the cellular off and tossed it on the back seat.
"I love you, Warrior-mine," Rickie said.
"I love you too, Dreamer," Xena replied and placed a kiss on the younger woman's lips. "Now, let's burn some rubber!"
The 289 small block came to life and the forest green Mustang left a long trail of rubber on the pavement.
Author's afterthoughts: There are different versions of Dracula's death so I took the liberty to come up with my own version with the Warrior Princess in it. However, I tried to stay true to the historical events, maybe dramatize it a bit. I hope you liked it.