Night had fallen, the lights had dimmed and all was quiet. Traffic was low on the perpendicular streets, but none existed in front of the building. A single figure stood in the shadows far from view from all but the most attentive viewer.
Will peered out from over his trench coat collar, he felt like a cliché, probably looked like one to, but he was more focused on the task at hand. He had watched the building and was sure that Derrick had not left. He had called Chen to come and bring him some things and then keep watch whilst he went to change as the sun went down. He then dismissed Chen with the bag of his old clothes and now, in his darker gear could move around at night more easily.
The city itself was surprisingly quiet, because Zagreb’s centre with its bars and late night cafes are so far away, the business district seemed to die after dark.
There were still a few people moving around on the main roads, their voices echoing through the empty streets, but here on a side street, the one cafe from earlier having already closed, there was nothing. Nothing except for Will, a suspicious looking character with an intense look in his eye. He was prepared to wait all night, it didn’t get too cold this time of year, even in the wee hours, but he was anxious to get on with the task at hand.
It had been two years of non stop work, all leading up to tracking down Derrick. Will had been a police officer in London for several years and was on the verge of becoming a detective, one fateful night he was attacked, by something he would later call the nameless. He had survived but just barely, had convinced himself it was some wild animal in the glint of its teeth in the moonlight. That wasn’t the big problem though, it had happened at home, and his partner, Samantha never really got over it. They told each other it was nothing and tried to move on with their lives, but deep down they knew it was something else. The authorities could do little to help, they would keep an eye out for a big dog, fine, but in the mean time, Sam’s mind began playing tricks on her, she started getting nightmares. They sought help but to no avail, Sam’s state of mind deteriorated until she could no longer care for herself. Will had to ask for help, there was a government facility for such cases, but that didn’t help Will face the fact that his life had fallen apart. She kept going on about the monsters, he didn’t believe her, didn’t want to believe her, even if there was some kind of monster, why would it still be following them?
It was clear Sam had snapped from the stress of the situation. Will wasn’t doing much better, he quit the force and went in search of a new job, his career in tatters. He found work in Skopje, Macedonia, the former Yugoslav country. Will being part Yugoslav himself felt it a good opportunity. He felt bad about leaving Sam behind, but he needed to get away from London, besides she barely recognised him when he visited anyway, and the facility she was in was fully equipped to help her.
He started his work, it went well, he had adapted to the Macedonian language without too much trouble, things were beginning to improve. But then the normally peaceful city began to fall apart, there were deaths, kidnappings, it looked like a gang war was getting out of control.
The deaths were reportedly committed by some kind of wild animal, this felt like a sick joke against Will, but here he was facing the very real possibility that this thing had followed him from London. As it transpired, he was embroiled in a gang war, with the nameless on one side and the small time local gangs on the other. By the time Will realised what was going on it was too late and he was captured by the main man, Derrick himself. He had been so pleased with himself, the smaller gangs were all but wiped out and now Will was his captor. It was here that Derrick revealed that it was his pet who had stalked him in London, that they had sensed something important about him and that is why they had stalked him for weeks on end.
So it was true, Sam wasn’t hallucinating, they were really being stalked, and he hadn’t listened. Now she was stuck in an institute, her mind gone, and Will was about to be diced up by a monster.
It was only then that Will discovered what they meant about ‘sensing something important about him’ and he unleashed his power for the first time. He managed to fight his way out, but Derrick escaped, Will then fled. He left the country, went back to tell Sam what had happened but it was no use, she was too far gone. Why hadn’t he listened? It had all happened because of him, because of what he was, and now Sam was out of reach. There was only one thing left for him to do, seek vengeance.
It was nearing 10pm and there was no sign of activity, will was beginning to think that Derrick was staying at the office all night, perhaps he had a penthouse there to sleep, that could make it difficult to break into. Finally, a car left the car park, it was the same car that had dropped him off, Will had noted the number plate. It tracked slowly down the road, the headlights shooting over Will’s location for a moment, but he was behind enough cover it was unlikely that they saw him. He waited until they rounded the corner and then shot after them. He was prepared this time and one of the things that Chen had to retrieve before leaving was a rental car.
Waiting dutifully around the corner was the white sedan, Will jumped in the passenger seat and Chen started the car. He looked groggy, probably had fallen asleep whilst waiting but was now fully alert.
‘Our boy works late,’ he said.
‘Yeah, trying to run a legitimate business and a criminal organisation can really wear you out.’
They drove through the streets staying a block behind the target vehicle for less than ten minutes. On the outskirts of the business district, the car pulled up. Chen stopped the car and turned the lights out, they watched as Derrick emerged, two big men, security types, followed, scanned the area and followed him inside. They were gone from sight, the five-story building was somewhat unassuming but stuck with Derrick’s style, he wanted people to know he was in charge, but he wasn’t too showy about it.
‘So what now?’
‘You wait here, be ready to go in a hurry, I’ll go in the back way, usual deal, pay our friend a visit.’
‘Ok, but be careful, they surely know that we’re in town, so no doubt they’ll be ready for you.’
‘We Chinese are wise,’ Chen said with exaggerated accent.
‘I thought you were from Taiwan.’
‘We also are wise.’
‘Right, see you soon.’
‘Hey Will, one thing I wanted to ask.’ Will paused with the door open, what could he possibly say now just as he was about to go? ‘If you catch Derrick, kill him, you get your revenge, but what happens after that?’
‘I’m not sure,’ Will had thought about it on occasions, but he didn’t want to visualise it too much, he wanted to focus on the here and now. ‘Just because I take out their leader doesn’t mean they all just stop, the syndicate would likely fall into a bit of civil war, sections would separate from each other, but I’d still have to track down the bigger groups at least.’
‘So this could go on for sometime ha?’
‘I guess, are you ok with that?’
‘Yeah, I was just worried I’d be out of a job, good luck.’ He smiled, Will shook his head and left, but chuckled a little as he walked away, Chen clearly had more concerns but wasn’t going to let them get in the way of the mission at hand. Will was in this for life, he had no illusions about that.
Casting a wide circle around the building in question, Will cased it out slowly taking a full hour to do so to give Derrick a chance to settle in for the night. He would ordinarily watch for one or two nights first to see what was going on, but he wanted to catch the man unprepared. Although Will had to admit that there was a part of him that was anxious to finish this as soon as possible.
In his slow patrol he saw that they had just one guard walking around every few minutes, he was human, but looked tough. There was a clear line of balconies out the back that Will could easily scale but it would take a few minutes and the guard might spot him. There appeared to be a wide window where he wouldn’t report in, so taking him out shouldn’t raise a big alarm.
Will waited for the man to report in and then followed him around until he was out the back.
And out of sight, but maybe this is too easy.
The apartments all had their lights out, there was some light from inside the building’s interior however which Will took to be the permanently illuminated hallways, but that wouldn’t impact him here.
He entered the grounds easily, there was only a two metre high fence which he could scale with the help of a raised garden bed. He then crouched low and made for the guard. The back area was a garden and there was even a small water fountain, its constantly flowing water masked the sounds of Will’s coat flapping in the breeze as he snuck up to the guard with ease. The man was tall and heavy-set, he looked all muscle but also slow. He carried a torch in one hand and had an earpiece, so he could contact his comrades easily no doubt.
Will crept up behind the man and leapt up, embracing him from behind in a sleeper hold. The big man struggled and he gurgled for a moment, his right arm flailing, but he soon sunk to the ground unmoving. Will kept the pressure on him for a few more seconds to be sure, but he’d done this enough to know, the man was out cold, wouldn’t be awake for sometime.
He removed the man’s earpiece and put it in his own ear, noted the expensive watch the man wore and took that as well as a gold ring. Honest work was well behind him now.
He turned and began scaling the back balconies, the man’s body was undercover and would not be seen by anyone unless they physically came out and walked around the bottom level, but Will figured he would only need a few minutes to get into Derrick’s place. He reached the second highest apartment silently in less than three minutes, picked the lock to the back glass door in another three minutes and pulled it open gently. He knew that getting into Derrick’s balcony would be impossible without making any noise, the man wasn’t stupid, but the person on the 4th floor was, figuring that no one would scale the back, they didn’t even use dead locks.
He went through the apartment crouched low, he had a sense of where the front door was and was half way there when he heard a growl. Damn, they have a dog. He turned around and the moon light coming in from outside, which was minimal at worst he saw a tiny little yappy, fluffy thing, the kind of dog that kept old ladies company or idiots got for fashion accessories. It ran towards him with its wind up toy kind of gait and growled again, there wasn’t much he could do, he had to be as quiet as possible, but he needed to get out of the apartment quietly. Damn you, he thought. He reached out slowly, but the growling got louder, this wasn’t going to work, it would start barking any second. With a flash of motion, Will did the only thing he could and kicked out as hard as could, smacking the dog in the head and knocking it out, it slid across the floor and came to rest in the kitchen.
He stopped and listened, there was no sound, he moved on to the front door, unlatched it and stepped outside. He couldn’t stand those little dogs but he’d always wanted to kick the people who owned them, not the poor dumb animals themselves.
Outside, the hallway was well-lit, an expensive building would do no less. It was a narrow corridor that smelled of cleaning chemicals mixed in with a touch of body odour. It led to the elevator and also a flight of stairs not too far away. He called the lift, when it arrive it was of course empty at this time of night, but he pressed the 5th floor and then the bottom floor before slipping out and making his way quickly up the stairs a little further down the corridor.
Rounding his way to the hallway that lead to Derrick’s apartment he saw that he had only twenty strides to get to the door, there were two guards, both were looking at the lift not far away from them and no doubt wondering what was going on. Both the guards were also human, which surprised Will somewhat, but was glad as they were easier to take down. He figured he had three seconds before the lift went away and the distraction left with it, and decided it was time to move. He ran forward and made it nearly the entire way to the men before they sluggishly looked up. The first man, a little over fat and very sluggish that had stayed by the door didn’t have time to bring out his gun before Will delivered three quick punches in the man’s chest, jumping up and drilling his elbow into the man’s skull, jarring his whole body and dropping him to the ground. The second man clicked his ear piece on, Will could hear it in his own ear now. Will pointed at the device in his ear and smiled, the man knew what that meant but charged at him with a baton in his hand. Will grabbed the man’s hand before it came down, twisted it and simultaneously kicked his knee and thus his whole leg out from under him. Will twisted the man’s arm behind him, the baton fell to the ground, and Will pushed the man’s face into the ground. A swift punch into his temple silenced him and Will retrieved a cable tie, of which he always brought a handful, and secured the man’s hands, doing the same for the other man, then the same for their feet.
There was no communication on the ear piece at this point, and no sound from inside, maybe, just maybe he would get away with this after all.
Finding a key from one of the guards that fit the front door and a second key for the deadlock took only two minutes and Will was inside. The lights to the apartment were out, he had the gun from the first guard in his hand, although the one he’d stolen earlier in the day was safely tucked away as well.
Still too easy.
He didn’t want to risk scanning the area with his powers to see if any creatures were around. The problem with his powers, and theirs for that matter is that they could detect each other, but only when the powers were used. Given that shapeshifters need their power to change and hold a shape they were easy to pick up, but to scan in the first place, Will had to use just a tiny amount of his power and in such a small area as this, any creature that was trying to detect him would be able to home in on him as if he were on fire, running around and screaming. Sensing creatures in the middle of a city was easy, over vast areas, and with them just going about their business it was quite simple in going undetected, but once up close and personal it became troublesome to put it lightly.
Thus, Will was relying on his traditional senses and as he moved silently into the living room, it was these that told him he wasn’t alone.
He stood up and walked to the wall, flicked on the light switch and raised the gun at the figure that sat in a recliner chair looking at him nonchalantly.
‘Good to see you again Will.’
‘Hello Derrick, it’s been a while.’
The man nodded, he was dressed in his business casual outfit still, he’d made no attempt to go to bed, he had been here waiting for Will, he had to be ready for anything. Derrick appeared to have no weapons and the well decorated but not so flashy living room was otherwise empty. There were two rooms behind Will, between him and the front door. The balcony to his right and the small kitchen were all that remained. ‘You’ve been expecting me?’
‘It was only a matter of time. You weren’t here long before you took out our team. I clearly have been underestimating you for far too long.’
‘Quite, but that wont be an issue anymore. Just tell me one thing before I kill you. What did that man have to do with all of this, the one you had killed this afternoon.’
‘Oh, him. Well I’m not sure what happened to him, but he was quite shaken and so when he went back to his direct superior in our little organisation, well he began asking questions, about what kind of group we were and that kind of thing. He was clearly a new recruit, we would normally just stop calling him, stop giving him work, but he unfortunately kept sniffing around and he saw some things that he wasn’t meant to see.’
‘And the note? He was to meet you at 4pm, yes?’
‘How did you?- My you are resourceful, well the fool found out that I was the head of our organisation, he was surprisingly resourceful, but his superior who should have been watching him has been punished for his stupidity. Anyway, he wanted to meet me and talk to me about our little business, I think he thought that maybe I didn’t know about the creatures, the ones you hate oh so much. Anyway, he was misguided, he’s gone now. A pity, he would have been useful to us.’
‘Well, thanks for satisfying my curiosity, but now it’s time for you to die.’
‘What do you think will happen when I”m gone, you’ll just pack up and go home? The Nameless, as you call them, they will just give up because their leader is dead? I think you underestimate their numbers, and their desires.’
‘No, I think that your importance is exaggerated, I’ll hunt them down later, take them out one at a time, at any rate, I’m here not to stop the creatures, I’m here to kill you.’
‘Ah yes, revenge, you believe it is me that hurt your poor girlfriend, you believe it was the creatures that have destroyed your life. Well let me tell you something, they didn’t give you your powers, and they didn’t leave her to rot in that hospital, that was all you.’ Derrick smirked at him, Will’s eyes blazed.
‘Do you really think it’s wise to upset a man who wants to kill you and is currently pointing a gun at your head?’
‘It doesn’t matter. I guess you’re not quite paying attention to your current situation, but perhaps it’s time you became acquainted with an old friend,’ Derrick smirked. Old friend, no, he couldn’t mean. There was a shake of the ground, then one of the doors behind Will exploded and a huge hulking creature emerged. It was like any other enforcer Will had encountered but even bigger, and he knew from experience, meaner, stronger.
‘Blaine,’ he said, the creature seemed to smile at him, sharp teeth glinting.
‘Well, you two enjoy yourselves.’ Will turned and tried to fire at Derrick but he had already taken off from his seat and dove through the balcony door which had been left open. Perhaps he could have come up here after all, Will dismissed the thought.
He focused his mind on the task at hand, he had fought Blaine before and it hadn’t gone well. Enforcers were the biggest and toughest of the creatures. They couldn’t shape shift, but they focused their energy on being as strong as they could, they were the biggest physical challenge of the hordes of creatures, and Will had faced none tougher than Blaine.
He dropped the gun, knew it would do no good and began to centre himself, drawing on his powers, he would need every ounce of strength if he was to survive this. He took up a battle stance, Blaine seemed unconcerned and after a moment, but without warning he lunged, a whip of energy flung from his claw and shot at Will. Will ducked out-of-the-way and returned fire, the creature batted away the attack and kept coming. Charging up his forearms, Will managed to block the attacks from the larger, physically stronger opponent, but he couldn’t hold out for long. He backed away as sparks of energy flew from every attack and counter, their powers cancelling each other out. He was up against the back wall and tv cabinet with nowhere to go. He was getting stronger everyday, he was sure he could beat Blaine, one day, but not today, not in a small room and not without preparation. He ducked out of the way of the claws as they tore up the wall behind him, he moved further along the wall, tripping over the chair that Derrick had been sitting on, falling back and rolling as best he could as a claw slashed the chair to pieces. He had to get out now or there wouldn’t be another chance. With some energy still charged into his hands he smashed the ground in front of him, obliterating the solid material and sending a small shockwave that pushed the two opponents away from each other, just slightly, but enough for Will to turn and run for the balcony. He tore out the door and with his right hand grabbed onto the railing as he went over the edge, with his left hand he flung the last of his energy back at Blaine, causing him to stop for a crucial second to block the blast. With his momentum changed due to his grasp on the railing, he swung himself down and used all of his strength to grab onto the next balcony, then dropped to the third floor. He looked up and saw Blaine looking down at him. He wouldn’t get chased he knew that, the nameless relied on staying hidden, but he knew he wasn’t out of danger.
He dropped to the second floor and caught on just as Blaine unleashed two whips of energy, Will had no time to climb onto the safety of the balcony, he simply threw himself to the left and fell to the ground below, landing on his feet and rolling and thus taking most of the blow out of his joints. The whips shot past him and smashed into the ground, he darted around the side of the building and out of view of Blaine. He hadn’t seen Derrick, wasn’t sure where he had gone, but it didn’t matter now, he had to get out. He ran to find Chen who was waiting for him where he expected. It could have ended tonight, his quest for revenge, but he’d failed. Will made a vow that if he ever got Derrick in that position again he wouldn’t hesitate, he would pull the trigger.
(C) T.W. Norrich ‘The Nameless Saga’ 2016