the Sugar Plum Fairy had set up several defective toys to turn into dead Dingy, dead Criter, a group of elves, and Santa. These were to go out during the night, giving the enemy the appearance that more of Santa's crew had died. Dingy's death was set to appear around midnight, while Criters was to appear considerably later, somewhere between 2 and 5 AM.
Even with this plan in place, it still meant everyone would have to lay low. No one knew for how long, or if Miranda had any suspicions that Criterion and Capri had any associates also needing to be bumped off along with them. Until Miranda showed herself, or there was some way of finding her home base without possibly perilous consequences, thins were not going to be easy.
That night, Miranda had sent a couple of her men back to Santa's to bring her a blood meal to the base. This is because she was too afraid of running into more wild beasts.
Sure enough, the dead Dingy was discovered, and Miranda's scout brought back to her an elf as a blood meal, not knowing it was actually a toy magicked up to act and feel like a live elf.
"It's about time!" Miranda snapped. "I didn't tell you to take all night about it!"
"Sorry, Miss Miranda," the man replied meekly. "But I have more good news for you."
"What?" Miranda snapped.
"An elf for your meal and - "
Miranda grabbed the elf from the poor sap doormat without even a thank you, bit, then guzzled greedily, thinking she was drinking real blood.
An interesting thing began happening to her scout in the mean time. "One more of your enemies died. They were - " he winced in revulsion while watching Miranda tank down and drain another victim, "taking a dead elf out to the morgue. I managed to get this one from that group…"
Miranda said nothing and kept on drinking.
The scout stood a moment longer, facial expression quickly turning to all out disgust. "Enjoy your meal." and he began to walk away.
"Get back here, Samuelson, I'm gonna need more than one measly elf!"
"I'd rather stick a needle in my eye," he muttered and began to run and try to make an escape. Fortunately for him, Miranda was still occupied, so he had a chance.
He ran as hard as he could, out of the base, he didn't look back.
When he couldn't run any longer, he hid among some trees to catch his breath. Looking back in the direction he'd come, he finally expressed himself. "I don't know what I ever saw in her," he breathed. "I must've been spellbound all this time. She's a repulsive, spoiled brat!"
When he'd caught his breath, he continued on running.
Back at the base, Miranda let out a prodigious belch, tossed the elf aside like an empty soda can and bellowed for another attendant. "Keller!"
Keller started awake on the second bellow.
He quickly threw some day clothes on and shuffled to see what the mistress wanted yet again.
"You are slower than tortoises, all of you!" Miranda complained when Keller finally appeared.
"You wanted something, Miss Miranda?" he asked, looking down subserviently.
"Oh, no, of course not, I just like to spend all my time shouting my head off - " Miranda's snarky voice grew in intensity and pitch as she said this, "for people who are supposed to be my friends but never bother answering, or are too busy taking their own sweet time about it!"
Keller chuckled but kept his head bowed.
"Go get me another blood meal, and don't come back without one or you'll be next." Miranda barked.
"Anything for you, Miss Miranda." Keller replied, shooting her an adoring glance before leaving. His tummy did flip-flops inside as he walked away, wishing he could stick around to personally feed Miss Miranda, who was the most beautiful thing in the world to him, even with her biting attitude. She was just that way with everyone, and Keller considered it a privilege to be treated as well as the others rather than be ignored, overlooked, dismissed by her altogether.
"What's going on?" another attendant arrived.
"Oh, I'm sorry, Shaw," Miranda snarked, "did I call for YOU?" she said disdainfully emphasizing the "You".
Shaw looked at her. "You know, Miranda - "
"MISS Miranda!" she corrected him.
"whatever." he said. Before she could react, Shaw went on. "You're killing off your own forces by the cartload."
"Well, it's easier than trying to get anyone from Santa's, or that village. Besides, their own forces are dropping like flies. Now that Monroe is dead, and her reject friends aren't here or they would've come and tried to kill me by now - It won't be long before Santa's dust, literally. So who needs all you cream puffs anyway?I just have to hold out here until then."
"And those of us who you don't kill are - " Shaw hesitated, looked at Miranda, and left.
"Are what?" Miranda called irritably after him. "Disobedient little maggots who never think of anyone but themselves?"
"Oh, boy, that's a hot one coming from you." Shaw said, thinking he was far enough away that she wouldn't hear.
"What did you say?" Miranda demanded in that bratty yet authoritative tone which made people want to bow and scrape to her or else ram a giant garlic-filled stake through her, depending on which side they were on.
Shaw didn't answer, but made a run for it.
He set out looking for new victims, wondering what on earth possessed him to follow Miranda at all. He wandered about, pondering and puzzling.
He remembered when he'd first met Miranda at some nightclub, and how cute she'd seemed back then.
even when he found out she was a vampire, he still thought she was adorable. He and she had similar interests in common then, and he had hoped to replace her beloved Jacquan one day - the vampire who had turned her. Shaw hadn't given any thought to becoming a vampire himself, but Miranda had this way of making him want to turn the world upside down for her. He'd helped her get victims in the past, and had fed her himself. But this revenge on Santa was starting to change his mind about Miranda.
Suddenly, her bossiness wasn't so cute, strong, born of misunderstood vampire angst and tough girl trying to stay that way.
He still hadn't the heart to leave just yet. He wanted the days back when he had adored Miranda enough to walk through fire for her. He couldn't quite make sense of the change. Was Miranda changing, or was it him? Shaw hadn't been bothered by her moods, quick temper, possessiveness and demanding nature before.
Miranda sat back at the base, feeling week, starved, sorry for herself, and madder by the minute at what was left of her group for being such inept, disloyal friends. For all that feed had done her, she might as well not have. She felt inexplicably more ravenously hungry than ever.
Eventually Keller came back with another elf he'd snagged from the Criterion-death procession, and Shaw returned with a full-sized woman, Sigma's likeness, also from the same procession.
the two men herded these new food sources into the room, shutting the door on them.
Miranda could be heard greedily slurping and gulping even from behind the closed door.
Keller wrinkled his face in disgust, put a finger to his lips and motioned for Shaw to follow him out of the hideout.
When they were far enough away, Keller said, "Are you as sick and disgusted with that insatiable leach as I am?"
Shaw nodded. "We've got to get away while we can."
"How did this happen anyway?" Keller asked as they began walking quickly away together.
"I've been trying to answer that for a while now. I remember she seemed so cute and coy, and really bratty, but so vulnerable. And now, when I'm anywhere near her, I have to do all I can not to get literally sick."
"Yes." Keller responded, eyes going wide. "I must've been walking in a fog since I met her. Just now when I brought these last two back to her, and saw her tear into them, I - " he shook his head. "I can't understand how I could've ever adored her! It makes me sick just thinking about it! Like waking up from a dream where I was madly in love with someone, only to be completely revolted by the idea."
"Like bowing to a hog at a trough." said Shaw.
Keller nodded. "Exactly! She is - ugh - repulsive!" And so am I. The things I did for her, the way I wanted to please her - until my eyes were opened as I brought back this last - morsel - for her…" he shuddered.
"Yeah." said Shaw, grimacing. "You and me both. I'd go for joining Santa against her, but am afraid they wouldn't welcome us after all we've done. They wouldn't trust us, I'm sure of that."
"Whether they do or not," said Keller, "we need to get out from Miranda's grasp before she can do anything to us."
The two agreed, and set off in the snow-covered landscape without a fixed plan or destination. The only thing on their minds now was the immediate and permanent escape from Miranda's evil clutches.
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