II.  SLAYERS

You must forgive me when I tell you that you’re disposable. But you are disposable. Those who hunt the darkness must accept that everyone is disposable, beginning with ourselves—the Slayers, as we’re called.

But you’re even a little more disposable. Sorry, it’s part of being a newcomer to the group.

You see, new Slayers have to work pretty hard to get noticed. We’re not terribly sentimental about them, or much of anything, to be honest. Unless they’ve got some sort of special gifts, or have an outstanding track record as a solo Slayer, we don’t go out of our way to keep them alive. After all, what’s the point? Most of them don’t survive the first three months.

About half the ones that do survive will experience their first successful hunt by killing their failed fellow newcomers that have been turned into monsters from hell. Say what you will, but it’s practical, hands-on skill-building… and necessary.

But that’s the risk we run. We know that there is something beyond death, though it takes many forms. This is one of the reasons we do not fear death itself. But the twisting of natural order that happens when the dead return through the blasphemy of undeath… that is something to fear.

Stay close for a few moments. And since you’re new, let’s talk a little more about just how we Slayers work. There won’t be a test later, of course. There might not be a later. But let’s begin.

We never meet in very large groups anymore, and we don’t have any permanent headquarters anywhere. We organize in small cells, each linked to each other in ways that can easily be severed when necessary. If a cell is cut off from the larger network, it is assumed to have been compromised until proven otherwise.

It wasn’t always like this. Groups of Slayers have appeared in every part of the world, throughout history and before recorded history, banding together and even aiding loners in the vital task of destroying the undead and other toxic beings. We’ve ebbed and flowed from weakness to strength and back again since before the days of the House of Life in Egypt.

There was a time when we convened large chapters of our various sub-groups, shared information freely, even studied deeply into secrets of the universe that could help us in our quest. This was a mistake, because it led our enemies to our doorstep, and they nearly wiped us out.

In the battles and ambushes that took down our old network, the monsters forced us to destroy almost all of the incredible machines we’d built—great weapons and other equipment that could have turned the tide against the undead and other menaces. Almost all of them; but we’ve found many of the old caches and secret vaults and put the treasures of the past to good use.

Here’s an example: This pocket watch I have in my hand. What does it do? All in good time.

Of course, the mystic devices of the past aren’t all we use. As you know, we’ve harnessed modern technology, too: The deep internet and all the modern methods of surveillance and data mining. Coupled with our very particular skill sets and the miraculous devices of our forebears, we’ve got an increasing edge against the monsters that stalk the darkness.

There are other advantages we’ve gathered, but a lot of them are only rumors. Secret government connections, things hidden in the archives of highly respected living religions, wealthy sponsors, and even the aid of stranger beings… whose nature defies speculation. And it’s all being put to good use. Very clearcut, direct, specific use—

Death is meant to be final.

If there’s nothing else you take away from knowing about us, and what we do, be sure to remember that. It’s central to our entire mission. You may find it helpful to think of us as volunteers enforcing certain laws: Universal laws, to be specific.

Vampires, restless spirits and the walking dead are criminals of a very special kind. They break the natural law and erode universal order by their very existence. It’s a paradoxical thing: Everything that can exist is part of nature, and therefore natural. But some actions violate the cycle of life and death; one of them is the choice of becoming and remaining undead.

The living aides and manipulators of undeath, such as the Cultists, Necromancers and Loa Masters, and even the vampires’ Blood Doll sycophants, also present varying degrees of menace to the world. We don’t spare them simply because they still have aheartbeat. The danger they represent is hardly less than the undead themselves.

It’s hard to keep everyone focused on this central set of infectious evils, the undead and their allies. Some Slayers become sidetracked by the Lunar Covenant and its shapeshifters—which is disastrous. The Covenant is sometimes useful as an ally, and they’re better equipped than most of us to deal with the curse of lycanthropy when it manifests. There’s enough trouble for us from the undead as it is.

And again, trouble with their allies. Which brings me back to this pocket watch. It reads certain aura signatures that have a telltale vibration in the higher planes of consciousness. I can’t really tell you exactly how it works, or in what way the luminiferous aether changes consistency when someone in my presence is addicted to the taste of vampire blood and lives as their Blood Doll slave.

All I can tell you is that it’s the reason for this bullet in your head.


Slayers are a faction of humans (and some more unusual allies) united in the goal of eradicating the scourge of undead. They are categorically opposed to every form of undeath, be it vampirism, restless ghosts, walking corpses and more exotic types of unnatural reanimation. Vampirism, however, is their best-known and most persistent target.

The Slayers have walked among humans since prehistoric times and have passed down secret knowledge from the earliest days. They have always sought to systematize their lore, which takes many forms: From hidden martial arts to “pseudo-science” that truly works, functional religious ecstasies to outright magic and psychic disciplines, bleeding- edge technology to the simple power of the human spirit.

Most, but not all Slayers are part of a vast and informal network that spans every continent. No one Slayer knows every aspect of their community, nor every person in it, nor every bit of its background. Many Slayers would be shocked or even horrified to find themselves as “sisters/brothers in arms” with Slayers from backgrounds they would find objectionable or even abhorrent. But when the situation demands it, a Slayer working for the police may find himself fighting side-by- side with a mob hitman who doubles as a Slayer, or any other teaming of unlikely partners. In the end, they all serve the same cause, no matter their politics, religion, background or even their side of the law.

The great techno-occult artifacts of the past are constantly sought by today’s Slayers, who need them in their hidden war against the vampires and other enemies—when a Slayer treasure surfaces, it is immediately pressed into service. Because most of the surviving devices were made by “mad” inventors in the Victorian era, they often have a curious “steampunk” appearance, but there is little real whimsy in these machines. Their purpose is bloody and their effect is devastating.

There are those who suspect that the new faction of Necromancers, who build on certain dark creations of genius Nikola Tesla, are actually an offshoot of the Slayers. No one is entirely certain whether this is the case, but the Necromancers are particularly hated by Slayers as an “industrialized” group of troublemakers who are essentially “fracking the world of the dead.”

(There are some Slayers who argue that if the Necromancers’ necro-tech permits them to call the dead and force them to reanimate, it could be captured and reverse-engineered to drive the dead away and deny them reanimation. Sadly, Slayers have long experience with corrupted Faustian experiments gone wrong, and most will simply destroy Necromancer devices as quickly as possible…)


Vampires

There are many sorts of vampires in the world, but whether they are “romantic” figures trying to blend in with the mortal world or bloodthirsty monsters that want to devour

humans as cattle, they’re enemies who must be destroyed.

Blood Dolls

Traitors to humanity and flamboyant vampire-groupies, the Blood Dolls are the willing slaves of the undead. Most of them “try too hard,” and all of them seek the sort of favors that any corrupt mortal might want if they knew vampires walked the Earth. Under the right circumstances, they can be excellent vampire-bait or even be turned into carefully honed weapons against their masters.

Unquiet Dead

A very broad general category of beings, the unquiet dead are really any disembodied or embodied spirit that embraces undeath. The majority have been summoned up by magical factions and tasked with various purposes, but there are also those who have independently chosen to return to plague the world of the living. They must be eradicated in any event.

Loa Masters

An active and pernicious faction within the legitimate Voudoun religion of the Caribbean, the Loa Masters are—as their name implies—a cult that fuels its magic with the power and influence of ghosts both saintly and fiendish, and demons from other planes, acting as their overseers and owners. They regard their way as the “natural order” of magic, despite being shunned by honest believers in Voudoun (voodoo), and despise more technically inclined magical factions such as the Necromancers and the Slayers. The Loa Masters are a genuine threat to the world, and are a major source of undead activity. They must be eradicated.

Cultists

There are more things in the spirit world than only the surviving consciousnesses of human beings. Most spiritual beings are entirely non-human, some perfectly alien to humanity, and many of them are hostile or dangerous. Whether categorized as demons, dark gods, imps of the perverse, rogue elementals, infectious tulpas or other malignant forces, these spirits are often worshipped by humans—and the members of the cults are granted bizarre and terrifying gifts and powers by their sinister patrons. These cults are independent of one another, loose-knit and bold in their activity, and there are more of them all the time. This worries every other supernatural faction, given the secrecy they prize, but Slayers are even more troubled by the shadowy forces they release into the mundane world. Slayers will not tolerate cultists—where they are found, they will be killed and their altars destroyed.

Necromancers

A sect of clinical scientists that work in laboratories around the world to exploit a technology developed by the famous Nikola Tesla—a device for communication with the world of the dead. Over decades, they have found new applications for this “necro-tech,” modifying it to permit actual command over spirits and to drive them to reanimate suitable corpses. Where these researchers find their funding or derive their leadership is not yet clear to the Slayers—they may be working with a secretive financial legacy left by an insane robber baron of the 19 th century, or they may be sponsored by a very large and very evasive multinational corporation. Whatever the case may be, the Necromancers carry out spectacular and extremely dangerous experiments with the barrier between life and death, all in the cause of gaining personal power. Though some Slayers argue that a useful alliance with the Necromancers is possible, most would rather kill them on sight and destroy their machines.

The Lunar Covenant

Perhaps the only major faction that Slayers generally coexist with in a peaceful and respectful fashion, the Lunar Covenant is a loose league of hereditary shapeshifters—werewolves and similar creatures—that are oriented toward earth religions such as Native American shamanism, Shinto, the Wiccan revival, and so forth. An erudite and peaceful group, the Covenant does its best to aid its “cousins,” the mortal men and women that suffer from the curse of lycanthropy. Because accursed lycanthropes are uncontrolled beasts, Slayers must occasionally seek them out to kill them, even if the Covenant would rather find the unfortunate were-monsters and teach them to control their transformations. This, more than anything else, puts the Slayers and the Lunar Covenant occasionally at odds.