By Jenny Dickinson, Kammy Gaffney, and Willow Taylor
"I need your help."
"'Gee, God Bless, Mary, good to see you again, how are you doing? How are things? Did you ever get that yeast infection cleared up?'"
Victor looked at his big sister in that kind of expression little brothers everywhere get.
"When did you grow a sense of humor?"
Mary shrugged, and looked down at Victor. "Must be your bad influence. Come on in."
Victor, Amy and Shaper entered and followed the tall woman into a living room filled with overstuffed chairs.
"Don't mind the décor. Viv picked 'em out," snorted the blue jean clad woman, tossing a shaggy lock of thick rough blonde hair over one shoulder.
Mary Shelly was six feet, six inches tall, and built substantially. One of her eyes was bright blue, and the other dark purple. She had faint lines of scars on one wrist, where it stuck out of the leotard, around her throat, and just under her bangs. But the most noticeable scar was the one that pulled the left side of her mouth up. She lowered herself carefully into a chair.
"I'm sorry, Mary."
"I'll live," she said, flipping a hand carelessly. "If your forgot courtesy, it must be important."
"Hell, I could live without it, and go to mage, but I'd rather get your help."
"I'm flattered, Victor, what is it you need."
"I need to get off planet."
"Who'd you get pregnant?"
"Little Victors?" Shaper said, an expression of mingled shock and horror on his face. "The world might not survive!" Amy cracked him one across the back of the head.
"No, seriously, there's some stuff I need to get that Altair just doesn't have."
Mary raised her eyebrows until they met her bangs. "Oh really?"
"C'mon, just do it to get me out of your hair, will you?"
"And how will you get back?"
"Oh, there's portals on earth to Vampirum, if you know where and when to look."
"So first you want to go to Earth - then to Vampirum." Mary said, mouth going both ways at once, in an interesting facial contortion. "You're up to no good, little brother."
"I'm up to an awful lot of good, Mary," Victor said, leaning forward earnestly. "It just may cause some trouble." They looked at each other for long moments. Before coming to Altair, Victor had never met face to face with his sister. She hadn't even known he'd existed beyond rumors. They'd met once, and instantly recognized each other for what they were. They began an odd correspondence. Victor wasn't usually in any place long enough for Mary to write back, but she had more at her disposal, as a legendary member of the Vampire Killer's Guild. So her letters always found him. They'd become friends, in an odd sort of sibling way. Enough that Victor felt confident in asking his sister's help, despite the fact it would eventually echo back to her. Mary studied her brother's face for a long moment.
"I'd normally never ask this, but times are tough - what's in it for me?"
"Other than helping a brother in trouble?" Victor asked. He pulled a small leather wrapped bundle out of his coat and handed it to her. "Mother's journal. There are entries in there that date after she disappeared." Mary looked at it in shock, hands trembling faintly.
"You stole that from Rosethorn!?" demanded Shaper, half standing.
"Get over yourself," Victor growled, looking out of the corner of his eye at Shaper.
"Why?" demanded the risen, glaring.
"Because I needed it, and she didn't. If you want you can run back and tell her, and we'll see what the two of you come up with for a plan to get it back."
Still grumbling to himself, Shaper subsided, crossing his arms across his chest.
"Well, that answers my first question," Mary said with a weak laugh, unwrapping the leather, and caressing the cover, where a crinkled off white insert of paper bore her mother's handwriting. "Alright. I can get you a pocket spell that will open to the university on Vampirum. Getting you to an Earth is no problem. You want them to believe in the supernatural or not?"
"Supernatural's good. I'm gonna want some tricks to put up my sleeves."
"Hmmm," Mary said, and still holding the book on one hand, she stiffly rose. "But we'd better get you through before the other Hunters get back.
"Hey Mary?" came a voice from upstairs. "What's... oh hi, Victor." Andre paused halfway down the stairs. "Ah, that must be Shaper. That must have been the shouting I heard." He leaned across the banister good naturedly, one hand holding the book he'd obviously been reading. "Anything I can do?"
"No, I've got it handled. They're just passing through," Mary said, looking up slightly, at the slim blonde man on the stairs.
"Ah. Alright. See you around Victor." Andre headed back up the stairs.
"When most of the Guild house is on duty, there's an upstairs watch and a downstairs watch," Mary explained. "Too many attacks we didn't catch because everyone was watching a Dracula marathon of Scaretv again."
She led the small party through a neat kitchen and into a short hall, down basement stars. In the basement it was cooler, and all of the walls were stone. The tall blonde woman could still walk without bending her head at all. She went to door in what should have been an outside wall, and opened it, revealing another flight of stairs. Shaper poked Victor.
"We gonna be climbing down stairs all night?" he demanded in a frustrated hiss.
"We'll be passing the cells if you want to lock Shaper away," Mary said over her shoulder in a conversational tone.
He stuck his tongue out at her, wishing he was wearing his mask. She didn't even notice, and continued walking down the stairs, lights coming on in a cascade in front of them, and shutting off as they passed. Shaper watched he light fairies flitter in random patterns. At last they hit a landing, and turned left. There was a platform, and a column that looked like a tiny pulpit. Mary lay her hand on top of it, and a drawer popped out. Out of there, she took a small coin-like object.
"Here, this'll get you to the university on Vamprium, like I said. We give 'em to people with potential, who might want to attend. It won't work for anyone but the person it's given to." She lay her hand back on the panel, and closed her eyes. The platform lit up brightly. "And there you go. Place is America, New York, kinda like Neo York, year 2000 something, I think. I've specified a supernatural community, but you gotta find it. This'll dump you someplace no one will notice."
"Hey Mary..." Victor said, as Shaper looked at the portal dubiously. "Thanks."
"Someday you'll return the favor, Victor."
"Yeah. Take care of Damnyew, will you?" The small party disappeared, and the portal closed. Mary slowly walked back up the stairs, and lowered herself into her chair, looking at the journal in her hands.
"Mama," she said softly, and closed her eyes.
* * * * *
It was dark and it was narrow. One end dead ended in a brick wall, and the other opened up on to a nearly deserted street.
"What's that funny smell?"
"That's you, Shaper."
"Kiss my ass, Victor."
"Which end is that again?"
"Funny." Shaper shook his hair out. "I hate portals. And I don't like this place, it smells funny."
"Shape, most of your memories are of small towns. Cities just smell like this." Victor lit a clove and headed towards the mouth of the alley. "And yeah, it does smell funny."
"No kidding," sniffed Amy, one hand over her nose. "I'm just glad my senses are dulled in this thing."
"Really - works the other way for me," Shaper said, curiously.
"Alright guys, enough, let's go."
"Where are we going daddy, huh huh?" asked Shaper, bouncing up behind Victor and tugging on his jacket. Victor glanced over his shoulder and gave Shaper a withering look.
"First, we're finding a hotel, and getting a good night's sleep. Then, I go out and start making connections."
"What?" demanded Shaper as they walked down the sidewalk. "All that rushing to get to your sister's, and now we have all the time in the world?"
Victor turned and smiled as he lit a clove. "On this world, Shaper - we do."
"Sheesh!" Shaper threw his hands into the air. "Fine, oh mighty leader. Whatever you say. But I better be able to get a good drink here, or I'm gonna be mighty PO'd."
Victor laughed, and turned back around. "I think we got a bit of a walk. First we need a pawn shop to transfer some stuff to local currency - then we definitely want to get out of this area before dark."
"Whoa now Vic." Shaper scuttled around in front of his friend and halted him. "If we just got here, mind telling me what's scared you so much, in the last five minutes, you don't wanna be someplace after dark? I've seen you mosy through ghoul-hounded moors like it was a Sunday outing in the park!"
"Supernaturals are easy, Shaper. People are scary."
design ©2001 by Cindy Rosenthal
Crossover! © 2001-2002 by Jenny Dickinson, KL Gaffney, and Willow Taylor
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