Extreme-Early Draft: "The Vampire Hunter" (bad working title)

As I have frequently complained, titles are always a big problem for me. Consider this one a vague placeholder. I actually came up with a whole pile of backstory/worldbuilding for this yesterday (in lieu of writing) and if this first story goes well I want to flesh it out and write a novel in this setting.
This first bit is what I wrote on Monday. It will NOT be a part of the final story I don't think, but I include it for your interest so you can see where I started and how I'm developing it.


This operation was going to be no normal scoot and shoot. Half an hour before drop, word came from command that they were to be accompanied by a First Estate asset. It wasn't unknown to bring such along — sometimes on missions like this they'd face things that photon guns and flame throwers couldn't handle. But to be told after briefing, while conducting final drop prep … Schäfer didn't like it. There was obviously more to this mission than they'd been told, and who was the asset that warranted all the cloak-dagger-stuff? And apparently a retinue as well.

Schäfer counted off his men as they piled into the drop ship. All were clad in rugged, heavy armour, their faces hidden behind omnishield helmets. Large packs carried the tools of the sort of war they waged: in addition of ammunition for their photon rifles, holy water, salt, psalm books, as well as rations and clothing. He counted twenty four — twenty five once he took his position at the rear — he'd been told to reserve third squad aboard the Lux et Origo. To make room for the attachments, he now understood, and those were making their way between the crates and vehicles that clogged the main hangar deck. Whereas usually a member of the First Estate would consist of one darkly clad man and two or three attendants, here came a whole squad's worth. There were a half dozen acolytes. One carried a processional cross and another swinging a censer from which fragrant smoke wafted. This piqued Schäfer's curiosity further. His jaw tightened when he noticed three of the company were clad similarly to his men and heavily armed. His men were more than enough. In the middle of all this strode a tall man, clad all in black, his face hid below a wide-brimmed hat.


And here's a little more, also more than likely destined for the circular file, but has been helpful in getting the creative juices flowing:

"The universe is slowly unravelling — or perhaps not so slowly," the Cardinal said. "Being torn apart at the seams. The end of days, perhaps. But that has been said before. Yet still, with Earth destroyed, the Empire broken, and the demonic invading the mortal realm in numbers not seen in millennia, I think it may be."

Lt. Schäfer carefully, slowly shifted his position and readjusted his grip on his photon rifle. He peered over the edge of the crater they huddled in, scanned the ice field studded with rocks and craters around them. The surface of Charon was dark and still, no sign of their enemies, save the twisted bodies of their dead comrades scattered haphazardly. He exhaled slowly and lowered himself again. He looked to the sky, sought out the sun, Sol. From here, in orbit around Pluto, it was but one star among many, albeit an extraordinarily bright one, still painful to look on for long. It lit their hole well enough that he could see what was left: two troopers, Kapoor and Fulgencio, one of the acolytes (possibly dead), and the Cardinal.

Cardinal Plasden was the only one of them not wearing pressurized combat armour. Incongruously with the desolate and airless landscape, he wore a black coat and wide-brimmed hat, the shimmer of air just visible around him, held inside an Elysium Window. Scarlet gloves contrasted sharply with the dark garb, gripping a silver rod. A pectoral cross hung around his neck.

"A rift in our universe has been opened here. You and your men were only to secure the landing site, not accompany me into the temple." The Cardinal said. "But as my own entourage has fallen, you must steele yourselves for what is to come. I am sorry."

"With respect, Your Eminence," Schäfer said. "Why weren't we briefed about this? We were unprepared — my men —"

"Obviously I was ill prepared, too. My men are equally dead." The Cardinal's voice wavered as he took a hand from his rod and gently brushed the acolyte's helmet. "I thought a quick, surprise attack would work. There was not time to brief anyone. Upon boarding the Lux et Origo I had to perform the Rites. Those are the reason any of us are alive. Flesh and blood is not our main foe here. I think you've been fighting vampires and revenants so long that you — and I — forgot this."

Schäfer looked to each of his remaining men in turn. Their faces were hidden behind their omnishield helmets. Kapoor was no doubt dying to tail his carefully maintained handlebar moustache. Olive-skinned Fulgencio's eyes were likely bulging as he held himself back from shouting, demanding "what the f— is going on?" Schäfer checked the readout on his left arm. They'd dropped only half an hour ago.

"Alright, Your Eminence, what do we do now?"

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