Spider's Web

By Kammy Gaffney




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Mark was rather pleased with himself. He didn't particularly give two shits whether Iolanthe was faithful to his brother or not. But Davy would be pissed off enough to work straight through the next ten hours or so without pause. Burying himself in a frenzy of work was one of several coping mechanisms he'd developed over their years together. And one Mark had exploited on numerous occasions. Lately, however his little brother had taken to running to Iolanthe to unburden himself, but that was okay. There were few creatures easier to manipulate than his little brother. Mark stepped back onto the elevator, and grinned in satisfaction as the doors slid shut.

He had intended to head directly to the Archives, in order to light a fire under the asses of his Investigation and Research team, and to see why Lauren hadn't seen fit to inform him of the news directly. Then he remembered his pooka, and decided it would be best to stop in on the cybernetics floor on the way. The cybermage in attendance caught his eye the minute he walked in, and shook his head. Hallie wasn't showing any signs of recovery yet. Mark walked around to the observation window to take a look at her anyway. She looked pretty much the same as yesterday and the day before. Huddled shivering and glassy-eyed in the corner. Her cot was untouched, as was her food. Mark sighed. He'd probably been just a tad to hard on her this time around.

Mark had known full well that she would try to kill him again; in fact, he had counted on it. Left her standing over his bed for a couple of nights, on the pretense of guarding him against another monster attack. In fact, he was surprised she had resisted the impulse for so long. But in the end, she sprang for him, sleek, stealthy, and lighting fast, only to be caught in the lovely new entrapment spell he'd woven around his bed. The spell passed the test; it had worked perfectly. The little assassin was caught fast, yowling with startled rage. And then he'd gotten to spend a few very pleasant hours punishing her for her impropriety. He couldn't wait to have the same satisfaction with the under-the-bed monster that'd cut his hair.

Hallie was probably the most interesting servant he'd ever had. As far as he knew, he was the only vampire who had taken a non-human servant, and with good reason. The same process that could make a human an adoring slave seemed to only partially break the will of fae. Or taken far enough, it killed them. He had killed quite a few pooka before he'd found some sort of happy medium. Eventually, he'd have to come up with something more effective.

In spite of her misbehavior, the little bloodthirsty panther fae was the closest thing he'd had to a success in that particular endeavor. Besides, their occasional battle of wills, while hardly posing an actual threat to him, were nevertheless a lasting source of amusement. Mark decided he'd be somewhat annoyed if she up and died on him after all the hard work and expense he'd put into her.

"If she doesn't snap out of it by tonight, please start her on an I.V," he told the cybermage as he left the lab.

"Will do, Mr. Sartain."

The doors slid shut behind him as the tall bat-winged necromancer stepped out into the hallway. Mark caught a movement out of the corner of his eye, disappearing around the corner. He nearly ran up to the corner in time to see a rather large and grotesque goblin trundling down an adjoining hallway. The goblin paused, winked at him, and kept going. Mark sighed. Not again. He turned back, walked over to a large janitorial closet, yanked the door open, and looked down. An older man with long tangled gray hair was sitting on the floor, giggling. He had a bandana tied around his forehead, a great deal of grizzled stubble, and a tie-dyed t-shirt under his open, faded and grimy mage's robe. He looked more like an old hippie than a world-class spell-caster.

"Stop with the damned goblin illusions already. Admittedly, you fooled me the first time, but now that particular joke is getting very old." Mark's eyes were cold as crystal.

The gray-haired mage struggled up to his feet, grinning. He wasn't the least bit fazed by Mark's obvious annoyance. "You gotta lighten up, man!" he chuckled.

"You've got to stop turning lab mice loose. Those are people's experiments, dammit. How do you know that thing isn't carrying the plague or something?" Mark hissed.

"Yeah, yeah, okay, I got it." The old hippie gestured, and the goblin dematerialized. There was only a tiny white mouse, darting to and fro, seeking a hiding place.

"Thank you," Mark said. "Now go catch the mouse, before - "

A Siamese cat darted from seemingly nowhere, there was a squeak, and the cat jogged off with the mouse dangling from its jaws, a satisfied smirk on its face. The vampire rolled his eyes.

"Aw..." said the hippie spellcaster.

"No more goblins. Get back to work. Now. And stay out of trouble. I don't have time to deal with your foolishness today. I've a rogue necromancer to find."

The hippie's eyes lit up. "No kidding? Wow."

Mark brushed past him before the old wizard could start pestering him with questions.

By late that afternoon, Mark was ravenous. He had reamed out the team in Archives, gently chastised a very repentant Lauren Hawthorne, incinerated a nosy reporter, tested out several new subliminal advertisement spells some of the spellwriters in Marketing wrote up (now whenever someone turned on a light, they'd have the uncontrollable urge to buy a Coke), and never heard a single bit of verifiable news about the illusive young woman that had taunted him the night before. He did however, get sent the URL to a very interesting website, featuring himself, a familiar-looking black-winged incubus, and a rather humiliating session of tickling that he'd been doing his best to forget. Memo to self: Pluck, Stuff And Roast Aerael Like a Thanksgiving Turkey. He sighed. He'd found that he could never really be angry with Aerael. He was simply too damned beautiful and charming for his own good. If it turned out that the price for his attentions was the occasional warped practical joke, he supposed he could live with that. They don't call them dark fae for nothing. Still, all in all, his day was turning out to be very frustrating.

Mark decided to take his frustrations out on his lunch. That was extremely bad news for his lunch, a lovely little black-haired runaway who had committed the unforgivable sin of being born with looks that bore a slight resemblance to the creature who had invaded his dreams. He took her home. Her screams were music to his ears, the stench of her fear the finest perfume. Her pain was a potent aphrodisiac. He hurt her in every non-lethal way he could think of, and then took his pleasure in a slow, leisurely fashion, relishing her terror. He fed only enough to satisfy the edge of his hunger, and then left her hanging in chains, barely conscious enough to wonder and fret about her future. She wouldn't have to wonder long. Mark intended to taste her death for his dinner, than incinerate the body to ash in necromancer's fire. No one would ever know what had become of her.

The vampire hummed a little tune as he climbed the stairs to his room. First, he'd grab a quick nap, and then, back to the office. He intended to work through the night if necessary, to get what he wanted. Failure was likened unto a personal insult. As he stepped though the doorway of his room, his valet appeared, almost like magic.

"Ah... Mister Sartain... do you require any assistance?" Mark's valet was a slight, curly-haired fellow with the nose of an aristocrat, excellent fashion sense, and a rather effeminate bearing.

"No, Carmine. I'm only going to lie down a moment. See that I'm not disturbed."

"Yes, very good, sir." Carmine bowed slightly, and glided down the hall.

Mark entered his room, walked over to the bed, and flopped onto it, face down, in an admittedly undignified manner. He sighed, momentarily content. Bringing the woman home had been a good idea. It had soothed his inner demons and the ever-present dark lusts that drove him, temporarily at least. Now all he felt was a vague sense of satisfaction, the closest thing to peace a servant of Chaos would ever have. And then he felt the other presence in his room. He thought it might have been Aerael at first, paying him a surprise visit, but the scent was all wrong. Mark rolled over, and stared up at the very necromancer he'd spent the morning searching for.

The vampire was surprised, but it would never do to show it. He calmly stretched out, crossed his legs at the ankles, and rested his head on his entwined fingers. He took the opportunity to study the young woman. She was elegantly shaped, all long smooth curves. A glossy abundance of hair, as black as his own, was piled loosely on top of her head, while long strands of it fell nearly to her knees. Her eyes were like his as well, the piecing blue of sapphires. And she had wings. Like a bat's or a dragon's - like his own, for that matter, more delicate perhaps, but still all dark and leathery, and topped off with lethal-looking ivory talons. Not only was she another vampire - they were both of the same rare species. The young woman before him could've passed for a sister.

"Well, I'm here!" She raised her arms and struck a dramatic pose. She was wearing skin-tight black lace and leather. Silk gloves rose above her elbows. Silver glittered on her fingers. Dangerous looking spike-heeled boots ran up to mid-thigh. Above them, fishnet stockings. A corset clung tightly to her tiny waist. It raised her breasts to nearly impossible heights, creamy white and barely covered in fine black lace. A black velvet cloak lined with silk draped around her wings and brushed the floor. Mark didn't respond, but he felt the familiar heat. Well, well, he thought. She's even more attractive in reality than in my dream. The young woman put her arms back down and pouted, her head cocked to one side in a charming fashion.

"Aren't you gonna say anything?"

Mark gave her a smile that was all fangs. "Well, my dear, I don't usually talk to insane mages that barge into my private home uninvited. I should have reduced you to a pile of ash already. However, you are remarkably attractive, and of my own kind..."

The vampress gave him a smug, pleased little smile, and played with a lock of her hair.

"...This being the case, I'll gladly make an exception to my usual modus operandi. I'll fuck you senseless first, and then I'll reduce you to a pile of ash. How does that sound to you?" Then he was up and off of the bed, faster than the eye could follow, hand extended, intending on seizing her by the throat and taking her down. That was his intent, anyway. Unfortunately, no sooner than he was on his feet, he was trapped, bound as if caught in an invisible net. He panicked, thrashing for a moment, suspended in mid-air before he realized what had happened. That fucking bitch had tampered with his entrapment spell somehow, had cast some sort of reverse affect and now he was the one who'd been snagged in it. Mark scowled, and ceased struggling. He really should've reduced her to a pile of ash from the beginning. He couldn't move, and he couldn't seem to tap into his magic either. Trapped like a helpless fly in a web. Now it would be just that much harder to wring that dainty little neck.

She giggled, a high girlish sound that Mark found simply infuriating. "You don't recognize me."

"Should I?"

"Yes... Mommy." She smirked.

"S-Spider?" Mark gasped out, and then belatedly remembered himself. "Well, you've certainly grown since I've seen you last." And that was only a few weeks ago. You looked like you were all of five years old. I don't really know how that's possible, but it's you alright. How could I forget a child who mistook me for its mother? He raised an eyebrow as he eyed her with an even greater appreciation. "I like the new you. Too bad I'm going to have to kill you for this."

Spider giggled again. "You weren't this funny the first time we met."

"You didn't have breasts the first time we met."

"No." Her smile grew predatory. "I didn't, did I?" She stepped forward, and slid one slippery silk-bound finger down the side of his face. "You like them, don't you?"

Mark snarled at her. "What do you want?"

"I'm gonna take over the world, and you're going to help me."

The vampire burst out laughing. "Oh, that's priceless, really. It's fairly obvious that your body is the only thing that's grown up. Nobody tries to take over the world anymore, Spider. Most fellows like me find the concept dreadfully passť. What the hell would I do with the world? My hands are full just running my own company. The world can go hang, for all I care - ugh!"


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