We pick up where our prior two preludes left off: the two women we’ve met earlier—Hilda and Yun-Xun—sat in JFK International Airport, focusing on their cell phones and trying to subtly keep an eye on each other.
That’s when both picked up another sense of the supernatural, this one with a different twinge to it—something darker and more sinister. Looking about, they saw two people, a man and a woman, coming on to a young teen girl. The couple were clearly, to Hilda and Yun-Xun’s honed supernatural senses, inhuman. The teen girl was being flirtatious, and clearly falling under their sway. As our heroines wondered what to do, the three get up and left the terminal area. Hilda glanced at her phone and then up at the board, which declared that the flight to Pittsburgh would be boarding in about 15 minutes. With a curse, Hilda got up and followed them.
Hilda followed the trio to the maintenance corridor, where her fears were founded: the two were vampires and had already begun feeding on the young girl. Without hesitation she charged in, hurling the woman away from the girl and putting herself between the dazed teen and the vampires. All too late she realized that these were no newbie vampires, and might be more than a match for her skills as a single Slayer. The battle was going badly, and though Hilda was fighting valiantly to protect the girl, she had no weapons and faced the possibility that she may never make it to Pittsburgh.
Rounding the corner at a run came Yun-Xun, drawn by the sounds of battle. In an instant she took in the teen, sitting on the ground in a daze, her hand to her neck, as the blonde engaged in a losing battle against the vampires—at least, she somehow instinctively believed them to be vampires. They looked nothing like the jiangshi that Yun-Xun had faced in China, being more brutal. More demonic. And the blonde woman, as impressive as her fighting was, seemed outmatched.
Without thinking, Yun-Xun called upon her inner reserves of Chi energy and leapt into the fray. Together, she and Hilda made short work of the creatures, after Hilda kicked in a janitor’s closet, broke a mop in two and tossed Yun-Xun part of the handle, instructing her to drive it through their hearts.
After checking on the confused, but still alive and largely healthy teen, Hilda sent her back to the terminal with an admonishment never to tell anyone about this. She then turned to Yun-Xun and offered a hand in thanks.
“My thanks,” she said. “I’m Hilda.”
Yun-Xun took her hand, and then bowed. “And I am Jing Yun-Xun. Forgive me, but your accent…you are German?”
Hilda quirked an eyebrow. “I am,” she said. “But we’re going to miss our plane. Let’s get back to the gate.
They (barely) made it to the plane in time to board, and the flight took off on the journey’s last leg. Both women’s stomachs were in knots, each nervous for different reasons. Hilda knew where she was going, knew what her mission was, but was facing a whole new world, adjusting to a new Slayer and a new…team? Yun-Xun, for her part, had no idea where to go when she reached Pittsburgh, what to do, or what to say when you found this Anita Blake woman. You had little more than an address and a letter from Klaus.
Each had only about an hour to ponder this, however, before chaos erupted. Just as the pilot got on the speaker to inform the passengers that that the flight was over Pittsburgh and would be reaching Pittsburgh International Airport within a few minutes, a wave of strange Essence, unlike anything either had ever felt before, washed over the plane. Both women suddenly had a maddening, random desire to laugh uncontrollably while performing horrific acts—Yun-Xun breaking the windows on the aircraft, and Hilda to snap the neck of the man sitting next to her—urges which each barely managed to choke down before desperately wondering where it came from.
Just then, several other passengers began to giggle. Still others were rocking back and forth, muttering to themselves. Others seemed to be arguing with thin air. One went into utter hysterics, wailing in agony for no apparent reason.
The two women made eye contact once more, across and several rows down from one another, and exchanged questioning glances. That’s when a man in a suit stood up, identified himself as a Federal Air Marshal, and started shooting passengers.
Yun-Xun didn’t even think twice, but leapt up and delivered a kick to his face, while wrenching the gun from him. It didn’t end there, however; as the passengers panicked, the air marshal’s madness (which was plain in his eyes) gave him preternatural strength, and he hit back, sending Yun-Xun flying. Hilda leapt in at that point, delivering a few hits of her own, and quickly subdued the man. She searched the Marshal and pulled out his restraints, which she used on him. She then turned to Yun-Xun and mouthed, “What the hell was that?”
Yun-Xun could only shrug.
The plane landed safely at Pittsburgh International Airport. Both women were taken by airport security for questioning, though they were, in the end, both lauded for their quick thinking and heroic actions to prevent further disaster. The air marshal was taken in by Homeland Security (all of which was new to the two foreign women) on charges of attempted murder, terroristic acts and risking a catastrophe, and, the women were told, for a psychiatric evaluation.
Hilda and Yun-Xun were then released on their own recognizance after their papers were determined to be in order, with apologies for the disaster and best wishes for their stay in the United States.