The Vampire Hunters: Vampyrnomicon
by Scott Baker
by Scott Baker
But the vampires also want The Vampyrnomicon. When Master Chiang Shih and her coven of the most powerful and dangerous vampires arrive in Washington to claim the book as their own, the hunters find themselves facing their most deadly enemy yet. With the stakes so high, so is the ferocity of the struggle.
Jessica Reynolds stood by the open manhole. The pungent odor of ammonia and human waste wafted out of the sewer, stinging her eyes and churning the bile in her stomach. Holding her breath and squinting against the discomfort, she leaned forward and stared down the access tunnel, but could not see the bottom. Despite the noon sun glaring overhead, its light penetrated only a few feet down the access tunnel, rendering the sewer ominously dark. Jessica did not have to see what was down there to fear it. What lurked below the streets of Washington was deadly. Dangerous. And evil.
She stepped back from the manhole and walked over to the midnight-black Dodge Ram. "Tell me again why you're going down there?"
"To flush out the nest," said Drake Matthews. He slid on his brown leather jacket.
"I thought we destroyed the nest a few nights ago?"
"We did." Drake slid three wooden stakes into the special pouch stitched into the jacket lining. A bolt of pain from the cracked ribs he received in that struggle shot through his chest, a reminder of just how close a call they actually had.
"Why the rush? We haven't recovered yet from the last battle."
Alison Monroe stepped around from the open door of the Ram and joined Drake and Jessica. She loaded shells into a shotgun. "Because one master escaped. If we wait too long, she'll create another nest."
Jessica looked over at Alison, who wore her usual vampire hunting uniform, black leather pants with a black turtleneck sweater, both of which she filled out quite nicely. Jessica tried unsuccessfully to curtail her jealousy. "How large could the nest get in only five days?"
"Masters have been known to sire up to two vampires a night. And each of those vampires can sire vampires of their own." Alison finished loading the shotgun. "You do the math."
"Fifty-one, to be exact." Jim Delmarco joined the group. "That's assuming that each vampire sired two vampires a day every day over the past five days."
"Why are you so sure the nest is here?"
"It's more of an educated guess," said Jim. "This was where the police found the car that was stolen near Wolf Trap the night we destroyed the nest. Assuming the surviving master stole the car to make it home, and assuming she parked it near the nest, then this is as a good a place as any to start looking."
Jim reached under his jacket and pulled out a folded map, spreading it out on the Ram's lowered tailgate. Jessica leaned over to look at it. The map showed the sewer system underneath Washington. Superimposed on the map in light blue ink was a street map of the city. Several streets had red ovals hand-drawn around them, with a small red ‘X' in between the ovals. Jim placed his finger on the ‘X'.
"This is where we are. Where the police found the stolen car. I drove through the neighborhood two days ago, covering every street within a half-mile radius of this location, and noted all the abandoned buildings. There are more than a dozen closed stores on this and the adjacent street. A boarded up school two blocks to our west. And a whole street of condemned row houses three blocks to the east."
"We'll start our search at the row houses and work our way back." Drake unholstered his pair of Glocks and inserted into each firearm a magazine containing ten .40 caliber hollow-point rounds filled with holy water. He chambered one round into each Glock and slid the weapons into his twin shoulder holsters.
"Why won't you let me go with you?" asked Jessica. Although relieved that Drake did not expect her to crawl through the sewer, part of her resented that Drake would be down there relying on Alison rather than her. "I can take care of myself."
Alison rolled her eyes.
Drake was more diplomatic. "I need you up here to make sure no one blocks the manhole in case we need to get out in a hurry."
Jessica feigned a smile. "I think I can handle that."
"I know you can." Drake took Jessica's hand in his and gave it a gentle squeeze, then turned to the others. "We ready?"
Jim finished folding the map and slid it into the pouch beside the two bottles of Heaven's Fire, homemade napalm laced with chunks of crystallized holy water. He closed and secured the flap. "I guess so."
Alison switched on the high-powered flashlight she had taped to the shotgun's barrel, then pulled back the slide to load a round into the chamber. "Let's kick some vampire ass."
The hunters stepped over to the open manhole. Drake crouched down and lowered his legs into the opening. When he had his footing on the access ladder, he began to climb down.
"Drake," Jessica called after him. "Be careful."
Alison stepped directly in front of Jessica. "Don't worry. I'll take care of him." She followed her boss into the manhole.
Jim entered last.
Jess stood alone in the street, cursing herself for being so useless.
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