Fun with Flames and Fangirls


Several thousand miles below the foundations of the college campus inhabited by the Them, a scenario seen in office blocks around the world every day was being enacted; two young women standing by a coffee machine, catching up on the latest gossip before returning to work. At least, at first glance it looked like the scenario enacted in earthly office blocks. Human office workers tend to wear a good deal more clothing than these two girls, not to mention they do not usually have fangs and glowing red pupils, and this coffee machine was dispensing not coffee but something suspiciously red and sticky. It might conceivably have been some sort of fruit juice, but considering the context, this was highly unlikely.

Another girl dashed up, wiping sweat from her forehead. This one also had the fangs and glowing red pupils, but she was wearing rather more concealing clothing than the first two – a long white dress with a high neckline rather than the complicated and uncomfortable-looking lace concoctions favoured by her coworkers – and for some reason had tied her brown hair up to resemble two cinnamon buns.

“Well, look who it isn’t,” said one of the women, fluffing her glossy blonde hair.

“Look, Charlotte, I’m running late, I don’t need this,” snapped the white-clad girl, pouring herself a B-positive from the machine and gulping it down.

“I see you’re still targeting nerds,” Charlotte said cattily. “What do they want you to do? Discuss Star Trek?” Her friend tittered. “That’s no job for a real succubus, Missy.”

“You can talk. When was the last time you did any hands-on work, Miss Let’s Pose For Porn Magazines?”

“Hey, that way I can sow lust in thousands of human minds at once without lifting a finger. All I have to do is slap together a fake name and a few details for the caption.” She clasped her hands, the empty plastic cup dematerialising neatly as she did so. “‘Annabelle is a nineteen-year-old college student from Basildon. Her favourite colour is green and her hobby is breeding budgies.’ Or some such garbage. Nobody actually bothers to read the captions anyway.”

“You can’t keep on like that,” Missy pointed out. “Eventually someone’s going to realise that you were in the same magazine ten years ago and you haven’t aged since.”

“You, my dear, are overestimating the reader’s powers of observation,” said Charlotte’s friend, wiping her red-smeared lips.

“Well, we must remember poor Missy’s used to observant victims, Magda. Most of them can pick a bad code from a program at twenty paces,” Charlotte giggled.

“They’re easy targets,” Missy muttered grumpily.

“So are beetles. You’re bottom-feeding in the sea of souls, my friend. We seduce great kings and lords and politicians, successful businessmen at the very least. Not pathetic teenage boys,” Magda sneered.

“For your information, I have a contract with a Duke of Hell!”

This information gave Missy’s coworkers pause for thought. Having a Duke interested in her personal services was impressive indeed. She smirked, knowing she’d won.

“Really? Which one?” Charlotte demanded.

“Really. And it’s Duke Ligur.”

“Duke Ligur?” asked Magda, wrinkling her nose.

“Yeah, I know, but he’s paying me for it.”

“Ooh. So, what do you do?” Charlotte asked, sounding casual while her body language begged for detail.

“Sorry, he wanted it kept confidential. And he gave me a rather graphic description of what would happen to me if I told.” She shuddered briefly, recalling some of the nastier details.

“Ahh, I understand,” Charlotte replied, tapping the side of her nose and winking. “Don’t kiss and tell, huh?”

“Correct,” Missy said, smiling, and sighing inwardly with relief that they hadn’t pressed for details. Aside from the threat of messy and probably repeated discorporation, she’d never live it down if they found out she was really teaching the Duke to use Windows.


Back in the Tadfield University campus, Pepper and Wensleydale entered Brian’s room. Adam was already sitting on the bed, looking faintly worried. Brian was at the computer desk, with a similar expression, except there was nothing faint about it. In fact, he looked stunned.

“So what did you find?” Pepper asked, frustrated at being dragged away from important work. Well, okay, she’d been checking her email, but she would have got down to the homework in a few minutes, really.

“Better let Brian tell it,” Adam muttered, gesturing towards the youth in question.

“Well,” Brian said hesitantly, “I just typed ‘Tadfield’ into the search engine, just to find out some stuff for my history project, and I got this thing on Livejournal.” He pointed to the screen. Pepper peered over his shoulder.

“Why does Lower Tadfield Air Base need a livejournal? Website yes, but why an eljay?”

“Um. It’s not really about the airbase,” Brian said. Pepper read down the page.

“What’s this? ‘A/P ficlet. PG-13. Sorry, no title yet.’” She shuddered. “No title yet” was a personal pet peeve of hers. “What fandom is that? And why all this bother over some fanfic thing?”

Brian clicked the link. The page loaded. Pepper read, taking the mouse from Brian’s hand to scroll down periodically. She reached the end, blinking. She turned and looked at Adam.

“Somebody’s writing about us?”


Chapter 3

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