The last five members of The Order of the Blood Moon stood outside the building, dressed in loud Hawaiian shirts, wearing oversized sunglasses and holding a frozen treat each. It was an hour past sunset and the only light came from the flickering street lights - not that any of them needed it. Ashath’aman the Cruel watched as an obnoxiously bright drip of melted blue syrup slid down his hand and glooped onto the floor. He wrinkled his nose in disgust.
Beside him stood Belisha, Flayer of Men. She sniffed the multicoloured monstrosity that was marketed as the ice lolly equivalent of a brand of jellied sweets. It, too, was melting over her hand.
“I don’t want to do this.”
The other four glared at her.
“It was your idea, Bel!”
Belisha tilted the offensive confection to the side so that the increasingly steady stream of sugar and E numbers hit the ground in a more direct way.
“I know. But,” she whined, flicking red and yellow goop from her fingers, “I think I’d forgotten how truly repulsive human food is. How do any of them enjoy this?”
Thassa the Terrible growled at her and shook her ice cream in her general direction. It had sprinkles on. “You said-“ she snarled and the flake chocolate fell off the top of the ice cream and hit her shoe.
“I know!” Bel replied sharply. “I still think it will work. I’m just saying; I don’t want to do it.”
“Tough.” The most level headed of the group, Razor Sam, fixed her with a disapproving look and Ash inclined his head slightly in agreement.
“Okay, fine. We’ll eat them together. On the count of three.”
“Remember: don’t swallow.”
“Ha, someone should have told that to - ow! Don’t hit me!”
“One, two, three.”
The five took a lick of their respective desserts at the same time, each swirling the flavour around their mouths before spitting. Thassa put a reassuring hand on Ash’s arm as he turned a faint shade of green. It contrasted nicely with his electric blue tongue.
“Right,” Ash transferred the lolly to his clean hand and wiped the sticky one on his shirt. He stifled a sigh at the feel of the polyester and thought fondly of the black silk that he usually wore. “Bel has a point. If that doesn’t confuse our scents, I don’t know what will.”
Bel shot him a baleful look and attempted to scrape her tongue clean with the collar of her shirt.
“Let’s go over the plan -“
“We’ve been over-“
“Are you kidding?”
“Again? Ash, c’mon-“
He held a hand up and they quieted. “One more time. If we get this wrong, our Order ends. I won’t have any mistakes.”
Holding up his little tourist bag and shaking it slightly, he continued. “You have your wooden bullets, your holy water grenades and your crushed garlic bulbs. I know I don’t need to remind you but be careful with the holy water.” He pointedly did not look in Belisha’s direction but she scuffed her toe against the pavement anyway.
“Ash, it was one time.”
“It took you three hours to regrow that skin.”
“You ruined my Death Day party, Bel!”
“It was one time!”
“Anyway,” Ash said, a touch more exasperated than before, “we all need to be careful. I don’t want any friendly fire either so watch your surroundings.” He plucked at the corner of his shirt, which was emblazoned with flowers in high contrast red and yellow. “These are our cover. Those revolting sugar sticks will mask our scent enough to get in the front door and there is no way the Red Scars will recognise us in these get-ups.”
“I’m not sure I recognise us in these get-ups.”
“Shut up, Thassa. I can see your leather bustier under your shirt.”
“It’s bulletproof! I’m going for practicality, which is the exact opposite of your shoes. Why the hell have you gone for sandals?”
“Some of us commit.”
“Once we are in,” Ash raised his voice to cover the sounds of bickering, “we will have mere minutes to get the stolen Blood Relic. We know it’s in Grath the Destroyer’s office, across the hall from the men’s bathroom.”
Dave Jones, newest member of the team (a mere 26 years old with only 18 months of unlife under his belt) raised his hand. He was hoping that this rescue mission would lead to him getting a cool nickname too and was putting extra effort in to try and make it happen. He’d been trying out ‘Dave the Impaler’ but Thassa had been quite derisive given that the impaling had been splinter based and also accidental. “I did some extra scouting last night and overheard two Scars members saying that he’s displaying it in a glass cabinet behind his desk. They said he isn’t worried about us getting it - he thinks we’re too weak to even try.”
The other four bristled at that. Reputation was everything in their world.
Hissing, Thassa bared her fangs and let her eyes burn red. “I’ll show him exactly how weak we are when I feed him his own eyeballs.”
Dave kept his face carefully blank. Dave the Squeamish wasn’t the name he was after.
“Control yourself, Thassa,” Ash admonished, though he looked not too far from an eye glow himself. “These disguises are useless if you start announcing yourself like that.”
There was a brief pause but then she nodded stiffly and returned her face to normal.
“We play the part of brash tourists, needing the lavatory-“
“Bathroom. It’s the 21st century.”
“- bathroom and we bluster our way past. Once we are at the bathroom, Razor leads the way into the office. We should have time to figure out how many Red Scars are in tonight as we go. As soon as we go into the office, they’ll realise what’s happening and attack.”
“That’s when the shirts come off?”
Ash patted the two guns concealed under the loose material on his back and the rest of the group tapped their weapons too. Razor Sam had argued long and hard for his machetes but the others had agreed that having the same style of weapon would be much more of a statement and, technically, there wasn’t a weapon that he wasn’t proficient in. He had tucked them into his cargo shorts anyway. The tips of the silver blades peeked out next to his kneecaps. He seemed unaware of the thin line of blood that ran down each leg.
“We blast our way out and meet back at the lair at sunset tomorrow. But first, we need to make doubly sure that our scent is masked. No risks tonight!”
The others nodded solemnly and Ash straightened, meeting each of their eyes in turn.
He turned his face so that the street lamp lit up only the bottom half of his face, illuminating fangs that elongated and sharpened. The blue staining from the ice pop ruined the effect somewhat.
“Let’s have another bite of those lollies.”