Girls Bite Back

36 – Lisa

The midst of battle was chaotic and confusing and disorienting—at least, according to what she'd heard from Luna and Jacklyn. Lisa had never fought anyone before; witches were advocates of peace and tolerance. They took no stand on either side of the cold war against the vampires. The hospital where Esmeralda worked even went as far as to welcome the undead in as patients.

So when Francis's thugs charged, headed by Jay and that Emma woman, Lisa found herself frozen and conflicted. She couldn't move. Her mind raced. Oh God, what was I thinking? I'm not a slayer! I can't fight!

Luna went straight for Jay while the wolves went for the grunts. His lips stretched away from red-stained teeth into a terrifying snarl, eyes glowing a dangerous cyan. Luna ducked just as Jay swung; his claws slashed across the wall, and she aimed a shattering uppercut to his perfect jawline. He stumbled back, unbalanced, and Luna lunged. Her ringed fist stopped inches from Jay's nose, halted by his calloused palm. He growled in her face, "I'm going to enjoy draining you before I rip your corpse limb from limb."

She smiled dauntlessly. "You're just salty because I wouldn't sleep with you at Mav's pool party last summer, aren't you?"

Jay matched her smile with a grin of his own. "Please. You choosing to fuck with a slobbering dog over a real man doesn't have anything to do with this."

Luna smashed the butt of Emma's handgun into the side of his face. Lisa cried out as his blood spattered her legs, warm and sticky and pungent. A cold hand took hold of her arm, causing her to scream and frantically wave her paintbrush. Sparks flew from the bristles, crackling like electricity, and a familiar voice cursed: "Jesus Christ—Lis, stop! It's me!"

"Cal!" Lisa stopped, quivering violently. Her knees knocked together as she struggled to remain steady. "Oh—you're bleeding," she stated dumbly.

"Doesn't matter." Pascal wiped a smear of blood from his neck. He clutched Luna's Bowie knife in his free hand. "Look, Lis: I know you don't like violence, but we're outnumbered here. We need you."

"What can I do?" Lisa flinched as the larger wolf—Jack—mercilessly ripped off the head of an unfortunate grunt. Rivulets of blood turned to powdery ash halfway to the ground. She clenched her jaw. Nausea churned her belly like butter.

"Do some magic," Pascal encouraged. One of the goons snuck away from the main fight, eyeing the pair hungrily. Before he could attack, Pascal was on him and they fell to the ground in a feral whirl of teeth and blades. Sometimes, Lisa forgot that Pascal was born and raised a slayer. She's never seen him in action, and out of respect for her pacifist beliefs he'd never boasted about his kills around her, though she was sure any Moreau must have an impressive track record. And as it turns out, she was right. As a vampire Pascal fought like a beast, but there was a strategic manner to the way he attacked and defended that presented each move as planned out. There was purpose behind every swing, kick, and scratch. Nothing was random.

The tussle ended with Pascal ripping the knife across the vampire's throat. Sticky redness sprayed his entire front, followed by grey ash. A series of gunshots rang out, and two vampires clinging to Jack's back dissolved into dust. The wolf shook out his yellow coat and plunged back into the fray. Luna tossed the empty gun aside; it ricocheted off of an oncoming vamp's forehead and knocked him out. He collapsed into the ashy remains of his comrades, bleeding from the forehead. The smell of death lingered everywhere, invading Lisa's nostrils like a noxious gas.

"Lis," Pascal rasped, pulling himself to his feet. "Can't you cast a protection spell or something?"

He wasn't asking her to fight. He knew she couldn't hurt another being, mainly because she didn't have the guts. But he wanted—needed her protection. They all did. Cantrell had too many vamps at his disposal. If this went on, they would all surely die.

A sudden calmness flooded Lisa's racing mind. Her thoughts slowed to a comprehensible speed.

Protect those who live.

The spell. The first spell she'd ever learned, and the only spell Esmeralda said she'd ever need. The enchantment was taught to all young witches as a nursery rhyme. The words came back to Lisa in a dizzying rush:

Mother of life, protect those who live.

Ward beating hearts against those who don't.

Mother of life, your defenses give

To us against bodies dead as stone.

Lisa summoned her power into a ball at her core. It wound up tight, like a snake preparing to spring. She uttered the words, focusing the magic in her blood towards her outstretched arm; the brush's synthetic-hair, cruelty-free bristles glowed a serene silver, and a thrumming pulse of light washed over the entire hallway.

The fighting stopped. Cantrell's vampires found themselves attacking invisible walls that had formed around each of her friends. Luna paused to catch her breath as Jay raked his nails down her shield. Seeing that their opponents were halted, Jack and Jacklyn sat back on their haunches, panting with their tongues lolling out. They were all protected.

Except, of course, for Pascal. Lisa stepped in front of him, coaxing him back when he moved forward. "Don't," she whispered. "The spell won't work on you."

He begrudgingly dipped his chin and hid behind her, peering over her head at the scene in the hall.

"You think some magic trick is going to save you?" Jay pounded on Luna's force field, gnashing his teeth. "You can't stay in there forever."

"Wasn't planning on it." Luna swung and nailed him hard in the jaw. Something cracked after her fist connected, and Jay let out a pained cry.

"You bitch!" He worked his sore jaw, staring her down with wild eyes. "That shield may protect you…but what about your sister?"

"You stay away from her!"

"Looks like your pathetic rescue attempt wasn't as successful as you thought it would be." Jay laughed, licking his split lip. He stepped back, his position lax. "I'll see you later, Lulu." A whoosh of wind, and he was gone.

Her eyes widened, as large and bright as pools of starlight. "Fuck," Luna spat. She raked her fingers through her tangled hair, pacing anxiously around the hallway. Several of the straggling vampires stepped back warily. "Fuck!"

"Aw," Emma, leaning against the wall to support her shredded leg, sneered. "Run into a little bump in the road now, have you?"

Luna turned on her. "You." She pounced, took two fistfuls of Emma's filthy blouse, and slammed her ruthlessly against the wall. "Tell me where she is!"

Emma laughed. "It'll take more than a scolding to break me, little girl."

"How about losing a finger or two?"

"I will never betray my family."

"Family?" Luna cried. "You think you get to talk about family after what you did to mine?"

"I protect my own," Emma said with infuriating calmness. "Much the same as you slayers do. I am loyal to Francis and Anastasia. You'll have to kill me before I turn my back on them."

"And where are they now?" Luna sneered. "Hiding in some fancy penthouse while they let their family die for them?"

A flicker of emotion broke through Emma's stone mask, if only for a moment. Her lips curled. "You will not speak of them in such a manner," she hissed, low and threatening. "Your filthy human tongue soils their good name."

Luna smiled coldly; the look in her eyes was frighteningly callous. She leaned in to murmur in Emma's ear: "You're no use to me."

She flung Emma to the ground; the vampiress landed hard on the marble floor before the resting twins. The hall fell completely silent. Jack and Jacklyn tilted their heads, eyeing the fallen vampiress curiously. Their slimy tongues lolled out like fat pink worms.

She only had time to grit her teeth and push herself up on her elbows before the wolves sprang upon her. Her scream died in her throat as Jacklyn tore her head from her shoulders, and her corpse turned to ash. Jack, who'd had his jaws locked around her leg, sneezed out a cloud of black powder. He whined, and rubbed his dirty snout with an even dirtier paw. His eyes were big and brown, innocent as a puppy's, but the blood smeared around his face made him look like a monster. Lisa reached around to grip her boyfriend's hand. The spell wouldn't protect either of them against the wolves if their instincts prompted them to attack.

"Pascal." Luna stepped carefully over Emma's remains. "You said you saw my sister earlier. Where?"

Pascal wiped the knife on his sleeve. "Upstairs, in the apartments. She's staying with Isabella Cantrell."

Luna stiffened. "Who is that?"

"Their youngest daughter."

Luna took a knee and motioned for Jack to come towards her. He trotted forward, lowering his big tawny head to gently lap at her cheek. His blood-slicked snout left sticky residue on her skin.

"Jack, I need you to find Espi." Luna took his furry cheeks in her hands; on her knees, the wolf stood a head taller than her. "Can you do that for me? Please?"

Jack broke free of her embrace, bobbing his head in something like a nod, and charged back up the stairs that would take them to the Vagabond. Jacklyn followed him with a bark, her bloody paws slipping clumsily on the smooth marble of the stairs.

"Come on." Luna grabbed both Lisa and Pascal's hands. "Let's go."

Lisa exchanged a worried glance with Pascal. They left behind a mess of ash and blood as they ascended; Lisa's heart felt heavy as a boulder. Pascal looked sick—paler than usual, with a tint of grey to his sallow cheeks. Luna seemed to feel nothing at all.

Lisa wondered where the slayers drew a line between justice and murder.