11.4 The Other Kind of Vampire

by Matt P.

The woman looked young; her hair had the kind of fineness that one associates with youth. It was like corn silk, and it looked like it wanted to float on the light breeze that was breathing against them.

For a long moment Walter didn’t know whether or not to point his gun at this random interloping young woman, or ask her if she was lost. But she had also addressed him by title, and that made him figure she was probably there on purpose. Fortunately for him, the decision of how to respond was taken away from him.

Morgan and Tania walked out in front of the group of police and other assorted law enforcement and paramilitary types, and gave a polite inclination of their heads to the woman. The way they moved was so similar that no one could deny they were related; or at least that they had spent a great deal of time working together and learning one another’s mannerisms.

“Lady Agathe Zoller, what an unexpected pleasure,” Morgan offered, and she actually sounded like she was pleased to see the woman here. “We offer you peace and safe passage, if you have come to speak. May we expect the same from you?” She asked. The ritual phrasing made Walter sure that it was a diplomatic term of art—Morgan was offering very meaningful things and expecting them in return.

“These are not my lands to offer safe passage, Queen Mab,” Agathe offered, curtsying to the Faerie monarch at what Walter believed to be a fairly respectful depth. “But I offer you no harm, nor will the one that I brought with me who is waiting in the cabin do so. Any harm which comes to you from anything else is not from ours, and we will help you fend them off to the best of our ability.”

Tania shared a look with her sister, weighing the words before answering. “We judge that to be fair. We accept your terms, and offer the same in return.”

“Thank you, Queen Titania,” Agathe answered, with another curtsy. “Would you do us the honor of a formal introduction to your companions?” She asked, looking back to the group of us curiously. Morgan nodded, and gestured to us one after another.

“Sir Walter Richards, Marshal of the Border,” she introduced me. “And his subordinates Deputy Marshals Andre Alexander and Leah Silverman. Sir Ryan Aquino, Knight of the Faerie Courts. Colonel Catherine Ashland, late of the Central Intelligence Agency, and her subordinates Sergeant Major Taito Hernandez and Captain Gavin Neill. The Captain is of our blood but not of our courts, in case he smells or feels like us. Ladies and Gentlemen, this is Agathe Zoller, acknowledged by treaty as a free-holding Lady and the head of the American Vampire delegation.”

That round of introductions brought glares and confused looks from almost everyone, and while Walter was the first one to question it he was hardly the only one. “Ashland isn’t your first name, and your first name is Catherine?” He asked, turning to Ashland. “And of course you’re a Colonel, I’m not even sure why that’s surprising to me.”

“How in the hell did you get my full name and rank?” Ashland demanded of Morgan, before shooting Walter a glare that could have melted steel beams. “I’ve never been much of a fan of my first name, so I don’t use it.”

Gavin had a much more mundane question, Walter thought. “Wait, I smell like a Faerie?” He asked, before Leah winced.

“When you say it like that it definitely does not sound OK to say out loud. I’m just not sure what’s the better way to say it,” she offered, reaching out to give the Air Force Captain a pat on the arm. “If she’s a vampire she probably can smell your heritage on you. Like if you train yourself you can tell what country a wine is from by the smell.”

“Not entirely comfortable with the idea of Vampire sommeliers, thanks,” Taito answered absently. But even he was giving Ashland a little bit of a side-eye, like this might be the first time he realized his boss could be called Cathy.

“American Vampire Delegation?” Walter managed to ask, dragging his eyes away from Ashland and her increasingly laser like death glare to come back to the matter at hand. “How is that different than the Vampires that we’ve already met?” He asked Morgan. Morgan in turn looked over to Agathe.

“Do you wish to explain, or would you like me to sum up?” The Winter Queen asked curiously. At Agathe’s ‘Go ahead’ motion, Morgan rolled her eyes. “I am not the exposition fairy, Marshal,” she offered with a sigh. “But nonetheless. There is only one kind of Western Vampire—that is, this statement does not include Jiangshi, which we have already discussed. But there are two different…parties of those Vampires—the European, and the American.”

“So Nadezhda is the European?” Walter asked. Morgan nodded.

“The European Vampires most closely align with what you think of when I say ‘Vampire’. Modeling themselves off of mortal nobility, ‘I do not drink…wine’, and elaborate societies where making new vampires is part of your stature,” Morgan rattled off. She even put a little bit of Lugosi-like accent on to the line about not drinking wine, and rolled her eyes as she did so. “They are the older kind, and claim with some credibility to be descended from Vampiric societies in Rome.”

Agathe apparently decided she did want to do some of the explaining, as she continued from where Morgan took a moment to breathe. “As time went on there were those of us who were not happy with that society. It is all about power, prestige, showing off, ostentatious cruelty,” she listed with a sigh. “But then there was the new world, a shining beacon of hope for us. Those of us who wanted to have nothing to do with the Vampiric society of the old world took to the new, smuggling ourselves over on ships. We do not make many of us, because we see this as being much of a burden as a gift. As a result while there are fewer of us, we are generally individually stronger than those who make a lot of new vampires.”

“Most of America belongs, perhaps understandably, by the Americans. The Europeans only have strongholds on the East Coast, and in Border; where by treaty they coexist with their cousins because this city is not to be used as a battlefield,” Morgan finished. She turned to Agathe. “So what is it that you wish to speak of?”

Agathe smiled a little bit deviously. “How my dear cousins have been subverting the spirit of the treaties by trying to create a whole new order that they are in control of.”