The midday sun shone off the car window and pierced the binocular lens forcing Will to pull them away from his eyes. There was a sharp pain, not from the light but from the shock of what he’d just seen, or rather who he had just seen.
There was a small break in the late Autumn clouds which made the quiet streets of Vilnius seem almost optimistic. Will wore a shirt with dark blue pull over jumper and jeans, ideal for looking unassuming, but he no longer noticed the cool weather. He stared absently into a shop window, he barely registered his own reflection. A young man in his late twenties or early thirties, his short hair in a close approximation of a military ‘buzz’ cut. His deep light grey eyes were always thoughtful, his slightly olive skin showed a decent other than that his mild Southern English accent told. Vilnius, the capital of Lithuania near the Baltic Sea in North eastern Europe was about as sleepy and run down as Will had expected. He had never been to the North, his upbringing had been in the South and later in the United Kingdom, but he had always heard of these countries, under the heel of Soviet occupation, and were slow to emerge from its constraints into independence.
The capital had been majorly redeveloped by the Soviets and the historic buildings were given little respect. In their stead were street after street of run down functional yet unappealing Communist designs. It was in one of the inner suburbs of the city that Will now surveyed some recent development. He had been forced to change his operations from the Balkan countries in the South to the Baltic States in the North ever since he had eliminated Derrick.
Whilst he knew that there was no easier answer with the Nameless and their rather thick network of crime that had ebbed its way around parts of Europe, he had hoped that by killing their leader, the mopping up would be a manageable job.
Indeed it had started out that way, but after weeks of tracking, attacking and dismantling their operations- from supply to manufacturing, from narcotics, weapons and even legitimate business- thanks to the help of his friend and ally, Chen, who had performed some masterfully executed diversionary tactics which had caused enough confusion to delay an effective response- the Nameless crime syndicate had been severely damaged.
They estimated that they had caused at least twenty million Euros in damage, in material goods and assets, destroyed or stolen, as well as loss in income. To the outside world, there seemed to be a slight spike in factory fires, or trucks veering of the road, the odd person missing, but in reality, the criminal underground had been shaken up.
Unfortunately after six weeks of success, and Will finally believing that he was on the verge of victory over the Nameless, he had received a tip-off in regards to sightings of various agents from Derrick’s old syndicate and even creatures creeping out of their hiding places in the Lithuania.
This didn’t make a lot of sense to Will, Lithuania was a small country, Vilnius its capital, a minor city compared with those around it, why would the shattered remains of the syndicate go there?
But it was obvious, they hadn’t gone there specifically, they had started to build a new empire in the North and were now expanding, this was troubling news for Will and Chen.
He had spent two years trying to curb their group’s attempt to spread throughout Europe, and now as he was securing one problem, another area was beginning to react.
Will had flown immediately to Riga, the capital of Latvia, a more central part of the region and more accessible by air. A direct bus then took him to Vilnius in just a few hours. The roads were a bit rough, the buses a little old, but the distances were not so great that it had caused a problem.
Having arrived in Vilnius, Will and Chen set up a temporary base of operations. From there, Will made some enquiries, clumsily at first as he had no grasp of the local language. He was well versed in Serbian and Southern Slavic dialects, so to with Russian and German, but Lithuanian was an obscure language having no connection to the modern day major languages. He recognised the occasional word of German, but that wasn’t enough to help him.
Fortunately, as Russian was the strongest second language, he was still able to converse, although some of the people he met on the street resented using it due to their dislike of the Russians, but Will’s look set him apart from any Russian.
It had taken him two days what would have taken him a few hours in Serbia or Croatia, but he had tracked down the locations of several new developments going on around the city. These were supposedly due to investment from the newly welcomed European Union, but following paper trails, Will new that it was in fact money from various sources used to demolish old run down parts of the city and make way for some industrial development.
This was seen as a boon for the local economy, but as was no surprise to Will, any businesses of legitimate nature were a front for the syndicate and in aid of the Nameless creatures that dwelled within it.
What their plans were was hard to say, Derrick had done the unthinkable. He was a human, but he had made a deal with these monsters. Now his group, a mix of human and vile creature continued his work. But with Derrick out of the way it was clear that they intended to attempt to secure some territory for themselves. What the illegitimate businesses were to be was also a mystery, but Will suspected that in their dishevelled state they wouldn’t fix what wasn’t broken. Narcotics labs, warehouses for distribution, weapons manufacturing, this was the easiest money the creatures knew.
This had been frustrating, but nothing that was really surprising, what did shock Will was the image he saw in the back seat of the black Mercedes that had pulled up in front of the work site he had been watching.
He looked away from the reflection and put the binoculars back up to his face and stared intently. It couldn’t be, he must be seeing things, a trick of the light.
Two years of hunting, one successful squeeze of the trigger, the man was dead, then how was it possible that he was now looking at the very image of his most hated and recently deceased enemy. How was it that Derrick was alive and walking around the streets of his new empire?
The general buzz of people flew past Will as a blur, the old rickety cars rumbled past as he steamed back to his safe house. He was sweating despite the pleasant midday temperature, his hands were shaking, his vision even seemed to be focused into a tunnel. Stepping out onto a road a car screeched to a halt and honked in protest. He received a curse in Lithuanian but barely noticed.
People gave him a wide berth, they saw a troubled man, maybe he was on drugs?
For two years Will had been seeking revenge. Derrick had turned his life upside down, brought him from the reality everyone knew into the underworld of the Nameless creatures that stalked the streets. He would have been happier not knowing, but it was too late for that. Will, upon discovering his powers decided that he had to use them to fight the creatures, to save humanity. However it was his focus on Derrick that had driven him onwards. He was the leader of the Nameless and a logical place to start, but he had been the reason why Will was burdened so. Finally, just over six weeks ago, he had managed to kill his target. The relief had been incredible, he and Chen had departed Serbia as quickly as possible and hidden out in Budapest. There were some Nameless in the city but they weren’t linked directly to Derrick’s main group. As a result they were able to lay low and for the first time in two years, Will got drunk, very drunk. The release of pressure had been immense, it had been keeping him going so long.
He knew the war wasn’t over, but it had been such an incredible feeling.
And now, here he was, Derrick was still alive. Will wasn’t even sure how that was possible, he had seen the bullet go through his head. But there he was, it was no trick, he had looked twice, watched him move, it wasn’t a shapeshifter, it was him.
He had to get back to see Chen, he needed to regroup and think about what this revelation meant, he was just one block from the safe house.
The smell of Chinese tea wafted through the apartment. Chen sat reading a book, his mind only half on the task, the other half dealing with various issues. He lay on the one seat lounge chair, dark green tacky piece at a perpendicular posture. He knew it wasn’t good for his posture but he didn’t care. Working out the elaborate web of Derrick’s operations was an ongoing task and it was indeed troubling him, not to mention he was in the process of setting up a new network of his own for him and Will to use in the Baltic states. They had various stores throughout Europe, weapons, equipment, fake passports, cash, but most were focused on their previous operations in the South.
He was about to take a sip of his tea, an indulgence he allowed himself whenever he needed a moment to recharge his mind- a habit from his upbringing in Taiwan- when there was a rattling at the door.
He sat up quickly, surprised he hadn’t heard anyone come up the stairs to their second storey apartment, but as always, his mind was elsewhere. The rattling continued, keys? Someone was using keys, but they sounded rather panicked, or at least unsettled, it couldn’t be Will, he was never so clumsy, but who else would have keys?
Chen walked quickly to the small kitchen putting down his tea and book on the bench and reaching into the top draw where a 9mm, a model he could never seem to name, was strapped to the top. He waited for the door to open, peeled back the tape and clasped the grip as Will walked into the room.
‘Will?’ He looked terrible. He closed the door, bolted it and put down his small bag of belongings then began pacing the room. ‘Will?’ Chen repeated, he ignored him, kept pacing.
After a few more moments, Will seemed to collect himself and looked at Chen, Chen was worried, he’d never seem him look like this.
‘He’s here, he’s alive. He’s alive and he’s here,’ he threw his arms up and let out a shaky breath.
‘Who?’ Chen’s mind ran around in circles, who could upset Will like this? He’d never seen him react to the presence of an enemy with anything other than grim determination, even Blaine one of the strongest enforcers and toughest adversaries didn’t cause this.
Will stared at Chen as if gathering his strength then let out a sigh, ‘Derrick.’
‘What?’ Chen practically squealed, he too began pacing, ‘you can’t be serious.’
‘I am, I saw him, it was him/’
‘Could it have been an imposter?
No, it was no creature, it was a man, and I’d know him anywhere.’
‘You put a bullet into his brain as I recall.” Chen thought for a moment, ‘was that one the imposter?’
‘No, I saw it clearly as well.’
‘Are you sure? It was dark, it was a moment of stress.’
The scene flashed back in to Wil’s mind, Chen was right, it was dark, he definitely shot a Derrick, but perhaps it was not the Derrick. After all, he didn’t see the body.
‘A shapeshifter, the one I killed,’ Will muttered shaking his head. ‘Must have been one of the best they had, damn!’ Will clenched his teeth.
‘Ok, so we need to figure out what he’s doing here,’ Chen continued to pace as his mind began to process the situation.
‘Don’t you get it Chen? Two years of hard work, I thought I’d finished it, and it was all for nothing.’
‘It was never finished Will, you know that better than anyone. You took out their leader, the creatures were never going to just crawl away into the sewers. Not until you’ve broken them.’
‘I thought I’d finished it,’ Will repeated somewhat absently. Chen stopped pacing to look at his friend, he wasn’t in good condition that was clear, what should he do, he was good at treating wounds, fixing things, but not great with people.
‘Ah!’ he said suddenly, lifting his hand up, index finger pointed skywards, ‘tea, I’ll get you some tea.’
‘Chen, I’m having a crisis here, all progress has been for nought and my arch enemy is alive and well, what good is tea going to do?’
‘It can’t hurt,’ Chen brought over a small cup, the aroma following him. ‘Sit, drink.’ Will followed orders with a sigh. He closed his eyes, took a sip of the tea and allowed his mind to bounce around, running the possibilities through his mind. What next? What could he do?’
‘I did break them Chen, in the Balkans, I did them incredible damage, but now they are clearly fortifying their position here, building a new empire. There’s only one thing we can do really, continue on as planned, map out their network and try to track Derrick’s main operation down.’
‘See, you just need to give the tea a chance.’
‘Then when I know what he’s up to, I’ll storm in, cut his head off and keep it as a souvenir, that way I’ll know he’s really dead.
‘Try another sip.’
The cup reached Will’s lips once more, he seemed to be calming down. Chen stood up and walked around, stopping in front of Will, blocking the view. The figure in the apartment across the street let the binoculars drop from his eyes.
‘Finally,’ he said.
‘Can we move on them now?’ The woman said in Serbian.
‘Not yet,’ he replied in kind, ‘I’ll let them settle, it appears they are dealing with a bit of shock.’
‘That’s hardly surprising.’
‘Yes, William has been obsessed with killing Derrick.’
‘You sound like you disagree?’
‘It’s unwise to focus on ones enemies so.’
‘I dont’ know,’ the woman replied, ‘I find a bit of revenge goes along way.’
‘Yes Katalina, I know you do, but you also know that it’s not the way I operate, I’ll ask you to remember that.’
‘Haven’t I always done what you ask?’
‘Yes, but you are reckless.’
‘So is Will,’ she said with some resilience in her voice.
‘Yes, you two would get along well under different circumstances. Would you like to meet him?’
The man had spent this past month trying to track Will down, following him through the Balkans as he tore his enemies apart, always one step behind. Now, finally he had caught up with him on the other side of Europe, he wasn’t about to let him go.
‘That would be interesting.’
‘Very well, we will move soon, let them rest a little, I want to see them at their best,’ the man gave a slight smile. No Will, you wont get away from me this time.
(C) T.W. Norrich ‘The Nameless Saga’ 2017