Chapter II: Night Stalker, page 14Mature

Rebecca let out a shout of satisfaction as the levers were finally pushed up and she heard the sound of the machine come to an abrupt stop. However, she startled immediately afterwards at the horrid sound of crushed bones and splattered flesh, and she turned around just in time to witness with horror the vampire plunge his fist in the priest's chest. Father de Sainte Croix didn't even gasp, and seemed to be in peaceful contemplation of the moment, waiting for death to come and take him as a pool of his own blood formed underneath him.

Rebecca's scream of absolute despair resounded all over the basement. She cried, but as the vampire laughed, mocked her sorrow, she glared at him and her pain soon transformed into something else, a sublime sentiment of undistilled hatred. Like every teenager, she had been mad at people before, of course, but in this very moment, she discovered a whole new feeling, the unquestioned desire to kill someone, to rip him apart and cast the very concept of his existence to oblivion. The feeling consumed her, burned her soul, she could actually feel the flames, and she eventually realized the flames were real, spurting from her hands and legs, wrapping all her body in inferno. In panic she stopped breathing and looked, bewildered, unable to process what was going on. The flames were burning her clothes off but not actually burning her, she didn't feel any pain, and before she could control herself enough to try to extinguish them, an overwhelming feeling came from her bosom, an explosion of sensations, and the white light engulfed her again, and in this light she felt a hot and somewhat wet sensation against her skin, like some liquid being poured on her, on her arms, her legs, her chest, her back, and even her head was completely covered in a thick shiny substance that looked like molten metal. She felt her vision blur, black and red shadows dancing before her eyes as she realized she had forgotten to breathe, and when she finally released her lungs and allowed them to catch some air, she found that the white light and the flames had receded and she was back in the basement. But she felt different.

The Cross was no longer in her hand, instead she found out she was holding a short sword made of immaculate white steel. And she was wearing a gauntlet. As she looked at herself, she found herself covered from head to toe in a silvery suit of armour, with the Cross now resting in the middle of her chest-plate, like an emblem. She was confused. Did the Cross, spurred by her pure rage, spawn that armour and sword for her to fight? Was that its true power, as the priest said? And what kind of metal was it, that looked as tough as a real armour, yet as fitting and flexible as a spandex suit? There was even a helmet covering her whole head and face, but somehow the metal it was made of allowed her to breathe as easily as if there was nothing, and even see through at though it were made of glass. And the power! Such strength she felt flowing in her veins, hot magma heating up her muscles and burning up her soul for the war! The increase of strength she had felt before couldn't compare, here in this armour she felt at least ten times stronger! She raised her sword – it was light as a feather! – and pointed it menacingly at the monster.

“This time you can say your prayers, Moorcock!” her voice came out through the helmet as a deep, metallic tone.

“Impressive!” the vampire hissed. “So this is the power of the Bearer... that would make for an interesting battle...” and with a shake of his hand, he produced his own weapon out of thin air, a cavalry sabre.

Rebecca rushed, raised her sword and brought it down, but it hit nothing but empty space. The vampire had moved right beside her, and the armour, sensing it, prompted the girl to move her sword to parry. The sensation of steel clashing against steel... so exciting. She turned to face him, pushed him away, and struck again with her two hands, but the monster blocked it with only one hand, pushed her blade aside, struck in a swift and elegant motion, and she barely had time to dodge and throw a clumsy counter-attack that failed pathetically. She felt strong, but Moorcock was quick and had a great technique. The way he moved, those elegant, dance-like steps, the way he held his sabre with only one hand while keeping his other hand behind his back... he was a skilled fencer, while she was swinging her sword around like a baseball bat. After a few turns playing with her, dodging her brutish attacks with ease, Moorcock eventually landed a slash at her shoulder, at a spot where the armour was thinner. Rebecca yelled and collapsed as the blow re-opened the wound the younger vampire had inflicted earlier, and the acute sensation, like a burn, brought tears to her eyes. No, stay focused! She stood back on her feet and raised her sword with her valid arm. The monster was now mocking her, appearing and disappearing randomly around her while his laugh echoed down the hall. Was he teleporting or was he just moving really fast? Doesn't matter, stay focused, and let the armour do its job. He appeared behind her, and the armour took over instantly to make Rebecca turn around and parry. He disappeared again. Where was he? There, against the wall! Without thinking, she rushed and struck, but he disappeared just in time and her blade clashed heavily against the stones, sending unpleasant vibrations all over her body. Then the horrid sensation of being cut overwhelmed her again, first behind one knee, then the other, and she collapsed, dropped her sword, and lay there helpless. He had tricked her to make her lose her concentration, and waited for an opportunity to strike. Always so cunning... and there he was, dominating her, as she had lost the use of both her legs and an arm, and was struggling to rise up even slightly.

“Strong, but stupid,” he gloated. “If that can console you, you put up a good fight, young lady. Now it has to end.”

He raised his sabre. She knew she was defenceless, so she closed her eyes, ready to be beheaded. Then she startled at a dull, metallic sound, and when she opened her eyes again, she saw that somehow, the vampire's blade was stuck to the Cross on her chest, which was glowing. And he was pulling hard but did not manage to shake it off. What? Had the Cross... attracted the blade like a magnet to keep it from hurting her? Without even thinking, she took advantage of the situation as she picked up her sword and swung it at the exposed arm. There was a shrill cry as the arm was slashed off at the elbow, and the severed limb disappeared in ashes in an instant, while the wounded monster stepped back, his valid hand clutching his stump, his eyes glowing with the savage glow of a hunted beast. Rebecca stood up victorious, her wounds healed by the power of the armour, but as she was about to deliver the finishing blow, the vampire suddenly laughed and his body seemed to decompose, separating itself in dozens of small black entities that spread their wings and flew up to the exit, squeaking in the night sky. For a while, Rebecca stood alone and confused in the empty hallway, until the voice of her friend calling her brought her back to reality.

“Rebecca?” Sally asked, frightened at the sight of the knight that stood on the edge of the pit, above her. “Is that you?”

“Yes, it's me. Wait a second...” and she helped the girl rejoin her in the hallway.

“Oh my God, oh no!” Sally yelled at the sight of the priest's blood-soaked corpse. The two girls rushed to kneel down by his side. In the heat of the battle, Rebecca had almost forgotten him. As they were examining him, wondering if he was dead, he let out a hollow rattle that surprised them.

“Father?” Rebecca asked eagerly as she took off her helmet. “Father, you're alive!”

“Rebecca,” he said feebly, gathering his last breaths. “You're so beautiful... so you are the new Bearer indeed!”

“Don't speak too much, Father! Save your strengths, we're getting you to the hospital!”

“It's useless, young lady. I will die in peace, knowing I have accomplished the most sacred of missions... where is Moorcock?”

“I'm sorry, Father... I was about to kill him, but he... turned into a flock of bats and fled.”

“That's okay... you will make mistakes, that's normal. Just remember... you have gained an immense power, as well as an immense responsibility... for you are now the only thing that stands between this world and the forces of evil. Lucifer is smart and he will try to get to you... get you to stand by his side... you must stay strong, but don't worry, the armour will protect you. Just remember...” he raised his hand and caressed her cheek tenderly. “Have faith. Always.” And as he put his hand down, he closed his eyes and passed away in peace. They wept bitterly. How long they remained there weeping over his corpse they did not know, but eventually Rebecca stood up, her mind calm and clear as water, illuminated by a renewed faith, and a sense of her sacred mission. She would make sure the gentle Father de Sainte Croix did not die in vain. She was determined for this.

“Come, Sally. It's time to go home.”

“Yeah, Becca. But... aren't we forgetting something?”

“Oh God, Donnie!”

The girl was still dangling over the now still grinder, and it looked like the terror of her circumstances had been too much for her to bear: she had fainted. Rebecca quickly released her with a slash of her sword, and lay her gently on her back in the hallway.

“Donnie? Donnie, wake up!”

The girl's eyes began to move under her lids as she slowly came back to her senses. Rebecca hastily put her helmet back on before she opened her eyes and looked at her. Still groggy, she smiled with gratitude.

“Who are you?” she asked.

“Shh,” Rebecca answered. “You've been through a great shock, you need to rest. But don't worry, everything will be fine. You're safe.”

“I've been saved... by a knight... in shiny... armour... who would've thought...”

And she lost consciousness again.

The End

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