It had been a hard-fought two years; two months after the death of the Vampire Prince of Munich, the loss of Hilda’s watcher and best friend Henri still stung as much as the moment she had to drive a stake through his heart.
Her physical wounds had healed long ago; the emotional scars remained. While things had been quiet in Munich for awhile, now, Hilda was convinced of the necessity to continue to guard the new Hellmouth in the city. When the Watchers’ Council contacted her, she’d expected it to be to assign a new Watcher. She was surprised instead to get summoned back to England.
Ever obedient and committed, Hilda obeyed the summons to East Yorkshire, the current headquarters and training facility of the Watcher’s Council. They sat her down and informed her, abruptly as Brits are wont to do, that she was being reassigned to the United States. Specifically, Pittsburgh. Several slayers were being sent to Munich to take her place there, and act as clean-up and maintenance.
The floor was then turned over to a man named Alexander Tudor, who goes by Drake. Whispers are that he was once a vampire who mysteriously became human, but Hilda had never been sold on those kinds of fantastic stories. Regardless, he was the one who headed up the combat training school for slayers, and who had personally instructed Hilda. Standing at his side was a stunning redhead who Hilda had seen but have never had dealings with. She was American and her name is Cyan—one of the Council’s leading consultants on magic and witchcraft.
Drake spoke first. “We’re sorry to bring you in so abruptly like this, but we need a strong Slayer, someone who has excelled at her tasks in the past, and who we can count on to handle this situation properly. It’s going to be a difficult transition for you—a new town and a new Watcher—but we have faith that you can handle the situation with the grace and aplomb we have come to expect from you.”
Cyan then stepped up and began a briefing. “I’ll be as quick as possible,” she said, “which shouldn’t be hard, because we don’t actually know all that much. There’s a Hellmouth in Pittsburgh. It’s an old one that Drake and I were involved in closing and sealing about eight or nine years ago. Recently, there have been signs and portents that not only has this Hellmouth become active again, but something really bad may potentially go down in Pittsburgh. Something truly apocalyptic.”
Drake broke in. “We have a colleague—a close friend, actually—who is nominally a member of the Watcher’s Council and who operates a supernatural investigations agency in Pittsburgh. Her name is Anita Blake. Miss Blake is currently semi-retired, but has recommended a new recruit for the Watcher’s Council. His name is Matthew and he’s…well, special. You’ll find out about him, I’m sure, when you meet them.”
Cyan interrupted. “It’s probably best you not mention to Matthew that he’s your Watcher until you sit down with Anita. She’s…well, she’s bad at being open, if you take my meaning. She plays things close to the vest until she doesn’t have a choice.”
“In short,” Drake said, “She may not have told Matthew that he’s your Watcher, yet.”
Great, Hilda thought. This is already a mess and I haven’t even set foot on a plane.
The debriefing went on for awhile, but the gist of it is that they wanted Hilda to check things out, keep an eye on the Hellmouth in Pittsburgh, and do whatever is needed to handle the supernatural threat arising therein. She would have to learn to work with a team of other demon hunters, something she was not accustomed to, but Pittsburgh, she was told, was a hotbed of the supernatural and the champions there had their own way of handling things. They also made cryptic statements that she would also learn that the truth behind demons and vampires goes way deeper than the Council talks about. Only a select few Slayers are deemed worthy of handling this knowledge, and HIlda had apparently proven herself capable.
So it happened that she found heself at Heathrow airport waiting to board a plane. The first leg of the journey went largely without incident. Then, during a layover in New York City’s JFK International Airport, she was sitting at the gate awaiting the flight to Pittsburgh, trying to clear an annoying ring tone from her phone that she for some reason couldn’t change, When she sensed something—a kindred spirit of sorts. Someone else with a supernatural gift about them. She cast her eyes around until her gaze met that of a young Asian woman, slender and athletic with an intensely curious gaze. The two women stared at one another for a few moments, clearly both wondering what their next move should be…