8.7 The Goat

by Matt P.

Nadezhda went supremely still for a moment, considering the four of them, before Walter saw her shake her head and smirk. “I didn’t expect that all of you would, although I knew that the Major did,” she offered. Now it was Walter’s turn to go very still and raise his eyebrow. The other’s caught on after a second, and the gaze from the two Queens almost could have burnt through the table in front of them.

A number of different responses went through Walter’s mind, tumbling one after another. The cliche would be You seem to have me at a disadvantage. His natural instinct was What the fuck do you know and how do you know it? He settled for keeping a poker face and keeping his eyebrow raised, while responding mildly. “Why did you know that?”

Nadezhda gave a little bit of a smile, leaning back in her chair. “Mr. Richards, you cannot imagine how frustrating you’ve been to us today.” She reached out a hand and pulled out a folder, which she opened in a very police-esque style to reveal the pictures inside. “You’ve been everywhere important to us, and it’s caused us to be very concerned.”

Walter smirked, and he saw a somewhat proud look on Morgan’s face at the revelation of his capabilities for annoyance and concern. Tanya’s look, on the other hand, could be best summed up as See, someone else feels my pain. “It’s hard for me to feel too awful about it when they’ve involved attacking my children, attacking myself, and I didn’t even know I was doing it.”

The vampire woman leaned back, considering him again. Maybe she had thought it had all been part of a brilliant master plan—maybe Walter should have let her keep thinking that, except he had no idea how he would have kept that high wire act going if he had been called on it. “You found our…unfortunate lost ones this morning, then you were working with a doctor at the Hospital to try to figure out what was wrong with the poor lost lamb,” she offered, managing to sound sad—although whether at the young woman’s plight or at having lost her, he didn’t know. “Then even worse, you were talking with the Reverend, and somehow even worse than that you were at the research facility. For not knowing what you were doing you did a very good job of it—I’m impressed.”

Morgan couldn’t help but speak up now. “We’ve always thought he had great potential as an accidental ruiner of evil schemes. In High School he was voted ‘Most likely to accidentally save the world,’ unanimously.” She smirked.

“Mmm,” Nadezhda replied, glancing to the Faerie Queen circumspectly. Walter noted both sides were careful not to make direct eye contact, and resolved that he should do so going forward as well. “Is there anything that I could do to convince to stop opposing us in this?” She asked, plainly. Every one of them on Walter’s side of the table reacted with some form of muted, poker faced surprise. None of them had expected her to come out and speak so plainly.

“Weren’t we supposed to obliquely dance around for a while?” Walter asked, stalling for time to think. “I remember that from endless staff meetings, at least.”

Nadezhda smirked at that, albeit briefly. “Why? Eternity is filled with too many opportunities to waste words. I can promise you we are not actually trying to destroy the Border or the world. As a wise man once said, that’s where I keep my stuff. And all of the lovely people who taste so delicious. We are trying to win a war, and this is a part of it.” She scanned his face for a reaction. “Have they told you the differences between ourselves and our brethren on this continent?” At his blank look, her smirk returned. “We create more of ourselves, but the very act of creation weakens us—and the more children you create in a short amount of time, the weaker they are. Vampiric diminishing returns, so to speak. Our American kin make them so rarely that they are far more powerful than the majority of European vampires. So we stale mate, and exist in a kind of cold war you would be very familiar with, from your record.”

Walter considered that, nodding. “And this is a way of changing that. Of making as many as you want with some kind of strength parity. Win the war because now you can out-breed them and not increase the power differential.” Now it was Nadezhda’s turn to nod, and Walter shook his head. “So here are the problems with that. First…your science project tried to kill my children today, and if I read our conversation right you tried to kill me today with mercenaries. So I’m not inclined to give you any benefit of the doubt. Even if I was, second…” Walter trailed off, considering his words, before he shrugged. “Like my old Drill Sergeant used to say, you can’t un-fuck the goat.” Nadezhda, Tania, and Morgan all blinked at him, while Ryan was apparently used to th idiom.

“And that means exactly what?” The vampire woman asked.

“It means even if I believed you, once you know how to mass produce blood suckers there’s no way that’s just used for this war. Same as nukes—once something like this is out there, it doesn’t go away,” Walter explained. “You don’t use it for that, someone else will. Whether now or later, once you can put vampires together out of the medicine cabinet someone is going to use it and try to take over the world.”

Nadezhda’s gaze moved from Walter to Morgan, Tania, and Ryan in turn, looking for somewhere she could go next. Eventually she gave a simple shrug of her shoulders, and looked back to Walter. “I expected it wouldn’t work, but it never hurts. Now then,” she continued, pulling a slender green crystal out of her desk and putting it on her table. “Let’s talk about what’s going on right now at the hospital.”