In Articulo Mortis
Part 1: Priest

Priest had heard of the House of Pain before. It was the hottest underground nightclub in all of Prague and the surrounding areas. Every fetish, as long as it involved pain, could be satisfied here, whether you preferred humans or vampires. It didn't really matter. You could get your fix on blood, loud music and whatnot there, as long as you had no hostile intentions to the majority of the patrons.

Of course, he had never stepped inside, because the whole place smelled like a whorehouse at low tide. It was the halfbloods and the humans who frequented the club that gave it its stench, he reckoned. Or maybe it was just the halfbloods. But he had never entered before, even though he had driven past it many times. The glyph was hidden, but easily seen by vampire eyes. The blaring music was faint from ground level, but audible.

He hated the place. More like, he hated the halfbloods here.

"Half of these bastards aren't even purebloods," he had said to Asad, struggling to be heard over the music. "I'll tell you what; let's just fucking kill all o' them. Just to be sure."

Asad had shaken his head. It wasn't time for petty amusements; the survival of their race was at stake. Their targets were reapers, not halfbloods or humans, he had been told. Priest had been disappointed, but didn't say anything. They were fanned out among the crowd; he caught glimpses of the rest of the Bloodpack every so often. There Lighthammer was with Verlaine, entering what seemed to be an industrial kitchen; Chupa and Reinhardt were near the stage, and Chupa was chuckling; Snowman weaved through the crowds, but they parted as if they knew he was not a force to be reckoned with. Nyssa and the daywalker had disappeared off one of the alcoves at the side some time back, no doubt to check on the other rooms. He and Asad would have to cover those too, but that was for later.

It was a boring job. They had their guns, but there was no shooting. No reapers yet; the stench of the halfbloods would have covered up any reaper-stink. All the more reason to get rid of them, but Asad was right. No use causing panic before they had to. If he was lucky, he might be able to get some halfbloods in the process, and if Asad chided him for it later, he could always say that they had been in the wrong place at the wrong time. Too bad for them, he decided.

Which was right about when hell broke loose.

Gunshots. (Chupa's?) Screaming. (Clubbers?) More gunshots all over the place. Reinhardt and Chupa and Asad, maybe the others. He had no idea. Priest drew his gun and smelt a horrible smell — not human, not vampire, but something in the middle. It was akin to rotten eggs...reapers. He turned and fired at the oncoming mutation. The bullets had no effect on it.

"We're under attack, there's three of them, probably more," Asad yelled into his wireless communication setup, warning the rest of the Bloodpack.

It grabbed his wrist, and he attempted to strike the thing, but it got his other wrist. They wrestled for control, but he was thrown behind the bar instead. He yelled in surprise and pain as he crashed into the glass panes that lined the back of the bar. Asad was firing, trying to bring the reaper down. The shards of glass cut into his back and the wind was knocked out of his lungs as he hit the ground. Sharp pain burned through Priest's chest and he was pretty damn sure at least two ribs were broken.

He groaned, clutching his arm. It was snapped in two places at least. He couldn't get up, his chest was fucking burning and he swore to La Magra, the minute he could get up that reaper was going to wish it hadn't even —

With a roar, the reaper came at him again. He tried to fight back as he was hauled up by his collar. Asad kept firing and most of his bullets embedded themselves into the flesh of the reaper but the mutation paid no heed. It dropped him and, grabbing Asad, lifted him clean off the ground and threw him down the length of the corridor.

Then he was up against the wall, his head being slammed against the pillar. He saw stars and black spots surrounded the edge of his vision. Oh, shit — Priest breathed a prayer to the blood gods in his thoughts. Not that he wouldn't die, but that if he did, then he'd take down this bastard with him.

"Priest!" Asad called for help as Priest lashed out with hands and feet. His foot found the reaper's shin and groin, but it didn't slow it down. I will not die without a fight —

The reaper roared again. Priest worked in a few decent left hooks, but then the reaper struck back. If he had been a human, that blow alone would have been enough to knock him out. It grabbed his wrist and with a vicious twist, dislocated the bone.

It gripped his head and he was unable to strike back as it smashed his head against the pillar. Finally he blacked out, terrified and in pain. Its jaw split open, the deadly flower of its tongue extending for him. If Priest had been conscious, he would have screamed.


What was happening to him? He felt like he was on fire, only that it was burning him inside out. Asad and Chupa — they were there above him, holding him down, the rest of the Bloodpack close by. Priest struggled and screamed even more, trying to relieve the pain somehow. Nothing worked.

stopthepainshitI'mtotallyfuckedshitdamnthethingohmygodI'm burning...

His chin split; it hurt like hell, and he could feel his insides changing as the reaper-virus took over him.

Nyssa. Daywalker; he could smell them.

"How long since he's been bitten?" the Daywalker demanded of Asad.

"About twenty minutes," he said.

"His skin is fucking burning!" Chupa told no-one in particular. Priest writhed and tried to get away, but his best friend's grip was strong. He accidentally ripped out a lock of Priest's hair after a particularly violent twist and that made him scream even more.

Reinhardt was saying something. "...shut him the fuck up!"

The cold nozzle of a gun pressed against his belly, where his liver was. Chupa, his look regretful.

"Kill me now, Chupa!" he managed to beg, not wanting this to go on. He didn't want to die a reaper, he wanted to die one of the proud, noble warriors of his family line. Besides, the pain was unbearable.

"A man without fear," Chupa whispered, looking away. One hand held down his chest and the other squeezed the trigger three times.

He was still. Then suddenly the corpse of Priest, proud and noble and a prankster, came back to life. Chupa and Asad held him down, Reinhardt was screaming something, Nyssa's angry and alarmed voice. Asad, saying something to Chupa — a glint as Snowman's sword was thrown into the air, Reinhardt's hand moving. All of it a confused mass of sound and movement to him.

Then the reaper in him screamed as part of his brain was sliced off.

Idon'twanttodielikethisIamapurebloodIamnotareaper,damnyouChupaItoldyoutokillmewhydidn'tyoufinishthejobproperlyyounevercoulddoajobrightnoteventakeapintofScottishwhiskeyandnotgetdeaddrunk —

"Move," the daywalker barked. A boot was placed on his abdomen, where Chupa had shot him in the failed mercy killing.

"Back off, back off!" Reinhardt ordered. Chupa rolled off him as the window shattered, letting sunlight in. Reaper-Priest roared in pain as it exploded in a blazing blue.

Priest's last thought was that he had never expected to thank the daywalker for killing him.