That night, Phoebe lay awake in the near-darkness, listening to the sounds of the dormitory. Statistically, she knew, three (well, 2.9) of the girls in Class Two were likely to be gay. That meant that the no less than five pairs sharing beds – including, of all people, Gaia and Nenya – couldn't possibly all be sleeping together – right?
Her gaze strayed from the ceiling to the bed under the dorm's one barred window. That was Penny's bed – but she wasn't in it alone. In the faint starlight Phoebe could make out the occasional movement of the hunched shapes of two women.
A frown touched Phoebe's face. That was a very hunched figure. It looked less like – well, whatever legitimate things Penny and Iplis might be getting up to – and far more like one person kneeling by another's pillow, bending down...
Phoebe made up her mind. Chances were she was about to embarrass herself immensely – and lose a friend in the process – but the whole thing just felt wrong. Besides, this was an OFU – making stupid mistakes was par for the course. She climbed silently out of bed and padded across the room.
The shapes on the bed refused to resolve any further, and finally she had to reach out and tap the (possible) hunched figure on its back.
There was a gasp, and the woman raised her head – just in time for the moon to come out from behind its cloud. The pale light illuminated Iplis' startled face, her bared fangs – and the blood still dripping back down from them to Penny's neck.
"Phoebe!" the vampire exclaimed. "I – this isn't what it looks like, I swear. I didn't want-"
"Didn't want what?" Phoebe cut her off as everything from the last two days suddenly clicked into place. "Didn't want to take over my friend's mind? Didn't want to seduce her so you could murder her to satisfy your desires? Didn't want to get your friends to do the same to four other girls?"
"Five, actually," a new voice drawled, and Yukimona's hand grabbed Phoebe's shoulder in a vicelike grip. "You likely didn't notice Kai going to Tisea's bed after the lights went out. Now," the vampire continued pleasantly, "let's get you back to your nice warm blankets and cool pillow. If you're very good, I might even join you."
Phoebe nodded along. It was such a reasonable suggestion, after all. And look how well things had turned out for-
Phoebe's gaze jerked back down to Penny – to the blood on her neck, the slow, shallow breathing. "Thanks for the offer," she said levelly, "but I've got a much better idea." She drew a quick breath, steeled herself, and yelled:
"The vampires are attacking! Fangirls, defend-"
That was as far as she got before Yukimona's hand slapped over her mouth. "You had to make things difficult," the vampire hissed as the class awoke with sounds of alarm. "Now we'll have to secure all of you. Oh, but don't worry, Death of Fangirls, we won't kill anyone. Yet."
The roundup was ridiculously fast. The mortal girls were still half asleep, while all twelve vampires were ready for action. Only Hawkelf escaped, hiding in the ceiling. Even Llama was taken, or so Phoebe gathered from Sliver's brief struggle with thin air.
Yukimona surveyed the captive students, Iplis and Kai at her back, a thin smile on her face. Only a few of the girls were still struggling; the rest stood docile. Phoebe didn't know how many of them were under actual mind control, how many had simply given up hope, and how many were restrained by the vampires' threats against the three girls they'd already rendered unconscious – including Penny.
Yukimona shook her head as the last holdouts were slapped into submission. "Disappointing," she said. "I had hoped at least a few of you would offer a challenge, but seizing you was as easy as turning them." She waved a hand dismissively at the other vampires.
Iplis' lip curled slightly. "We wanted to be turned," she hissed.
Yukimona laughed softly. "Yes. Like the foolish fangirl I used to be, you longed to become vampires. But you forgot, didn't you? Forgot that a vampire is subservient to the one who changed her." She sniffed. "As I said – no challenge."
"Sort of like how getting to Lord Vetinari was 'no challenge'?" a voice demanded, and Phoebe was shocked to realise it was her own.
Yukimona whirled on her, hissing. "Oh, yes, our little Death of Fangirls, who thinks herself so brave. Brave enough to call out and get everyone up – that worked out so well, didn't it?"
"I couldn't just let your friend there suck Penny dry," Phoebe protested, feeling the vampire's will wash over hers. It had been a little stupid, in hindsight.
"Yes, stupid," Yukimona said in her silken tones. "Look at you – without your scythe you're just a frightened little girl. And the rest of you!" Her gaze swept over Class Two. "The Assassin with her butter knife, the mad girl with her matches... you are nothing." She paused, watching as one by one the girls bowed their heads in defeat, before continuing in a lower voice:
"With my help, you could be so much more. You could have everything – power, beauty, eternal youth. Why resist?"
"Because we must," said a thick voice, and Liliac raised her head. "Because we're not like you, and however hopeless it is, we have to stand against you – at any cost."
"And you will always fail."
Liliac met the vampire's glare with blazing eyes. "But at least we'll have tried."
There was a scream – sudden, high-pitched and terrifying – and Cazzie launched herself out of the crowd at the nearest vampire. Maligna's lip twisted with disdain, and her hand flew up, lightning-quick.
Yukimona's eyes widened as the other vampire's arm began to swing. "No!" she snapped – but she was half a second too late.
Maligna Chiroptera's hand struck Cazzie with the force of a sledgehammer, flicking her sideways. She hit the wall with the sound of bones shattering, and Yukimona whirled with desperate speed to face Phoebe...
... who gripped her scythe, smoothed down her robe, and smiled her most humourless smile. "I HAVE YOU NOW," she intoned – and lunged.
Not all of the vampires fell to the Death of Fangirls. Raen and her butter knife accounted for Maligna, while Llama teamed up with Vee and Hawkelf to identify, catch and burn Sliver and Traveler. Lindyellwen, with an expression that could only be described as grim, smashed the edges off her wooden hoof before hunting down Kisheara with the stake that remained, and even Liliac claimed a kill, leading Kaitlyn, Phoenix Flight and Saphie into battle with nothing more than their bare hands, and very nearly tearing Mercuria apart – since, as Liliac explained later, she was now more of a threat to the other elves than she was in need of defence.
Finally only two vampires remained. Lucy2 "Diamanda2" Tockley2-Stibbons had surrendered almost immediately, and was under heavy guard in the centre of the room. Phoebe stalked across the dorm to the other survivor.
"GET AWAY FROM HER," she ordered.
Iplis didn't even look up – just stroked Penny's hair almost tenderly. "I never wanted to hurt her," she said vaguely. "She was so... so vulnerable, I couldn't help but be drawn to her."
"YOU TOOK ADVANTAGE OF HER," Phoebe declared.
Iplis sighed. "I suppose I did." She kissed the unconscious girl's brow and rose gracefully to her feet. "Well – go on, then," she said.
Phoebe's eyes burned into her. "YOU BETRAYED MY FRIEND," she said in a voice as cold as eternity. "YOU STOLE HER AFFECTIONS, TOYED WITH HER, SEDUCED HER, AND TRIED TO DRAIN HER DRY."
"All those," Iplis agreed quietly. "And now I'm in your hands."
Phoebe gave her a long look.
"DEATH," she said with finality, "IS TOO GOOD FOR YOU."
The Death of Fangirls turned away without another word and stalked across the room to where Liliac was scooping the pile of dust that had once been Mercuria into a small blue bottle. "SECURE THE VAMPIRE," Phoebe said, and the Ispace operative jumped. Phoebe waited patiently until she had recovered, then added, "AND TAKE CARE OF THE GIRL."
"Um," Liliac replied uncertainly. "Yes? Yes. Okay." She blinked. "Phoebe, you're actually kind of scaring me now."
"GOOD," the Death of Fangirls said, and turned away.
She crossed the room slowly, stopping every now and then to check up on the girls who had been injured in the fighting – although, coming down from the stress of the battle, most of them couldn't see her any more. Finally she came to where Cazzie's broken body lay - and where Cazzie's spirit was perched, nibbling on the dregs of an ethereal bucket of banged grains.
"All done, then?" her friend said cheerfully, getting to her feet. "I'm glad that worked. I'd've hated to get myself killed for nothing."
"IT WAS EFFECTIVE," Phoebe intoned, swinging her scythe. Cazzie raised an eyebrow.
"'Effective', huh? Don't I even rate a 'thanks'?"
The Death of Fangirls stared at her. From across the room there was a startled cry, and then the mini-Luggage Dried Fog Pills leapt over a bed and swallowed Cazzie's spirit whole.
Phoebe let the scythe drop as it vanished, feeling her hair reshape itself. After a moment Liliac came and stood at her shoulder. "I kind of needed that bottle," she said. "Well, it'll teach me to pay attention to what I'm doing."
"INDEED," Phoebe said dryly, and Liliac shot her a startled look.
"I thought – okay." She took a half-step back. "Um. Right. Okay. I thought you'd like to know – Penny's woken up."
Phoebe gave her a stricken look, turned, and fled across the room without another word. She leapt over the kneeling figure of Andy and stumbled to a halt by Penny's bed. Her friend looked up at her weakly.
"She bit me, didn't she?"
"YES," Phoebe confirmed, and saw Penny's eyebrows rise.
"The killing's over now," she said softly. "Liliac told me. You've done it. Let the mask go."
Phoebe stared down at her. Couldn't she see that this was no mask? That she had truly become the Death of Fangirls – had had to, because the alternative was admitting that-
Penny reached out shakily and took her friend's hand. "It's all right," she whispered. "It's over."
"I... I DON'T..." Phoebe squeezed her eyes closed, shook her head. "I don't think I can," she managed.
Penny smiled faintly. "Then let me help you," she said in a fading voice, and tugged on Phoebe's hand. Phoebe leant down, expecting some whisper of advice – and was caught completely by surprise when Penny's lips found her own.
Disclaimer: All Discworld canon characters and locations are the creations of Sir Terry Pratchett. The Official Fanfiction University concept is the creation of Miss Cam. Phoebe is based on an application to OFUDisc by Fawkes Phoenix. All other students are based on applications to OFUDisc. All details of (and mistakes in) plot, narrative and dialogue are mine. Thanks to the Irish Samurai for betaing.
Author's Note: I have to admit, this was simultaneously the most fun chapter to write – and the hardest. I know it's a fair bit darker than the foregoing – rest assured that it does lighten up again next chapter. Well, a bit.