Pitchmas 2019, Part 3: Blade

Blade: Vamp Lives Matter

I feel a little odd working on this one, since it would definitely be best to put it in the hands of an African American writer & director, but assume I’ll put my foot in my mouth a little (usually a fair assumption with me anyhow).

An African American woman runs through the wet streets of Harlem at night. She’s pursued by vampires, white ones, because if we’re going to do this we’re doing it right. Subtly, she’s leading them on a merry chase until they hit an alleyway and think they’ve got her cornered. Blade follows them into the alley, and makes short work of all but one, who gets the drop on Blade enough for us to worry. A metal hand ruptures through the vampire from behind; it’s now that we recognize the woman, and see the characteristic steel in her eyes: it’s Misty Knight.   

“Damnit,” she says, noticing one of them is wearing a policeman’s uniform. “I didn’t want you to be right,” she says. “Neither did I,” he says, and cleans his sword before sheathing it. Vampires have been working to infiltrate local police departments, especially on the night shift (usually turning the nightshift management into thralls or blackmailing them, so they can still influence policy during the day). They bury vampire-related assaults and deaths. “Shit,” she says, noticing the one in uniform had a bodycam. She takes it off, and turns it off. “Wired or wireless?” Blade asks. “We’re already in the cloud,” she says. “Can you erase it?” “No easier than you could.” “How long before it gets reviewed?” “Probably not until morning, unless someone reports them missing before then.” “Could you review it before then?” “Not anonymously. Why?” “It doesn’t matter if I’m on the footage. Risks aren’t worth preserving my anonymity. Yours?” “I appreciate the chivalry-” “I need someone embedded in the police. You can’t be if you’re suspended and under investigation.” Blade scoops the bodies into a nearby dumpster and sets them on fire, to make sure it will take longer for identification. They decide she’ll check first thing at the start of her shift in a couple of hours, stop at an all night diner to plan that contingency. It’s a recurring thing that Misty teases Blade for not having a life, social, romantic or otherwise.

We find out that the vampire cops have been preying primarily on African Americans. “Another black body drops in the hood, nobody blinks.” Misty tells Blade that if she’s on the tape, she’ll need him to erase the system- any footage manually deleted gets backed up for a week so it can be reviewed by superior officers. “It’s right next to the evidence lock-up. Take something valuable, and they focus on the likely suspects for a robbery without much concerning themselves over their buggy new camera system having another bad night.”

Misty shows up a few minutes early and proceeds right to the review equipment. She tells Dale, from the Nighshift, that the line for coffee was short today, so he can punch out early, and she starts reviewing the dead officer’s bodycams. At first she’s elated, she isn’t on the tape and she can wave Blade off. She takes out her phone to call Blade, then she notices, as he’s killed, that the officer falls mostly into a puddle, and in the reflection of the water you can see her, clear as day. She calls him, and he assures her that he’s got a distraction that should clear all the dayshift out of the office, leaving only the nightshift remaining- and suggests she check their CO’s files while everyone is dealing with his distraction/him.

Blade’s distraction sets a building on fire, cooking off a bunch of blanks so it sounds like gunfire started the blaze. With the dawn coming, the nightshift cops are on edge about staying, start slathering themselves with sunblock (not screen, which will make the white cops whiter still) nervously, knowing something’s up. That’s why when Blade smashes through a window, they immediately turn a wall of fire on him without hesitating. He’s not 100% sure who’s a vampire and who isn’t, so he’s reluctant to completely open up against the night shift, but fights his way to evidence. He’s been carrying heavy leather saddlebags the entire time, and after he barricades himself inside the evidence room we find out why: he had a bomb designed to disperse aerosolized garlic that he left outside the room. The smarter of the vampire cops flee the building; a couple of the stupider ones catch the brunt of the garlic, and it eats at their skin like acid (nightshift cops are going to have to make it look like a flesh-eating bacteria tailored to only survive short bursts outside of its blast- which likely brings Feds down on Blade’s head). Blade swipes the drives from the body cams, and ends up leaving with 2 saddle bags of coke that they might use in the end to frame the corrupt daylight officers from the precinct.

Misty finds Blade after the raid, with the bad news: he’s all over the precincts cameras, and he is now the subject of a citywide manhunt (and only that because they’re fairly certain he hasn’t skipped town). It seems like virtually everyone at the precinct is now determined to take him dead, not alive. “It’s a whole precinct of corrupt cops; the dayshift work for the highest bidder- whatever gang or syndicate is offering the best pay. The night shift have been taken over by monsters; they cover each others backs. That’s more manpower than even you can take head on.”

If we want yet another cameo, the FBI bring in She-Hulk as a deputized fact-finder, but she punts when Blade tells her the truth. “My cousin’s a ten foot tall green rage monster that once killed a space whale with a single blow, and that still might be the craziest shit I’ve ever heard. And I want to help. But I’m a little too conspicuous for this kind of job.” “You’re the wrong color. You can’t blend in like that.” “No. But I do know a guy who is the right color to blend in in Harlem. He’s an ex. Seems like he’s everybody’s ex. But you’re going to have to go to him. He doesn’t like to leave his club. ” Blade rides his motorcycle beside Misty’s car, and the ladies talk. “Luke’s always had a… way with women, but I wonder if, maybe, that’s part of your feelings on not liking knowing you were the other woman, emotionally, counselor.” “Sound like you might know something about that yourself, detective.”

It’s Luke Cage, at (wink wink) Cottonmouth’s old club, where he’s made himself comfortable, gotten pretty good at keeping the gangs and the gangsters from warring. This is part of the reason the vampires saw an opening with the cops- they both wanted to return Harlem to the bad old days, where it was a playground for their less forgivable appetites. Misty’s bemused, since she could have taken them to Luke’s. She-Hulk shrugs. “Like I said, he’s everybody’s ex.” She leaves.

But how perfect is that? A man whose skin vampires can’t bite through. It doesn’t take much to convince Luke to enter the fray, though it may take some convincing for him to leave his posse behind; he’s been playing Godfather long enough he’s forgot how to vigilante. Maybe Blade convinces him, “You take your goons, for every one that falls, we got to kill them all over again. We go in lean, and tight, and we don’t make the problem any bigger than it already is.”

As they’re trying to figure out the best place to lure their prey (time is easy since during the day the vampires will be more vulnerable), when a cop brings a phone into the club, and hands it to Blade. It’s a hostage, someone who will up the stakes for the ending, make the heroes have to act rashly. Maybe I don’t know Blade mythology deeply enough to come up with a better person, maybe I’m just tired of merry Marvel matricide (and obviously don’t want to damsel Misty), but I’d go with Blade’s mom. See, she didn’t die giving birth to him like he was always told. Everyone thought she’d die- and that’s why they were all focused on little Blade- but she managed to survive, kept captive by an old, sewer dwelling faction of vampires (the same who eventually took over the precinct). “Mom?”

The cops have fortified the precinct, having seen how Misty and Blade entered it the first time. They put bars on the window he crashed through, bolts anywhere there hadn’t been. Misty demands to go in alone first, to make sure there aren’t any clean cops left in the building. She tries talking to a couple, but they start towards her, looming menacingly. She tries a couple more, to convince them to leave with her. “You’re not leaving,” they tell her. “That’s what he said you’d say,” she says, and pulls the fire alarm.

Cut to the basement. “That’ll start the silver in the suppressant systems, right?” “Fire starts the suppressant systems,” Blade says, “or flooding the system with so much pressure the seals all start to burst. You do the honors?” Luke takes hold of a wheel attached to some pipes, with a new junction grafted on to attach a large tank. Back inside, the sprinklers all come alive, spraying the room with water infused with silver nitrite (maybe some garlic, too). The nightshift vampires all start reacting, though the corrupt dayshift cops keep coming for Misty. She draws, and starts laying down suppressing fire, backing towards the exit. But she isn’t running; she stashed a heavy rifle by the door, and falls into a firing position as Luke and Blade crash through the wall at the other end of the building. Big old action scene, the three of them take down as many of the corrupt officers as possible; a handful flee, not all are fatally wounded. Just as they’ve nearly won, a bunch of the vamps, who smartly ran for the showers, burst in for one last wave of bad guys before the last of them takes momma Blade hostage. Luke and Blade are too far away; Misty’s got the drop on him, but no kill shot. Blade tells her to buy him a half second, and she shoots the vampire in the shoulder, knocking him away from his hostage long enough for Blade to carve him up. Blade is fast enough to catch his mother as she falls, still too weak to hold herself up without help.

Blade helps his wounded mother out and onto his motorcycle, then lights the building on fire, as Luke and Misty put together the why as they watch it catch. “A precinct that corrupt?” Misty asks. “Half full of vampires,” Blade adds. “People would lose their damn minds, if they knew what just happened,” Luke agrees. Blade concludes: “It’s better if I fight my war from the shadows. People get too close to me, they get hurt.”

Blade jumps on his bike and screams off. Luke awkwardly asks Misty if they should get coffee. “You didn’t call me,” she says, and stomps off. “Yeah,” he says, looking at a card in his hand, from the Alias Detective Agency, “it’s a bad habit I’m working on.”  We watch Blade driving way too fast for someone having to keep someone else balanced on his bike, but it looks cool, as Blade monologs to take us out, something along the lines of, “Losing my mother gave me something to kill for. Getting her back, maybe I’ll find a reason to finally live.” 

Mid-Credits Scene: An old, desiccated man with a red gem in his chest struggles to breathe. “Elsa,” he whispers. “My light is fading, my millenia of vigilance is at its zenith. You must watch the door, for the agents of the Helix and its monsters. Only a Bloodstone can stop them.”

End-Credits Scene: We see the armrest of an overly ornate chair, where a red hand with sharp fingernails rests. “Lord Mephisto, the vampire plot is foiled.” The hand tenses, the fingernails tearing into the chair, which bleeds. Close, on an evil eye, quietly smoldering. “Bring me my Ghost Rider.” [Yep, this is the beginning of a build to the Midnight Sons- though I’m not a fan of that name, maybe Nightstalkers: Moon Knight, Werewolf by Night, Brother Voodoo & Elsa Bloodstone]

Note: In light of 2020, I’d probably tweak the story just a hair to more closely address police brutality.

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