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The Other Vessel

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He rushed her, snarling again.

130 pounds moving at about 15 mph concentrated on a point the size of a dime- her elbow. Plus the speed at which he was moving forward, because of the relativity of the motion, plus the small amount of speed in the short step she took forward summed up to an even extremely-crushed-chest.

There was an almost audible crunch as her elbow slammed into his sternum, directly between the ribs. The sternum was a relatively thin bone, and the tip could break off very easily. Even CPR could snap it. Beneath her elbow, it splintered, and all the air whooshed out of his lungs in one foul gasp, and then he was on the ground. She took a step back and looked at him to make sure he wasn’t getting up, then turned to get her gun to put him down.

“Nice.” She whirled, and saw a girl shimmying down the ladder with a wide smile. She had dark hair and large freckle under one eye, like one of those beauty marks the actresses of old painted on, and wore a flannel shirt and jeans. “You sure showed him. They teach you that in self defense or something?”

“Uh.” Claire had been determined and confident before- it was the hunt, it was the kill, it was her life now. Now she was unsteady, not sure what to say.

“Why don’t you get up to safety and I’ll just stay here and, uh… call the cops. Go back home, I’m sure your friends and family are worried. People are psychos, right? Just get on out of here,” the girl said with a smile.

“Are you a hunter?” Claire blurted out. It was the only thing that made sense- the girl had pushed him back down into the tunnel and was coming down after him. Who would do that, aside from a hunter?

“Oh thank God, yeah, I am. I didn’t think you were one- blonde, blue eyes, I thought you were a vic and I had no idea how to get you out of here and vanish him and myself before anything happened. I’m Krissy,” the girl said, laughing with relief.

“Uh… Claire,” she said hesitantly, still not quite trusting the dark haired girl. For some reason, she wasn’t as worried about the Ziegevolk as she was about the fact that she hadn’t showered since last night and had been crawling through sewer tunnels and abandoned houses all evening. To hide her embarrassment, she ducked to retrieve her machete and her gun.

“Pleasure to meet you. I didn’t realize another hunter had this one covered- I’d just been on my way to the reptile zoo thing and saw this ugly mug coming up, so I just kicked him back down again.”

“Thanks. He was getting away,” Claire admitted, cocking her gun and dispassionately putting a shot in the Bluebeard’s heart and a shot in his head. “Sorry that was loud. I’m not sure if that’ll kill him, I couldn’t find any lore on special methods to kill Ziegevolk.”

“No, they can be killed like humans, nothing special. Or, at least, that’s what Garth tells me,” Krissy said, blinking at the noise. “Do you know where the girls are?”

“There’s a house at the end of this tunnel. Who’s Garth?” she asked, dragging the body a ways away from the ladder, the opposite direction of the house so the girls wouldn’t have to see it if they had to lead them back this way.

“He’s the new Bobby. I’ll help get the girls out with you.”

“I don’t… who’s Bobby?” Claire asked, feeling lost.

“You never knew Bobby? Damn. He’s… well, he’s like… a secretary. No, not a secretary, god no. He’s like… home base. I don’t know. You call Bobby- Garth now, cause Bobby’s dead- so you call Garth, and he’ll point you to a case nearby, or he’ll look up information for you, or he’ll pretend to be your boss at the CIA or FBI or whatever if you need to go undercover and get questioned. He’s got a massive collection of old lore, and he’s read through so much of it and helped so many hunters that he’s the guy to ask, if you ever need anything. Just don’t ever drink with him,” Krissy added seriously as Claire started to lead the way to the house. “You must be a new hunter- but you fight really well.”

“I- yeah. I’ve only been hunting for about a year and a half,” Claire admitted.

“Wow, and you already fight like that? You took that thing down in one hit! Jeez, you’re sure somethin else.”

“I’m… uh… thanks,” Claire said, deciding to leave it at that.

Suddenly water splashed into the side of her face and she sputtered, drawing her gun and spinning. “What was that for?” she cried, scowling and wiping the water out of her ear, where it seemed most of it had gone.

“Just the normal checks. Wow, you really are a newbie. Holy water, had to check, especially with you being that good of a fighter. Gimmie your hand,” Krissy demanded.


“Because I need to cut you with a silver knife to make sure you aren’t a shapeshifter or a werewolf or anything weird. And I want to see your gums, to make sure you aren’t a vampire. And if you heal, to see if you’re an angel.”

Claire visibly flinched at the last addition to the list. “I’m not any of those things,” she snapped, but held out her hand anyways. Krissy pressed the knife against the back of her hand and slid it a centimeter- no need it giving her any big cuts, like so many hunters she knew did. Claire wasn’t hissing or spitting or steaming, so that was good. Her blood was red- not a leviathan. And it didn’t just seal up and vanish, so she wasn’t an angel.

“Got any STD’s?” Krissy asked.

“What? No! Why is that a question?” Claire snorted.

“Sharing knives. I’m clean too, in case you’re curious. And holy water,” she said, cutting her own hand and taking a swig of the holy water. “And I pinkie promise I ain’t no angel,” she laughed.


“How come you hunt but you don’t know any of this?” Krissy asked. “Nobody taught you?”

“I’m kind of self-taught,” she said, a half truth, pulling her sleeves down over her hands.

“How does that work?”

“How come you’re so curious?” Claire said tiredly, climbing up into the living room of the abandoned house.

“How come you’re so evasive?” Krissy shot back. They stopped talking when they got upstairs, and began picking the locks to the cages the girls were in, speaking soothing words to them, reassuring them that they were getting out.

Krissy kicked the boarded up front door down, and they led the girls out, telling them to go right to the hospital and stay together. They did not accompany them.

“You got a car?” Krissy asked Claire as they parted from the victims.

“A Jeep. Do you?”

“I’ve got a piece of shit scrapper I salvaged. Can we team up?” Krissy asked casually.

“I don’t know,” Claire said sharply.

“You don’t know anything. You don’t know Bobby, you don’t know Garth, you don’t know how to check people- I bet you don’t even have an antipossession tattoo,” Krissy scoffed. “It’s amazing you aren’t dead already. And teams work so much better, trust me.”

“I’ve never worked in a team.”

“Well, I did, until they hooked up and I was a forever-third-wheel and left, I’ve been looking for one and you need one. We can help each other.”

“Symbiosis,” Claire said thoughtfully, leading the way back to her jeep. “Maybe we can try it. But I reserve the right to disband it at any time.”

“Sure thing. You wanna write out a contract or something?” Krissy snorted at her formality.

“Maybe,” Claire said, allowing a small laugh. It had been a while since she’d laughed for honest, not just pretending while acting as a fed or something- it felt strange in her mouth.