"Face me, you cowards!" Samantha Kessler yelled into the darkness of her dream. It was the same dream she'd been having all year but for once, Sam wasn't fretting over the ever-shrinking line of future Slayers, or pondering the centuries-long line of historical Slayers. She was too mad for that. "Show yourselves and face me!"
Somewhere out in the dark, in her dreams as in the real world, a conspiracy of former-hippie, tie-dye-wearing vampires scuttled and plotted. Sam could smell the rancid pall of grave-rot and marijuana that surrounded them, but she couldn't see them until they got close. They were too good at hiding. Even her animal allies, the birds, bats, and rodents that let her ride behind their beady little eyes, merely got glimpses now and then. Only when her enemies got over-confident, hunting in her own backyard, as it were, Sam could reach out and stake them. Some of them; there were always more. Sometimes, it seemed as if every vampire sired between 1960 and 1980 were here in Solomon, lined up against her and the Slayers at her back. Sam glanced at the images of Nikki Woods in her black leather coat and Martha Jones in shearling, and all the Slayers in between. Not all those vampires were here, of course. Previous Slayers had taken their share.
She'd not had much to say to her spirit guide these past few months. The best advice Kate had given Sam, if she was interpreting Kate's often cryptic comments right, was to die, sooner, rather than later, to hand off the Slayer power to another Potential and avoid the ritual the vampires intended to do with the Amulet of Neperkin. She didn't even know what it was, something to do with time or time-travel.
Useless advice. Samantha Kessler would not go gently into that good night.
She was a fighter. She was a Slayer. When necessary, she was even a killer. When she was only fourteen years old, Sam had pushed J.J., the boy who raped her, to his death at the foot of a hunting blind. More recently, she'd cut down a dozen snake-worshipping cultists who would have sacrificed Erik and Juanita and her unborn child. Sam had engaged in gun battles with Black Ops lawyers and stood aside when Drew blew up Grant Barrows with a hand grenade. Death was a part of who she was, her second shadow, but she'd be damned if she didn't go down fighting.
"I will find you. I will hunt you down and stake every last peace-and-blood one of you." Sam swore to herself. All vampires were abominations, but these went beyond twisted, polar opposites of their living selves. She'd be willing to bet all those vampire hippies had been vegetarians in life. Now they probably ate vegetarians, and fooled themselves into thinking it was the same. Had they ever lifted a hand in anger while their hearts beat to the tune of Kumbaya? Or were these like the people who spat on her father when he returned, broken, from Vietnam? Whatever they'd done during their lives, good, bad, or indifferent, they were dead now, their bodies shelter for demons. Peaceful or not, she had to stop them, as Lennon also sang, "with a little help from my friends."
All ranted out, Sam turned to Kate, with her long brown hair and big, doe-like eyes.
"Can you at least tell me where to look? Give me a freaking clue where they are?"
"They are all around you."
Sam pounded her fist into her other hand. "I know they're all over town. I mean the heart of the beast. Where is their leader, the one with all the plans? I'm tired of cutting off the monster's fingers and toes. I want to stake it through the heart. I want to kill it, before it kills all of us!" She gestured with both arms, to the past and dwindling future.
Kate looked sad. "Time is fleeting, Sam. There isn't much left."
"I know that, too." Sam nodded. "It's time to take the hunt to them. I'll probably need a gas-mask." She mumbled to herself, and woke up.
"A gas mask?" Drew looked over at his wife and smiled. His wife, the vampire-slayer. That had a nice ring to it.
"To survive the undoubtedly smoke-filled lair of the Euell Gibbons of vampires. I'm going to find him. I'm going to find him, today." Sam threw off the covers and stood up.
Drew's gaze went dreamy as he gazed at her.
"Can you find him a little bit later?" He lifted the covers with inviting eyes.
Sam smiled and let herself be enveloped in the warmth of her husband's arms. Her husband, the vampire-hunter. That had a nice ring to it.