Blood of the Hunted
Note: Can you believe that this is my first newly posted thing since April? "What Would You Do for a Porno Stash?" is the last thing I've finished.
Chapter 2: The Church of Eternal Life
[ "I just don't want Gohan to get
pissed because I've seen what he can do when you screw with his family. If I
lose his daughter then I'll lose my life and I'm not done with it yet." -
Her parents were gone after she got up on Saturday and there was a note taped to her forehead (her tousan's handiwork) instructing her on what to clean. Pan thought it was too bad that she couldn't use the dragonballs for "frivolous" reasons.
The doorbell rang and she had to run downstairs, almost breaking a leg when she slipped on the carpet runner. Of course by the time she opened the door the ringer was gone.
But an envelope was shoved underneath the welcome mat.
They were different this time, both the envelope and the letter, and she decided to open it right there on the front stoop in her black-and-silver pajamas.
To Son Pan:
I have seen you with Kirsten and would like to speak with you. Come to the Church on Satan City Boulevard tonight. The Master can lead the way.
If that woman thought that her archrival was going to lead her straight to her place of worship then there was something seriously wrong with her mind.
"Pan-chan?" She looked up and into the very confused face of Bra Briefs. "Why are you outside at noon dressed in only your pjs?" The letter was handed to her without a word and the other girl went back upstairs to get dressed.
"Not *this* again!" She heard her whine loudly. The feeling was completely mutual.
"We have to go, you know," Pan called back to her.
Her voice grew closer with every word. "Why's that? Why can't we just burn this stupid letter and forget about everything?"
Pan's dark head pushed through the neck of her usual red crop top with yellow trim. "We're supposed to be the good guys."
A small nose wrinkled is distaste. "Please, for the love of kami, tell me that you aren't wearing that again."
"I'm wearing it again," Pan grinned as she stuffed her feet into her shoes, "and again and again and again." She looked at Bra's own clothing, a red mini skirt and matching top, and rolled her eyes. "Please tell me that you aren't dressing like a two-dollar whore again."
It was Bra's turn to smile. "I'm wearing it again and again and again and again."
Everyone was awake at the Briefs home except Trunks. The demi-Saiya-jin, when Pan peeked into his room, was sprawled out flat on his back, snoring away. Bra whispered to her that he probably wouldn't be up until two and that she could catch him coming from the shower around two-oh-five. That made Pan blush and her friend chuckle.
Vegeta was impatient and it showed. He had been convinced a few months ago by Pan that training her would be to his best benefit. Like her father, she considered her grandfather to be entirely too gentle when they sparred. She had learned from him as a small child but she felt that it was time to move on.
"I figured that you weren't going to show today," he said without glancing up from his stretching. "Convincing Bra that wearing designer clothes while training is a bad thing to do takes a while. I should know."
"Papa!" his daughter protested. "I don't act that silly."
The response was the same for both. "Right," Vegeta and Pan said. "Sure you don't."
They sparred for hours and Pan successfully worked her frustration out on her adopted uncle. Bra took breaks ever half-hour that began life as tiny things but ended up as gigantic wastes of time. After breaking for lunch and losing Bra to a phone call, the two of them sparred again.
"I need advice," Pan began as she and Vegeta rested late in the evening.
One eyebrow rose. "And you're asking me because...?"
"You'll tell me the truth." She gazed up at the appearing stars and sighed. "Some woman wants my help and for some odd reason I really believe that I'm the only one who can help her."
"And she's a vampire." Pan glanced over at his reaction. There wasn't one. "Didn't you hear me, Veggie-ojisan?"
"So she's a vampire. Big deal." He shrugged. "Nothing special."
A 'I can't believe he just said that' look came over her face. "We're not on the same wavelength here. Vampires aren't supposed to exist! They aren't just pale people with fangs, you know. You must think they're just another race, don't you?"
"Race as in skin color or race as in species?"
"Race as in color."
He thought about that for a moment. "Maybe I did assume that they were. This planet has a huge problem with people that are different than they are. Saiya-jin were never like that, we were only one race no matter how dark or light your skin color was."
"Right, Veggie-ojisan," she turned over onto her side to face him and propped her head up onto her elbow. "Vampires are creatures from horror movies that shouldn't exist. They drink Ningen blood to survive and sleep during the day to arise during the night. I should have known that at the root of all fiction there is always some tiny grain of truth."
"And now you've met some of these supposedly "fictional" creatures. Why do they need your help and not Kakarotto's?" He was a little bitter about that one. Just because he didn't often help people didn't mean that he couldn't do it.
"That's what I don't understand."
The backdoor opened slightly. "Pan-chan! It'll be sunset soon!"
"We're going to the Church of Eternal Life, tonight." As predicted, Vegeta perked up at the words "eternal life". "Would you, um, like to come too?" She had a bad feeling about everything and a little backup wouldn't hurt. If she could, she would be asking every powerful person that she knew. That would be a little *too* suspicious, though.
He got to his feet, interested in the Church. "Do I have to dress up or anything?"
"Probably not. Be ready in twenty minutes, I have to back home and change."
He looked down at her. "You really think that you can just give me an order without being yelled at?"
"Of course. I'm one of your favorite people."
Vegeta grunted before heading off into the house.
"And that, ladies and gentlemen," Pan said to an imaginary audience, "was Vegeta-ese for 'hai'."
She didn't know what she had been expecting but the building she saw wasn't anything like it. Maybe she imagined an ancient stone building heavy with Gothic architecture or something along the lines of traditional Japanese. Whatever the style she envisioned, it was completely the opposite.
Pan, Bra, and Vegeta stood on the sidewalk before the wide wooden steps that led up to the main entrance. People, from the conservative to the liberal, had been coming in a steady stream almost from the moment they had arrived and it was nearly sunset. The building was painted white with dark green and pale yellow trim and the grounds were landscaped with small yellow and white flowers. Pan turned and saw that the sun had moved completely below the horizon line and that full-dark was, at last, upon them.
"Well, let's get this over with," she said slightly nervously. They joined the crowd of people that stood in the vestibule waiting for the inner doors to the main part of the church to open. At precisely eight o'clock two Ningen ushered everyone inside.
It was... magnificent. On the outside you received the feeling of modest elegance but inside it was a completely different story. The pews were made of some light colored wood that shone in the light of the golden chandeliers that hung high above. The carpet was a pale, pale cream that perfectly matched the white and gold pattern that covered the walls. There were none of the things along them that you usually saw in churches such as crucifixes and images of saints but what replaced their presence drew the eye just as well.
There were rows upon rows of paintings, some dating back to ancient times by the look of the clothing and the hairstyles. The one that really caught Pan's attention was set during the middle ages. A woman was walking down the street alone at night, never noticing the eyes of blue fire that watched her from the shadows. Just looking at it made chills run down her spine.
Pan, Bra, and Vegeta took seats in the middle on the hard wooden pews and the church soon filled nearly to capacity. Obviously Kirsten hadn't been exaggerating when she said that the Church of Eternal Life was popular. If any more people decided to show up, they would have to stand in the back.
"Come all ye who seek eternal life," a gentle voice said clearly from behind her. The three of them all turned at the same time and found a brunette of average height in a simple navy dress with white lace trim. She slowly began to glide up the aisle -- there was no other word for it, she was moving too smoothly to be walking -- and at various points paused briefly to smile at people. When she reached Pan's row she actually bent down slightly to whisper something to her.
"Meet me after the service. I have information." Then she smiled and Pan found herself smiling back.
"Pan-chan," Bra pinched her on the arm. "Why do you have that stupid look on your face?"
The tiny pain jerked her out of the stupor. "She did something to me."
"What are you talking about?"
"Kirsten did almost the same thing, remember? Mind tricks."
The other members of the congregation were staring adoringly at the altar and the beautiful woman who stood behind it. They were hanging onto every word from her mouth and every movement from her body so it was no surprise that, when she paused in her speech to ask the people if any wanted to become members of the church, all of them jumped to their feet. Pan couldn't take it anymore, something had to be done.
"Wait a damn minute!" She shouted, her voice echoing in the silence. She pushed her way through the people in the aisle until she was standing before the altar. "You're using some kind of power on these people and I can't let you continue to do it."
Several other vampires had rose from their seats around Jezebelle but she held up her hand to pause their movement. "These people came willingly to my church, dear Pan. Surely they also will willingly join us in the fellowship."
"Remove the magic from their minds, first, then ask them."
"So young and so deluded," she said with a smile. "You can't order me about like a child. I am centuries older than you are, Pan. Always remember that. I promise you that I will help you solve the murder mystery but I will not promise anything else." She looked out into the sea of people. "Now, who wants to receive eternal life?"
Pan was almost trampled by eager worshippers and she made it through the crowd without incident. Bra was standing by their pew, Vegeta nowhere to be found. "*Please* don't tell me he's up there trying to become immortal?!"
"Okay, I won't tell you." Bra shrugged. "I can't stop him from doing something stupid. Not like kaasan can, anyway."
"Vegeta-ojisan!" she called, trying to track him down by his ki signature. The people were being led away to a back room by some of Jezebelle's people until the only person left was the man she was searching for.
He shook his head as he stared at the room that, to him, led to the Promised Land. "I can't do it. At least not until I learn more about being a vampire. What if I lost all of my skills?"
"You have to stay Saiya-jin!" Pan said firmly. "Vampire's don't live forever. As soon as someone gets their hands on a wooden stake or holy water you're toast."
"But what if they don't? How long would I live if no one tried to off me?"
Jezebelle descended from the pulpit and grasped his hands between her own. "You would live for all eternity."
"Forget it," he snapped as he yanked his hands away. A problem with immortality was making itself known. "Why would I want to do that? If everyone I know now were dead then there would really be no point in continuing on, would there?"
"You could make new friends. You could have new lovers." Her brown eyes continued to try and draw him inward even as her voice took on a distinctly seductive edge. "We would be your new family."
Pan passed between them and broke the spell while Bra tried to snap her father out of his trance. "Look, lady, I don't have time to stand here and watch you play games with my ojisan. Give me your information so that I can get started on this case."
"Very well," she replied as her voice cooled ten degrees. "I will help you only because my own people are also targets. Kirsten and I have a rather bad history."
"So I've heard," Pan said before turning to Bra. "You stay here with him and maybe keep him from trying to kill my informant."
She nodded. "I'll try but no guarantees, alright? He may be my papa but *no one* can control him."
"Good enough for me."
The office consisted of only a couch, two chairs, a small table, and a filing cabinet. There were no personal items or plants on the shelves and no photos hanging on the walls. It was a spartan, uncluttered room and it suited Jezebelle perfectly.
The vampire made herself comfortable in a dark green wing chair and Pan took the seat directly across from her.
"Ten days ago there was dissension among the ranks of Kirsten's supposedly close-knit group," the woman began. "It seems that some felt that we have remained hidden for long enough and that it was time to take our rightful place in the world. The small group of them were overruled but the debate never ceased. A few days after that, the first vampire was killed."
Her face lost it's semi-normal healthy color as she remembered the corpse. "In all of my six hundred years as a vampire, I have never seen anything like it. The man wasn't just murdered, he was brutally slain. Signs of torture marked his body and his internal organs, save his heart, were lying by his feet. His wrists had also been slit and so much of the life-giving liquid had been spilled upon the ground." She sighed. "Such a waste."
She had to ask. "The blood or the man?"
"The man, of course. Do you think me so heartless that I would not care that a life had been taken?"
"If the shoe fits..."
The color that had newly returned grew darker. "How dare you say that to me in my own office?! I graciously offer you help and you insult my morals!"
'Pissing her off won't help anyone,' Pan said to herself. "I apologize, please continue." Jezebelle took a deep breath to calm herself and did so.
"You will probably need a description of the torture done to Armand. Everyone has a distinctive style. First of all there were silver chain burns on his wrists and ankles. Silver is the only type of metal that can harm us seriously. If he had survived the torture, those marks would had lasted forever. There were at least a hundred small cuts on his body, inflicted with a silver blade of course, and considerable bruising around his groin area."
"Was he, er, raped?" Pan was beginning to think that she was completely out of her league.
A shrug. "No one is sure since the one who tortured him hasn't been found. It's my belief that something artificial was used. Whoever did that amount of damage to him probably got off on the knifing. That's why there were so many careful cuts." She looked at Pan's face and smiled slightly. "You're feeling overwhelmed, aren't you?"
"I don't know why Kirsten thinks that I'm the one for the job. I've never seen a dead body in real life and, as much as I hate to admit it, I'm still a kid. Maybe my tousan's right, I don't think I can help you."
Jezebelle nodded and Pan watched as her eyes unfocused. "You have great power and not just in the physical sense. Your ki is strong but so is your preternatural energy. Has Kirsten told you anything about us?"
"Only a little. I still don't understand how you exist."
"We have always existed but chose not to be seen. As I am undead, your power calls to me in way that I cannot understand. It's something ancient, something that transcends time."
Pan didn't like the way she said that. "You're over six centuries old! If *you* don't know what's going on with me, who does?"
"Kirsten is the daughter of a Viking so it might be better to ask her instead."
"That little annoying girl has been a vampire for over a thousand years?!" Stranger things were true, she ought to know. Figuring that she wasn't going to get much more information from Jezebelle, she excused herself from the office. "Contact me if you have any other information. I'm sure you'll find a way."
"Certainly. Have a nice evening."
Pan left feeling more confused than ever before. At first she had only been talked into solving a murder but now it seemed that she was somehow linked to the undead. "I used to just be Son Pan, a quarter Saiya-jin teenage girl," she sighed. "Now I know how tousan felt at my age."
She and Vegeta bumped into each other, literally. Bra had talked him out of storming the office in a rage but after a short time he had begun to pace. "If she isn't out in a five minutes I'm going in after her."
"I didn't know you cared so much about her, Papa," Bra had said with a pleased smile.
He waved her comment away. "I just don't want Gohan to get pissed because I've seen what he can do when you screw with his family. If I lose his daughter then I'll lose my life and I'm not done with it yet."
"Oh, Papa," she sighed.
The extra minutes he had allotted the Pan quickly flew by and, true to his word, he was headed off to the back office as soon as the second hand on his watch hit twelve. She emerged from the room at exactly the same time and collided at chest height.
Looking up, a brilliant smile spread over her face. "You were worried about me!"
"Excuse me! Are you two going to act like little kids for the remainder of the night? If so then I'm going on home. You two can stay here and argue."
Pan blushed when she realized what she was doing. "Um, I have to get home anyway. Tousan and kaasan's already mad at me but I don't have to make it worse. I was supposed to clean my room today and I forgot."
"You didn't forget," Bra said with certainty.
"I will have by the time I talk to my parents," she winked and both of them laughed.
Vegeta just stared at them. Ningen behavior was slowly being understood but teenage behavior still eluded him completely.
He had no idea that everything was the way that it was supposed to be.