Acolyte Trials – Part 3

by jeanineoloughlin

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“Are they on foot?” he asked trying to get an idea of what they were looking for.

“I don’t know. It was loud in there, I never heard anything they said. If they were walking she couldn’t have gotten far in those shoes,” she said with a grumble. He could tell she was beating herself up about something. He wasn’t sure if it was losing sight of the target or losing out on a first date.

“Look!” Lizzie yelled suddenly a few minutes later and gestured to two figures in the far distance.

“Is that them?” he moved into the turn lane and slowly made his way onto the street.

“It’s got to be,” Lizzie said with hope in her voice.

He kept the car at a crawl, well below the streets posted twenty-five mile speed limit, but at a distance that wouldn’t look suspicious. The pair stopped in front of an old brick apartment building, and as the car passed by, the target was digging in his pocket while the couple stood in front of a heavy metal security screen.

“What a dump,” Lizzie said as she tucked something into her jacket pocket he couldn’t see. It was probably a practice baton which they weren’t supposed to take from the gym, but Lizzie wasn’t good with following rules. He turned into a small parking lot of another apartment building.

“We need to call Mathers,” he said pulling out his cell phone.

“Yeah tell him to bring a pizza, I’m hungry,” she joked.

The phone rang until a standard voicemail message picked up. “He’s not picking up,” Adrian said, worried. He looked across the street where the couple had been standing, left a quick voice message then followed with a text message.

“Well, we can’t just sit here waiting for him to call back. We have to get in there before it’s too late and we lose points,” Lizzie said, irritated.

“Let me try calling again, maybe he’s asleep?” Adrian dialed the number again. The default voicemail picked up again and Lizzie swore under her breath as she heard the muffled voice.

“Come on,” Lizzie said opening the car door to get out.

“Lizzie, we’re supposed to wait for the go ahead,” he said getting out of the car with her.

“Do we wait until we get docked points for losing a human life, or do we go in and kick some ass… then get yelled at for a technicality? Which do you think will be worse?” Lizzie asked with her hands on her hips.

“Fine,” he said, knowing she was right in a way. They walked over to the building, and kept an eye out for witnesses. When they got to the door, Lizzie pulled lockpicks from her jeans pocket. It only took a few seconds before she had the screen open and then the door behind it. They entered a small lobby that had a hallway leading to doors marked ‘Manager’ and ‘Maintenance,’ on the other side was a wall full of small mailboxes and a set of old wooden stairs leading to the next floor.

“How do we know which one they’re in?” he asked in a whisper.

Lizzie was scanning the mailboxes with tenant names on them and pointed to one marked 4L, the corner of several advertisements stuck out from the bottom edge of the small compartment.  “It’s full, no one’s picked it up in a while.”” she said and stalked up the stairs.

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They quietly tiptoed their way up the six flights of switchback stairs to the fourth floor. Along the way they heard a couple having a fight, a mother with a crying baby, and the loud intimate goings-on between a couple. Lizzie spared a glance at Adrian and saw that his face was as red as hers felt and they both hurried on down the hall. When they arrived at 4L, Lizzie put a hand up for Adrian to hold his position while she leaned an ear up to the door. She heard a woman laughing and a muffled deep male voice. She guessed he was at the other end of the apartment, while the girl was nearer to the door. That was good, one of them could usher her out of danger while the other engaged the target.

“So, where else have you traveled to? I just love travel,” the girl said. Lizzie rolled her eyes, and then held her breath as she heard the deep thump of heavy footsteps coming closer.

“I spent much of my youth in Europe and Asia. There are so many unique cultures in the orient.” Mathers had probably tipped off the acting Hunters that Adrian and Lizzie were close by if they’re still keeping this up thorough an act. Lizzie gestured for Adrian to go for the door and on three, he kicked it in, sending some of the frame with it.

The girl screamed and backed up against a corner of the sparse living room, Lizzie thought, for a Hunter, the girl was playing up the part well. Adrian engaged first, striking with a well placed right hook, but it was blocked. Lizzie left the girl in the corner and landed a hard kick to the back of the knee, but the Hunter playing the target vampire didn’t even flinch. She shot Adrian a confused look but he was busy blocking a particularly brutal round-house and actually stumbled back a step.

“Hey!” she said when she realized their fake vampire wasn’t adhering to sparring rules. He sent a backfist flying towards her face, and she felt the breeze of the blow go by her cheek as she threw herself backwards to avoid it. Again she looked at Adrian who showed the same confusion. The Hunter sent a clumsy uppercut towards Adrian and she saw Adrian’s eyes suddenly go wide. That was sloppy; he’s not a very good fighter, she thought circling around to flank their target.

“Liz, he’s really a…” Adrian was cut off as he dodged another wild swing. Lizzie placed a hard jump kick between the target’s shoulders when he turned his back to her and he stumbled forward, but didn’t fall as she had hoped. Adrian moved to her side and the target spun towards them. The Hunter let out a cry of frustration as he lunged, keeping them on the defensive. Then she saw it, fangs protruded where his canines should be. Those weren’t the costume caps Hunters used, they were real teeth, and Lizzie’s whole world changed in an instant.

That pause was her undoing when the vampire backhanded her. The force of the blow sent her flying into a small wooden chair that shattered beneath her. Her ears started to ring and all she saw were bright spots over shadows. She tried to pick herself up from the floor, blinking until her sight started to clear. Her head throbbed like it was being beaten like a drum. She barely made out the girl, still cowering in the corner. She saw Adrian still defending himself from the vampire. He had a split lip and was slightly favoring one leg.

When she felt stable on her feet she threw herself back into the fray. She planted a solid kick to his side that put the vampire off-balance enough to give Adrian an opening for a hard back kick to the stomach that sent him back a few steps.  She pushed forward, and landed a jab to his jaw followed by a second. The vampire caught her second-hand and lifted her body into the air with almost no effort. Then he slammed her into the ground. She felt as if an elephant had stomped on her chest and gasped for air while the pain in her head intensified. The metallic taste of blood entered her mouth, she had bit through her cheek in the fall.

Lizzie rolled to her side and felt air enter her body at last. There was also a sharp pain from her left shoulder and grunted against the pain. She looked over to find Adrian, still holding the vampire off; barely keeping him from landing any significant blows. She got up and, again, rushed into the fight. She was still dizzy and her reflexes weren’t fast enough. The vampire kicked out and hit her in the ribs and she could tell when she landed on the floor that he’d broken something. She tried to get up again, but her body wouldn’t respond with anything but incredible pain. She could see Adrian saying something but she couldn’t hear him through the ringing that had returned to her ears. Then he faded away behind the blotchy lights dancing in front of her eyes.

She crawled to where the girl had been, using the wall as her guide to the girl. I can’t give up; this is my first real fight. I can’t let this be the end. She heard a crash, even through her stifled hearing and someone tripped over her legs and slammed into the wall. She wasn’t sure who it was, but they were back up quickly. Lizzie kept crawling and told herself not to give up. Then she felt her hand touch the smooth surface of what she deciphered as a patent leather shoe. She grabbed the bare ankle attached and yelled for the girl to run. She couldn’t tell if she heard her, and pushed at the girl to move. She felt the feet move away and just had to hope that the shadow she saw moving towards the door was the girl’s. Lizzie collapsed against the floor and the world went black around her.

*                                                                *                                                    *

Adrian dodged a wild punch and spun to get around the vampire. Lizzie was on the floor again and this time he didn’t think she was getting up. He wasn’t sure how much longer he could hold the vampire off, and knew the best he could hope for was to take him down long enough to get out with their lives. Adrian was trying to make his way to her when another figure came running into the room. Both combatants turned to face the new foe, and Adrian was surprised to see it was Mathers.

To Be Continued…

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